Meditations for March are by Bishop Robert Llanos, Auxiliary Bishop of Port of Spain Bio -Robert Llanos
My dear friends Lent could be considered a microcosm of our whole lives fitted into six weeks where we gain the opportunity to reconsider the meaning of our lives and the direction it is taking. It is as if we get the Lenten journey right we will get our life’s journey right. With this in mind we reflect on the readings of the 2nd Sunday of Lent focusing mainly on the Gospel of the Transfiguration according to Mark 9: 2-10.
At the core of Mark’s gospel is determining who Jesus is. Here on Mt. Tabor the story of the Transfiguration reveals several things about the person of Jesus and what that should mean for us. In the first instance, the presence of Moses indicates that the purpose of the Law was to prepare for Jesus, and the presence of Elijah tells us that all the prophets pointed to Jesus. On Mt. Tabor when the voice from the cloud says, “listen to him” Moses and Elijah were ceding their place to Jesus as the authoritative Lawgiver and Prophet. Secondly, the presence of the cloud that covers them in shadow is the presence of Yahweh God dwelling amongst His people as He did with the Tabernacle in the Temple. Thirdly, from this cloud comes a voice that says, “This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to Him.” Here the relationship between the Heavenly Father and Jesus the Son is established as one of love and obedience, one where the Son is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of that love and for the salvation of every soul.
As if all this was not enough for Peter, James and John, Jesus is also transfigured before their eyes. The Transfiguration was not in external appearance only but represented a form of metamorphosis, that is, a complete transformation of the person of Jesus into light and glory from within. As our salvation, Jesus is our final goal. He completes us so that we may share in his transfigured glory. In terms of who Jesus is this is not the complete picture however, because Jesus is also the one who suffers and dies so that we may have life in Him. Hence Peter, James and John are confused by what “rising from the dead could mean.” As the apostles eventually did we come to realize that in Jesus as Son of God and Son of Man there exists a living tension between suffering and glory and difficulty and triumph. Although the promise of triumph and glory gives us hope as it did the apostles we must faithfully work through the trials and difficulties we face which are the processes by which we are prepared for glory. There is no glory without suffering and no life without death.
Peter’s response to this entire episode may reflect our own response to the reign of Christ in our own lives. Peter’s suggestion to build three tents relates to the feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth) which is a joyful feast and tells us that Peter and the others wanted to stay in this glorious and joyful moment and, as it were, hold on to it. Peter at this moment forgets about the other nine apostles and about Jesus’ mission to proclaim the Good News. Letting go of what we like or what “feels’ good can be a real obstacle in our lives to God’s will for us. Dying is no fun and we try to avoid it on several levels if we could. Except it is the only way to glory and the strength we gain on the mountain is so that we may successfully negotiate the valley. During this Lenten season we might want to reflect on how we use our gifts, talents and abilities i.e. our successes in the service of others so that we might die to ourselves and give life wherever we are. The transfiguration is a promise on the part of God that fills us with hope that no situation is hopeless if we “listen to Him”.
Heavenly Father in the name of your beloved Son, Jesus, give us the grace always to have the courage to live well and die well. Help us to be men and women of Hope. Amen.