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Pastor's Column

Does Jesus Play Favorites in the Gospel?

Pastor’s Column

2nd Sunday of Lent

February 25, 2024

Duccio di Buoninsegna, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The level of spiritual maturity we have achieved in death is the level we shall have for all eternity. Jesus has taken his twelve disciples to the foot of a very high mountain in Northern Galilee, probably Mount Tabor but possibly Mount Hermon, which is much higher. In many ways it is better that we are not certain on which hill Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, which mountain he was Transfigured on, or for that matter, which of several candidates is the real Mount Sinai! Like so many places in the Holy Land, the actual location is not important: what matters is the message, for we can always visit these places in our hearts, when at prayer.

Notice how Jesus leaves nine disciples at the foot of the mountain and takes only three to the top. Imagine what the other nine must have felt like to be left out! We know there were issues about this, because just a few verses later in Mark we discover that the disciples had been having a heated discussion as to which of them was the most important! Could this argument have been precipitated by Jesus’ being selective about his choices at the Transfiguration? Probably so. Note they also had special roles chosen by God for them that required a deeper friendship with Christ, and this continues today. Let’s look at this for a moment. Peter, the head of the apostles; James, the leader of the Jerusalem church; John, the writer of the fourth gospel (and probably the longest lived apostle). Again, these same three would be chosen to be in the garden of Gethsemane, closest to Jesus.

Does the Lord play favorites? Actually, he has a role and mission for every one of us on earth, but this does not mean that we will all be equal in heaven, for Jesus makes it very clear that some will be greatest, others will be least. Just as the angels have a hierarchy, so will we. Jesus wishes us to strive for the highest place, but these positions will be given to the ones for whom they are destined, and those who most closely fulfilled the will of God while on earth. This is clearly seen in the beatitudes and many other places.

Transfiguration moments, the times we can see God’s will clearly in our lives, mountaintop experiences, should be cherished and remembered, because they are meant to prepare us for the valley of the cross that must come before heaven for Christ and each of his disciples. While faith in Jesus and repentance when we fail will get us into heaven, how we respond to the call of the gospel, my mission on earth, with my family, at work, at school, in traffic, when sick, in all the aspects of life, will determine the place I will have in heaven. For the level of spiritual maturity that we have achieved in death is the level we shall have for all eternity.

Father Gary ~


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