Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio Chapel of the Apostolic Nunciature Sunday, 25 February 2018
Gospel: Mark: 9: 2-10
The foretelling of the passion sank the disciples into a deep crisis. They lived among the poor, but in their minds they were confused, lost as they were in the propaganda of the government and of the official religion of their time. The official religion taught that the Messiah would be glorious and victorious! That is why Peter reacts strongly against the cross. Someone condemned to die on the cross could not be the Messiah, rather, according to the Law of God, he had to be considered cursed by God. 
In these circumstances, the experience of the Transfiguration of Jesus was able to help the disciples overcome the trauma of the Cross. In fact, at the Transfiguration, Jesus appears in glory and speaks with Moses and Elijah of His passion and death. The journey towards glory, then, is through the cross.
In the 70’s, when Mark is writing his Gospel, the Cross still was a great obstacle for the Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah. How could it be that one crucified, one who died as one marginalized, was the great Messiah expected for centuries by the people? The cross was an obstacle to believing in Jesus. "The cross is a scandal," they said. 
The community did not know how to respond to the critical questions put to them by the Jews. One of the great efforts of the early Christians was that of assisting people to see that the cross was neither scandal nor madness, but rather the expression of the power and wisdom of God. 
Mark’s Gospel contributes to that effort. He uses texts from the Old Testament to describe the scene of the Transfiguration. He shed light on the events of the life of Jesus and shows that Jesus fulfills the prophecies and that the Cross is the way that leads to Glory. 
It was not just the cross of Jesus that was a problem! In the 70’s, the cross of persecution was part of every-day life for Christians. In fact, just a little time before, Nero had launched his persecution and many died. Today, many people suffer because they are Christians and because they live the Gospel. How do we approach the cross? 
In Mark’s Gospel, the scene of the transfiguration is linked to the question of the return of the prophet Elijah (Mk 9:9-13). In those days, people expected the return of the prophet Elijah and were not aware that Elijah had already returned in the person of John the Baptist. The same thing happens today. Many people live in expectation of the return of Jesus and even write on the walls of cities: Jesus will return! They are not aware that Jesus is already present in our lives. Every now and then, like an unexpected flash of lightning, this presence of Jesus breaks out and shines, transforming our lives.