Every Sunday morning in Lent you will receive, as you are receiving here, a Meditation to activate your prayerful interest in the Gospel text chosen in the Catholic Lectionary. What is offered you each Sunday follows the pattern that you see below: Text, Points, Quotation, and Habit to Practice. A “point” for Prayer is a “location” in the biblical text to perceive more attentively, or a single thought to consider arising from that text. A “point” is meant to slow you down, to pique your interest in an effort of attention to the scripture which the Spirit desires for you to be “living and effective.”
After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.b And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. 4 Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. 5 *Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. 7 Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;* then from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” 8 Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. 
Points: on What the Transfiguration meant for Peter – a Contemplation
First Point – In the previous chapter, specifically at Mark 8:27-30, Peter (alone among the disciples), and by some special gift of divine grace, grasped and then was able to confess that Jesus was in fact the Messiah – “Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah’.” By saying this aloud, Peter was as much revealed to the others, as was Jesus’ identity revealed to them all by what Peter had just said about it. We might guess at some such conversation: “Did you hear what Peter just said? He said that this Jesus, from Nazareth, is the long-awaited, long-foretold One Who is to come. Messiah! That is startling. Do you think he’s serious? John the Baptist never said this about Jesus, did he?”
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
Peter caught them all by surprise that day (and maybe even himself). His confession made them consider that a lot more thinking had been going on in Peter than they might have guessed. (“And Jesus is not denying what Peter just said!”) I am guessing that everyone there at that moment (Mark 8:29) was paying a lot more attention to Peter than to the One about whom he had just made so bold a pronouncement. In Matthew’s account of this same moment, we gain the strong impression that Jesus Himself was taken by surprise by Peter –“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17) Perhaps Jesus was not expecting, not yet, that any of his disciples would have been given to understand who He was. Jesus’ Father had taken the initiative on this.
Second Point – But all of us know that it is one thing to have a profound experience, to receive an unlooked for clarity about, or to be given an unshakeable conviction concerning, a divine truth, but it is quite another thing to know what that experience means. And even though Mark states that Jesus told them frankly what “being the Messiah” meant – “He [Jesus] spoke plainly about this” (Mark 8:32) – it becomes quickly obvious that Peter did not understand. And Jesus let him know it: “Get behind me, Satan! You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns!” (Mark 8:33 NIV) For Peter to have received so profound a conviction about Jesus – “this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 16:17) – and then to have so fundamentally misunderstood what it meant, receiving so sharp and hurtful a rebuke by Jesus Whom he had just “flattered” so massively…. Well, it must have embarrassed him badly in front of the others (the honor-shame culture of the Middle East would disesteem making so withering a rebuke in front of others). But more significantly, it would have deeply upset Peter’s confidence that he knew (at all!) what a true religious experience was. “If what I felt with such conviction was wrong; namely, this fact about Jesus, and which fact I took such a risk to state openly, then I am not sure that I know what a right conviction is.” We could easily conclude that Peter was damaged by Jesus’ rebuke that day, coming so immediately after taking such a risk to say what he perceived about Jesus. This damage would need repairing … and the Father recognized this.
Third Point – This is how the repair was effected. We can imagine any number of reasons why Jesus was transfigured in the presence of three of Jesus’ closest disciple friends, but also in the presence of two much older friends: Moses and Elijah. There is a parallel between, on the one hand, Peter having “made known” the true or fuller identity of Jesus at Mark 8:29, and perhaps surprising even Jesus Himself that Peter had perceived this about Him, and, on the other hand, the Father revealing the true or fuller identity of Jesus to Jesus’ closest friends – “This is my Son, whom I love….” (Mark 9:7) and perhaps surprising even Jesus Himself that His Father would do this, and in this way, “letting the cat out of the bag”, if you will. This paralleling of the disclosure of Peter concerning Jesus, and then, a few verses later, the disclosure of the Father Himself concerning Jesus, suggests to me a certain divine kindness, sweetness even, towards Peter. The Father Himself is noticing and publicly confessing what Peter a little earlier had noticed and confessed. The Father “vindicated”, if you will, Peter’s insight into the true and fuller identity of Jesus – “Peter, you were exactly right about who Jesus really is; you were not wrong in what you perceived and confessed and blurted out (I gave you that grace, after all!).” Yet, both the Father and the divine Son knew that Peter, and all of the apostles, still had much to learn about the way God was to be Messiah. All of that would be clarified in time.
