Biblical prophets are less interested in predicting the future
as in declaring the word of God. Elijah, who engaged in
dialogue with Jesus and Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration,
embodies the true prophetic spirit. He symbolized the essence of
prophecy, bringing to visibility those things that often remain
hidden. The continuing text from Second Peter, therefore, links
the prophetic word with light, whether a lamp shining in a dark
place or the morning star rising in our hearts. Prophets open our
eyes so that we can see.
Perhaps Peter alludes here to John the Baptist, described in
John’s Gospel as “a burning and shining lamp” (5:35). He had
illuminated and made straight the path for the Messiah. But the
apostle quickly shifts to a different image. The verb translated
“dawns” literally describes the light that pierces the horizon at
sunrise. Peter draws the attention of the reader from an external,
objective source of light to an immediate and interior radiance—
the light of Christ shining in the human heart. This spiritual and
prophetic light enables us to find God in unexpected places. It
turns the world upside down.
A group of Christian peacemakers were nearly killed in a
car accident in the first days of “Shock and Awe” during the Iraq
War in 2003. They were rescued, however, by Iraqi Muslims
who took them to a clinic in Rutba, offered them sanctuary, and
cared for their needs. Those sheltered saw Christ in the faces of
their Muslim brothers and sisters, and it changed their world
forever. As Peter testifies, only the Spirit of God reveals such
things to our hearts and minds.
Surprising God, open our eyes that we may see you in the face of all whom we meet this day. Amen.
In deep deference and careful obedience, Moses enters the zone of God’s glory, which certifies Moses’ authority. Psalm 99 praises the kingship of Yahweh, while bringing to mind the human agents of God’s rule who facilitate Yahweh’s conversation with the people. The Gospel lesson, like Exodus 24, characterizes what is not fully seen or clearly heard. Jesus is taken up into the zone of God’s glory and so is filled with transcendent authority. Speech about glory points to the assignment of new authority. The epistle reading asserts the authority of the true teachers of the church who rightly present and interpret the scriptural tradition.
• Read Exodus 24:12-18. When did you last experience a life-altering encounter with God?
• Read Psalm 99. Have you ever felt that if God really knew you, you would be hopeless? What changed your mind?
• Read 2 Peter 1:16-21. For the epistle writer, the Transfiguration event focuses more on hearing than on seeing. How do you listen for God’s words?
• Read Matthew 17:1-9. What dark places have you seen brightened by Christ’s presence—through you or others?
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