The Glory of Christ Revealed
Our Lord in today’s Gospel (Mark 9:2-10) climbs Mount Tabor with Peter, James and John and is transfigured before them. His face shone as the sun and “His clothes became dazzlingly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them.”
The fact that each year we read an account of the Transfiguration so close to the beginning of Lent is because it is a pre-figuring of Our Lord’s Resurrection. The Church is trying to show us that all our efforts of prayer, fasting and almsgiving throughout Lent will help us to share in His Resurrection, when, if we remain faithful, our mortal bodies will one day be raised up in glory to be like His. The Transfiguration is also a revelation of His divinity. This is not just God coming down to earth as a spirit. JESUS is revealing His divinity, His glory and His power in His own humanity.
In the vision He is also conversing with Moses and Elijah. Then a voice from the cloud above says, “This is My Son the Beloved. Listen to Him.” God is revealing to Peter, James and John that JESUS is no mere prophet. He is far greater than Moses or Elijah. He is the Son of God by nature. And once that revelation is completed, “then suddenly when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only JESUS.”
While the Transfiguration announces Our Lord’s divinity and Resurrection, it also prepares the three Apostles for the scandal of the cross. St Ephrem (306-373) says, “He took them up onto the mountain in order to show them His kingship before they witnessed His Passion, to let them see His mighty power before they watched His death, to reveal His glory to them before they beheld His humiliation.” The three Apostles who witnessed His glory in the Transfiguration were the same three who witnessed His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. So to strengthen them, they had a foretaste of His Resurrection.
We have here then the story of two mountains: Tabor and Calvary. They will have to descend from the Mount of Transfiguration in order to climb Mount Calvary. And that’s where we are heading this Lent. We go now to Calvary so as on Easter Sunday we can celebrate the glory of His Resurrection.
Fr Paul Gillham, IC