2021 2nd Sunday of Lent (B)
Have you ever seen a ghost? Have you ever been frightened by something you saw? I know people who believe they’ve seen ghosts. I’ve been to peoples’ houses to bless them against poltergeists; that’s what some experience: when things begin to move in a room. People are scared. So, you can understand why the 3 apostles were scared when they saw Jesus’ transfigured, then saw him with two people who had died centuries before. Peter was so scared he just kept talking. The gospel tells us, ‘Peter did not know what to say; they were so frightened.’ And they were alone. And they were in a remote place; no one could help them.
They would never forget this experience, but maybe that was Jesus’ intention. He allowed them to see something no one had seen before; they saw something of his divinity; it was a strange mystical experience; they’d later tell the others “you should have been there. It was weird.” They’d only seen Jesus in one light before. Apart from his teaching and healing he was just like everyone else. They’d got to know him well, which you do when you spend time with someone, especially if you live with them. They stayed together, walked together, washed together, ate together, had fun together. Yes, they knew him; or they thought they did till now.
Was Jesus preparing them for what was to come? He is on his way to Jerusalem where he will see him mistreated, abused, scorned and rejected. Later they will see people spit on him, hit him, laugh at him, then beat and scourge him, before putting him to death like a common criminal. Jesus knew this was going to happen. He knew it would test his disciples’ faith in him, so the transfiguration was a lesson for them: he wanted to open their eyes to see who he really was. And it was shocking. They’d heard God the Father call him His son. But soon they would hear people say, ‘crucify him.’ But these were not two people. Jesus wanted his disciples to know that he chose to suffer, to be humiliated and to die on a cross, even though he was the Son of God. When they saw him on Mount Tabor they were in awe of him but when they saw him on calvary they ran away. Later they would remember the transfiguration. It would help their faith during their own trials. If the transfigured Christ could allow himself to be treated so badly then so could they. The transfigured Christ and the crucified Christ were the same person. The transfiguration was then a preparation for what was to come.