Thứ Bảy, 5 tháng 8, 2017

AUGUST 06, 2017 : FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
Lectionary: 614

As I watched:

Thrones were set up
and the Ancient One took his throne.
His clothing was bright as snow,
and the hair on his head as white as wool;
his throne was flames of fire,
with wheels of burning fire.
A surging stream of fire
flowed out from where he sat;
Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him,
and myriads upon myriads attended him.
The court was convened and the books were opened.

As the visions during the night continued, I saw:

One like a Son of man coming,
on the clouds of heaven;
When he reached the Ancient One
and was presented before him,
The one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship;
all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not be taken away,
his kingship shall not be destroyed.

Responsorial PsalmPS 97:1-2, 5-6, 9
R. (1a and 9a) The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.
The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many islands be glad.
Clouds and darkness are round about him,
justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.
R. The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the LORD of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
R. The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.
Because you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth,
exalted far above all gods. 
R. The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.

Reading 22 PT 1:16-19
Beloved:
We did not follow cleverly devised myths
when we made known to you
the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.
For he received honor and glory from God the Father
when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory,
"This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased."
We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven
while we were with him on the holy mountain.
Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable.
You will do well to be attentive to it,
as to a lamp shining in a dark place,
until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 

AlleluiaMT 17:5C
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 17:1-9
Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, 
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them; 
his face shone like the sun 
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, 
"Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here, 
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, 
then from the cloud came a voice that said, 
"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him."
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
"Rise, and do not be afraid."
And when the disciples raised their eyes, 
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
"Do not tell the vision to anyone 
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."


Transfiguration of Our Lord – Cycle A
August 6th


Note: Where a Scripture text is underlined in the body of this discussion, it is recommended that the reader look up and read that passage.

Introduction

According to explicit accounts in the first three gospels (Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36), the Apostles Peter, James and John witnessed an unveiling of the divine glory of Christ, and the appearance with Him of Moses and Elijah. This event has come to be called the Transfiguration on the basis of the scriptural report, “He was transfigured before them”. According to tradition, the transfiguration occurred on Mount Tabor, but some believe it may have taken place on Mount Hermon or even on the Mount of Olives. There are no Old Testament parallels for this event, the closest being Moses’ face shining after he had visited with God on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:29-35).

The feast of the Transfiguration became widespread in the West in the eleventh century and was introduced into the Roman calendar in 1457 to commemorate the victory over Islam in Belgrade. Before that, the Transfiguration of the Lord was celebrated in the Cyrian, Byzantine, and Coptic rites.

1st Reading -Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

As was said in the introduction to this feast day, there is no direct Old Testament parallel to the Transfiguration. Our Old Testament reading for today comes from the book of Daniel. We all remember Daniel from his encounter when he was thrown into the lions’ den but there is much more to the book than that. The aim of the book is to show that the God of Israel, the one true God, is greater than the pagan gods.

Everything we know about Daniel (the name means “God is my judge”) comes from this book. He belonged to the royal family of Zedekiah and was taken, by order of Nebuchadnezzar, in captivity along with other Jewish children, to Babylon in 605 B.C.. Like certain other young men he was later chosen by the king to be brought up and educated at court, where he was given the name Belteshazzar. God endowed him with special wisdom which soon led him to enjoy the king’s favor; he was so successful in interpreting the king’s dreams that he was appointed ruler of the province of Babylon. King Darvis wanted to make him prime minister, but the envy of his other ministers frustrated this plan; they plotted his death but God saved him in a miraculous way (the lions’ den episode).

There are two quite distinguishable parts in the book: in the first part (chapters 1 through 6) Daniel tells of his personal experiences at the royal court and ends with the experience in the lion’s den. The second part relates four prophetic apocalyptic visions which Daniel received. It is from the first of these visions that our reading for today comes and it is a description of the celestial court.

9 As I watched, Thrones were set up and the Ancient One took his throne. His clothing was snow bright, and the hair on his head as white as wool; His throne was flames of fire, with wheels of burning fire. 10 A surging stream of fire flowed out from where he sat; Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him, and myriads upon myriads attended him. The court was convened, and the books were opened. 13 As the visions during the night continued, I saw One like a son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven;

“Like a son of man” means in human form. The part of the vision not read today describes four beasts (four kingdoms) that had come from the great abyss below. The celestial court is sitting in judgment of the fourth beast. The human form is presented as a heavenly contrast to the beastly forms of evil. The beasts are figures of the pagan kingdoms, the one in human form symbolizes the holy ones of God most high. The concept of the “son of man” eventually shifted from a figure of speech for the theocratic kingdom into a term for the messianic king himself. This change appears in Enoch, written a century or two before the time of Christ.

