Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him."(Mk. 9:2-10)
Excuse me, did I miss something in this gospel reading by Mark? Mark does tend to overlook important details of his stories. For instance, I wonder why Abraham failed to appear with Moses and Elijah in the Transfiguration event. Jewish tradition touted Abraham as a friend of God and the father of faith, but Mark leaves this great patriarch out of this event. Or what about the tents? Peter wants to build three tents when six people are on this mountain. What about the conversation between Jesus, Moses, and Elijah? Why did Mark ignore the essence of this conversation? So many questions. However, the real perplexing problem for me is how quiet the disciples were during this event.
First of all, Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a high mountain. When seeing God's creation overlooking the hills and mountains, one would think that this view would elicit an outburst of praise. The disciples failed to comment on God's grandeur. According to the Bible, the disciples see Jesus transfigured with His clothes changed to a dazzling white. Unfortunately, the disciples expressed no reaction to seeing Jesus transfigured.
Furthermore, Moses and Elijah from the Old Testament appeared, and yet, no one seemed astonished. After viewing these occurrences, you would presume that Peter's response would be more enthusiastic than, "Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." Regrettably, Peter's emotion is momentary as Mark stated, "He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified."
When reflecting further on this passage, we discover that the disciples' emotional reaction is irrelevant in this text. Reflect with me on the psalmist's wisdom, "Be still and know that I am God!" (46:11). Hear the psalmist shares a critical discipline in our spirituality -- we must be still and know God's presence in our lives. We must stand still and meditate on God's presence. There is an appointed time to "shut up." Silencing ourselves to hear God is vital. Our spirit needs space to discern the purpose in our lives for God's voice to penetrate our hearts.
For this reason, God's cloud casts a shadow to grab the disciple's attention. Once they were still, God identified Jesus as his beloved Son. God then ends the conversation by saying, "Listen to him."
Are you listening to Jesus, or are you wavering? Peter felt it was good to be on the mountain at one point and then found himself frightened. Lord transfigure me to hear your voice.
Are you in a sacred space to hear God's voice? Do you move from one channel to the next, looking for a word to make you feel good or a voice calling you to do good? Lord transfigure me to hear your voice.
Be still today. Let God's cloud shadow you. Be open to God whispering in your ears, "I love you." Lord transfigure me to hear your voice.
"In the shadow of your wings, I seek refuge till harm pass by. I call to God Most High, to God who provides for me" (Ps. 57:2-3).
Authored: Evangelist Michael P. Howard, MACS