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The Second Sunday of Lent [B]

First Reading Genesis 22:1-2,9,10-13,15-18
Second Reading Romans 8:31-34
Gospel Mark 9:2-10

So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.

In today’s Gospel passage we hear of the Transfiguration of Jesus. You and I can see clearly that it is a foreshadowing of the Resurrection. Yet Peter, James, and John see things differently.

These three select apostles were invited by Jesus to see the reason for following Jesus of Nazareth. At this point in their lives, the disciples had been following Jesus for quite some time. Yet on this day when Jesus was transfigured, His suffering, death, and resurrection were still some ways in the future.

In following Jesus around, these disciples had already endured many trials, and yet they still weren’t sure where they were going with Jesus. They surely weren’t expecting Jesus to die the death of a criminal on the Cross, much less rise from the dead. Jesus’ transfiguration offered a hint of where they were headed.

But Peter, even having been chosen by Jesus to lead His Church, misunderstands the purpose of Jesus revealing His glory. “Rabbi,” Peter exclaims, “it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents.” In other words, “Let’s pitch tent and stay awhile.” Each of us is like Peter at times. When we find a winning horse in life, we bet on it. There are enough things in life that we’re unsure about. Why should the disciples leave the mountain? This was the greatest sight of Jesus they’d ever glimpsed.

However, as He does continually throughout the Gospel, Jesus corrects Peter. Jesus basically says to him: “You cannot stop on this mountain, because I am not going to stop. You need to keep up with me.” Jesus, of course, did keep right on moving. He continued on the move to Jerusalem, because there lay the goal of His earthly life. Jesus kept moving towards that Holy Week when He would be betrayed, arrested, and crucified at the top of Calvary, covered with the stain and tarnish of our sins. For now, we see the disciples continuing to walk with Him. But if they had fully understood what was coming during Holy Week, would they have continued to follow?

Sadly, we know that after the Last Supper—where Jesus handed over Himself to the apostles in the Eucharist—one of the apostles handed over Jesus to His enemies. Most of the other apostles fled at Jesus’ arrest. For them, the mount of Jesus’ Transfiguration was one thing, but the mount of His Crucifixion quite another. Only St. John, the Beloved Disciple, stood with Jesus on both mounts.

Jesus is not to be worshipped as someone completely unlike us. It is in His humanity, His “lowly flesh,” that He is glorified. Likewise, it is in our humanity—through our many weaknesses—that we seek to grow in holiness. We do not have to experience miraculous visions to follow Jesus faithfully.

Christ became human to free us from our sins, not from our humanity. Underneath the stains and tarnish of the life of each of us, there lies the beauty of a human person—body and soul—created in the Image and likeness of God. God has deemed your person—your self—worth saving from sin, and Christ was willing to purchase your self at the price of His own life: at the price of His Body and Blood, soul and divinity.