When he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, 14 He received dominion, glory, and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.

2nd Reading - 2 Peter 1:16-19

At the time of the Protestant revolt (they didn’t reform the church, the Council of Trent did after they left it) Martin Luther wanted to omit James, Jude, 2nd Peter, 2nd & 3rd John, Hebrews and Revelation from the canon of the New Testament.

The 2nd letter of Peter was written from Rome about a year before Peter’s martyrdom (this would date the letter about A.D. 63). Various commentators place the date as late as A.D. 140 based on its discussions of Gnostic problems but these same discussions can (and do) address the heresies and errors of the Simonites and the Nicolaitans who were around in A.D. 63 and were forerunners of Gnosticism.

Around 1968 in German Lutheran circles the question of the place of 2nd Peter in the canon was reopened on the ground that the epistle shows objectionable signs of “early Catholicism”, that is, the idea of an authoritative interpretation of scripture.

16    We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,

The apostolic doctrine has nothing to do with the false teachings which he will address. The false teachers had labeled Jesus’ future parousia a myth made up by human beings to control the lives of others.

but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.

In response to this charge of myth Peter offers the best evidence, his own experience as an eyewitness that Jesus already possesses the essential qualities to be manifested at his coming: majesty, honor and glory from the Father, messianic and divine sonship.

17    For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory, “This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable.

The prophetic word, the Old Testament scriptures generally, also testify to the parousia.

You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

The parousia. The transfiguration prophecy of the parousia can function as a light in darkness for those waiting for the final light, the “morning star” (see Revelation 2:28) to rise with Christ’s parousia (1 Thessalonians 5:4).

The chapter then ends with these words: “Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God” (2 Peter 1:20-21), which is the passage that bothers the German Lutherans because it points back to the Church, the eyewitness, as the only ones who have the authority to interpret scripture.

     Again, later on in the closing of 2 Peter we read: “And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you, speaking of these things as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures. Therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled and to fall from your own stability. But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory now and to the day of eternity. (Amen.)” (2 Peter 3:15-18). Which again points out the necessity of looking to the Church to determine the proper interpretation of scripture.

Gospel – Matthew 17:1-9

The transfiguration occurred shortly after the feeding of the five thousand and the four thousand. The account of the transfiguration confirms that Jesus is the Son of God and points to fulfillment of the prediction that He will come in His Father’s glory at the end of the age (Matthew 16:27). This event marks the beginning of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem for His passion. If this reading sounds familiar, it is because we last heard it on the Second Sunday in Lent during this cycle.

1 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother,

Peter, James and John are the inner circle of the apostles. They were also chosen to be separate from the rest of the twelve in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37) and at the raising of Jarius’ daughter (Mark 5:37).

and led them up a high mountain by themselves.

A mountain symbolic of revelation, a kind of Galilean Sinai; God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:12-18) and Elijah at the same place (1 Kings 19:8-18). No localization is necessary although Carmel, Tabor, and Hermon have been suggested.

2    And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.

The brightness of the illumination recalls the brightness of the face of Moses after the Sinai revelation (Exodus 34:29-35), which made it necessary for Moses to veil his face.

3    And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.

Moses and Elijah represent respectively the Law and the Prophets. The term “the Law and the Prophets” was used to designate the entire collection of Old Testament books, and thus the fullness of the revelation of God to Israel. Jesus joins the two as the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets (see Matthew 5:17). Elijah was assumed bodily into heaven (2 Kings 2:11) and Hebrew legend has it that Moses was also assumed. This may explain how both can appear here in bodily form. Neither Matthew nor Mark tell us what was discussed, but Luke 9:31 says “They spoke about his departure (exodus), which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.”

