On the high mountain

Tomorrow is the 2nd Sunday of Lent in Year B. It is an account of the Transfiguration as told by St. Mark. You can read a full commentary on the Gospel here.

2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. 4 Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. 5 Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. 7 Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” 8 Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. 9 As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.

The first eight chapter of the Gospel according to Mark have been a display of the teachings, authority, and power of Jesus. These chapters include accounts of healings, casting out of demons, and the miracle feeding of more than 4,000 people – and yet the question still remained: who is this person Jesus? At Caesarea Philippi Jesus asks the disciples who the people say that he is (8:27) and received a variety of answers: “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And then the question is turned to the disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Messiah.”

Many scholars see this as a turning point in Mark in which Jesus begins to prepare his disciples for the events that will unfold in Jerusalem. It is at the revelation at Caesarea Philippi that Jesus first predicts his Passion (8:31-33) and teaches that being a true disciple means one must take up the cross daily (8:34-9:1). Soon enough there will be a second prediction of his own Passion, but before that we come to the narrative of the Transfiguration.

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