March 8th – 2nd Sunday of Lent

Posted by Christine Nusse on Mar 7, 2009 | Categories: Seasons of the Spirit

Mark 9:2-10
Six days later, 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, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Child, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Human One had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.

This indeed, is a terrible marketing strategy: “Don’t tell anyone!” When the telling would most certainly create a major buzz, why keep quiet?
I like the Transfiguration as it is called. It is very well staged: the high mountain, the dazzling clothes, Elijah, Moses and the Voice. Yet Peter, James and John are so pathetically inadequate. It seems like two parallel realities, one otherworldly and the other, so, so pedestrian. Is there another instance in the gospels when the other world appears as it does here? I don’t think so, at least not until the Resurrection. Even then, Jesus’ appearance remains quite ordinary.
If only Jesus had thrown few more transfigurations around, people would have believed in him and his message of a new kingdom much more readily accepted.
He did not. Why not?

I myself, feel so pedestrian, so glued to my daily problems, my work, the repairing of the bathroom, the threat of the recession, my old dog’s arthritis, and my own. There is a dullness and a fatigue which overwhelm me like winter does the park outside. A Transfiguration experience would be most welcome at this point. But how?

The story of the Transfiguration appears also in Matthew and Luke. In all three synoptics it follows jesus’ teaching on discipleship. Mark 8:34: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” About the same thing in Matthew and Luke. I could transpose: “take your daily problems, work, bathroom repairs and arthritis, and follow me.” After all if Peter, James and John had not followed Jesus up that (high) mountain, they would have missed the whole thing. The difference between the ordinary and the transfigured is in following Jesus, being-with Jesus.

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