The readings of today teaches us that God did not speak to Elijah and the Apostles when they were overly excited; he speaks to us when we come to stillness and are prepared to listen.
Elijah, in the first reading, wants to flee from danger. So, he was running away from the evil queen Jezebel; he is discouraged, frustrated and wants to die. But God has other plans for him. He lived at a time when the chosen people had strayed away from their loyalty to the lord, and Jezebel was supporting false prophets of her own pagan religion. Elijah is destined by the lord to become a second Moses and restore the covenant between the lord and Israel. But first he must calm down, like the Apostles, and become still enough to hear the voice of the lord who will speak to him and tell him what to do. The lord would speak to him, not in a mighty wind that shatters rock, not in an earthquake, not in the fire but in a gentle breeze. The wind, earthquake, and fire reflect the troubled mind of Elijah who cannot hear the voice of the lord until he calms down and rids himself of his bitterness which is never a recipe for a great undertaking.
Elijah is credited with miracles and he disappears in a chariot of fire, but to us he should be better remembered as the great prophet who discovered that God speaks to us only when we are ready to listen.
Jesus speaks this to his disciples who cry out in fear, thinking that they are seeing a ghost. Their ride has been frightening because of the waves and the wind battering their boat. Then they see something strange in the dark. For the Jews, the dangers at sea are caused not only by bad weather but also demonic powers.
To allay their fears, Jesus calls out to make his voice heard and identify himself, “It is I.” He their master is trying to catch up with them after having stayed behind for prayer a day of preaching. The disciples should be happy, for he is with them now. They are not alone in their struggle against the forces of nature.
The lord opens his hands to us and feeds us; he satisfies our spiritual needs with his body and blood and is concerned about our physical needs as well.
The Multiplication of bread is the most often related of all gospel events; it appears twice in Mark and Matthew and once in Luke and John. The liturgy offers it to us more often than any other event in the life of Jesus.
Today’s gospel tells us that Jesus and his disciples needed to rest; they were exhausted from their constant travelling and Jesus was even more tired because of his preaching and healings and long hours of prayer, getting up early in the morning before all the other started awaking.
Moreover they have just heard just heard of John the Baptist’s death and they need to mourn him, their former master and perhaps the best friend Jesus ever had.
Listening to God, like Abraham, and keeping in mind the words of the father in today’s gospel; “This is my son, the Beloved, listen to him.”
Jesus feels that his top Apostles need a good recollection and so Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John and led them up a high Mountain where they could be alone.
Mt Tabor looks like a quiet place offering silence and solitude far from all distractions, to fortify the faith of Peter, James, and John. A good spiritual input. Jesus wants to clarify the meaning of his mission which is contrary to what is apostles have in mind. The Apostles would come to understand and believe that the passion did not mean that Jesus was not God. Nor did it mean that God had abandoned their master. Peter, James, and John were held to secrecy because Jesus knew that the others would not even believe them let alone understand the meaning of the Transfiguration. But after the resurrection they would be allowed to reveal this mysterious event which could be understood in the light of the resurrection.