Seeing is believing, we say, which probably accounts for our frequent scepticism or worse cynicism, because we are not very good at seeing. Eye witnesses are notoriously fallible and can be persuaded to have seen things they didn’t, indeed we can do this to ourselves; the number of times, having, once again, lost my keys, and thinking through the places I might have left them, I have made myself definitely see me having put them down somewhere, when they are in fact somewhere else, normally unseen, right in front of me. The need to come up with a solution makes it easy for my memory to provide a likely one. In this Sunday’s gospel, the Transfiguration, the disciples seem to be just as confused about what they actually saw.
One way of addressing this is with the help of the Collect for this Sunday, which starts by making us use a different sense, listening. The prayer opens by addressing God as the one who commands us to listen, just as the voice from the cloud instructs Peter and James and John but the prayer doesn’t stop there, it goes on to another sense since it asks God to nourish us with his Word, the word we are fed with and taste in Communion. But this food works to satisfy not our physical hunger, but something deeper, what we really need. This morning in the Office of Terce, which the ones sing at 9 a.m. I was struck by these lines from psalm 118: My eyes look for your saving help and the promise of your justice. Saving help sounds nice, but seems awkwardly paired with justice, I thought, then it occurred to me that I was thinking of human justice, which has the tends to a sort of inflexibility or hardness. But hat’s our way of being just, not God’s, not Jesus’. His justice takes in everything that is needed; it is exactly what we need, which is why our eyes stare out seeking it. In that fulness of everything we truly need (as against would rather like), is true understanding, insight.
So, we are led from not quite seeing, via hearing and absorbing, back to seeing properly, seeing Jesus transfigured, the one who was and who will be, the one in glory and on the cross, who dies and rises, who we know because we share him with each other in Communion.