- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

February 23, 2019

Fr. John Denburger, OCSO [1]

6th Saturday of Ordinary Time
Memorial St. Polycarp
Hebrews 11: 1 – 7; Ps 145; Mark 9: 2 – 13

On this high mountain, in an instant, the Jesus they knew and were accompanying became someone so transfigured, so completely changed that they were terrified and dumbfounded. In a moment a glory never experienced by them before burst forth and was so consuming that even Jesus’ clothing was affected.

This awesome event, seen by the three especially chosen, was not an isolated event in Jesus’ earthly life; it is all part of the mystery of the Incarnation. Therefore, it has something to say to us about this mystery which will always beyond our understanding but not our contemplation or our faith.

In the course of the transfiguration, a voice is heard, the voice of the Father embracing His Son and instructing Peter, James and John: “This is My beloved Son. Listen to Him.” The Father absolutely and completely affirms His Son and clearly this affirmation went beyond words. Could it be that this awesome transfiguration was a gift from the Father to His Son? It seems to me that Jesus would not, did not bring it upon Himself – somehow that does not seem fitting in Him who “emptied Himself and took the form of a slave.” (Phil 2: 6)

There is a definite connection between this sacred event and Jesus’ passion and death. Coming down the mountain, to the disciples Jesus says of Himself: “…the Son of Man…must suffer greatly and be treated with contempt.” In His sacred humanity – a humanity like us in all things but sin – Jesus weighed down with all the evil of the world, bearing all the sins of the world, facing a horrendously painful death, feeling abandoned on the cross – will pray in Gethsemane: “Father let this chalice pass.” In His sacred humanity, so filled with anguish, so totally tested, might not this transfiguration be the Father’s infinitely consoling, affirming, strengthening embrace? What do you think?

In this Gospel the Holy Trinity is present – something of the infinite love of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit is revealed. For us, here and now, it is a welcome and grace-filled reminder of the mystery our God whose love exceeds our understanding – the One we profess “I believe in one God!”