Gospel and Reflection, 31 January
Gospel: Mark 9:2-10
This is my Son, the Beloved
Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his clothes became dazzlingly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter spoke to Jesus: ‘Rabbi,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say; they were so frightened. And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and there came a voice from the cloud, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’ Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus.
As they came down from the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what ‘rising from the dead’ could mean.
As the time of the Passion approaches, the foreboding of the disciples grows. Jesus sustains them by this vivid experience of his more-than-natural nature. On the holy mountain of revelation they see him transformed. It was a real visual experience, though described in symbols familiar from the Bible, brilliant white clothes and so on. Moses and Elijah are seen there because they also had experienced the vision of God on the holy mountain. For Moses this was at the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, for Elijah in the cave of Mount Horeb. The disciples were frightened, confused and overcome at the awesome experience, and yet comforted in a way which made Peter want to prolong it. This will later be the rare reaction of Christian mystics, a reassuring terror and a frightening homeliness, the awareness of a presence which is at the same time awesome and comforting, an experience which cannot fully be put into words. The Voice from Heaven is an echo of the Voice at Jesus’s Baptism. There, however, it was addressed to Jesus, whereas here it is spoken to the disciples, proclaiming Jesus as authorised teacher, the extension of that same divine Voice.
Reflection by Henry Wansbrough OSB
Despite discouragements and sometimes failures, as Christians we are called to perseverance and to holiness. In all things we are to meet anger with love, darkness with light, and sin with mercy. As we continue on our Lenten journey, what are the hardships within our own life that each of us are being called to bear? How are the Lenten practices of fasting, almsgiving, and prayer leading us each to holiness?
In the Gospel, a voice from the cloud says, “This is my beloved Son, Listen to him.” How do you take time in prayer not only to talk, but also to listen to Jesus?