Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Transfiguration and the Exodus of Jesus

Second Sunday of Lent, Year C
1. August the 6th we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration. Yet every year on the Second Sunday of Lent, we proclaim one of the Gospel accounts of the Transfiguration as part of our Lenten journey towards Easter. I have often wondered why Jesus only took Peter, James and John upon the Mountain to reveal His glory. Why did not Jesus take all the Apostles, or for that matter, all of the disciples, or everyone in those crowds which were constantly following Him? Maybe if all those people would have seen Jesus transfigured in glory, they would have put their faith in Him. But then again, the whole event might have led to great confusion. That is, the salvation Jesus won for us was not obtained on Mount Tabor when His radiant glory was displayed and He spoke to Moses and Elijah. No. Jesus won salvation by ascending the Mount of Calvary and dying on the Cross.
2. The Transfiguration itself is an event filled with signs meant to draw us to faith. Even though the apostles did not know how to handle it at the time, these signs would surely not be lost on them after they had received the Holy Spirit. For example, when Moses would come down from the mountain after speaking with God, his face would be radiant with reflected glory, so much so that he had to veil his face because it would freak people out. On the other hand, Jesus’ glory was not a reflected glory- it came from within His person.
3. Then there were the words which were heard from Heaven: This is my chosen Son; listen to him (Luke 9:35) remind us of Jesus’ Baptism. They are meant to evoke our trust in Jesus as the Lord. Moses was an instrument of God to bring His law to the People. But Jesus is the Son of God who is God’s Word. That same Word, given through Moses as Law, spoken by the prophets such as Elijah, is made flesh in Jesus the Living Word. Jesus is not one prophet among others, nor is He one lawgiver among many, nor is He one son of God among many sons of God. Jesus is the Word spoken, the Law given, the Son of God who gives us the power to be the adopted sons and daughter of the Most High God.
4. But the sign which interests me today is that Moses and Elijah spoke of the exodus which Jesus was going to accomplish in Jerusalem (see Luke 9:31). Exodus might be a curious choice of words in reference to the Passion of the Lord. But it would be good if we were to meditate on it. The Exodus event was when the Lord rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The Israelites could not rescue themselves, it was God who did it. The last plague, which would motivate Pharaoh to let the People go, was when all the firstborn sons of every person and animal in Egypt were killed in a single night. The sons of the Israelites, however, were preserved by the blood of the sacrificial Lambs which they put upon their door. In the Exodus event of Jesus, He, the Son of God, is sacrificed to bring freedom and life to all. Jesus becomes the sacrificial lamb whose blood gives us new life. Instead of putting to death the first born sons of the enemies of His people, God offers the life of His only Begotten Son so that even His enemies can become His children.
5. Maybe the Apostles meditated on the word Exodus. Maybe hope arose in their hearts as they approached Jerusalem in those final days before Jesus’ Crucifixion. It is certainly a word which we should ponder. What are those things which enslave us? How do we need to be liberated? What do we have that needs to be sacrificed so that we can enter the True Promised Land of Heaven? The Jews did not consider the Exodus from Egypt as an event merely of the past. It was and is an event which resonated throughout history. All the Chosen People are connected to that event as a direct and effective reality in their lives through the Passover Supper. So much more for us and the Exodus which our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished in Jerusalem through His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. We are connected to this event through the celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the Mass. We are supposed to live Jesus’ Death and Rising, His Cross and His Glory. In fact there is no Glory without the Cross.

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