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The Transfiguration of the Lord

Submitted by on Thursday, 6 August 2009One Comment


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There are two things in the Transfiguration account that the liturgical selections for the day emphasize: (a) the message of the voice in the cloud, and (b) the Easter glory of Jesus as Christ, the King. The Transfiguration of Jesus was a sneak preview of the Easter glory. After Peter declared him to be the Messiah, Jesus began talking about what will happen to him later on in Jerusalem: rejected, arrested and put to death. Peter would not allow this, giving voice to the disciples’ expectation of a Messiah who would lead them to victory over Israel’s enemies and who would bring the Shalom that God promises to His people. And so Jesus brings three of his disciples to the mountain to witness His Transfiguration to reassure them that death is not the final word to His mission and work. During that event, three things occur: his aspect changed and became unearthly, Moses and Elijah stood with him, and finally a voice in the cloud gave the command: “Listen to Him.” Thus, what Jesus would be after His death was shown to the disciples: bathed in unearthly glory, a glory recognized by the prophets of Israel, and testified to by the voice in the cloud.

The second reading from 2 Peter 1:1-19 recalls the vision that the disciples had on the mountain. It is on that event that the authority of the apostles is based. The authority of the prophetic message that the apostles give is derived from the witness of the voice in the cloud. It is for this reason that even the apostolic gospel takes on the character of the Word of God, the lamp that shines through the darkness of this world’s night.

The first reading from Daniel actually points to the glory of the Son of Man who receives kingship and glory. The Danielic oracle brings together several statements of Jesus in the gospels about himself. The charge of blasphemy during his trial, for example, was provoked by his application of the statement “One like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven” to himself. And Paul declaims about the way Jesus goes up to his glory, his sitting at the right hand of God and his being established as Head of the Church with Daniel 7:13-14 in the background.

May the eyes of [your] hearts be enlightened,

that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call,
what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones,
and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe,

in accord with the exercise of his great might,

which he worked in Christ,
raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens,
far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion,
and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come.
And he put all things beneath his feet
and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body,
the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way. (Ephesians 1:18-23)

Mark 9:2-10
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2And his garments became shining and exceeding white as snow, so as no fuller upon earth can make white.
3And there appeared to them Elias with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus.
4And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Rabbi, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
5For he knew not what he said: for they were struck with fear.
6And there was a cloud overshadowing them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying: This is my most beloved son; hear ye him.
7And immediately looking about, they saw no man any more, but Jesus only with them.
8And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them not to tell any man what things they had seen, till the Son of man shall be risen again from the dead.
9And they kept the word to themselves; questioning together what that should mean, when he shall be risen from the dead.
10And they asked him, saying: Why then do the Pharisees and scribes say that Elias must come first?
2 Peter 1:1-19
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1Simon Peter, servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained equal faith with us in the justice of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
2Grace to you and peace be accomplished in the knowledge of God and of Christ Jesus our Lord:
3As all things of his divine power which appertain to life and godliness, are given us, through the knowledge of him who hath called us by his own proper glory and virtue.
4By whom he hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature: flying the corruption of that concupiscence which is in the world.
5And you, employing all care, minister in your faith, virtue; and in virtue, knowledge;
6And in knowledge, abstinence; and in abstinence, patience; and in patience, godliness;
7And in godliness, love of brotherhood; and in love of brotherhood, charity.
8For if these things be with you and abound, they will make you to be neither empty nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9For he that hath not these things with him, is blind, and groping, having forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
10Wherefore, brethren, labour the more, that by good works you may make sure your calling and election. For doing these things, you shall not sin at any time.
11For so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
12For which cause I will begin to put you always in remembrance of these things: though indeed you know them, and are confirmed in the present truth.
13But I think it meet as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance.
14Being assured that the laying away of this my tabernacle is at hand, according as our Lord Jesus Christ also hath signified to me.
15And I will endeavour, that you frequently have after my decease, whereby you may keep a memory of these things.
16For we have not by following artificial fables, made known to you the power, and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ; but we were eyewitnesses of his greatness.
17For he received from God the Father, honour and glory: this voice coming down to him from the excellent glory: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
18And this voice we heard brought from heaven, when we were with him in the holy mount.
19And we have the more firm prophetical word: whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
Daniel 7:13-14
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13I beheld therefore in the vision of the night, and lo, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and he came even to the Ancient of days: and they presented him before him.
14And he gave him power, and glory, and a kingdom: and all peoples, tribes and tongues shall serve him: his power is an everlasting power that shall not be taken away: and his kingdom that shall not be destroyed.
Ephesians 1:18-23
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18The eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what the hope is of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.
19And what is the exceeding greatness of his power towards us, who believe according to the operation of the might of his power,
20Which he wrought in Christ, raising him up from the dead, and setting him on his right hand in the heavenly places.
21Above all principality, and power, and virtue, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.
22And he hath subjected all things under his feet, and hath made him head over all the church,
23Which is his body, and the fulness of him who is filled all in all.

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