4    Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord,

Matthew uses the word “Lord”, while Mark uses “rabbi” as the form of address. “Lord” literally means “my great one”, an address of respect to God, angels, and earthly sovereigns.

is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

Peter is a master of understatement. No doubt he is making a reference to the feast of tabernacles, one of three yearly feasts for which all males of Israel were required to travel to the Temple and lived in tents (or booths). The feast occurred in September-October and lasted for eight days. The three Apostles want to stick around for a while. The feast of tabernacles commemorated the sojourn of the Israelites on Mount Sinai while they received the revelation of the Law through Moses. This is not the revelation of another law, a greater reality is manifested here. Jesus fulfills the Law and the Prophets.

it 5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,

This is the shechinah (glory cloud), the divine presence, the cloud that occupied the tabernacle in the time of Moses.

then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

These words are a revelation of the sonship of Jesus; Matthew repeats the words spoken at the baptism (Matthew 3:17) and adds “listen to him” (sort of like Mary’s “do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). Jesus is the Son and the revealer. The Israelites are commanded to listen to a prophet like Moses whom God will raise up for them in Deuteronomy 18:15.

6    When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid.

This is their reaction to the divine command (listen to him) rather than to the vision itself.

7    But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.”

Jesus’ touch overcomes their fear and perhaps consecrates them to further service. Luke’s account of the transfiguration suggests the disciples were asleep and this is a dream-vision.

8    And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

Moses and Elijah have withdrawn; diminished in significance before the fuller revelation in Jesus.

9    As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” 

St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Picayune, MS http://www.scborromeo.org


Meditation: Listen to my beloved Son
Are you prepared to see the glory of the Lord and to share in his glory as well? The Lord Jesus is eager to share his glory with us! We get a glimpse of this when some of the disciples see Jesus transfigured in glory on a high mountain. [In many churches of the east and west this event is celebrated as a major feast on August 6.] Jesus often went to a lonely place to pray - to seek solitude and sanctuary away from the crowds. But on this occasion, Jesus' face became radiant like the sun and his clothing became dazzling white (Matthew 17: 2 and Luke 9:29).
This vision of radiant light and glory is prefigured in the prophecy of Daniel. In chapter 7 of the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament we see a vision of the "Son of Man who came with the clouds of heaven" and was presented before the royal court of heaven and the "Ancient of Days" who is clothed in a radiant garment "white as snow" (Daniel 7:9,13). The prophet Daniel foretold that God would send his Anointed One, the Son of Man who would come on the clouds of heaven to bring God's reign of glory and righteousness on the earth (see Daniel 7:13-15). Daniel's vision describes a royal investiture of a human king before God's throne. The Son of Man is a Messianic title for God's anointed King, the Lord Jesus Christ. The New Testament word for "Messiah" is "Christ" which literally means the "Anointed One" or the "Anointed King". God sent us his Son not to establish an earthly kingdom but to bring us into his heavenly kingdom - a kingdom ruled by truth, justice, peace, and holiness. The kingdom of God is the central theme of Jesus' mission. It's the core of his Gospel message.
The Lord Jesus came to fulfill all that Moses and the prophets spoke
Jesus on three occasions told his disciples that he would undergo suffering and death on a cross to fulfill the mission the Father gave him. As the time draws near for Jesus' ultimate sacrifice on the cross, he takes three of his beloved disciples to the top of a high mountain. Just as Moses and Elijah were led to the mountain of God to discern their ultimate call and mission, so Jesus now appears with Moses and Elijah on the highest mountain overlooking the summit of the promised land. Matthew's Gospel tells us that Jesus was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light (Matthew 17:2).
Jesus reveals his glory to the apostles and to us
Why did Jesus appear in dazzling light with Moses and Elijah? The book of Exodus tells us that when Moses had met with God on Mount Sinai the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God (Exodus 34:29). Paul the Apostle wrote that the Israelites could not look at Moses' face because of its brightness (2 Corinthians 3:7). After Elijah, the greatest of the prophets, had destroyed all the priests and idols of Baal in the land, he took refuge on the mountain of God at Sinai. There God showed Elijah his glory in great thunder, whirlwind, and fire, and then spoke with him in a still quiet voice. God questioned Elijah, "What are you doing here?" And then directed him to go and fulfill the mission given him by God. Jesus, likewise, appears in glory with Moses and Elijah, as if to confirm with them that he, too, is ready to fulfill the mission which the Father has sent him to accomplish.
Jesus went to the mountain knowing full well what awaited him in Jerusalem - betrayal, rejection, and crucifixion. Jesus very likely discussed this momentous decision to go to the cross with Moses and Elijah. God the Father also spoke with Jesus and gave his approval: This is my beloved Son; listen to him. The Father glorified his son because he was faithful and willing to obey him in everything. The cloud which overshadowed Jesus and his apostles fulfilled the dream of the Jews that when the Messiah came the cloud of God's presence would fill the temple again (see Exodus 16:10, 19:9, 33:9; 1 Kings 8:10; 2 Maccabees 2:8).
Christ's way to glory
The Lord Jesus not only wants us to see his glory - he wants to share this glory with us. And Jesus shows us the way to the Father's glory - follow me - obey my words. Take the path I have chosen for you and you will receive the blessing of my Father's kingdom - your name, too, will be written in heaven. Jesus fulfilled his mission on Calvary where he died for our sins so that Paradise and everlasting life would be restored to us. He embraced the cross to win a crown of glory - a crown that awaits each one of us, if we, too, will follow in his footsteps.
Origen (185-254 AD), a noted early church bible scholar and teacher, explains the significance of Jesus' transfiguration for our own lives:
"Do you wish to see the transfiguration of Jesus? Behold with me the Jesus of the Gospels. Let him be simply apprehended. There he is beheld both "according to the flesh" and at the same time in his true divinity. He is beheld in the form of God according to our capacity for knowledge. This is how he was beheld by those who went up upon the lofty mountain to be apart with him. Meanwhile those who do not go up the mountain can still behold his works and hear his words, which are uplifting. It is before those who go up that Jesus is transfigured, and not to those below. When he is transfigured, his face shines as the sun, that he may be manifested to the children of light, who have put off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. They are no longer the children of darkness or night but have become the children of day. They walk honestly as in the day. Being manifested, he will shine to them not simply as the sun but as he is demonstrated to be, the sun of righteousness." (Commentary on Matthew)
Luke's Gospel tells us that while Jesus was transfigured, Peter, James, and John were asleep (Luke 9:32)! Upon awakening they discovered Jesus in glory along with Moses and Elijah. How much do we miss of God's glory and action because we are asleep spiritually? There are many things which can keep our minds asleep to the things of God: Mental lethargy and the "unexamined life" can keep us from thinking things through and facing our doubts and questions. The life of ease can also hinder us from considering the challenging or disturbing demands of Christ. Prejudice can make us blind to something new the Lord may have for us. Even sorrow can be a block until we can see past it to the glory of God.
We are partakers of his glory
Are you spiritually awake? Peter, James, and John were privileged witnesses of the glory of Christ. We, too, as disciples of Jesus Christ are called to be witnesses of his glory. We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). The Lord wants to reveal his glory to us, his beloved disciples. Do you seek his presence with faith and reverence?
"Lord Jesus, keep me always alert to you, to your word, your action, and your constant presence in my life. Let me see your glory."
A Daily Quote for LentListen to Him, by Leo the Great, 400?-461 A.D.
"A voice from the cloud said, This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him. I am manifested through his preaching. I am glorified through his humility. So listen to him without hesitation. He is the truth and the life. He is my strength and wisdom. "Listen to him" whom the mysteries of the law foreshadowed, of whom the mouths of the prophets sang. "Listen to him" who by his blood redeemed the world, who binds the devil and seizes his vessels, who breaks the debt of sin and the bondage of iniquity. "Listen to him" who opens the way to heaven and by the pain of the cross prepares for you the steps of ascent into his kingdom." (excerpt from Sermon 38,7)

FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD
SUNDAY, AUGUST 6, MATTHEW 17:1-9

(Daniel 7:9-10,13-14; Psalm 97; 2 Peter 1:16-19)

KEY VERSE: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him" (v 5).
TO KNOW: Jesus had told his disciples that he would soon face suffering and death, but he said that they would not “taste death” until they saw "the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Mt 16:28). Six days later, Jesus summoned his disciples to the mountain to reveal himself as having full authority "in heaven and on earth" (Mt 28:16-18). The mountain was a unique place of God's revelation, such as to Moses the lawgiver on Mount Sinai (Ex 20:1-17) and to the prophet Elijah on Mount Carmel (1 Kgs 18:19-39). The appearance of Moses and Elijah alongside Jesus revealed that he was the new liberator and prophet, but also that suffering and glory were not mutually exclusive. On the mountain of the Transfiguration (metamorphosis, a change in outward appearance), Jesus’ face "shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light" (Mt 17:2). Thus the disciples experienced a glimpse of Jesus’ Lordship as it would be fully manifest at the coming of the kingdom. Peter saw this moment as a sign of the Messianic age. He asked that tents be erected, such as those in which their ancestors dwelled during their journey to the Promised Land (Lv 23:39-42). While Peter was still speaking, the divine presence overshadowed them, declaring Jesus as God's "beloved Son." To him alone must they listen (Dt 18:15).
TO LOVE: How have I been transformed by my experiences of Jesus?
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, help me to see you in all your appearances in my life.​

