2nd Sunday of Lent – 28th February 2021 — Mk 9,2-10
Journey from Suffering to Glory
The transfiguration of Jesus places him in the lineage and honour of the two prophets who stand beside him on the Mountain. As Moses went up to Mount Sinai to encounter God and Elijah went to that same mountain to hear God’s whispering yet transforming voice, Jesus ascends a high mountain with his closest disciples, Peter, James and John, for a divine revelation. He offers them a fleeting glimpse and encouraging insight into the fullness of the divine mystery veiled by his humanness. Here Jesus gives a dazzling proof that God indeed does transform suffering into glory. This event vividly confirms of Jesus’ words (Mk 8,38) and demonstrates the glory of the future kingdom (Mk 9,1; Jn 1,14; 2 Pet 1,12-21). The message is clear: first the suffering, then the glory.
As Jesus leads the disciples to the cross, he presents Elijah and Moses to them and offers a foretaste of his glory which he will enter through his death and resurrection. Elijah and Moses anticipated the way of the cross through their difficult lives of hearing and obeying God’s will. These two central figures of the OT prepared the way of Jesus in the long drama of the world’s salvation. The revelation of the glorified Jesus with Moses and Elijah also anticipates the glory that Peter, James and John will experience if they walk the way of the cross.
Peter’s suggestions to erect three dwellings on the spot, specify the makeshift shelters erected during the Jewish feast of Sukkoth, which reminds Israel’s forty-year journey through the desert. Peter’s recollection of the Exodus is a reminder that the disciples are still on the way with Jesus. As Moses and Elijah (the OT saints) prepared his way, Jesus prepares Peter, James and John (the NT saints) to travel with him to Jerusalem and to continue his way into the early Church. Uncertain of where their journey will lead, these disciples will be models of Christian discipleship for future generations.
From the overshadowing cloud, God reveals Jesus’ identity to the three pillars of the early Church (9,7). God’s voice then interrupts Peter’s speech and directs their attention, not on the vision, but on the Word of God: “Listen to him!” The memory of visions will fade, but the unchanging Word abides forever. Listening to Jesus means both hearing and obeying what he says. As the disciples continue the journey with Jesus to Jerusalem, they must keep listening to what Jesus teaches them and live by those teachings. The Church must listen to the voice of God’s Word in our midst so that we follow Jesus’ way that leads to the cross. Listening to Jesus is the means to follow him in his way – listening to the Word of God that transfigures sinners into forgiven and redeemed people, that transfigures sick and disabled bodies into healed and whole beings, that transfigures bread and wine into his body and blood that transfigures suffering and death into resurrected life.