Reflection: the Second Sunday of Lent

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church

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[Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone. There in their presence he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them; they were talking with him. Then Peter spoke to Jesus. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and from the cloud there came a voice which said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.’ When they heard this the disciples fell on their faces overcome with fear. But Jesus came up and touched them. ‘Stand up,’ he said ‘do not be afraid.’ And when they raised their eyes they saw no one but only Jesus.  As they came down from the mountain Jesus gave them this order, ‘Tell no one about the vision until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.’]

Peter, James and John seem to be the most intimate companions and disciples of Jesus.  Quite often we find them in the company of Jesus and especially when something extraordinary happens.  Today is no exception.  We are told that Jesus took them up a high mountain “where they could be alone”.  The mountain is an indication of a place where one goes to be in communication with God.  We have the example of Moses in the Old Testament and in the New Testament we often find Jesus going to the mountain to pray.  This time, however, Jesus also brought along these three disciples: Peter, James and John.

We are told that while they were on the mountain Jesus was transfigured and how: “his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light”.  It is quite easy for us to imagine this scene, but for these three humble fishermen this must have been something very extraordinary.  We cannot say exactly what happened but we can say that “splendour” was emanating from Jesus’ body.  To further complicate their vision, we are told that Moses and Elijah also appeared.  How could these disciples recognise Moses and Elijah, if they never saw them before?  They only knew about them through the Scriptures. In fact, Moses and Elijah are the scriptures because Moses represents the Law and Elijah represents the Prophets.  How could they recognise them?  Moses and Elijah appeared to them “talking with Jesus”.  So in this vision we have: Jesus’ body emanating light and these two figures, Moses and Elijah who appear to be talking with Jesus.  It was already difficult for Peter, James and John to see Jesus because of the light and the splendour that was coming from him … and yet they saw and recognised these two pillars of faith, Moses and Elijah.

It was Peter who could not contain himself and we are told that Peter expressed in words what he was thinking: “Lord, it is wonderful for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”  The vision was too much for Peter to handle.  Peter forgot about himself and his two companions. Then to further add to the complications of the vision before them, we are also told that a voice was heard saying: “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.”  Peter’s request/statement was not answered directly by Jesus but it was answered by this “voice” coming from the cloud. We are told that at the sound of this voice the disciples “fell on their faces overcome with fear”.  For them, the voice that they heard on the mountain was the voice of God.  Once again, God spoke on the mountain … to them.  This explains why they were ‘overcome with fear’.  It is not because of the extraordinary things that were happening, but because they understood that they were in the presence of God and therefore the voice they heard coming from the cloud was God’s voice.  Since they were afraid, they ‘fell on their faces’.  The action of falling on one’s own face is the action of someone who pays homage to and worships the person or the object in front of him.  When these three disciples fell on their faces, they fell to worship God whose voice they have just heard.  The voice spoke about Jesus, calling him ‘my SON the beloved’.  Furthermore the voice invited them to ‘Listen to him’.

This invitation to listen to the Son has the same weight as the voice that they have just heard.  The voice is inviting them to listen and therefore to accept Jesus on the same level that they accepted and understood the voice they have just heard.  Jesus is the Son of God and therefore they are to accept and understand him as the Son of God …  Eventually it was Jesus who reassured them with his ‘touch’, asking them to “stand up” and telling them “do not be afraid”.  At that moment when they looked up, they saw only Jesus and no one else … In that vision they have just witnessed what is written in the Scriptures about the Messiah: that he is the Emanuel, the God with us and that they are to follow him and to listen to him. However, it is very likely that they did not fully understand much at that precise moment … which is why Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone “about the vision until the Son of Man has risen from the dead”.

“Jesus, you are the Son of God.  Help us to understand throughout Lent that your presence amongst us is to learn to listen to the voice of the Father which is always ready to speak to those are ready to listen to him.  Thank you Lord.”

 

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

 

 

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