2nd week of Advent, Saturday – 14th December 2019 — Gospel: Mt 17,9-13
Understanding the Son of Man
On mount Tabor, the chosen disciples have entered more deeply into the mystery of the final triumph of Jesus. Matthew alone specifically labels this apocalyptic experience as a “vision”. Nonetheless the disciples are not to reveal this apocalyptic secret until the turning of the ages take place, i.e., till the Son of Man is raised from the dead. The disciples, who have understood this mystical experience and were prompted by their encounter with Elijah, raised an objection based on the scribal teachings. How can Jesus be the Messiah and the bringer of the end-time when Elijah had not yet returned? Jesus’ answer confirms Elijah’s key role as preparer or restorer. In fact indirectly he pointed out that Elijah has come in the person of John the Baptist, but they did not recognize him. In reference to Elijah’s return (Mal 4,5-6) and his suffering (1 Kgs 19,2), the Matthean disciples understood the violent fate of John the Baptist (17,13). Once again Matthew emphasizes the role of understanding in believing. In understanding the suffering of John the Baptist, the disciples were able to believe into the mystery of the suffering of the Son of Man. Thus, the transfiguration experience enabled the disciples to take one more step to understanding (13,51; 16,12) Jesus’ eschatological role.