The Gospels of Mathew,
Mark and Luke all tell the story of Jesus’ transfiguration, and we hear it every year on the second Sunday of Lent. explains why we should hear the story in Lent with the detail, “(they) spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Saint Luke .” Jerusalem
But before we go to today’s gospel let’s revisit the mysterious passage from the Book of Genesis 15. We should notice that “Abram put his faith in the Lord” before the covenant was made and “it was credited to him as an act of righteousness.” Abram’s faith in the God who is faithful to him is the foundation of the covenant.
made much of this passage as he developed his doctrine of faith in his letters to the Galatians and the Romans. Saint Paul
Before the Law is given or accepted or practiced or understood one must have faith in God. If the sacraments in our Catholic tradition or the “personal relationship with
Jesus Christ” in the Evangelical tradition correspond to the Mosaic Law, they are nonetheless founded on faith. Without this elusive quality of faith, so difficult to define and impossible to demonstrate, we have no covenant with God.
Jesus can know God without faith because faith is the essence of the inner life of the Trinity. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit have faith in, and are faithful to, one another.
I love the “special effects” of this story: the sacrificial animals split in half and laid on the ground in two rows; birds of prey swooping down on the carcasses as Abram shoos them off; the sunset, the fell darkness, and Abram’s sudden trance; then a smoking brazier and a burning torch passing over the aisle of slain animals and the raptured Abram, and finally God’s words.
The Jews would recreate these “special effects” in their liturgies with sacrificial animals, incense, trumpets, darkness, torches and loud shouts of prayer.
Jesus and his disciples knew the story well; and the evangelists – as they described the incident on – remembered its drama. In our own day, when movies have copped the emotional power and sensational experience that once belonged to religious ceremonies, we must practice lectio divina (divine reading) to understand the importance of this brief passage. Mount Tabor
Who is he? He is the Lord!
We, his apostles and disciples, are going to need this fear and trembling as we approach
, and “the exodus” he will accomplish. We will be sorely tested by what we see, a spectacle too horrible to imagine or comprehend. Jerusalem
But we will keep our eyes open. We must see this sacrifice that
Jesus completes as he dies on the cross. More importantly, we must hear him. We must still believe in him. We must listen to him as if our very lives depend on it. We must listen not only to what he says; we must hear him so that he will enter our very souls through the words he speaks. Although they are words pronounced in human language with a human tongue they are the Lord with his divine power to save us.
We must fear and tremble as
Peter, James and John did on the mountain so that when we arrive at we will not think about what we’re seeing. If we think we will believe Mount Calvary Jesus has failed and his mission aborted.
The memory of his transfiguration when he appears as the Son of God and the Father’s voice declares, ‘This is my chosen Son’ will drive us through the horror of Good Friday and the stunned silence of Holy Saturday. We will wait without knowing why or for what until something entirely new, entirely unexpected and unforeseen happens.