New Understandings

For Sunday, February 26, 2017 – Matthew 17:1-9

One of the most attractive temptations is not to understand something but to keep talking about it anyway. If we keep talking, maybe we will reach a point of greater understanding. We might form a discussion group on the subject, or conduct a survey, or brainstorm possible responses, anything to help us navigate the fog and numb the abysmal sense that we might never be among those who “get” Jesus. We might never be able to comprehend fully enough who he is and what he is doing to know what he wants each of us to do. We might not ever be able to be a “real” disciple.

Peter, it seems, cannot just stand still, be quiet, and absorb the amazement of this utterly remarkable moment. He feels he must quickly try to understand it, talk about it, and shape it into a tangible product for future reference. In the process he risks losing it entirely. For me, there are three pivotal words that help save the day for Peter, three little words that all of us might want to add more often to our own conversations with God: Peter says, “If you wish…..”

“If you wish” helps Peter move out of the driver’s seat for a moment, pause his talking and planning and lunging forward long enough to consider that Jesus might have a way different from his own way, that God might want to break through sometimes and give us a new idea or two.

To face into the journey that lies ahead will require a different type of comprehension, a way of communicating that might not feel natural at first but actually is our native language. It is a way, not of greater understanding and assurance, but of letting go into the mystery of suffering and trust. It is the way of death and yet also fullness of life. We will get there not by the familiar paths of accomplishment, but by standing still and listening. What does God want to say?