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Transfiguration
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Readings in Commemoration of the Transfiguration of the Lord

 

1. Daniel 7, 9-10 and 13-14

  • I am hearing the retelling of a vision; no, a fantastic imagining of how it will be for those of us who persevere in our faith.  At first I wave it off as part of an ancient world view.  But the images begin to connect with my experience of the world today.  Let me speak them, repeating them over and over as I seek the way to communicate them to our assembly.
  • Thrones were set up and the Ancient One took his throne.  In every nation there is the equivalent of an oval office, a presidential cabinet and sitting justices.  Everywhere the others remain standing until the executive, or the chief judge, enters to occupy the principal seat.  We are awaiting the beginning of a great ceremony, perhaps an inauguration.
  • In the words of the prophet, this Ancient One is not at all showing the years but fully renewed: clothing bright as snow and hair white as wool, and probably flashing eyes as well. 
  • A fierce but controlled fire, the consuming fire of which the prophets speak, accompanies this chieftain.  Three times the seer evokes it: flames of fire, wheels of burning fire, surging stream of fire.  Do I see it as I read?  Will my listeners imagine a mere con game like Oz, or the controlled flames of an oven broiler?  Or can I take them with me to the tip of a live volcano where we must approach with much trepidation?
  • Thousands upon thousands were ministering.  We are not in some executive office or judicial chamber, but in an immense plain or amphitheater.  With the depth of my voice I will try to re-create the completion of time and place, where there are no longer reporters or spectators.  We are all actively there.
  • And now for the ceremony that the first Christians applied to Jesus (and perhaps Jesus applied to himself).  One like a son of man coming on the clouds of heaven.  He received dominion, glory and kingship.  (I’d better build to a peak and slow slightly as I read this last sentence.  Please, no ‘kinship’ at this point, though we are brothers and sisters in the Lord.)
  • All through the reading I have the sense that God is very much alive and we are partakers in the divine milieu, acknowledging the glory.  The same goes for the second half of the vision.  In part we hear of the authority given to the son of man. We also hear that everyone serves as emissaries, spokespersons, promoters of good will to the world. 
  • And let me not forget that we have entered eschatological time.  The Ancient One dwells in abundance of goodness, and we notice the suggestions of this in ourselves and others.  The dominion is everlasting.  How can I act in the light of this revelation?  How can I live so as to see and call attention to this present reflection of the glory that is coming?
  • Climax: The Son of man coming, because it is the occasion for this ceremony the prophet caught sight of, and because it has such a central part in the Gospels.
  • Message for our assembly: ‘Catholic’ means at its root all peoples and cultures, present to each other in one glorious assembly of servants.  Are we up to the challenge?
  • I will challenge myself: To speak with contained excitement of the new state of affairs, a dominion that shall not be taken away and in which all peoples, nations and languages take part serving. 

 

2. II Peter 1, 16-19

  • It begins boldly and so will I.  We did not follow cleverly devised myths.  Our faith is not based on imagination (as a comic book hero), on manipulation (as a supreme leader) or on mere secular hope (as a nuclear marauder).  We are engaged in none of these, because the message in which we place our trust is not a human invention.
  • We had been eyewitnesses.  We ourselves heard this voice.  Whether the letter comes from the apostle’s time or (most likely) a century later, the fact remains that our faith is built upon and depends upon a revelation of God that we have seen and heard. 
  • In what consists this revelation?  As in the first reading, I begin to hear suggestions of eschatological events.  Over and over I read power and coming of our Lord, majesty, honor and glory, majestic glory, a voice from heaven.  What happens here and now, whether one nation forms an alliance with another or wages war on it, whether our material resources abound or grow scarce, whether our world becomes more serving or self-serving, kind or avenging, is not at all the final arrangement of things.  The writer would say that Jesus is the center of everything and that we should understand our own lives and times in Jesus, who is God’s Son, my beloved.
  • Central point: We can depend on the good news message and the prophetic message of the apostles.
  • The message for our assembly: Be attentive, let the good news grow in us, and watch as the morning star rises in our hearts.
  • I will challenge myself: To evoke in my voice that authority claimed by the apostles, and the confidence with which it is spoken in the letter.

 

Gospel (Cycle B). Mark 9, 2-10

  • I hear the initial version of the Transfiguration event, and so I expect a version that is closer to the lived experience of the apostles.  Let me listen carefully.
  • It begins with Jesus, who led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.   A deeper, wondrous dimension is evident in this remote place, as it was on Sinai (remember Elijah along with Moses).  He was transfigured before them. 
  • The apostles hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.  Again like Israel at the foot of Sinai.  I can bring out some of that terror. 
  • The final verses are concerned with the Messianic secret again: not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.  And indeed they kept it to themselves, questioning what it meant.
  • Climax: The divine witness.  This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him.  And they did.  Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus.
  • Message for our assembly: Let us listen attentively to Jesus speaking to us today.
  • I will challenge myself: To speak with a voice proper for mysteries, one of belief in the impossible, one of hope in him who conquers all, and one of unfading love.

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