Sundays Into Silence > Cycle B

2nd Sunday of Lent (B)

A Glimpse of God
Mk 9:2-10

Reflections by Fr. Gerry Pierse, C.Ss.R.
       The desert fathers have a story about a young monk who asked an older one, "How come that so many people set out to be good, and so many people come here to join the monastery, but after some time they leave again or give up the effort?" The old monk thought for a while and then answered. "Sometimes as you stand here in front of the monastery you will see a rabbit pass by pursued by the village dogs, barking and howling. After some time the rabbit comes back but there are only one or two dogs in pursuit. These are the dogs who actually saw the rabbit - the others were only following the barking. Likewise, if we are to persevere in our pursuit we must have had a glimpse of the rabbit - the Lord - and not just be following the barking." The Transfiguration is one of those moments of seeing the rabbit for Jesus, for the disciples and for us.

St. Luke tells the story of the life of Jesus as a journey towards Jerusalem where he was to be rejected, crucified, to die and rise again. The story of the transfiguration on Mount Tabor comes at a time when the tables have turned on Jesus. His popularity with the masses is waning and the opposition of the authorities is growing. The Human Jesus is full of fear and apprehension and the transfiguration is a time of needed reassurance. Elijah, the prophet, and Moses, the liberator, appear to him and from the cloud came this word, "This is my Son, the beloved; listen to him." In this story the writer is telling us of some kind of mystical deep experience of the Father that Jesus had at this time to sustain and encourage him as he continued on his fearful mission.

The disciples also need a glimpse of God to sustain them. They were going to be disappointed in Jesus as he would be in them. We must never forget that the disciples had a very limited understanding of what Jesus was about. They had some idea of the Messiah but the only way in which they could imagine his role was that he should drive out the Romans and deliver the people from political oppression. However, Jesus' kingdom was not of this world and instead of being lifted up on a throne as a king, becoming a political leader, he was lifted up on a cross to die as a criminal. While all of this was happening the disciples proved themselves to be disloyal and cowardly. So they needed a memory, a glimpse of glory, which they got in the Transfiguration, to sustain them when their hopes about Jesus were shattered and they had to face their own failure.

They got a glimpse of God, a glimpse of glory, at the transfiguration and that was to sustain them through the disgrace of Jesus and through their own failure. Sometimes early on in prayer the Lord can give us a glimpse of himself - a moment of closeness, a feeling of certainty about his presence, a call to commitment to the work of prayer and of greater openness in our relationship with him. Then that becomes a memory which will later sustain us in the bustle of everyday life and in the dryness of distracted prayer periods.

The big temptation is that of Peter to want to build a tent, a monument - to freeze the moment of presence. The poet William Blake said, "He who binds himself to a joy, does the winged life destroy, but he who kisses the joy as it flies, lives in eternity's sunrise."

Moses had an experience of God in the burning bush which had to sustain him for the 40 frustrating years in the desert. We tend to want to stay for ever around the bush and never venture out into the true experience of God in the desert.

The genuine presence of God is like something glimpsed in a rear view mirror. It has gone when you notice it. And that is as God wants it to be. We do not seek his consolation but only to be for him. This is what we do each time we meditate. But if we have had some transfiguration experience, some glimpse of the rabbit, it will do much to give us courage on our weary, yet, joy-full journey.

 

Taken from Sundays into Silence - A Pathway to Life. Copyright © 1998 by Claretian Publications

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Sundays into Silence

A Pathway to Life

by Gerry Pierse, cssr
380 pp., PhP 299, U$ 19.95

“The best word I can find to describe this book is integration. In these reflections on the gospel readings for year A, B, and C of the liturgical cycle, Fr. Pierse integrates the richness of the word of God with experiences and stories from life in the community. He shows how through silence, the word can bear fruit in service and sacrament.” (R. J. Cardinal Vidal)

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