Second Sunday in Lent, February 25, 2018
The story of the Transfiguration is always told on the second Sunday in Lent. It is Matthew’s story in year A, Mark’s in this year B and Luke’s in year 3. Mark is usually a man of few words compared to the other Gospel writers, but in the case of the Transfiguration, his story agrees very closely with the others. The fact that Matthew and Luke (both consummate storytellers) chose to make very few changes to Mark’s earlier version suggests that this was an eyewitness story passed on in detail and treasured by the early Christian community.
When I visited Mt. Tabor, where the Church of the Transfiguration is located, I was struck with the thought that it would have been a dominant part of Jesus’ landscape (both external and internal) as he grew up in Nazareth five and a half miles away to the west. The mountain rises almost 2000 feet above the beautiful Jezreel Valley in solitary splendor. From its summit, Jesus and his companions would have been able to see his childhood home.
I thought then that the mountain might have been a place for Jesus to go to pray and to think about what he was being called to do as he grew in wisdom and age and grace. How natural it would be for him to return to that special place with a few of his closest friends at the beginning of his public ministry – at a time when the answers to some of the questions he might have asked on that mountain were becoming clearer. And things became miraculously clear!
When Jesus and his friends reached the heights, apart by themselves, he changed before their eyes. His clothes became dazzling white, “such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.” Moses and Elijah (the Law and the Prophets) joined him for a conversation: Moses, who spoke to God face to face as a friend, and Elijah, who heard the voice of God in a tiny whispering sound. According to all three gospels, Peter, James and John were seized with terror, a common biblical reaction to the presence of God or divine messengers. Peter started babbling about building tents. They heard the voice of God proclaiming Jesus to be his Beloved Son.
It is called the Transfiguration, but Jesus was the same before, during, and after the vision. It was his friends who were transfigured. For a moment on a mountain top they saw him as he truly was. They all had experiences of doubt and discouragement after coming down from the mountain, but that glorious memory of an encounter with the divine had a central place in the minds and hearts of the earliest followers of Jesus.
Click the links below to view the Liturgical Readings for each day of the week.
- Readings for Sunday, February 25, 2018
- Readings for Monday, February 26, 2018
- Readings for Tuesday, February 27, 2018
- Readings Wednesday, February 28, 2018
- Readings for Thursday, March 1, 2018
- Readings for Friday, March 2, 2018
- Readings for Saturday, March 3, 2018