Let us look at the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2–8) with its obvious reference to the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan (Mark 1:9). At the baptism we read: “And just as [Jesus] was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased’ ” (Mark 1:10–11). How did Jesus feel as he heard these words, he the Jew of the first commandment? We can ask him to reveal this to us. Now at the Transfiguration Jesus has another profound experience of God. At least one can read the scene this way even if some commentators see the scene as a postresurrection appearance translated to the public life. Jesus has just predicted the Passion for the first time; he can sense the hatred and venom beginning to surround him. At this critical juncture he once again hears similar words, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him” (Mark 9:7). What a comfort these words must have been to him. After all, it is the leaders of God’s religion who are out to kill Jesus. Could he have had doubts about the course he was on? I know people who have cried with joy that Jesus heard such words of warmth and love and reassurance from God in this dark hour. And they have felt that the memory of this experience sustained him in the Garden of Gethsemane. How does the scene strike you? What is Jesus like for you?
—Excerpted from Seek My Face by William A. Barry, SJ
Image: Francesco Zuccarelli, “Landscape with the Transfiguration of Christ”