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Gospel for Sunday, February 25: Mark 9:2-10

II Sunday in Lent B

2 After six days, Jesus took with him Peter, James and John and led them up a high mountain to a secluded place, them alone. He was transfigured before them 3 and his garments became resplendent, very white: no launderer on earth could make them so white. 4 And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. 5 Then taking the floor, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah!”.6 For he did not know what to say, for they were seized with fright. 7 Then a cloud formed, enveloping them in shadow, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him!” 8 And immediately looking around, they saw no one but Jesus alone with them.
9 As they came down from the mountain, he commanded them not to tell anyone about what they had seen until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 And they kept it to themselves, wondering, however, what it meant to rise from the dead.”

Mk 9:2-10

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather ( Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

This episode in Jesus’ life needs to be understood very well by also analyzing the parallel passages in the other Gospels (Mt 17:1-9; Lk 9:28-36). We must first identify the liturgical moment that Israel was celebrating on that occasion. It was the feast of Sukkot, the Feast of the Tents, on which Jews are still invited for a week to live in tents, in huts, to remember the wonderful time of Israel’s betrothal to God, the time of the Exodus, when the people were desert nomads. On this feast, the pious Jews were to go up to Jerusalem. Here Jesus and his people went up the mountain that is the place of theophany, of God’s presence. Jerusalem was the place of God’s Presence in the temple; the mountain is the place that reminds us of Sinai, where God revealed Himself.

During the feast, it is customary to live in huts, in tents. Here Peter says to Jesus, “Let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah.”

During the first six days of the feast the Qohelet, the book that says, “Vanity of vanities: all is vanity!” (Qo 1:2). Now Jesus in the previous verses (Mk 8:34-38) spoke to us about these very issues: denying ourselves, losing our lives. Nothing is worth but him, but the Kingdom.

On the seventh day of the festival we are dressed in white, and in the temple everyone has a light, a symbol of the Torah, the Law of God. Here Jesus is clothed in white, so white that more is not possible, and he is shining.

On the Feast of Tabernacles, Jews celebrate what is called “Torah gladness,” the gladness of the Law. It is a liturgical celebration in which chapters 33 and 34 of Deuteronomy are read. In them we read, among other things, “In Israel there was no longer a prophet like Moses: the Lord had manifested himself to him face to face” (Deut. 34:10). As we have seen, Moses speaks face to face to God and Jesus Christ the Lord.

During the Feast of Tabernacles, the Torah chatan, “the groom of the Torah,” the prior of the feast, is appointed. He is appointed to read the Torah to everyone. Jesus many times will say of himself that he is the expected messianic bridegroom (Mt 9:15; 25:1-13; Jn 3:29; 2 Cor 11:2; Rev 19:7-8; 21:2), and for this Jesus will brand the people who reject him with adultery, in an obviously metaphorical sense (Mk 8:38; Mt 12:39; 16:4).

The feast would end in the synagogue with a prayer for the coming of the Messiah. Here it is God himself who says, “This is my beloved son: listen to him!” proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah.

Given the parallels between the Feast of Sukkot and the Transfiguration, we need to make some observations:

1. What probably happened? That Jesus took a day of retreat with his close friends, went away mount and started reading the Bible, that is, Moses and Elijah. To say “The Scripture,” the Jews used to say “Moses and Elijah,” or “Moses and the prophets.” Jesus reads the Bible-this means talking to Moses and Elijah-and in this reflection on Scripture Jesus becomes aware that he is the Messiah, and by a divine miracle, this awareness is also understood by the three to the disciples who are with him. We do not want to deny God the possibility of transfiguration, of becoming white, shining, with all the rays around, but it is much closer to us to think that when we manage to find half a day to retreat to a mountain to read Scripture, in those moments we also talk to Moses and Elijah, on those occasions God reveals himself to us and transfigures us, tells us that we are his children, makes us understand our mission, gives us courage to carry on with our lives. Nothing prohibits us from thinking and believing that a resounding event took place, but we must read the Bible beyond the literary genre and recover the plastic meaning of this passage, the concrete revelation given to us in it.

2. In the liturgical context, celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles, the disciples understand that Jesus is the Messiah announced by all Scripture, that Jesus is the Torah chatan, the bridegroom, the hermeneut, the one who explains all Torah; evidently the last times have come, the prayer for the Messiah has been fulfilled, the Messiah is here among them and establishes the Kingdom. And because the Kingdom has come, creation becomes beautiful: “God saw that everything was good,” in creating the universe (Gen 1:4,10,12,18,21,25,31). It is here the disciples say what? “It is good not to stay here, the world is all good. You, Lord, at this time have come and truly bring God’s creation plan to completion. You are Genesis, you are our Paradise.” Then what was the cornerstone of the Jewish faith, the “Shemah, Israel,” the “Listen, Israel” (Deut. 6:3-4; 9:1; 20:3; 27:9), which was proclaimed every day in the synagogue, now becomes obedience to Jesus’ word: the Father says, “This is my beloved son: listen to him!”.

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


Spazio Spadoni

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