From The American Bible Society:
March 4, 2012
Second Sunday of Lent
THIS IS MY OWN DEAR SON: LISTEN TO HIM!
Mark 9:2-10 (Good News Translation)2 Six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain, where they were alone. As they looked on, a change came over Jesus, 3 and his clothes became shining white—whiter than anyone in the world could wash them. 4Then the three disciples saw Elijah and Moses talking with Jesus. 5 Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, “Teacher, how good it is that we are here! We will make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He and the others were so frightened that he did not know what to say. 7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them with its shadow, and a voice came from the cloud, “This is my own dear Son—listen to him!” 8They took a quick look around but did not see anyone else; only Jesus was with them. 9As they came down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Don't tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has risen from death.” 10 They obeyed his order, but among themselves they started discussing the matter, “What does this “rising from death” mean? ”
As on so many other occasions, today’s Gospel must be set in its context in order to grasp what Jesus’ mission and person meant, as well as the consequences and implications it had in the life of the disciples. Prior to this event, the three Synoptic Gospels show Jesus asking the disciples what the crowds, and they themselves, think about him. It is clear that, according at least to Peter’s solemn statement , “You are the Messiah” (Mark 8:29), they are certain that he is not just another rabbi or some common preacher of the moment Anyhow, Jesus notices that they have not understood what the title and reality of the word “Messiah” meant for him. In fact, their “thoughts don’t come from God but from human nature” (8:33), for they still share the common opinion of the people: the Messiah will be the powerful king who will fulfil the old promises, defeat the Romans and set Israel free from foreign rule, just as any other political and religious leader would do. Jesus, then, tries to explain his plans. He will not use worldly force or power, but will subject his own will to the Father’s and assume the role of the Suffering Servant. It is through his death that he will redeem Israel and all nations. Even so, they do not understand his teaching about that unexpected way to fulfil his messianic mission. Nor can they accept his words about the way in which they must follow him: carrying the cross, losing one’s life for him and for the Gospel? So confused were they, that “they were afraid to ask him” (9:32). In that context, full of fear, pessimistic thoughts and unacceptable projects, the vision of Jesus on the top of the mountain (a place fit for Moses and Elijah, as both of them had been close to God on Mount Sinai) is a breath of fresh air, a gleam of light, a moment of relief and solace. Although they may not understand the meaning of Jesus’ suffering (or their own self-denial for the Gospel’s sake); even if they still cannot grasp what “rising from death meant;” no matter how frightened they might be, Christ‘s glorious presence, transfigured in his shining clothes, was a foreshadowing of his resurrection and a foretaste of his confirmation as the Messiah of Israel. There is, besides, another important point in the story: the voice from heaven. Just as in his baptism, God’s voice ratifies and proclaims Jesus as his dear, chosen Son; but on this occasion, there is something new, a message for the disciples. Even if you have doubts, even if you are afraid, be sure that he is the one who was promised to come: “Listen to him!” Today’s liturgy provides us with another reassuring message, addressed especially to us who live so far away from Christ in time and history. We may perhaps share the apostles’ doubts and fears; we may feel confused and afraid like Abraham in front of the sacrifices demanded from us; we may be accused, or have things or people against us. No matter what may happen, we know for sure that nothing or no one will be able to separate us from God the Father, who gave us his Son.
When we think of Abraham and the terrible test he was subjected to, and compare it with our own trials and tests, we must admit that we are far from the demands he had to face. Even if there is no comparison, have you ever been put to a serious test in your Christian life? If so, how did you cope with it? It may seem repetitive, but we must recall once again the deep crisis of our present society. In what ways can we contribute to a real “transfiguration” of unjust and oppressive situations? How can we show the “shining clothes” of Christian hope to those who live in despair?
When we face the harsh path we must take to follow Christ, or when we recognize the failures and shortcomings in our Christian life, our lack of fidelity to his words, we often feel dismayed and disheartened. Let us pray today for the whole Church: that we may reach the conviction that nothing in heaven or earth –not even our failures or sins- can separate us from God’s love.
Recite, in calm and quietness, Psalm 27: “The Lord is my light and my salvation…” As you have on other occasions, choose a couple of verses which can be your spiritual “motto” during the week.
Reflections written by Rev. Fr. Mariano Perrón Director of Inter-Religious Affairs Archdiocese of Madrid, Spain