The 6th Week in Ordinary Time
(HEBREWS 11: 1 – 7; PS 145; MARK 9: 2 – 13
“Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain, apart by themselves. And He was transﬁgured before them.” I believe for this to happen Jesus sensed a movement, a call in His heart – the Spirit of the Father was upon Him. He perceived that something was coming, something special from His Father. “He was transﬁgured” – notice the “was” – Jesus did not transﬁgure Himself – He received this from His Father as an extravagant affirmation of love, as a conﬁrmation of His life which will end “in great suffering, in great contempt” – Jesus’ own words.
This transﬁguration, a manifestation of awesome splendor, of unspeakable glory enveloped the three disciples, the ones closest to Jesus’ heart. Peter speaks but confusedly because they were terriﬁed and then it was over. “Suddenly looking around, the disciples no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them” and they were sworn to secrecy by Jesus Himself.
Let us recall another scene – a garden where Jesus is assaulted, taken prisoner, led away. There Peter reacts with a sword in hand and then disappears. Later he is confronted by a maidservant of being with Jesus which Peter strongly – the very Jesus he saw transﬁgured. An intense experience of grace on a high mountain and then sometime later a threefold denial – a fear ﬁlled reply “I do not know the man!”
“All scripture is inspired of God and useful for teaching – for reproof, correction and training in holiness.” (1 Tim 3: 16) What might this passage teach us on our own journey to holiness? Because of God’s goodness and love, we too can have an intense experience of grace, of God’s presence – in Holy Communion, at Mass, at prayer, anywhere at any time, and then fail in some way. It happens – in life no one is exempt.
We are very aware that we do not become Christians, believers, monks in an instant; it is a journey of becoming – a life-long journey. Experiences of grace do not take away our humanness infected with original sin. Grace can move us along to grow stronger despite our sinfulness, i.e., if we desire that strength, conviction to move on.
Like Peter, we can be lifted up and like him we can fall down yet there is always our Jesus, the merciful Lord. After the Resurrection Jesus appeared to Peter and called him to love three times “Peter, do you love Me? Feed My sheep!” – a call to personal mission and the gift of personal forgiveness – imagine Peter deeply moved, perhaps in tears.
As with Peter, so with us, Jesus is always our merciful Lord “yesterday, today, and forever.” His words “I am with you always” stand as our source of peace, our hope, our permission to self-forgiveness and continue on. Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “He gives ﬁrmness to our inﬁrmity” – truth and beauty found in these words.
Jesus’ love is inﬁnitely greater than any failing on our part – inﬁnitely! Therefore, we are always people of hope and hopefully, becoming His brothers and sisters – more and more by the grace of desire until the “more” becomes perfect in heaven.