Sunday 6 August 2017

Week II Psalter. The Transfiguration of the Lord.
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14. Psalm 96(97):1-2, 5-6, 9. 2 Peter 1:16-19. Matthew 17:1-9.
The Lord is king, the most high over all the earth — Psalm 96(97):1-2, 5-6, 9.
In the week approaching the feast of St Mary MacKillop, we look at the life of Australia’s first saint through the lens of the daily Gospel stories. As you contemplate the daily Gospel reading, reflect on Mary’s story, and consider how your own faith journey can be enriched by her example. 
‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour.’
While visiting Sevenhill retreat house in South Australia, I saw the ruins of the small house where Mary MacKillop stayed when she visited her spiritual director, Joseph Tappeiner SJ.
Mary is known for her work with the poor. Less well understood is the deep spirituality and relationship with God that inspired this ministry. From Tappeiner and other Jesuits, including Anderledy in Rome, she would have learned Ignatian spirituality, been inspired to follow Jesus even more closely and to do all for the greater glory of God.
Discerning the action of the good spirit and detecting the subtle suggestions of the evil one would have become a way of living and decision-making.
Jesus, draw me into a deep loving relationship with you and let this love inspire all that I do.

THE TRANSFIGURATION

Both Roman and Eastern rite Catholics celebrate the Church's feast of the Transfiguration today, August 6, on its traditional date for both calendars.
The feast commemorates one of the pinnacles of Jesus' earthly life, when he revealed his divinity to three of his closest disciples by means of a miraculous and supernatural light.
Before his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Christ climbed to a high point on Mount Tabor with his disciples Peter, James, and John. While Jesus prayed upon the mountain, his appearance was changed by a brilliant white light which shone from him and from his clothing.
During this event, the Old Testament figures of Moses and the prophet Elijah also appeared, and spoke of how Christ would suffer and die after entering Jerusalem, before his resurrection.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record that the voice of God was heard, confirming Jesus as his son (Matthew 17:5, Mark 9:6, Luke 9:35). Peter and John make specific reference to the event in their writings, as confirming Jesus' divinity and his status as the Messiah (2 Peter 1:17, John 1:14).
In his address before the Angelus on August 6, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI described how the events of the transfiguration display Christ as the “full manifestation of God's light.”
This light, which shines forth from Christ both at the transfiguration and after his resurrection, is ultimately triumphant over “the power of the darkness of evil.”
The Pope stressed that the feast of the Transfiguration is an important opportunity for believers to look to Christ as “the light of the world,” and to experience the kind of conversion which the Bible frequently describes as an emergence from darkness to light.
“In our time too,” Pope Benedict said, “we urgently need to emerge from the darkness of evil, to experience the joy of the children of light!”
For Eastern Catholics, the Feast of the Transfiguration is especially significant. It is among the 12 “great feasts” of Eastern Catholicism.
Eastern Christianity emphasizes that Christ's transfiguration is the prototype of spiritual illumination, which is possible for the committed disciple of Jesus. This Christian form of “enlightenment” is  facilitated by the ascetic disciplines of prayer, fasting, and charitable almsgiving.
A revered hierarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the late Archbishop Joseph Raya, described this traditional Byzantine view of the transfiguration in his book of meditations on the Biblical event and its liturgical celebration, titled “Transfiguration of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
“Transfiguration,” Archbishop Raya wrote, “is not simply an event out of the two-thousand-year old past, or a future yet to come. It is rather a reality of the present, a way of life available to those who seek and accept Christ’s nearness.”


