Second Sunday of Lent

When the spark of faith lights up

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, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. 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.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; 4 then from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. 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. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.  Mk 9,2-10

It happens that, in the monotonous routine of days equal to each other, a person suddenly lights up brightly, or that, during a spiritual retreat, the Word of God lights up and, all of a sudden, allows us to grab the mystery. It is the beginning of falling in love, of a new life, as it happens in today’s passage to Peter, James and John. Mount Tabor, on which the scene takes place, stands isolated in the plain of Esdraelon, in Galilee of the common people, which, in the gospel, represents the place of the normal everyday life. To that mountain, where Jesus often withdraws to pray alone, he now goes with the three apostles, who are there to witness the manifestation of the Father: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him”. It is the same experience that, in private, Jesus had lived during his baptism in the Jordan: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Mk 1,11). It is the moment of his public investiture: Jesus, from heaven, is enlightened as the Christ, the cornerstone of the plan of salvation, of which Moses and Elijah represent the Old Testament, while the three apostles represent the future Church. It is the manifestation of a moment, as the unexpected flash of a lightning, because “Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them”. It is the Spirit of God which, on his own free account, enlightens certain people, situations and things at precise moments, and all of a sudden they shine with new light. This reminds me of when, fifty years ago, I met Anna Maria at her family’s house: it was as if the Spirit, at that moment, had lit her up for me. That moment was followed by meetings, the engagement, the marriage, the birth of our children and a life lived together, but it all started at that moment.
The same thing has happened to us with faith: the Lord called us, we stood up, we followed him and we went where he led us. After many years of walking, we can witness that, when our faith has been blinder, then we have just seen better. It is the same experience as all those who have met the Lord and have followed him. The crucial matter is not to let that light go out, because after that first flash, from time to time it keeps on shining.

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