Jesus has the words of eternal life.  They go and listen to him, those who seek to pass over from death to life, from evil to good.

Jesus goes up the mountain to pray.  Coming along are Peter, John and James.  Why choose them?  It is surely not because they simply do not mind tagging along just to pass the time.  Perhaps it is because of their willingness and readiness to follow, which they showed when he first called them.

But in spite of the willingness of the spirit, the flesh is weak.  So, the three disciples fall asleep while they watch.  They need to do as Jesus:  pray (see SV.EN XI:76).

Moreover, the three are the followers of Jesus who show that they have a tough time understanding him.  He chides them for it in no uncertain terms.  It perhaps explains also why he wants them nearby; they have to see and hear closely to understand.

Sadly, however, as closely as Peter, John and James see Jesus’ glory, they still do not understand.  What Peter says shows he does not grasp what is happening; he does not know what he is saying.  That is because the one who earlier tried to make Jesus stumble now mistakes his transfiguration for his final glory.  It is enough for him, too, that he and John and James are there.  He does not seem to think of the others.  Furthermore, he puts Jesus on the same footing as Moses and Elijah.

The disciples’ fright also gives away their lack of understanding.  For them, it seems, the cloud—which tells them they are in God’s presence—only means certain death.   But the voice that comes from the cloud proves them wrong.  They are before God because he wants them to live.  He is telling them to listen to Jesus.  He is saying, in so many words, that Jesus is the Word on which they must live.

Jesus, the Son of God, is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.  He cannot but surpass, then, pass over, Moses and Elijah.

For truly understanding disciples, Jesus is the center.  The law and the prophets point to him.  Moses and Elijah pass over their own exodus and speak instead of his exodus.  True disciples, then, focus on neither Moses nor Elijah nor themselves, but on Jesus.  He is their leader, who enables them to pass over from sin to grace.

Paradoxically, however, disciples can pass over so, only if they follow Jesus to the end, to the cross, to self-emptying love.  They can pass from death to life, from darkness to light, from loss to gain, if they can get past their yearning for “an honorable retirement” (see SV.EN I:15)

Lord Jesus, grant that we may imitate you and pass through this world, go about, doing what is right, good and true.

17 March 2019
Second Sunday of Lent (C)
Gen 15, 5-12. 17-18; Phil 3, 17 – 4, 1; Lk 9, 28b-36


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