LECTIO DIVINA:THE TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD (A)
Lectio Divina: 
 Sunday, August 6, 2017
Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer
Father of everlasting goodness,
our origin and guide,
be close to us
and hear the prayers of all who praise you.
Forgive our sins and restore us to life.
Keep us safe in your love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 17,1-9
Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as dazzling as light. And suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them; they were talking with him.
Then Peter spoke to Jesus. 'Lord,' he said, 'it is wonderful for us to be here; if you want me to, I will make three shelters here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.' He was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and suddenly from the cloud there came a voice which said, 'This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.'
When they heard this, the disciples fell on their faces, overcome with fear. But Jesus came up and touched them, saying, 'Stand up, do not be afraid.' And when they raised their eyes they saw no one but Jesus. As they came down from the mountain Jesus gave them this order, 'Tell no one about this vision until the Son of man has risen from the dead.'
3) Reflection
• Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus. The Transfiguration takes place after the first announcement of the Death of Jesus (Mt 16, 21). This announcement disturbs the head of the Disciples, especially Peter (Mt 16, 22-23). They were living among the poor, but the head was lost in the dominating ideology of that time. They were expecting a glorious Messiah. The cross was an impediment to believe in Jesus. The Transfiguration, where Jesus appears glorious on the top of the mountain, was for them a help to overcome the trauma of the Cross and to discover the true Messiah in Jesus. But even with this, many years afterwards, when the Good News was already diffused in Asia Minor and in Greece, the Cross continued to be for the Jews and for the gentiles a great impediment to accept Jesus as Messiah. “The Cross is foolishness and scandal!”, as it was said (1Co 1, 23). One of the greatest efforts of the first Christians was to help people to become aware that the cross was not a scandal, nor foolishness, but rather the most beautiful and strongest expression of the wisdom of God (1Co 1, 22-31). Today’s Gospel contributes to this effort. It shows that Jesus saw realized the prophecy and that the Cross was the way to Glory. There is no other way.
• Matthew 17, 1-3: Jesus changes aspect. Jesus goes up to the top of the mountain. Luke adds that he goes there to pray (Lk 9, 28). There, on the top of the mountain, Jesus appears in the glory, before Peter, James and John. Together with Jesus Moses and Elijah also appear. The high mountain evokes Mount Sinai, where, in the past, God had manifested his will to the people, giving them the Tables of the Law. The white clothes recall Moses who was radiant with light when he was speaking with God on the Mountain and received the Law from God, (Ex 34,29-35). Elijah and Moses, the two maximum authorities of the Old Testament, speak with Jesus. Moses represents the Law, Elijah, the prophecy. Luke tells us that the conversation was on the “Exodus” (the death) of Jesus in Jerusalem (Lk 9, 31). Thus, it is clear that the Old Testament, that is the Law as well as the Prophets, already taught that for the Messiah, the way to Glory had to go through the Cross. There is no other way.
• Matthew 17, 4: It pleases Peter, but he does not understand. It pleases Peter and he wants to stop that pleasant moment on the Mountain. He offers himself to build three tents. Mark says that Peter was afraid, and did not know what he was saying (Mk 9,6), and Luke adds that the Disciples were sleepy (Lk 9,32). They were like we are: it is difficult for them to understand the Cross!
• Matthew 17, 5-8: The voice from Heaven clarifies the facts. When Jesus is enveloped by the glory, there was a voice from Heaven which said: “This is my Son, the Beloved, he enjoys my favour. Listen to Him”. The expression “Beloved son” evokes the person of the Messiah Servant, announced by the Prophet Isaiah (cf. Is 42, 1). The expression “Listen to Him” evokes the prophecy which promised the coming of a new Moses (cf. Dt 18, 15). In Jesus the prophecies of the Old Testament are being fulfilled, the disciples can no longer doubt. Jesus is truly the gloriousMessiah and the way to arrive to the glory passes through the cross, according to everything announced in the prophecy of the Messiah Servant (Is 53,3-9). The glory of the Transfiguration proves this. Moses and Elijah confirm it. The Father guarantees it. Jesus accepts it. Before everything which was taking place the Disciples are afraid and fall on their faces. Jesus gets close to them, touches them and says: “Stand up, do not be afraid”. The Disciples raised their eyes and saw only Jesus and nobody else. From now on, Jesus is the only revelation of God for us! Jesus, and he alone, is the key to be able to understand Scripture and Life.
• Matthew 17, 9: To know how to keep silence. Jesus asks the disciples to tell no one about the vision until the Son of Man has risen from the dead. Mark says that they did not know what it meant to rise from the dead (Mk 9, 10). In fact, the one who does not join suffering to the resurrection will not understand the significance of the Cross. The Cross of Jesus is the proof that life is stronger than death. The full understanding of the following of Jesus is not obtained by theoretical instruction, but by practical commitment, walking with him along the road of service, of Galilee until Jerusalem. .
4) Personal questions

• Has your faith in Jesus given you some moment of transfiguration and of profound joy? How have these moments of joy given you strength in difficult moments?
• Today, how can you transfigure both your personal and your family life, and the community life of your neighbourhood?
5) Concluding Prayer
The mountains melt like wax,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his saving justice,
all nations see his glory. (Ps 97,5-6)