Revelation is a strange phenomenon. It both shows and conceals. This truth is right in the etymology of the word, which means “to veil again.” We tend to imagine revelation as a process of something being made clear. Yet in scripture, a revelation is also a veiling. Such is the case with Moses.
His time on Mount Sinai has been singularly transfiguring. He is still Moses, but he is more Moses than he ever has been. He is shot through with glory, so much so that he must veil his face to spare his community the full radiance. His practice of veiling when he is with them and then unveiling when he is with the Lord becomes a kind of vesting and unvesting.
Though he cannot see his altered face, Moses does behold the response of those around him. Out of kindness and respect, he veils. He chooses a way of humility (which, it might be noted, has not characterized his leadership). In his ongoing encounters with God, he removes the veil because the One in whom he lives and moves and has his being is the author of this glory, the creator of this light.
In the life of prayer, the charism of humility allows for breathing room in the gathered community. Leaders who know when to “veil themselves” so that others may speak create space for transformation. This chosen self-limitation is fruitfully cultivated in silence, solitude, and stillness. When we cherish our times of deep prayer, opening ourselves to the working of the Holy Spirit, we are led to listen to our neighbors. In choosing to be veiled, we join in a tradition going back to Moses, a tradition of quiet confidence and trust.
In quiet confidence, may we be open to the glory that is at work within us, bestowing justice and beauty beyond our imagining.
God’s glory is always revealed, even if never completely. When Moses encounters God on the mountain, his face undergoes a physical transformation as a reflection of God’s greater glory. The psalmist reminds us of how great God is and how even Moses and Aaron bow before God’s throne. Paul refers to the story of Moses, but because of Christ, God’s glory is now more openly revealed. There is no need to wear a covering as Moses did, for Christ reflects openly the divine radiance. Luke recounts the Transfiguration, when the face of Jesus, like that of Moses, begins to shine. God’s voice reinforces the revelation of the Transfiguration, declaring Jesus to be God’s Son and the revelation of God’s glory.
Read Exodus 34:29-35. Consider the ways you provide evidence of your faith. Do you display it for your glory or for God’s?
Read Psalm 99. How do you seek a healthy balance of awe and intimacy in your relationship with God?
Read 2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2. What “veil” separates you from God—a sense of unworthiness, a hardened heart, a lack of understanding?
Read Luke 9:28-43a. Jesus shines with God’s glory, but then he gets back to his work of healing. Consider how God might transform you to do better the work you are already doing for God.
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