The Transfiguration

Scripture Reading

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;
then from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, the disciples 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.
Then they asked him,
“Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
He told them, “Elijah will indeed come first and restore all things,
yet how is it written regarding the Son of Man
that he must suffer greatly and be treated with contempt?
But I tell you that Elijah has come
and they did to him whatever they pleased,
as it is written of him.” 

(Mark 9:2-13)


Scripture Study

9:2–8 The Transfiguration balances out the shock of Jesus’ first Passion prediction in 8:31–33, strengthening the faith of three apostles (9:2) destined for special leadership positions in the early Church. Beholding the glory of Jesus assures them of his divine Sonship and foreshadows their own glorification at the resurrection (CCC 554–55). Like Jesus’ Baptism, this event reveals the Trinity: the Father’s voice is heard (9:7), the Son is transfigured (9:2), and the Spirit is present in the cloud (9:7). ● Morally (Origen, Comm. in Matt. 12, 36): Christ led the disciples up the mountain after six days to show that we must rise above our love for created things, which were made by God in six days, to enter on the seventh day into the vision of Christ’s glory.

9:10 rising from the dead: The belief in a collective resurrection was accepted by many Jews during NT times (Dan 12:2; Jn 11:23–25; Acts 24:15). Only the Sadducees expressly denied it (12:18). The disciples are here perplexed that Jesus speaks of an individual resurrection, since they as yet had no clear understanding of a dying and rising Messiah (8:31–33).

9:11 first Elijah must come: Elijah’s reappearance was a common expectation based on the prophecy of Mal 4:5. ● In context, God promised to send Elijah to prepare Israel for his scheduled arrival on the “day of the Lord”. His mission was to restore family relationships (Mal 4:6) and the tribes of Israel (Sir 48:10). John the Baptist fulfills this prophetic role as the forerunner to Jesus (9:13). 

9:13 as it is written of him: As Elijah suffered at the hands of King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel (1 Kings 19:1–10), so John the Baptist suffered martyrdom by Herod Antipas and his mistress Herodias (6:27).[1]

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel presents the Transfiguration of Christ. What is the Transfiguration itself? Mark speaks literally of a metamorphosis, a going beyond the form that he had. If I could use Paul’s language, it is “the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.” In and through his humble humanity, his divinity shines forth. The proximity of his divinity in no way compromises the integrity of his humanity, but rather makes it shine in greater beauty. This is the New Testament version of the burning bush.

The Jesus who is both divine and human is the Jesus who is evangelically compelling. If he is only divine, then he doesn’t touch us; if he is only human, he can’t save us. His splendor consists in the coming together of the two natures, without mixing, mingling, or confusion.

Note how this same Jesus then accompanies his disciples back down the mountain and walks with them in the ordinary rhythms of their lives. This is the Christ who wants to reign as Lord of our lives in every detail. If we forget about this dimension, then Jesus becomes a distant memory, nothing more than a figure from the past.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 



[1] Curtis Mitch, “Introduction to the Gospels,” in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 81.