Quotation (and in homage to earthly life of the Reverend Billy Graham completed on 21 February 2018 after dedicating 70-years in public life at the service of God)
“’What is the greatest surprise you have found about life?’ a university student asked me [Billy Graham] several years ago. ‘The brevity of it,’ I replied without hesitation … ‘Time moves so quickly, and no matter who we are or what we have done, the time will come when our lives will be over. As Jesus said, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work”’ (John 9:4).”
Habit to practice during the Second Week of Lent:
It is so exceedingly easy for us to take each other for granted. The transfiguring of Jesus by the Father allowed Jesus’ closest friends actually to perceive the Gift that Jesus hiddenly was, to know Him as the Father knew Him. C.S. Lewis remarks at the end of his famous sermon “The Weight of Glory”: “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.” Sometime during this Second Week of Lent communicate to one person the particular “glory” you see in him or her – some really significant gift he or she has and for the sake of which he or she dedicates his or her life. Tell him or her as an encouragement what you see, and let him or her know why this that he or she is matters to others.
* Mark and Mt 17:1 place the transfiguration of Jesus six days after the first prediction of his passion and death and his instruction to the disciples on the doctrine of the cross; Lk 9:28 has “about eight days.” Thus the transfiguration counterbalances the prediction of the passion by affording certain of the disciples insight into the divine glory that Jesus possessed. His glory will overcome his death and that of his disciples; cf. 2 Cor 3:18; 2 Pt 1:16–19. The heavenly voice (Mk 9:7) prepares the disciples to understand that in the divine plan Jesus must die ignominiously before his messianic glory is made manifest; cf. Lk 24:25–27. See further the note on Mt 17:1–8.
b Mt 17:1–13; Lk 9:28–36.
* Moses and Elijah represent, respectively, law and prophecy in the Old Testament and are linked to Mount Sinai; cf. Ex 19:16–20:17; 1 Kgs 19:2, 8–14. They now appear with Jesus as witnesses to the fulfillment of the law and the prophets taking place in the person of Jesus as he appears in glory.
* A cloud came, casting a shadow over them: even the disciples enter into the mystery of his glorification. In the Old Testament the cloud covered the meeting tent, indicating the Lord’s presence in the midst of his people (Ex 40:34–35) and came to rest upon the temple in Jerusalem at the time of its dedication (1 Kgs 8:10).
 The Oxford English Dictionary at the verb “to confess” – “To declare or disclose (something which one has kept or allowed to remain secret as being prejudicial or inconvenient to oneself); to acknowledge, own, or admit (a crime, charge, fault, weakness, or the like).” But, the verb also means (as I will suggest in this First Point) “to make oneself known, to disclose one’s identity.” For a person to confess Someone is for the person confessing to be revealed as much as the One acknowledged by the one confessing.
 “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” – an Advent and Christmas carol by Charles Wesley written in 1744. “Charles Wesley, M.A. was the great hymn-writer of the Wesley family, perhaps, taking quantity and quality into consideration, the great hymn-writer of all ages. Charles Wesley was the youngest son and 18th child of Samuel and Susanna Wesley, and was born at Epworth Rectory, Dec. 18, 1707. In 1716 he went to Westminster School, being provided with a home and board by his elder brother Samuel, then usher at the school, until 1721, when he was elected King’s Scholar, and as such received his board and education free. In 1726 Charles Wesley was elected to a Westminster studentship at Christ Church, Oxford, where he took his degree in 1729, and became a college tutor. In the early part of the same year his religious impressions were much deepened, and he became one of the first band of ‘Oxford Methodists.’” See: https://hymnary.org/person/Wesley_Charles.
