Readings: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; 2 Peter 1:16-19; Mark 9:2-10
As the days become noticeably shorter, the sun rising and setting further to the south, we celebrate the feast of Christ’s Transfiguration, when the supra-essential light of his divinity transforms the limits of his humanity.
This year we celebrate the feast with Saint Mark’s Gospel in which the Transfiguration is literally central. This account is right in the middle, the continental divide of Mark’s narrative. From Mount Tabor we look back to the Jordan Valley where Jesus, at the start of the Gospel, rises from the waters of his Baptism to a heavenly voice saying, You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.
Today, on Mount Tabor, we hear the same voice announcing, This is my beloved Son. Listen to him. And it is here, descending this mountain, that Jesus first mentions his rising from the dead. Earlier, before they ascended the mountain, Jesus first mentioned his betrayal, passion and death. The entire mystery of human experience–embodiment, contingency and glory–is delineated; here, too, the trajectory of divine compassion and redemption is revealed.
From Mount Tabor, we look forward to Mount Calvary where, close to the end of Mark’s Gospel, a soldier, an unbeliever, who has watched the Passion with unprejudiced eye, confesses at the death of Jesus, Truly this man was the Son of God. The voice from heaven is not here silent but has completed its course, the movement of incarnation pulling with it all of humanity, capable now of responding with this confession of faith. Truly this man was the Son of God.
God’s Word penetrates, transfigures human words, and renders them transparent so, even as their echo fades, the divine self-disclosure continues to shine through.