Gospel – Mark 9: 2-10
Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.
As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.
Reflection on the Gospel
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
Lent is now in full swing, and we are beginning to experience the fragility of our resolve in the form of questions. Would Jesus truly care if I enjoy a little dessert? Is God seriously holding a check list and keeping taps on my carnivorous habits? This obligation is too troublesome, would God mind if I switch and adopt a more convenient burden? And with this flood of questions comes a longing for the grace we experienced on Ash Wednesday; a nostalgia for the courage we encountered when our promises to Christ were fresh and temptation-free.
Perhaps it is these sentiments that make today’s Gospel so difficult. For the purpose of Lent is to unite ourselves to Christ and find peace in this renewed intimacy. Today we catch a mere glimpse of the absolute Glory of God in the transfigured Jesus. But only a glimpse. Thunder, blinding light, a heavenly ecstasy, and then, suddenly, we are back on earth and left with nothing but an intense restlessness. We, like Peter, want to stay and even make a home in the awesome presence of the transfigured Christ. We cry out: “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us build up shelters”. And, like Peter, our request is not just denied but wholly ignored.
But what can be the reason for this? Why would Jesus reveal the Glory of God only to snatch away the peace it offers? There are many possible explanations and answers, but I think the best answer is also the simplest: Jesus is a master teacher. He is teaching the apostles – and us – by example. For God’s real Glory is not simply in His thunder and reality bending voice, but rather in His sacrifice. Christ is showing us that to be truly close to God and dwell in Him we must embrace a rather uncomfortable burden, a cross. So while we may be tempted to think of God’s peace and glory in terms of light and ecstasy, Jesus wants us to continue on the road to Jerusalem. He wants us to die and rise with Him. Lent, then, is about sacrificing that little dessert and piece of meat. Lent is about resisting our urge to build “shelters” of comfort where we find security and peace. And, most importantly, Lent is about encountering Christ’s cross a new and preparing ourselves to share in His passion, death, and resurrection.
- What shelters have you built in your life that close you off from encountering a cross?
- Are you, like Peter, trying to cling to a safe image of God that keeps you comfortable and is not open to sacrifice?
- Are you willing to follow the Savior to Jerusalem and embrace His cross?
Brother Joseph Wright
Postulant, San Francisco New Orleans District (RELAN)
God has truly blessed me with my education and the wonderful gift of the Brothers of The Christian Schools. I first met the Brothers at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory and continued my educational adventure with them at Saint Mary’s College of California. I knew very early that God had placed these inspiring teachers in my life for a purpose and did my best to follow their good example. Soon after graduating from Saint Mary’s, I decided to try the Brothers’ life. It has been an awesome adventure and continues to help me grow in Christ.
Saint John Baptist de La Salle – Pray for us.
Live, Jesus, in our Hearts – Forever!