Reflection on the Lectionary

Sunday News Sheet 11th February 2024 (Ordinary 3)

Psalm 50 : 1 – 6; 2 Kings 2 : 1 – 12; 2 Corinthians 4 : 3 – 6; Mark 9 : 2 – 9

The reflection for this week is by Local Preacher, David Bainbridge (Horfield).

Affirmation is I believe at the very heart of this episode in the life of Jesus. It was a validation of his ministry and would give him the courage and the confidence to continue. It was also a reinforcing experience for those three disciples. Whatever doubts they may have had from time to time about this man they’d become so attached to, this man who’d fired their imagination and whose ministry was causing such a stir, those doubts at least for the time being were being allayed. Furthermore, long after the event they would look back and draw strength from what they had shared that day on the mountain.

About a week earlier at Caesarea Philippi, Peter had made his great affirmation of faith when He said, “You are the Messiah.” It was there that Jesus had told his disciples that he would suffer. He was all too aware of the dangers and pain that lay before him on the journey he had to make to Jerusalem. We know it was his practice to take time out, when he’d find a quiet place and spend time in prayer. More than ever now he needed to have communion with his father and this time he needed to take his closest companions with him. There on the mountain, the disciples saw a change in his appearance, his face was shining. Then they saw Moses and Elijah talking with him. Moses the lawgiver, Moses who was the mediator of the old covenant, and Elijah one of the greatest of the prophets who helped to persuade people to return to the old covenant; two great figures of salvation history. What better endorsement could he have for his mission, but there was more. As Peter tried to prolong the experience a cloud came down and they heard a voice say, “This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased, listen to him.” What was affirmed at his Baptism was now being reaffirmed. And what powerful words of affirmation they were.

Affirmation is not a word we use a lot these days. Maybe it’s because we don’t engage in a lot of affirming action. We find it easier to criticise than to praise and that is probably made worse because we live in a blame culture. We are often quick off the mark to tell someone if we think they’ve done something wrong but tend to drag our feet when it comes to saying well done. We all need those positive strokes as it draws out the best in us and can give us the confidence to face life’s more difficult challenges.

There on the mountain, Jesus heard those words of affirmation from his father. What a thing to know before embarking on the most difficult journey of his life. A journey which he made to demonstrate God’s love for all humankind. Through him and all that he accomplished; we hear God saying to us my daughter my son whom I love and, as we in turn affirm each other may it give us the strength we need for the hard parts of our journey.

If we could bear your brightness here and stay forever in your light, then we would conquer grief and fear, and scorn the terrors of the night.

Alan Gaunt