TEXT: The Holy Gospel According to Saint Mark 9:2-10
Many people have tended to think of Jesus only in terms of his gentleness, his steadfast Love, as the approachable Son of man who humbled himself taking the form of Servant. (Phil 2:1ff). The picture presented as such is truly accurate.
Jesus is truly the One who - "...though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross." (Phil 2:6-8)
Now, there is a different view of this Person the disciple, St. Mark reports.
2 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them,
3 and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Here Jesus was changed before their very eyes.
St. Thomas Aquinas says -- "At his Transfiguration Christ showed his disciples the splendor of his beauty, to which he will shape and color those who are his: he will reform the body of our lowness configured to the body of his glory." (Phil. 3:21) (from the Summa Theologica, 3, 45, 1)
I think of this often in the vision of John in the Revelation (Apocalypse), chapter 12, where we see the Woman exalted, a picture of Mary, the Mother of God, and surely, a picture of God's desire for the remainder of her offspring.
St. Paul says that it was his desire to present us to God as a chaste virgin. (II Cor. 11:2) - "For I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God, since I betrothed you to one husband to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."
Thus, he invited Peter, James and John, truly part of Christ's inner circle of holy apostles to witness a supremely important event!
Such a vision of Jesus Transfigured before them ... unspeakable Glory!
4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus.
One wonders what they spoke about... was it about his coming death and what all they had proclaimed before hand in types and signs? We remember that Jesus spoke of their witness to him in the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 24...
They conversed. Moses, Elijah and Jesus...
5 And Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah."
6 For he did not know what to say, for they were exceedingly afraid.
We often do not know what to say when confronted with such Glory.
When we have times of great inner consolation in prayer, we are often at a loss for words. Little can come forth but holy praise to God alone... we have found this so when wakening in the night... but, enough of this...
There was a Glory that shone forth such that none had ever experienced...
Here Moses and Elijah stood in the Glory with the Son of God.
Moses had only seen the backside of God, because to look upon the face of Yahweh was death!
Now, two of the greatest of the prophets, one the giver of the Torah from Sinai's (Horeb's) beginnings in the wilderness after the Exodus, were standing there with the ONE they spoke of who would come to redeem Israel.
Peter spoke up and for good reason... But, a Greater One than Moses or Elijah was there - Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ.
(John 1:14-17) - "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. (John bore witness to him, and cried, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.'") And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.")
Yes, the Greater than Moses was Present - God Incarnated.
7 And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is my beloved Son; listen to him."
Oh yes - Listen to Jesus. He is the BELOVED.
As we listen to the Beloved... we are beloved of God alone...For there before their eyes they looked around and saw that the Beloved stood there alone with them.
Praise God for all his blessings!
8 And suddenly looking around they no longer saw any one with them but Jesus only.
I find this to be wonderful... this them being with Jesus only.
Does that not make you sense the one-ness we might have with God alone?
There is such potential for intimacy with God... how we fail to seek this! How we fall so short in our cooperation with these graces... and yet, they are available to us all, if we would only seek God alone.
9 And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of man should have risen from the dead.
10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant.
Now, we know these things today, because they found out first hand what the rising of the dead actually meant!
It means Transfiguration...
St. Paul describes this -- (I Cor. 15:20-26ff) -- "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death."
That is a far different picture than we have today.
Over the past year we have been involved with bereavement support group. These are precious souls who suffered the loss of loved ones.
Beloved - Some DAY this bereavement we suffer and the death we will all experience - will become a thing of the past, a distant memory, because we shall all be changed!
Jesus was Transfigured, because God loves us so much he wants us to KNOW for sure that what he proclaims through the SON and the Apostles - is TRUE!
WE will be changed... and all things will be new!
And, so, it was and is with Mary our Mother who followed her Son, Christ the First fruits.
So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant.
Thanks be to God they found out and received the authority to convey the message of the Gospel to us, even as we hear it today.