Transfiguration and Glory

The-Theory-of-Everything-c2Every year the Gospel for the Second Sunday in Lent is always one of the accounts of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Be it written by Matthew, Mark, or Luke, each account speaks of Jesus transfigured so that the Glory of God, the Shekhinah, is revealed to the disciples in the person of Jesus. Today, you will hear Mark’s version (9:2-10). The meaning of the Transfiguration is complex and varied, but among its meanings, is that it points to the glory that awaits us as co-heirs of eternal life, and that Christ “has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:4) It’s a lot to ponder, pray, and reflect upon: are we somehow to share in the Glory revealed on that mountain top? It is mystery, indeed. Continue reading

Transfiguration: hearing rightly

transfiguration mystagogyWhat are they to hear? What are they to listen to? While “all the words from Jesus” is a general answer, a more specific answer from our context is Jesus’ teaching just before our text (8:31-38). In these verses, Jesus speaks words that the disciples (especially Peter) were unable to hear – the prediction of his Passion and death. Peter rebukes Jesus for talking about his Passion. Peter doesn’t want to listen to such words. Peter’s problem, as Jesus indicates it, “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (8:33). The same problem might be evident in his desire to build three booths. Continue reading

Transfiguration: context

transfiguration mystagogy2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. 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. 9 As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant. Continue reading

Remembering Rightly

christ+in+the+wildernessSeveral summers ago we did a special summer Bible study on biblical covenants. We traced and discussed all the covenants between God and his people – beginning with Adam, continuing with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and reaching its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Covenants: the memory and the promise that we will hold God alone and above all things, He will be our God, and we will be his people. Covenants are the means by which God builds his people. Continue reading

Pope Francis’ Lenten Message

“Make your hearts firm” (Jas 5:8)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Lent is a time of renewal for the whole Church, for each communities and every believer. Above all it is a “time of grace” (2 Cor 6:2). God does not ask of us anything that he himself has not first given us. “We love because he first has loved us” (1 Jn 4:19). He is not aloof from us. Each one of us has a place in his heart. He knows us by name, he cares for us and he seeks us out whenever we turn away from him. He is interested in each of us; his love does not allow him to be indifferent to what happens to us. Usually, when we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others (something God the Father never does): we are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and the injustices they endure… Our heart grows cold. As long as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I don’t think about those less well off. Today, this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalization of indifference. It is a problem which we, as Christians, need to confront. Continue reading

The desert: leaving

christ+in+the+wilderness14 After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: 15 “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Now that Jesus has been introduced as the unique Son of God, the one who will embody the Spirit and even reverse the story of sinful humanity, his public ministry can begin. Mark notes that Jesus came to Galilee to preach after the arrest of John the Baptist (v. 14). His return to Galilee cannot have been an attempt to escape danger, since Herod Antipas, who executed John the Baptist (6:14–29), ruled Galilee and Perea. Continue reading

The desert: inhabitants

christ+in+the+wildernessSatan. “Satan” comes from the Hebrew verb STN meaning “to be hostile, to oppose”. The noun means “adversary,” who usually is an earthling in the OT, but in 1 Chr 21:1; Job 1 & 2; Zech 3:1, 2 it refers to a heavenly being and is transliterated “Satan”.

In the LXX, the Hebrew satan was always translated by the Greek diabolos (“the slanderer, the devil”), a word that doesn’t occur in Mark. Continue reading

The desert: driven

christ+in+the+wilderness12 At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, 13 and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.

The account of the baptism moves immediately into Jesus’ test in the wilderness (eremos) as seen in the phrase “At once.” Jesus’ expulsion into the desert is the necessary consequence of his baptism; it is the same Spirit who descended upon Jesus at his baptism who now forces him to enter more deeply into the wilderness. In Mark, the Spirit is “casting out” or “throwing out” (ekballo) Jesus into the wilderness. (Matthew and Luke are a bit less graphic with the Spirit “leading” [anago & ago] Jesus.) In the wilderness Jesus is to be tested (peirazo) by Satan (Mk) or the Devil (Mt & Lk). Continue reading

Shrove Tuesday

Shrove TuesdayShrove Tuesday is the day preceding Ash Wednesday. The day is observed by many Christians, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Roman Catholics, who are called to make a special point of self-examination, of considering what wrongs they need to repent, and what amendments of life or areas of spiritual growth they especially need to ask God’s help in dealing with – and then carry those reflections into the season of Lent.

The idiom “short shrift”means brief and unsympathetic treatment.Shrift comes from the archaic verb shrive, meaning to obtain absolution for one’s sins by way of Confession and doing penance. Shrove Tuesday shares that linguistic origin. In its original form short shrift referred to a brief period of penance granted to a person condemned to death so he or she could be cured of immorality before execution.This original meaning has little relation to the modern sense of short shrift, which usually bears negative connotations. One usually does not want to be given short shrift.

May we priests not give “short shrift” to penitents seeking to draw closer to God. May all of God’s faithful not give “short shrift” to our reflections and on-going conversion in this Lenten season.