Lent 2 (25/2)

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This week’s lectionary offers us a choice of gospel readings: Mark 8:31-38 and the story of the Transfiguration which follows it in Mark 9:2-9.

The end of Mark 8 sees Jesus at Caesarea Philippi, the most northerly point of his travels before he turns and heads back towards Jerusalem. Following an interaction with his disciples where he asks them: “Who do you say that I am?” and the disciples respond variously – John the Baptist, Elijah or one of the prophets- Jesus sternly orders them not to tell anyone about him. And then he begins to teach them about the suffering that the Son of Man will undergo. This suffering is not only for Jesus: but he tells them that those who wish to be his disciples will also need to deny themselves, to take up their cross and follow him. This is the challenge of discipleship: together as a community considering what this means is a worthy task for this second week of Lent.

Jesus then juxtaposes the challenges facing the disciple with the hope that is to come for those who follow Jesus. The Greek word meaning “life” (psychē) that is used here can be understood in two different ways: either as the person’s everyday life that will end in death, or paradoxically as referring to the ‘end times’ or life beyond death, anticipating the resurrection.  “Those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it”, says Jesus.

The second choice of reading from Mark follows on from this reading with the story of Jesus, Peter, James and John ascending the mountain together. The disciples see Jesus transfigured before them: his clothes becoming a dazzling white colour. The white being described here is a colour that is more brightly white than a Fuller (cloth maker) can make it. Jesus is flanked by Moses and Elijah. Peter, overcome by fear, suggests that they make three dwelling tents, one each for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Peter has misunderstood the glorious vision he has seen: and has not been able to make sense of it in the light of what Jesus is telling them about the Son of Man and the suffering he will undergo. Rich fodder indeed for a community to make sense of together!

Psalm 22:23-31 provides another helpful lens through which to view God, and to understand the hope offered at the end of Mark 8. For liturgical worshipping communities reflecting on this psalm would offer an interesting way into either of the texts from Mark 8 or Mark 9.

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Written and Compiled by

Rev Sandy Brodine

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