Monday, February 24, 2020

Brief Words on Transfiguration

exodus 24:12-18   psalm 2   2 Peter 1:16-21   Mt 17:1-9

"And the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire." These words from Exodus remind us that God is not just "another guy" in our life.

In Jesus' time, many rabbis looked at where words appeared elsewhere in the Scripture--called stringing pearls. The Hebrew word "akal" first appears in Genesis when God tells the humans, "You may eat the fruit of any tree but you may not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil." I find that connection interesting because it ties together the commandments of God to the first parents with the Law and Moses' encounter with God. 

"To eat, consume, devour or burn" is an interesting image of God's presence, and it gives us another angle on union with God, or "theosis". We know that what we eat becomes part of us, literally and figuratively. We believe that communion is eating the body of Christ and that He lives it us, but this is the other side of the story, the Presence of God consumes us like a fire and we become one with Him.

The church fathers payed special to the Lord's transfiguration in their discussions of theosis. The divine light which shines in Jesus is God-light. It is not just a created effect. Perhaps we can more easily understand that same divine light can and will shine in us who are one with Christ. Yet, like Jesus, the light may be hidden until our metamorphosis/transfiguration at the resurrection of the dead.

Darkness, after all, is not a something, it is an absence of something. Genesis says that darkness is the original state. God's first recorded words are LET THERE BE LIGHT. The darkness did not leave, it was filled with light. However there is no explanation of the source of this light at the beginning of creation (sun, moon and stars come days later). We can only meditate on the meaning of the word light in the creation account, but we must keep in mind the association of God and light includes supernatural light in the Bible.

The light shining in Jesus transforms—metamorphosis is the Greek—Him. This same light, the light of God within us is our ultimate destiny. To be children of light, is not in our power; it is a gift to be received. In Lent we will be invited to a focused attention to become vessels of light. In the days ahead I invite you to take seriously how you will spend those six weeks. It is God's work within you, but what will you do to receive the grace and cooperate? What will you do to be open the light of metamorphosis.

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