Elizabeth Carrillo, OSB | February 28, 20212 Cor 4:5-15Mark 9:2-10
Each year on the 2nd Sunday of Lent we enter into the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration. Along with Peter, James and John, we are invited to climb the mountain, to open ourselves to the overwhelming mystery of the living God and to be guided by Jesus, his beloved Son.
Jesus is shown to them clothed in divine light, speaking with Moses and Elijah. The presence of Moses and Elijah show Jesus’ continuity with the Law and prophets in Israel’s history and point to him as the Messiah, the one who is to fulfill God’s promise. However, the disciples are experiencing something that draws them beyond language, human understanding, and typical response. They are terrified, Peter confusedly offering to set up tents. Eventually, they are surrounded by a cloud in which they can see nothing. But in the midst of this unknowing, they hear a voice, “This is My Beloved Son, listen to him.”
But what is the message to which they and we must listen? To fully understand this event, we have to go back to the Scripture episode that precedes the transfiguration in all of the synoptic gospels. When Peter comes to acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus describes a Messiah very different from the triumphant, kingly figure Peter expects. He tells him that, as the Messiah, he must be rejected, suffer, and die, but it is a death that will lead to resurrection. He is a Messiah who, by accepting his suffering and death, enters into the pain and suffering of the world, transforming it into new life. True discipleship involves joining him in this pattern, taking up our cross to follow him into a transfigured life. In his transfiguration, Jesus reveals God’s deepest purpose for each of us and all of creation.
We are the clay jars of Second Corinthians, yet what a wonder that these clay jars are meant to shine with divine glory and radiance.
Unlike the disciples, we know where the story leads, yet we still must make that same journey. I believe that engaging with this story every year, allowing it to shine within us, is meant to give us a glimpse of resurrection light even as we journey with Jesus through the darkness of suffering and death.