Once again, as in Exodus, we are on a mountain. Once again we find Moses and the light of God. And again we experience a cloud of mystery that confounds our plans and befuddles our expectations.
Peter offers to build structures. (Has he stashed building supplies in his knapsack?) Peter’s reaction reflects our inclination to try to make sense of things, to “capture” them and fit them into our way of understanding. At an art museum I watched a woman walk into a room, exclaim, “Oh, a van Gogh!” snap a photo of it, and leave. It was perhaps her only chance to see the painting in person, but she did not stop to look at it. Contemplative presence invites us to set aside our desire to control or understand, to “capture the moment,” and simply, lovingly, behold what is, as it is, face-to-face.
On the mountain, Peter is still trying to make Jesus into the kind of Messiah Peter has in mind. He wants to get his picture right. But the cloud comes like an eraser to rub out that idea. We have our ideas about Jesus from church doctrines and personal convictions. But the point is not to believe certain things about Jesus; it’s to listen to him.
Jesus is a living presence. We can let him speak to us and be present with us. When we set aside our expectations and let him come to us anew, the Beloved—with whom God is well pleased—may reveal himself to us. We can receive “Jesus himself alone.”
As you read scripture, as you reflect on your experience moment by moment, let Jesus speak to you. Perhaps he is speaking to you right now. Ask the Spirit to help you listen to him in your heart. Listen and wonder, What is Jesus saying to me?
Living Christ, I open my heart to you. I listen for your voice. Help me to listen always, day by day, moment by moment. Amen.
The Transfiguration is a striking manifestation of the union of humanity and divinity in Christ. In Exodus, Moses goes up the mountain to meet with God, and the divine presence on the mountain is like a consuming fire. The psalmist says that the presence of the Lord shakes the earth. In Second Peter the author declares that the truth of Christ’s message is affirmed by the glory that surrounds Jesus on the mountain and the voice from heaven that confirms his authority. In Matthew’s account, the revelation of the glory of the divine son of God on top of a mountain causes the disciples to fall down in fear. Moses and Elijah are present, demonstrating the continuity of Christ with the prophets and the always overwhelming splendor of God’s presence.
Read Exodus 24:12-18. When have you experienced God’s cleansing and transforming fire?
Read Psalm 99. How has God led you through darkness?
Read 2 Peter 1:16-21. How can you be attentive to the light of God in the world around you?
Read Matthew 17:1-9. When have you experienced God’s love shining through you?
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