Looking around

I wonder why the Catholic Church chooses this gospel account every 2nd Sunday in Lent. We always hear the reading of the Transfiguration, the glorious account of the divine glory of God being revealed in the person of Jesus. It is amazing – so amazing that we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration every August 6th; we have been doing so for 800 years or so. Our Christian brothers and sisters proclaim this gospel on the Sunday before Lent. That also makes some sense to me because it is from this point in the story that Jesus will head straight to Jerusalem, culminating in Passion Week, fulfilling exactly what Jesus told them: he would be raised from the dead after suffering. Jesus’ words point to the crucifixion, just as Lent begins to point us to Good Friday. Reading the Transfiguration immediately before Lent gets us ready. But why the 2nd Sunday in Lent? But why proclaim this gospel twice in the same liturgical year? Continue reading

Connecting dots

And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.” (Mt 17:2) Transfigured, metamorphoo – to change the visible appearance; I used to think that maybe Epiphany would have been a better title for what happened on the mountain top. Epiphany meaning the revealing or the unveiling. Then again, I don’t think the full glory of God was revealed; just a single layer was pealed back. Perhaps transfigured is the better word. How much more could the apostles have seen and heard – and, more importantly, to begin to comprehend? The Book of Exodus 33:20 says that if we saw God face-to-face we would not survive the encounter. It would be too much for our mortal being. So, maybe it is better that only a single layer was peeled back. 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