“Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves…Elijah appeared to them along with Moses. They conversed with Jesus. Peter replied to Jesus “Rabbi, it is beautiful 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. A cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud a voice, came “This is my beloved Son. Listen of him.”
Father will read this Gospel Second Sunday of Lent at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada. At our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, we will notice a set up steps that ascent to what the Navy calls the quarterdeck, and we call the altar. After Father processes down the aisle, he will ascend the mountain of those steps. We will purify ourselves with the penitential rite and the first reader, Moses will ascend of the mountain of those steps. When he arrives, he will read what Jewish community calls the עקידת יצחק, the Akeidat Yitzchak. The story is so profound the Muslims call it the Dhabih ذبيح. It is significant in Jewish, Muslim, and Christian religions.
We will also sing songs, and Psalm 116, part of Hallel, Psalm 113-118, “הלל, “Praise” the song that is the very center of the Jewish Bible. This song has the shortest chapter, Psalm 117, and is next to the longest chapter, 119. All observant Jews sing this song as part of the Passover liturgy, including Jesus at the Last Supper, Mark, 14:26.
After the cantor leaves the podium, Elijah, in the person of the second lector will ascend the mountain to read from Romans, chapter 8. Father will read the reading from St. Mark about the transfiguration.
Have we seen the transfiguration? “A cloud came, casting a shadow over them.” This is not just any cloud. This is the cloud of Mount Sinai. Deuteronomy 4 speaks of that cloud, “You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while the mountain blazed to the heart of the heavens with fire and was enveloped in a dense black cloud…”
Some argue, probably correctly, that the mountain was a volcano. The clouds at a volcano create their own lightning. Fire comes from the top of the volcano. It is a very electrifying experience. This fire and lightning was so electrifying it caused the people to be afraid to approach the mountain. We see this today when we see people afraid to approach the Eucharist. They either remain in their seats, or afraid to come to close, choose a blessing and not to encounter the host.
“From the cloud a voice, came “This is my beloved Son. Listen of him.” Listen of him. We do that as we pay attention to the reading and to its interpretation by Father through his homily. Just what do we learn of him? The next section is the healing of the epileptic, in the first three Gospels. Mark 9:14-29. Jesus says, “This kind can only come out through prayer.” There is only one prayer in the section, “Jesus said told the father, “If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.” The boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” The prayer is not for healing, but for faith, which heals.
In the readings for the Second Sunday of Lent, we learn of Jesus who calls us to faith. We read of Jesus who heals people. We read of the power of community. The boy has no faith in the middle of his grand mal seizure. His father, representing community calls for faith. This faith brings healing. Let us read of Jesus, not just at Mass, but always, learning how he heals people, by bringing faith and hope to all people, regardless of faith, color, creed, or national origin. Learn of Jesus who does not come to judge the cosmos, but so the cosmos might have life, life to its fullest. John 10:10 John 3:16-17 Did we see the transfiguration. If we say no, did we not pay attention at Mass?