Meditation on Scripture: Mark 9:2 “Transfiguration”
Excerpt from the Russian book “Day by Day” for December 18 (31), translated and presented by Dimitry Zarechnak
Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Washington, DC
September 9, 2018
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“Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And He was transfigured before them”
The Lord took with Him to Mt. Tabor those disciples whom He deemed worthy of seeing His glory: Peter, ardent in faith and impetuous in action, James, the future martyr, humble in obedience, and John, who through his love earned the love of the Savior more than the others.
He “led them up a high mountain apart”. How often the Lord sought the silence of solitude! He constantly leaves the crowd and leads his disciples away, so that they may rest and collect themselves: ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while’, he would tell them (Mark 6:31).
Worldly people seek entertainment in noisy pleasures. God’s people, shunning crowds, go deep into their thoughts, and concentrate on ‘the only thing needful’.
In Luke’s gospel it says that He “went up the mountain to pray” (Luke 6: 12). Throughout His earthly life the Savior apparently needed to pray. He retired to pray in order to be in uninterrupted communion with the Father, wherein He found strength and consolation. In beginning His mission on earth, He prays; at night, He prays; in Gethsemane, preparing to suffer and die, He prays; on the cross, in His agony preceding death, until the final moments of His life, He does not cease praying, and constantly urges His disciple to pray: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Mark 14: 38).
The mountain onto which He leads His disciples represents the difficult, thorny path that we must travel in order to rise to the heights of true prayer. The power of prayer is a great mystery. However, in its simplicity it is accessible to the pure soul of a child. It would seem that it is easy to pray – for the spirit of prayer is sometimes manifest in a single sigh, in a single glance, but it is a great feat, a supernatural feat – it is the work of God in the human soul.
Only Christ can perform this wonderful act in our heart. He alone will lead us, like His disciples, along the narrow, steep, rocky path leading up to the high mountain. He will support us and carry us in His arms, removing all obstacles. Following Him, we will reach the summit and receive the reward waiting for the disciples on Mt. Tabor: there, far from the noise and commotion of the world, they heard only the voice of the Savior – they saw in Him the Son of God, they were witnesses to His everlasting glory. And likewise for us, when we ascend in spirit to the Lord, leaving behind all the temptations and enticements of the world, He will let us taste the inexpressible bliss of closeness to the Lord which will give us strength in our daily struggles, firmness in trials, and consolation in sorrow.
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