After predicting his passion and death and outlining the
self-sacrificing conditions of authentic discipleship (cf. Mark
8:31-9:1), Jesus takes Peter, James, and John (three Apostles who
will later take on important leadership roles in the Early Church)
up a mountain.
There, he is transfigured before them in a sight almost too
wonderful to behold (cf. Mark (9:2-10). Also appearing with him are
Elijah and Moses, representing the Prophets and the Law, which are
fulfilled in the person of Christ, the Son of God (cf. Luke 24:44;
Notice the distinct Trinitarian elements in Mark's account:
three Apostles; Law, Prophets, and Fulfillment; and finally, God
the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In a scene remarkably similar to
that of the baptism of Jesus, a cloud descends, and from it a voice
declares, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!"
God reveals himself to the three Apostles, giving them a brief
glimpse of Christ in his glory, and connecting his appearance with
all that has happened before him throughout salvation history.
For the moment, Peter, James, and John are simply terrified and
mystified. Later, after the Resurrection of Christ, the Ascension
to God the Father, and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost,
this will all make more sense to them as they begin the work of
laying the Church's foundation.
Most interesting are three words at the beginning of the Gospel
passage that are not actually read at Mass from the
Lectionary: "Six days later..." Six days after
These three words tie together what follows - the
Transfiguration - with what preceded it - the prediction of Jesus'
passion and death, along with the costly demands of discipleship
(which Peter, at least, didn't want to hear).
So seven days after Jesus lays it all on the line and
tells his disciples what to realistically expect, he reveals
his glory. The three future leaders of the Early Church are
given a heavenly foretaste of what self-sacrifice in Christ, and
through Christ, will mean for all disciples through all ages.
In other words, after the harshness of what was told them six
days earlier, on the seventh day, they were given
And that is precisely what we celebrate every Sunday - the
seventh day, and the beginning of all the days to follow. We
celebrate the hope of the Resurrection that is ours in Christ, and
we enter into God's rest.
This was prefigured in Genesis' story of Creation: God "rested
on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God
blessed the seventh day and hallowed it" (Genesis 2:2-3).
On the seventh day, we rest in our hope in the New Creation that
comes to us through Christ. We are given a glimpse of the
transfiguration that awaits all the faithful who deny themselves,
take up their cross, and follow Jesus.
Truly, it is good for us to be here! Today, we behold the
Resurrection and the Life, and know that whoever believes in him,
even if he dies, will live, and that everyone who lives and
believes in him will never die (cf. John 11:25-26).
So, as Jesus asks Martha in John 11:27, before raising her
brother Lazurus from the dead: "Do
YOU believe this?"
Let us listen to him.