Jesus is close to those who are afraid. So, he can readily touch them to set them free from all their fears and worries.
Jesus takes with him Peter, James and John to go to a high mountain by themselves. And it is not that their works touch or move him to choose them. It is all due, rather, to the plan and grace of God.
And grace is even more necessary and should increase here, for it runs into stumbling blocks (see Rom 5, 20). Peter, after all, showed not too long ago the need to change his way of thinking. And James and John, too, will later leave no room for doubt that they are after their own interests. Does not Jesus choose these three, then, because they need God’s grace and healing touch the most?
But even after catching a glimpse of Jesus’ glory, Peter, James and John keep thinking as human beings do. First, they give themselves away as people who look for what is in it for them. In the words of Peter, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.”
Secondly, the three betray their lack of understanding. For they put Jesus on the same footing as Moses and Elijah. They forget that he is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. It is enough, then, that they listen to him.
Moreover, Peter, James and John have yet to overcome their fears and worries. The thought of Jesus as the Suffering Servant, rather than the conquering Messiah, surely keeps bothering Peter and the others. They fear, of course, for his life and safety. But they also worry about what would happen should he not be the Messiah that they hope for. Would not their leaving everything behind to follow him be for naught? And now they are afraid that they will die as they witness a theophany.
Jesus comes to touch those who are afraid.
Jesus approaches Peter, James and John to touch them. He reassures them, saying, “Rise and do not be afraid.” And they see only Jesus who tells them not to tell anyone what they have just seen.
So, it is not the time to see the lasting glory of the Son of Man. It is time, rather, to follow him on the way of serving, suffering and dying for others. In other words, we are, by the grace of God, called to take the only way that leads to glory. Yes, glory lies in shame, transfiguration in disfigurement, fullness in self-emptying. To live means to give up our bodies and to pour out our blood for others. To reach fulfillment is to reach out to others, to touch and lift them up.
Lord Jesus, your teaching and your example show that one can hardly do any good without conflict (see SV.EN I:75). So, touch us and give us the strength to bear our share in the hardship for the Gospel. And make us put the spread of the Kingdom ahead of our own interests (see SV.EN III:527).
8 March 2020
Second Sunday of Lent (A)
Gen 12, 1-4; 2 Tim 1, 8b-10; Mt 17, 1-9