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Saturday, 28 March 2015

Because of a conversation with a friend, two re-posts

Sunday, 24 February 2013

On St. Peter and the Transfiguration-- a lesson in not being afraid of the future, not holding on to the past

Continuing my thoughts today on the readings of the day, I am grateful to my excellent grade school, high school and college teachers, who taught me how to read the Bible. I was fortunate in that "us kids" had our own and I loved mine, done by the Maryknoll Sisters with gorgeous illustrations. My son used it until I got him another one and now it is with some home schooling family.

Another beautiful Bible I lovesd when young was the Taize Bible(Jerusalem Bible translation, but I just would look at the paintings), as the illustrations were so hauntingly symbolic and beautiful. Children and young adolescents, as well as teens, learn through art, just as we all do, if we take the time.

That is one reason I use art in my posts, as I cannot write everything a reader can see.

St. Peter made a huge mistake today in the reading. It is comforting that the Evangelist let us see that Peter grew into his perfection, as we must, and was not automatically "with it".

Peter states, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah” Luke 9:33

Luke notes that Peter did not know what he was saying. Duh.

However, I think Peter was trying to do three things, which we try to do to avoid the road to perfection.

Peter was fighting the New Covenant and wanting to hold on to the Old Covenant. A sign of God's Presence in the desert had been the Tent with the Law and the Ark of the Covenant. Now, Peter was smart enough about his Scripture, as all Jewish men were at the time, but he missed the point.

He did not want something new. He wanted to hang on to the familiar.

How many times do we do this? We want to play god and plan out every detail of our live, based on past experiences. We are afraid to try some new way.

Peter wanted his old way of religious worship. The temple, the tent, etc.

He understood that he was witnessing a Theophany, but he wanted to keep it, save it in the old and not move on into the new.

He was frightened of the Cross. What does the Scripture say that Elijah and Moses and Christ were discussing? The Gospel today states clearly that "they were speaking of his passing". That means, the man who symbolized the Law and the great prophet, and Christ, the Son of God, were discussing Christ's Passion-the New Covenant.

Peter got this part, but he was scared. Surely, Christ was not going to suffer? Surely, Christ was not the Lamb of God? As a man who knew his Scripture, Peter was getting worried. Why?

Peter, like all Jewish men, knew this passage: Peter knew that Elijah was going to bring in a new age.

Malachi 4:5
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD,
6: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Peter also knew that John the Baptist was not Elijah.  This had been settled.

John 1:19
And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 
20: And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
21: And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not.
Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?
23: He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

So, Peter might think that this Elijah appearance was the real deal. And, he would have remembered the famous story of Elijah raising the widow's son from the dead.
1st Kings 17:17 to 1st Kings 18:40

Poor Peter was being forced out of his comfort zone.

He had to understand that Christ was the promised Messiah, that Christ was the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. 

Other ideas of suffering from Isaiah 53 may have creeped into Peter's consciousness.

No wonder he wanted to hang on to the old and not face the new.

How many times do we want to hang on to what is known to us in religion instead of being open to the unknown? Peter had not known Christ like this. But, Christ wanted these three apostles to see Him in order to strengthen them before the Crucifixion.Christ revealed Himself at the Transfiguration in His Glory, but not with the marks of His Passion.

His Glorified Body was yet to be revealed.

Obviously, when Peter denied Christ, this denial was serious sin, as he has seen Christ as the Son of God.

Thankfully, he repented and was forgiven and went on to rule the Church in wisdom and grace (with a little help from St. Paul).

Peter was a man who seemed to have had to learn things the hard way.

Let us cooperate with grace. 

Let us pursue perfection.

The Law, the Prophets, the Love-a personal mediation

I have been told recently by some priest friends, that the Sunday Gospels for Lent are among the oldest liturgically scheduled readings in the Church. Today's and last Sunday's on the Temptation have been read on these respective Sundays for over a thousand years according to two priest friends. How wonderful.

The Transfiguration was always a mystery to me until I saw it in terms of Love. Christ, Who is about to walk to Golgotha and endure pain for us, is giving his disciples a glimpse of His Glory, so as not only to encourage them for the days to come (and is this not timely today?) but also to show how much God loves them by sending His Only Son for this purpose.

Moses and the Law and Elijah and Prophecy point to Christ as the Messiah, the Fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, the One, True Prophet and One, True Priest, as well as being the Son of God.

How these monotheists must have been shocked at this revelation, that Christ is God, as well as the Father, and the Holy Spirit. We have been given The Trinity in baptism and we walk in God. So, too, Peter, James and John walked in the Trinity, two to death and one to exile. So, we are warned, as well as loved today. Christ in His Glory points to our own final glorified bodies united with our souls at the end of time, but only after sufferings and trials.

Love is always the answer. Love. And, why did the disciples keep silent? Were they afraid? No, I think it is that when we have a love experience, we cannot find the words to describe this. And, love is so sacred, it really is hard to discuss it, or, rather, Him.  Silence protects the Love in our hearts. The monastic orders know this. Silence is like a protective shield guarding the Love of Christ in our beings. Let nothing dilute that Love today.

The paintings show turmoil and fierce movement. Why? When the Divine, when God reveals Himself in our lives, He interrupts the doldrums  the ordinariness of our lives. We are thrown into the happy, yet disturbing chaos of love. Those of us who have experienced this interruption have been changed. How happy we are when love changes our wonderful to have this glimpse of immortality. Listen to Love.

Luke 9:28-36

Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up the mountain to pray. As he prayed, the aspect of his face was changed and his clothing became brilliant as lightning. Suddenly there were two men there talking to him; they were Moses and Elijah appearing in glory, and they were speaking of his passing which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were heavy with sleep, but they kept awake and saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As these were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ – He did not know what he was saying. As he spoke, a cloud came and covered them with shadow; and when they went into the cloud the disciples were afraid. And a voice came from the cloud saying, ‘This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.’ And after the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. The disciples kept silence and, at that time, told no one what they had seen.