March 9, 2009

Sweet and Sour

2nd Sunday of Lent (B)
Mark 9:2-10 “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to

In our gospel today, Jesus knows that he will suffer and die on the cross. But he also knows that three days after, the Father would raise him up. Reading the first half of the Gospel of Mark, we could see that Jesus spoke three times of His suffering, death, and rising after three days; but the disciples failed to understand. They could not accept that the Messiah must suffer and die in humiliation to save humanity. It was scandalous and unacceptable for them to see Jesus suffers. Peter even scolded Jesus when He spoke of his impending death on the cross (Mark 8:32).

It is in this context that Jesus decided to reveal to them what’s life after the cross. He brought Peter, James and John to the mountain to experience a foretaste of what’s ahead of those who faithfully carry their crosses: a glimpse of resurrection via transfiguration. Unfortunately, there is only one and only way to resurrection: the way of the cross.

When they reached the mountain and Jesus started praying to the Father, His clothes became dazzling white! Elijah and Moses appeared. And they heard the words of a proud Father, “This is my beloved Son, LISTEN TO HIM.” The words of the Father are actually the synthesis of the life of Jesus – listening and obeying the Father.

Jesus is like us in all things except sin. He knows fear, anger, being abandoned, betrayed by friends, insulted by many, and misunderstood by his disciples and family. During those moments where Jesus could already sense his impending suffering and death, He needs to come to the Father and listen without any reservation. He knows that the Father is the only one who can give him strength and courage.

Unfortunately, the disciples misunderstood the transfiguration experience. The disciples were thrilled with the transfiguration’s triumphant mood. Peter even said, “Let us make tents here!” They just wanted to stay in the mountain in the company of Moses and Elijah. They did not want to go to Jerusalem. They were reluctant to carry their daily crosses as Jesus commanded them.

During Lent, we love praying the Way of the Cross, but we don’t want to live it. Sometimes we are tempted to say, “Lord, can we skip the Good Friday and go straight to Easter?” But life is not like that. There’s no genuine Easter celebration without faithfully undergoing our Good Fridays. Reality bites. We can’t run away from our daily trials. The more we run away from our cross, it becomes heavier. But when we embrace it, it becomes lighter! That’s the irony of the cross. Stand up for Jesus. Carry your cross. It’s your “grace-filled” opportunity to share in Jesus’ Paschal mystery.

Transfiguration is a glimpse of what’s ahead of us to encourage us to hold on and faithfully carry our daily trials and crosses in life. Follow the footstep of Jesus. Faithfully go to your mountain (prayer time) and LISTEN TO THE FATHER. Those who earnestly seek God in prayer will never be disappointed. God will give them courage, strength, and hope to face their crosses – that’s transfiguration!

This Lenten Season, don’t just pray the Way of the Cross. Live it! There’s victory ahead of us. Life is a sweet and sour experience!

- Fr. Willy M. Samson,SJ
House of Spirituality, Silsilah
March 8, 2009

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