 The Greek here means “outspokenness, frankness” was considered by the ancient Athenians as a signature quality to be found in any Athenian of worth. So “plainly” here does not necessarily mean that Jesus explained with clarity, removing all confusion, about what “Messiah” meant; rather it means that Jesus did not hold back that day from telling them that frankly there was little of romance in the idea of Messiah – “the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected….” (Mark 8:31) What interests me here is that Peter’s “outspokenness” or “frankness” in stating that Jesus was the One, the Messiah, is immediately matched by Jesus’ “outspokenness” or “frankness”. Jesus goes there in the conversation, even though He had not expected that His Father would have chosen so soon to tell one of His disciples Who He, Jesus, actually was. He initiates the frank conversation – the first of the “Passion predictions” – because Peter’s confession made it a necessity. Jesus was following His Father’s lead – “Jesus, it is time. Tell them.”
 Mark McVann, “Reading Mark Ritually: Honor-Shame and the Ritual of Baptism,” ed. Bruce Malina, Semeia 67 (1994): 195. “It seems clear that the phenomenon of honor-shame as a cultural feature of first century Mediterranean society was accepted (though hardly uncritically) in Mark, since honor-shame concerns are inscribed into the Gospel at its three most important structural points. But the valuation of honor-shame is reversed in Mark, where persecution and the cross become sources of honor rather than shame. This reversal, however, is much stronger than a mere up-ending of the status quo. Mark’s interests range far beyond protest and social criticism. Rather, the consequences of the reversal are so powerful that the very system of honor-shame itself is thrown open to question: the savior of the world and God’s Son was persecuted, arrested, and executed in the most gruesome fashion the authorities had at their disposal.”
 Notice that Jesus did not transfigure Himself – “I think that I’ll go bright right now.” So we may consider the possibility that Jesus was taken by surprise by His Father, who made Jesus’ divine (Trinitarian) identity apparent on the mountain to those three disciples. It seems according to what we have noticed in the Gospel that Jesus would not “show off” in this way – transfiguring Himself. So we guess that His Father was up to something that evening on the mountain. Perhaps the Father desired to let Jesus’ closest friends – Peter, James and John – see Jesus in this very special way, for the sake of letting His Son have the fellowship of his best friends in His “secret” self. The disciples were given that evening to see Jesus as the Father saw Him. There could not be a more perfect instance of what each of us seeks: to be given to see Jesus as He is, not only in our contemplation of the Gospels but also as Jesus, the resurrected Lord, is right now.
 I think it significant, and worth another essay, to notice that Elijah and Moses did not appear – able to be seen by the three disciples – except through the Light that Jesus became in their presence. He was transfigured, and then only then did Moses and Elijah become visible. (Notice that “Then” at the beginning of verse 4.) Jesus’ divine Light is what explains how we are to understand even the greatest prophets or leaders of the Old Testament: to see Jesus in glory is finally to be able to understand the ultimate meaning of the sending of Moses and Elijah and the others.
 This colloquialism in English is analyzed by Wikipedia in this way: “The derivation of the phrase is not clear. One suggestion is that the phrase refers to the whip-like ‘cat o’nine tails’, an instrument of punishment once used on Royal Navy vessels. The instrument was purportedly stored in a red sack, and a sailor who revealed the transgressions of another would be ‘letting the cat out of the bag’. Another suggested derivation is from the ‘pig in a poke’ scam, where a customer buying a suckling pig in a sack would actually be sold a (less valuable) cat, and would not realize the deception until the bag was opened. Johannes Agricola made reference to the expression ‘let the cat out of the bag’ in a letter to Martin Luther on 4 May 1530 as referenced in Lyndal Roper’s 2016 biography about Martín Luther.”
 Lewis, C. S.. Weight of Glory (Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis) (p. 47). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.