Year B: C.B Second Week of Lent

Gospel Reading: Mark 9: 2-10

Vs.2   Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone by themselves.  There in their presence he was transfigured:

Vs.3   his clothes became dazzling white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them.

Vs.4   Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus.

Vs.5   Then Peter spoke to Jesus.  “Rabbi,” he said, “it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

Vs.6   he did not know what to say; they were so frightened.

Vs.7   And a cloud came covering them in shadow; and there came a voice from the cloud, “This is my Son, the Beloved.  Listen to him.”

Vs.8   Then suddenly, when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore but only    Jesus.

Vs.9   As they came down the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Vs.10   They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what “rising from the dead” could mean.

Historical Situation

 Mark 9: 2-10

The story of the Transfiguration is always read on the 2nd Sunday of Lent.  As this is year b we read Mark’s account. The Transfiguration was a hugely significant event in the life of Jesus confirming him in his identity and mission, and at the same time, strengthening his disciples Peter, James and John, for the journey ahead – Jerusalem was already on the horizon.

When did this happen?  Mark situates this story at a critical moment in the life of Jesus.  Six days before this event, Jesus had engaged in a heavy conversation with his disciples about the inevitability of His impending rejection, suffering and death.  The disciples, especially Peter, were shaken and deeply disturbed by what Jesus had said.  Understandably, Jesus too, was anxious and troubled by this prospect, and needed some time-out with his closest friends.

 Where did this happen?  This happened on a mountain – Mount Tabor according to tradition.  Mount Tabor is one of the most impressive of the mountains in Palestine.  It lies 7 km east of Nazareth where Jesus had been rejected in the synagogue. Mountains are significant in Bible stories.  Moses and Elijah had privileged mountain-top experiences where they encountered God’s presence.

 Who was there?  Jesus, Peter, James and John (from the evidence of Scripture these were the friends Jesus confided in most).  Moses and Elijah, key figures in Israel’s history represented the Law  (Moses) and the Prophets(Elijah). The presence of the Father speaking from behind the cloud.

What happened?

   V2: “a high mountain” – the climb was a clearly a challenging and difficult one.

There in their presence Jesus was transfigured – had a deep experience of the love of the Father.

V3: “dazzling white” – he was radiant, glowing and glorious.

V4: “Elijah …with Moses “- they gave their seal of approval to the identity and mission of Jesus and saw in him the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation.

V5: “three tents” – Peter was so enthralled by the experience that he wanted to make the moment permanent, to make it last forever.  The three tents call to mind the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, a harvest festival, commemorating the period in the desert when Moses received the Torah. When the people went to Jerusalem for this feast they erected temporary shelters for themselves – in memory of their ancestors.

V6: “so frightened” – This was not a servile fear. Rather they were filled with wonder and awe.

V7: “a cloud” – this represents God’s presence – it was a sign of God’s presence and accompaniment during Israel’s desert wanderings.  “A voice” – this was the affirmation of the Father for his son.  I love him; listen to him.  What he has to say is coming from me -the truth about me, the truth about life.  Trust him and listen to his words.

V8: “only Jesus” – It was “ordinary” Jesus again – the same Jesus that went up the mountain with them.  But because of the mountain experience they had a deeper appreciation of him than ever before and were committed to journey with him no matter where it would take them.

V9: “he told them to say nothing.. Some times in life it can take considerable time to process a deep experience.  Other subsequent events will help them to appreciate its full meaning.                                                     V10: “observed the warning” – the disciples only spoke about it among themselves and tried to tease out together what it all meant.

During the season of Lent we are invited to celebrate and dispose ourselves to “transfiguration experiences” in our own lives, in the lives of those around us, our community, church and world.

Guidelines for Meditation.

Can you remember facing a difficult time in your life (or family etc.) and you took some time out “on the mountain” – a place of solitude, silence and stillness – with some close friends to reflect and prepare for the challenges ahead?

Can you remember a deep experience of the presence of God’s love coming to you in prayer, in nature, through a friend or a family member which “transfigured you” – filled you with a new radiance, beauty, energy, confidence and courage to face the future.. “The clothes became dazzling white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them”?

Can you remember how those beautiful words: “this is my beloved son…” were communicated to you: words of reassurance, affection, belonging and encouragement?

Can you remember whether this experience of love put you in touch with significant others from your past – “Elijah appeared with Moses?

Can you remember the great longing in your heart to make that moment of “transfiguration” permanent – to stay there always, “to build three tents, one for you, one for Elijah and one for Moses”, but you knew in your heart you had to go back down the mountain.

Can you remember how when the moment of transfiguration passed you looked the same again, but inwardly the power of transfiguration drove you on? – “They looked around and saw no one but only Jesus.”

Can you remember how it was the kind of experience that would take time to digest and process and that you felt you just couldn’t talk about it; at least, not for a while?