2 Kings 2:1-12
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
This Sunday that precedes the season of Lent always focuses on the story of Jesus when he is “transfigured” in prayer as recorded in Mark’s Gospel. Matthew and Luke also tell this story of the experience of a small group of disciples. They see Jesus radiant with a light and intensity that was not produced by human techniques (“as no fuller on earth could bleach them”) but could only be the radiance of Divine presence. Along with this, they see a vision of Elijah and Moses with Jesus. It is noteworthy that this moment is brief, and the disciples are not to build a shrine to the moment, but rather to listen (follow and obey) Jesus, the beloved Son of God.
2 Kings gives us another dramatic moment when Elisha sees his master, the prophet Elijah, taken up in the glory of God. Again the focus is not so much on the dramatic event itself, but in what needs to follow as Elisha will take up the work that his master left for him to carry.
Speaking to the Christians in Corinth, Paul notes how the glory of Christ is veiled to people who are blinded by their focus on the “god of this world.” After all, Paul is preaching a glory that sounds different from what the world calls glory – a Jesus who suffered and was crucified before he was raised. To most people this is not a glory they want to share, but a scandal and a stumbling block. Who would want to follow and obey this man?
Comment: What is glorious in our eyes? In the Christian Gospels, the high point is not the story of Jesus when he is radiant on the mountain top in the company of three disciples. Even the resurrection stories of the Gospels are somewhat muted. The high point is the witness to Jesus’ suffering and dying on a cross – universally considered a shameful death. This is shocking, and if it isn’t, we are fooling ourselves. The invitation to me and you as we prepare for Lent, is not to build shrines that shut out the world and bask in the promise of glory to come. There are moments of this to be sure, but our immediate and urgent call is to follow Christ now in the hard work of bearing God’s light to a dark and often hostile world.