C Cycle – 2nd Sunday of Lent 19
Lk. 9: 28b-36
Frequently in the gospel you hear the disciples had problems understanding what Jesus was telling them. We know they hadn’t a clue what Jesus was referring to when he said, “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees” (Mt.16:6-9) for he said to them “do you not yet understand or remember the loaves and how much was left over. We know after Jesus gave the parable of the sower and asked him what it meant. Do you remember his words to them? He said, “if you do not understand this how will you understand all the parables (Mk.4:13).
We know when Jesus entered Jerusalem on the Passover riding on a donkey, he was fulfilling the prophesy “your king is coming seated on a donkey.” However, the scriptures tell us the disciples did not remember that prophesy at first but remembered it when he was glorified (Jn. 12:16). We know as they stood before the empty tomb “they did not understand the scripture that he must rise again from the dead” (Jn. 20:9).
There are many more examples of their lack of understanding who he was, what he would achieve by his death and resurrection and what it meant to be free from the bondage of sin. They certainly did not understand the Kingdom of God had broken into the world and all of us are called to be living in that Kingdom.
They were often bewildered so it should not surprise us they do not understand what is happening before them as he is transfigured. He is not only transfigured, Jesus is talking with Moses and Elijah. The disciples only reference of what they were seeing was the stories in the Torah when prophets referred to the glory of God. They might have recalled the visions given to prophets especially in the Book of Daniel.
Now before them the divinity of Jesus was being revealed, and he is conversing with none other than the two of the greatest figures in Jewish history. Moses whom God not only chose to lead the people out of bondage but whom received the laws all Jews lived by. This had to be a mind-numbing event happening in front of Peter, James and John.
Elijah, the great prophet who raised the dead, who at his word, performed the miracle of multiplying the flour of a widow. Elijah who like Moses was given a glimpse of God as He passed by and every Jew knew God was intimate with each of them. Think about the impact of seeing Moses, Elijah and a transfigured Jesus had on Peter, James and John. For a Jew who held fast to the “law and the prophets.” Being in the presence of Moses and Elijah, the law giver (Moses) and the great prophet of God (Elijah) had to be an experience you would have to tell your children, grandchildren and would have been a part of family history to pass down for generation.
So why were they silent, never talking about the event at that time. With everything else they had discussions among themselves prior to this why remain silent. Why was Jesus transfigured before them? Why did God, once more, affirm that Jesus was his son and instructed them to listen to him? Instead of trying to figure out what was going on in their minds, we should be thinking about our own reaction to the event of the transfiguration.
We have an advantage over Peter, James and John because we have the wisdom of the ages to instruct us. We know how pivotal Pentecost was to the disciples understanding of all Jesus said and did as well as connecting the prophesies pointing to who Jesus was. After all they saw and heard those three years with Jesus his words to them in the upper room about how the Spirit would teach them, remind them and would continue to be with them were critical to them being able to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah.
We need our own moment with Jesus, Moses and Elijah. We need to understand who Jesus was and what his coming, his life, his death and his resurrection means for us today. Lent is to be a time of connecting once more with Jesus and listening to him. Why are we silent about the meaning of his coming? What motivated Moses to remain obedient to God as he faced a reluctant people and physical obstacle totally dependent on God. What motivated Elijah who went to unbelieving people to proclaim God call to turn back to him.
Each of them had an encounter with God and were transformed by the experience.
Like Moses and Elijah, God desires us to respond to his call to be his witnesses. Do we understand what that means for us or are we just as clueless and the disciples were trying to figure out how to respond to the things Christ said and did. We only need to respond to one event – his death and resurrection. We must acknowledge by his death and resurrection we have had our sins forgiven and stop trying to earn our salvation and begin to learn how to reap the benefits of salvation. We must do exactly what Peter, James and John ultimately did and that is to tell others about Jesus.
We do not have to go to the mountain top like they did because Jesus went to Mt. Calvary for us and his death brought us our own transfiguration. We need to stand before Jesus just as the centurion did and proclaim, “truly this is the Son of God.” We need to invite the Holy Spirit to pour the love of God into our hearts so we can feel the grace of forgiveness freeing us from the effect our sin has on us. We need to become bold witnesses of God’s mercy, his forgiveness and his desire to have us feel His presence every day. If we would only listen to him as he speaks to us in the scriptures as we pray and as we jump into his arms calling him Abba we would never be silent about what we have experienced.