Most of us live lives that are far too frantic. We are busy from morning to night with work, kids, cleaning, meals, answering e-mail, and a hundred other things. When I finally sit down in the evening to relax and catch up with CNN, I usually fall fast asleep in my recliner! Did that ever happen to you? Perhaps you wake up with someone asking you “Aren’t you listening?” Perhaps the show is almost over, and you’ve missed the main point and whatever you’re watching doesn’t make any sense. When that happens to me, I get up from my chair and go to bed!
The apostles in today’s gospel fall asleep during prayer on the mountain. I’ve done that, too. The disciples wake to witness Jesus’ conversation with Elijah and Moses about His upcoming journey to Jerusalem and his own personal exodus. They awake to see the transfigured glory of the Lord, but miss the conversation on how it will happen. Mark lets us know that glorification always takes for granted suffering.
Jesus transfiguration can’t erase the reality of his self-offering. Glory comes through the cross. This is the paradox of our faith. We too need to embrace suffering in order to find our way of life.
Peter wants to remain in the place of glory, in the clouds. He asks to set up tents for the three. The only way to remain in Jesus’ glory is to accept the challenge of our baptism and recognize Jesus as the beloved son and “listen to him.” This means that we take to heart the gospel. Daily we must die to ourselves and live for others. Even in the glorious moment of transfiguration we’re reminded that the only way to remain in that glory is to die to self.
Peter and his friends were asleep and became fully awake thanks to what they saw. We need to see the presence of God around us and become fully awake to our call to be disciples of Jesus every day of our lives and in every circumstance in which we find ourselves without any excuses. We have to come off our own mountain and journey with Jesus to Jerusalem during this season of Lent and always.
Today St. Paul compares the fate of true believers with that of opponents of the gospel. He warns his hearers to follow his own example and the example of those who imitate him in his commitment to Christian living. The enemies St. Paul mentions were Gnostic Christians whose view of the end times led them to believe that they had already passed into some sort of a spiritualized form of existence. They saw little value in embracing suffering or the cross of Christ, since they were already living “resurrected” lives.
True believers know that we have to embrace the cross, and then, with Christ's coming, we will be transformed into his glory. Today’s reading of the gospel of the transfiguration reminds us of the path Jesus must take, and the path we must take as his disciples.