March 1, 2015

The Gospel Today

Second Sunday of Lent

Mark 9:2 – 10

Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
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.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

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.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.

Reflection (Sem. Eric Terrel):

Have you ever experienced something that is so great and beautiful that you simply just want to remain in that particular experience? I remember the time when I was in the second year of my seminary formation. During one semestral break, my batch mates and I had an outing in Davao which happened to be the home province of one of my batch mates. Initially, I had second thoughts of coming not because I do not want to go there but due to the fact that I have an important thing to do and I felt that I do not have sufficient time to accomplish it. Nonetheless, I was convinced to join them eventually as I also needed some time to pause and unwind. I realized later on that the place was so good especially with the different tourist spots. Moreover, the people were friendly and accommodating. The food was very delicious. Combining all those elements, there came a point that I said to myself, “I do not want to go back to Manila. I would rather remain here in Davao.”

In the Gospel narrative, the disciples Peter, James and John were the companions of Jesus Christ in their ascent to Mount Tabor. Actually, Saint Mark did not mention any reason behind their scaling of the said mountain. However, according to the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, mountains are the usual places of supernatural revelations and divine manifestations. This line reminded us of Mount Sinai, the site where God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses (Exodus 19 & 20). This was also the site wherein the Prophet Elijah discovered the presence of God not in the strong wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire but in a tiny whispering sound. (1 Kings 19:8-12) The three disciples eventually witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus marked by dazzling whiteness of the latter’s clothes. In addition to that, Jesus was also seen conversing with Moses and Elijah. The sight must have been so splendid that Peter could only say, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” With his line, Peter sounded as if he would like to remain and settle in such place and state. However, it is good to note that Moses did not remain in Mount Sinai after he received the Ten Commandments from God. Had he not descended, then the Israelites would not have received the Law that would serve as their norm and guide in living out their covenant with God. Elijah did not also remain in the same mountain. Had he not went down, then Elisha would not have been anointed as the next prophet of God for the people of Israel (1 Kings 19:19-21). It was good that Jesus Christ did not heed the words of Peter. Had He not descended, then how can the redemption of mankind from sin and death be fulfilled. As a matter of fact, Jesus Christ would fulfill this mission on a different mountain which was Mount Calvary during His crucifixion that led to His death.

When I said that I wanted to remain in Davao on October of 2010, I realized later on that my resistance in going back to Manila was attributed to the fact that I would have to confront the challenge of writing and completing my thesis paper in Philosophy. I would have to confront all the other challenges of being a seminarian and as a human person. We surely have experienced a lot of challenges in our life that made us wish to avoid or escape them as much as possible. In the same way that we might have also experienced beautiful experiences that we would have wanted to remain there forever. Nonetheless, what makes life truly exciting is the fact that it is a rich mix and a great interplay of pleasantries and challenges, of success and defeats, of joys and sorrows and many more. But more than the pleasantries and challenges, what makes life truly meaningful and worth living for is the fact that whatever the situation and the emotions that go along with it, there is always Jesus who accompanies us and tells us, “I am with you always, until the end of age.” (Matthew 28:20)

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