The author of the Gospel of Mark is known for being succinct, his gospel being the shortest of the four. Though the details of each gospel event he recorded are brief, there is much contained within each of them. After only 13 verses (packed with meaning), Mark gets right to the ministry of Jesus, much of it about providing physical, emotional, and spiritual healing to many people. In general, all the healings are about becoming whole in spirit so that we can become the person we were meant to be, our truest, most beautiful self, finding happiness in God. Mark also writes about the ‘nature miracles’ performed by Jesus, such as walking on water and two stories of multiplication of food. For a succinct writer, that he describes two such food miracles is important. The first was done for Jews and the second for Gentiles, thus Mark was assuring his Gentile audience that salvation is for everyone, and that we all are in need of it! We are on this journey together, no one individual or group is more important than another. Unfortunately, we also share in the reality that we are broken and prone to sin. It is for this reason that God offers healing so that we can grow closer to Him in our work as disciples, building up the Kingdom. But more important to Him is that we discover the truth of who we are: good, beautiful, gifted, and loved.
We should note that in Mark’s Gospel all of the miracles of Jesus culminate with the most marvelous event of His life prior to His resurrection: the Transfiguration. Jesus knew that while the apostles were still quite rough around the edges, they were getting closer in readiness to take over the mission; simultaneously the time for Jesus to fulfill His ministry was growing near. While the apostles would not fully understand until after the death of Jesus, the moment was chosen for them to witness the reality of God as Trinity and that Jesus is the Son. We usually focus on Jesus in the Transfiguration event, but for a moment let us focus on the men present. Peter, James, and John never asked Jesus to perform miracles, nor did they pressure Him to reveal anything. Instead they observed, listened, and reflected upon what they witnessed, often confused and baffled, but trusting anyhow. There was nothing perfect about their responses to Jesus at any time, but they had the faith and openness to continue following Him.
When Jesus transfigured before the three men, it marked a dramatic shift in His ministry and in His teaching. It became more intense and almost urgent afterward. The event itself was a revelation of the immense glory of God, but for the apostles, however, it was overwhelming. Nonetheless, they must have reflected upon the experience for quite a while, discussing it amongst themselves while continuing to follow Jesus. The event surely evoked changes in them: in other words, they, too, were transfigured by the experience, albeit interiorly. They certainly did not become perfect or perfectly holy, but something within changed, perhaps their hearts and souls were being prepared for their future ministry as the first leaders in the church. While they had moments of great weakness, they never gave up before the Transfiguration or after it. And that is the entire point: we must be like them and never give up even when we are overwhelmed or frightened when things look bleak. The truth is that we do better than we think, just as the apostles did better than they thought. They had been transfigured, healed, and became more in touch with what was within them all along. But it was a process which required openness, trust, prayer and reflection, and they never gave up.
Yes, we do better than we think, but of course there always is room for improvement. Often we either deceive ourselves with the thinking that we can never be holy, or that our continued sins – (especially those we repeat no matter how many times we confess them) – will keep us from ever being worthy of doing anything for the Lord. Instead, let us look to daily opportunities for transfiguration. Just as the apostles were moved by the presence of the Living God glorified and visible, we can look within to find that very Presence which will indeed offer a daily transfiguration of some sort. It might be the need for God’s mercy or for strength in a particularly difficult moment; it may be to discern a situation, to have the time for the good works we want to do, to see the opportunities to do small things with great love as they present themselves.
Whatever it is, we have everything we need within our hearts and through the grace offered in the Sacraments. We must look within, listen to what is there, and be attentive to that which is going on around us. Just as the apostles observed everything, so too can we find the Lord offering some little miracle of transfiguration every day. The healing we seek is present; the transfiguration we seek is available. To discover it we need faith in God, time spent listening in prayer, trust in the unseen and seen, and to use what we find to build others up by following the way of Jesus. Thus, we will find that we are indeed good, beautiful, gifted, and loved through the presence of our God who reveals Himself in glory through and in us.
May we rely on Jesus to reveal His glory in us that we will see and believe that we are good, beautiful, gifted, and loved! May we be moved to pray, asking the Holy Spirit to help us become more attentive to daily opportunities for transfiguration! And may we be like the apostles, never giving up, especially when things are most difficult or challenging! Let us continue to meet in the Heart of Jesus! Peace!
©Michele L. Catanese
1. My photo: bowl with mosaic of Loaves and Fishes. I got this bowl while in the Holy Land and it depicts a mosaic which is found at the spot where the first multiplication was supposed to have taken place, Tabgha, Israel. For more information here is a great article. https://www.jeffangiegoh.com/?p=5380
2. Inset of a painting: The Transfiguration of Jesus by James Tissot. I cropped the painting to highlight the reaction of Peter, James and John as the event unfolded.
3. Image: Hebrew Name of God-Adam Kadmon, by Fr. William Hart McNichols. This is an image of the tetragrammaton, that is, I AM WHO AM, spoken by God to Moses at the Burning Bush. To obtain a copy for purchase in one of many mediums you can find it at https://fineartamerica.com/featured/hebrew-name-of-yahweh-adam-kadmon-183-william-hart-mcnichols.html
4. My photo: a sunrise, a type of offered opportunity for transfiguration as we are given the gift of a new day.
5. My photo: an iris taken at Dirleton Castle and Gardens in Scotland.
NOTE: In compliance with GDPR rules, I wish to make it clear that I do not gather any information on any of my readers at any time.
Heart Speaks to Heart