FROM A READING FOR FEB. 25, SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT
'If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold His own Son, but gave Him up for all of us, will He not with Him also give us everything else?...' -- Rom 8:31-32


Sometimes, in our reading of sacred Scripture, it's important to put things into context. Sometimes, it's important to examine exactly where a section of the Bible is taken from in understand it more fully.

In Sunday's Gospel (Mk 9:2-10), the Lord Jesus is at a low point in His ministry. Just prior to the events of the Transfiguration, which we read about this Sunday, the Lord was gradually teaching His disciples, by His words and actions, some difficult lessons.

Mark, in his eighth chapter, detailed the feeding of the 4,000 and then the immediate challenge given to Jesus by the Pharisees, who demanded a sign. From there, the Lord healed a blind man, showing further proof that He was the long-awaited Messiah.

Then, in Mark's Gospel, the Lord Jesus asks His disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" Jesus then informs His disciples that He will suffer and die. Peter remonstrates, saying that he will never allow Jesus to suffer in this way, to which Jesus instructs His disciples on the conditions of discipleship.

Low morale
Did these men, the Twelve, know that they were signing up for when they followed the invitation of the Lord to come and follow Him? No doubt, at this point in their journey of apostleship, their morale is down and they are discouraged.

It's important to remember that Mark, in his Gospel, has Jesus keep what many Scripture scholars call the "Messianic secret." It means that Jesus is not going around screaming that He is the Messiah and that all need to believe in Him. He doesn't do that, because that's what all the other false messiahs who were swarming Jerusalem were doing. Jesus wants the people whom He encounters with His words and actions to come to the sure and certain knowledge that He is the one, true Messiah, and, by making this act of faith in Him, to come to eternal life. He doesn't want people to go around telling about His mighty deeds, because His time has not yet arrived.

Regardless, these Apostles, even having come to believe, are having their faith shaken. By taking His chosen Apostles (Peter, James and John) up the mountain, by showing them who He is in His transfigured glory, by having them encounter the law (as symbolized by the lawgiver, Moses) and the prophets (as symbolized by Elijah) and especially by hearing the words of the Father saying: "This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him," this inner circle of the Lord Jesus are reassured.

Radiant Jesus
Peter, James and John, seeing Jesus radiant in His glory, in the midst of their doubts, haunted by insecurities, and weighed down by anxieties, have their spirits lifted and, before the sorrowful events of the passion and death of the Messiah, see no one there but Jesus.

Note that, even with the full vision of the glory of God, the three Apostles still have doubts. The Gospel passage ends: "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."

Faith and doubt go hand-in-hand in this plane of existence.

Don't we need to hear this Gospel in the midst of our Lenten journey? When we doubt, can't we remember the times the glory of God has been shown to us, in little ways and in great ways, in the countless ways the Lord reveals Himself to us?

There is suffering and pain in this world, and we walk by faith, not by sight. But it is Jesus whom we should focus our eyes on, looking only to Him. He is Lord and God, and He loves us. Jesus is the Savior and wants us to be saved.

This week, as our faith is tested and the pressure mounts, remember the words of the Father to the Apostles: "Listen to Him." Jesus has words (and deeds) of love that reveal His glory daily in the midst of our troubles.

(Other readings for this Sunday include Gen 22:1-2,9A,10-13,15-18; Ps 116:10,15,16-17,18-19 and Rom 8:31B-34.)