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Gospel for Sunday, February 28: Mark 9: 2-10

Mark 9: 2-10

2After six days, Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and took them to a high mountain in a secluded place, alone. He was transfigured before them 3and his clothes became shining, very white: no fuller on earth could make them so white. 4And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 5Then speaking, Peter said to Jesus: «Master, it is good for us to be here; let’s make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah!”. 6In fact, he didn’t know what to say, because they were scared. 7Then a cloud formed that enveloped them in shadow and a voice came out of the cloud: «This is my beloved Son; listen to him! 8And immediately looking around, they no longer saw anyone except Jesus alone with them. 9As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to tell anyone what they had seen, except after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10And they kept the matter to themselves, but wondered what it meant to rise from the dead.

Mark 19: 2-10

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (www.buonabibbiaatutti.it).

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

This episode in the life of Jesus must be understood very well, also analyzing the parallel passages of the other Gospels (Mt 17,1-9; Luke 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 Booths, in which the Jews are still invited for a week to live in tents, in huts, to remember the wonderful moment of Israel’s engagement with God, the time of the Exodus, in where the people were desert nomads. On this holiday, the pious Jews were to go up to Jerusalem. Here Jesus and his children climb the mountain which is the place of theophany, of the presence of God. Jerusalem was the place of the Presence of God in the temple, the mountain is the place that recalls Sinai, where God revealed himself.

During the festival, it is customary to live in huts and 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 festival, Ecclesiastes is chosen, the book that says: “Vanity of vanities: everything is vanity!” (Ecclesiastes 1.2). Now Jesus in the previous verses (Mk 8,34-38) spoke to us precisely about these themes: denying ourselves, losing our life. Nothing is worth if not him, if not the Kingdom.

On the seventh day of the festival, people dress in white, and in the temple everyone has a light, symbol of the Torah, of the Law of God. Here Jesus is dressed in white, so white as it couldn’t be, and he is shining.

On the Feast of Tabernacles, the Jews celebrate the so-called “joy of the Torah”, the joy 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 revealed himself to him face to face” (Dt 34,10). As we have seen, Moses speaks face to face to God and to Jesus Christ the Lord.

During the Feast of Tabernacles, the chatan Torah, “the husband of the Torah”, is appointed as the prior of the feast. He is responsible for reading the Torah to everyone. Jesus many times will say of himself that he is the expected messianic groom (Mt 9.15; 25.1-13; Jn 3.29; 2 Cor 11.2; Rev 19.7-8; 21.2), and for this reason Jesus will accuse the people who reject him of adultery, in an obviously metaphorical sense (Mk 8.38; Mt 12.39; 16.4).

The feast ended 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!”, who proclaims Jesus as Messiah.

Given the parallels between the festival of Sukkot and the Transfiguration, we must make some observations:

  1. What probably happened? That Jesus took a day of retreat with his closest friends, went away and started reading the Bible, that is, Moses and Elijah. To say “The Scripture”, the Jews said “Moses and Elijah”, or “Moses and the prophets”. Jesus reads the Bible – this means speaking with Moses and Elijah – and in this reflection on Scripture Jesus becomes aware of being the Messiah and, by a divine miracle, this awareness is also understood by the three and the disciples who are with him. We do not want to deny God the possibility of transfiguring himself, of becoming white, shining, with all the rays around him, 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 the Scripture, in those moments we too speak with 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 life. Nothing prevents us from thinking and believing that an amazing event occurred, but we must read the Bible beyond the literary genre and recover the plastic sense of this passage, the concrete revelation that is 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 of Scripture, that Jesus is the chatan Torah, the groom, the hermeneut, the one who explains the whole Torah; evidently the end times have arrived, the prayer for the Messiah has been fulfilled, the Messiah is here among them and establishes the Kingdom. And since the Kingdom has arrived, creation becomes beautiful: “God saw that everything was good”, in creating the universe (Gen 1,4.10.12.18.21.25.31). What do the disciples say here? “It’s nice not to stay here, the world is all beautiful. You, Lord, have come in this moment and truly bring God’s creational plan to fruition. You are Genesis, you are our Paradise.” Then what was the cornerstone of the Jewish faith, the “Shema, Israel”, the “Listen, Israel” (Dt 6.3-4; 9.1; 20.3; 27.9), which was proclaimed every days in the synagogue, now it becomes obedience to the word of Jesus: 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 migliettacarlo@gmail.com.

Source

Spazio Spadoni

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