Monday, February 1, 2016

Encountering the Holy – 7 February 2016 – Transfiguration

Our readings for today speak of several momentous encounters, intimate times of worship, life-altering episodes with God that are so transformative that they visibly reflect a change in the countenance of Moses and compel Peter to want to “do something.”

Likewise, when we experience such moments, we are destined to be changed. . . . Paul understood this when he spoke of “being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” Encountering the holiness of God will alter the way people see us and the way we relate to others. – Chris L. Brady

Luke 9:28-36 [37-43]

The fact that this event is situated on a mountain and contains a command links this episode with that of Sinai. The three gospels place this episode immediately after Jesus states that he was destined for execution and that those who follow him can also expect to lose their lives. These are the specific points to which the divine voice command was to “listen.” – Regina Boislair

Exodus 34:29-35

No doubt the lectionaries assigned this pericope because a Christian reading of it associates the radiance that the Israelites witnessed in Moses' face with that of Jesus' transfiguration witnessed by Peter, James and John. This segment has two traditions: 34:29–33 speaks of a single incident following Moses' descent from Sinai with a second set of tablets while 34:34–35 speaks of repeated experiences of the Israelites of Moses radiance after his conversations with God. . . .  Moses' radiance and veiling illustrate his special role and calling as mediator between God and the Israelites. – Regina Boisclair

2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2

There are a number of concerns with respect to this selection. First, the message of this passage is an expression of Christian supersessionism, a premise that claims that Judaism and the covenant with Israel were abrogated by Christ. . . part of a teaching of contempt towards Jews and Judaism that most churches have officially rejected.

Second, the passage rightly recognizes that Jewish understandings of their own scriptures are not the understandings that Christians take from these texts. (Paul calls this veiling and compares it to the veil Moses put on his face to mask the effects of the glory of God from the Israelites.) …[B]iblical scholars and the Pontifical Biblical Commission have called special attention to the fact that while Christian readings of the scriptures of Israel are legitimate and of primary importance for Christians, such interpretations cannot displace the understandings of that would have been given to the text in their original social location in Israel and in the Jewish community. . .

. . . This having been said, Paul treats Moses as a type of apostle. Both are ministers to the glory (presence) of God.

…The lectionary sees a connection between the glory that caused Moses to be veiled and the transfiguration of Jesus witnessed by Peter, James and John. In this instance there was no veil and Moses and Elijah also appear as affirmation of Jesus' role. – Regina Boisclair

Regina Boisclair, a Roman Catholic biblical scholar, teaches at Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage, Alaska.

Chris L. Brady is lead pastor of Wilson Temple, United Methodist Church, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Homily Service 40, no. 3 (2007): 26-40.

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