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Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

I am Peter!

A Reflection on Mark 9:1-10 N.A.B.
By: Larry T

Peter, James, John, and Paul were the four pillars of Jesus’ emerging Church. Peter, James, and Paul were ultimately murdered for preaching the Good News. Peter was crucified; James and Paul were both beheaded. Clearly, their faith in Jesus enabled them to face their executions, but why were they so loyal to him? It is true that Peter, James, and John had seen Jesus perform various healings and miracles, but it was probably the Transfiguration of Jesus, the empty tomb, and Jesus’ physical resurrection that cemented their faith. The Transfiguration was meant to be a wellspring of power and hope for them.

1 He also said to them, “Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come in power.”
2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them,
3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
4 Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus.
5 Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
6 He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
7 Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
8 Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.
9 As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.
- Mark 9:1-10 N.A.B.

What did Jesus mean when he said “Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come in power.”? This statement has been the source of much debate and speculation through the centuries. Just what did Jesus mean? Theologians and biblical scholars do not all agree on the meaning, but some convincingly argue that placement of this statement immediately before the Transfiguration clearly relates it to the Transfiguration event. Following this line of thinking, Jesus promised Peter, James, and John that they would personally witness the coming of the Kingdom of God “in power.”

Then, Jesus led them up onto a high mountain where he was transfigured before them and “and his clothes became dazzling white such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.” The astounding whiteness of His clothing reflected His transfigured glory.

Moses (the lawgiver and liberator) and Elijah (the first great prophet) suddenly appeared and began speaking to Jesus. With one foot in the Old Testament and one foot in the New Testament, Jesus is undoubtedly the new Torah.

Next, the whole Trinity appeared: the Father in the voice; the Son in the man; the Spirit in the shining cloud (C.C.C. 555). With, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.” the Father revealed Jesus to be his Son, representative, and revealer, then he gave divine authority to Jesus’ teachings.

The Second Letter of Peter to the Christians wasn’t written by Peter, but by an anonymous author. Still, it was based on oral tradition that summarized their Transfiguration experience, so we know that it had a deep-rooted effect on them.

16 We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.
17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory, “This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
18 We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain. - 2 Peter 1:16-18 N.A.B.

Later on, Peter vehemently denied Jesus three times, so we know his faith was still being formed. Imagine the bewilderment when he ran to Jesus’ burial tomb and saw that it was empty. On its own, the empty tomb didn’t mean much to him because Jesus’ body could have been stolen or it might have even been the wrong tomb. Nonetheless, he was certain that Jesus had died on the cross because one of the Roman soldiers plunged his spear into Jesus’ side (John 19:34 N.A.B.). It was only when Peter could see and speak with the physically resurrected Jesus that his faith was completely formed, and he could become one of the four leaders of the early Church.

As we reflect on the Transfiguration of Jesus, we might take the time to relax, take a few deep breaths, close our eyes and imagine that we are walking side by side with Peter. Can you hear loose gravel and small rocks crunch under our sandaled feet as we climb the mountain? We’re all gasping for breath and grunting as we struggle to keep up with Jesus. Rivulets of sweat stream down our foreheads into our eyes stinging them. Jesus is suddenly transformed. His clothing is so blindingly white that we can’t bear to look directly at him. Imagine our terror when Moses and Elijah magically appear. Moses and Elijah! Have we all died? Panic stricken, Peter foolishly blurts out something about building three tents. Then the cloud appears and we hear the voice of God the Father. In an instant it’s all over. What are we thinking as we carefully and silently make our way down the mountain? What just happened? Was it real? Was it a group hallucination?

Peter’s spiritual journey progressed from simple curiosity about Jesus to partial faith, then to half faith, and finally to rock solid faith in the Lord. Especially at this time of the year, as we work our way through Lent into and through the Easter season, we should set aside time to walk with Peter through each spiritual event as we just did through the Transfiguration. Be overcome with love for Jesus at the Last Supper as Peter was. Feel our blood pressure skyrocket and our bodies stiffen in rage as we see our beloved Jesus being brutally arrested. Share in Peter’s disgrace and despair at denying Jesus. Recoil in horror at Jesus’ crucifixion. Sense the desolation of the eleven disciples at Jesus’ death. And finally, be overcome with pure joy at being with the resurrected Lord. Peter’s spiritual journey is an example for all Christians; his faith journey from beginning to end is our faith journey. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow! This reflection is going to stay with with me. Thank you so much for writing it.


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