I preyed this morning with St. Mark’s account of the Transfiguration of Jesus, an event that lies in the center of Mark’s Gospel, halfway between Jesus’ baptism and his resurrection. And, indeed, it calls to mind both of those events – the brightness of Jesus’ clothes recalling the resurrection and the voice of God calling to mind the baptism.
The central moment of the event, what everything in the episode leads up to – is the moment when God speaks from the clouds, saying, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.”
And there is something quite specific we are to listen to. The Transfiguration occurs immediately after Jesus’ prediction of his passion (“the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected…and be killed, and rise after three days”) and His explanation of the conditions to discipleship (“whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me”).
Listen to Him. Understand that rejection, suffering, death and resurrection are integral to Jesus’ mission and, in the words of one commentator, that “the way of the cross is equally integral and inescapable for all who would follow him.”
This is not just a heady experience, a high on the top of the mountain. It is a reminder that discipleship is not just wedding feasts and banquets where a few loaves feed thousands of people, not just Jesus walking on water and healing people. To be sure, we have the promise of resurrection at the end, but before we get there, there is the cross – the cross that must be taking up by all who would follow Jesus.