Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Back to the Future

by Br. Francis Wagner, OSB


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; 4:24).

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 what?

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 hope.

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.

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Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.