Faith, Fellowship and Fun

Mark 9:2-20
Mark 9:2   Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

Mark 9:9   As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.
The gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent each year is the account of the transfiguration of Jesus. In Mark we have just passed the half way point in the gospel and Jesus has revealed to the disciples that he is the Messiah but he wishes them to come to understand this not in terms of glory and esteem but in being faithful to God’s will and so he has mentioned to them for the first time that he will have to endure his passion in Jerusalem. Peter is appalled at the idea but Jesus does not shrink from telling him that those who want to follow must take up their cross.
This is the background to today’s gospel. Peter, James and John who were present at the raising of the daughter of Jairus are now invited up to the mountain where they behold him quite literally in a whole new light. At this key moment of revelation of who he really is they are invited to ‘listen to him’, However, as the story continues we learn that they are poor listeners and they fail to take on board his message of the self-emptying love of the kingdom. The next time these three are invited to come with him is at the foot of a mountain, the Mount of Olives, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and there too Jesus is revealed to them, not in glory but in suffering and, because they have not listened, they will run away.

God in Jesus would have us understand that he is with us in every moment of our lives and each moment, whether at the top of the mountain or in Gethsemane, is sacred. If we are to understand this, we must develop the art of doing what the Father has asked us and that is the art of listening, really listening to his Son.

SEAN GOAN—Let the Reader Understand, Year B
The story of the transfiguration is found in the first three gospels but not in the Fourth Gospel. Each evangelist tells it in a subtly differing way according to the theology of the writer and the needs of the community at the time. Thus, for instance, in Luke it becomes a moment of prayer, in Matthew, an apocalyptic vision. In Mark, it is a kind of theophany, a disclosure of the divine.


We live in a very noisy, busy world, a culture marked by constant distraction. Even at the ordinary level of relationship, attending to the other — really hearing him or her — is a challenge. It happens when we choose to make space, to shut out the other noises and graciously attend to each other. Something similar may be said of the life of the spirit. Listening to the Son happens when we choose it and, by means of practical choices, create spaces in our lives for such encounters.

The disciples catch a glimpse of the Divine, ad no doubt this will give them strength for walking the difficult road ahead. These glimpses are not beyond us if only we can see through a lens that is more deeply aware of Christ’s presence in the world.

Reflect on a time you gained greater clarity about something, when the veil lifted and you saw something of the divine spark in the word around you. As you look back on it now, what insight was received?
In the midst of our busy lives, we look for places where we can catch a glimpse of something more profound. Where are these spaces for you? What significance do they hold?

According to the evangelist, Jesus takes Peter, James and John alone with him up to a high mountain, and there he was transfigured before them. These three greatly resisted the idea that Jesus was destined to be crucified. Peter even tried to get him to forget these absurd thoughts. James and John keep asking him for the first places in the kingdom of the Messiah. It is precisely before them that Jesus will be transfigured. They need it more than anyone. The scene, recreated with a lot of symbolism, is magnificent. Peter reacts quite spontaneously: “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three tents.”
Peter has not learned anything. On the one hand, he places Jesus on the same plane and in the same category as Elijah and Moses: to each one his shelter. On the other hand, he continues to resist walking the hard road Jesus shows him; he wants him to hold on to the glory of Mount Tabor, away from the passion and cross of Calvary. God himself is going to correct him solemnly: “This is my beloved Son”. He is not to be confused with anyone else. “Hear him”, even the he speaks to you of the way of the cross which ends in the resurrection.

JOSÉ A PAGOLA—Following in the Footsteps of Jesus, Year B
  1. Some special spiritual experiences are well-nigh impossible to describe in words. The Transfiguration was one of these. Jesus had a new and deeper insight into his relationship with his heavenly Father, one that would sustain him through what lay ahead of him. Have you had WOW moments that you found hard to describe to others? How have these sustained you in difficult times?
  2. It can be both scary and wonderful to witness transformation in another, especially a person who is close. At times parents get a taste of this when a child’s talent blossoms and is recognised by the child. We may also experience it when a dear friend recognises s/he is in a blind alley and gives up an addiction.
  3. ‘This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him.’ Peter, James and John were particularly close to Jesus, but they were not good at listening to Jesus, especially when he spoke of the painful road of servant discipleship. Jesus is the one we must listen to, even when his message is hard to hear. It is in this message we find life. When have you found this to be true?
  4. Strangely this instruction came to the disciples when they were confused and ‘in a cloud’. Perhaps you recall a moment of insight coming to you at a time when you were confused.

Scriptural Prayer Reflections
Lord, we thank you for the transfiguration experiences that you favour us with during this Lent when for the first time we will see Jesus in his truth as our lowly saviour        - a Bible passage will suddenly become deep and enriching for us;        - during a parish mission we felt the power of the message of Jesus;        - we celebrate a liturgy that fills us with consolation        - we realize that the following of Jesus has deep implications for all of us. At that moment we experience a glory that is not from this earth but from you yourself, and we cry out from the depths of ourselves that it is wonderful for us to be here.
Lord, we pray today for those who have committed themselves to a noble cause; help them to move freely beyond the first experience of joy and excitement, to remain with their commitment when a cloud comes and covers them in shadow, for it is from the cloud that they will learn for sure that it is your work they have given themselves to, and they can find you in it.

MICHEL DE VERTEUIL—Lectio Divina on the Sunday Gospels, Year B

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