Sunday next before Lent - this week's readings and reflections from Father Michael
Almighty Father, whose Son was revealed in majesty before he suffered death upon the cross: give us grace to perceive his glory, that we may be strengthened to suffer with him and be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever.
Mark Chapter 9 Verses 2-9. (The Transfiguration of our Lord)
"This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!"
The Transfiguration is the whole Gospel in miniature. In that single scene, we hear echoes of the baptism of Jesus, Jesus' fulfilment of the Law and prophets, his predictions of his passion; foreshadows of his death and resurrection, his ascension and future coming in glory.
We hear that Jesus takes three of his disciples and goes up a high mountain to be alone, presumably to pray.
On another mountain, in the midst of the cloud which represents the presence of God, Moses had his transforming encounter with God; saw something of God's glory, so that he was physically transformed by it, and he received the gift of the Law for the people.
The light however which shines from Jesus is the glory of God which Moses had not been allowed to see fully but which had been sufficient to transform his appearance. Even before a word is said, there is an affirmation of the divinity of Jesus.
Then Moses and Elijah appear. They represent two great strands of the religion of Israel: the Law which had been given to Moses during his mountain top encounter with God; the Prophets represented by Elijah, who also had his experience of God on a mountain and heard the voice of God. Jesus is shown to us as the one in whom this religion finds its fulfilment and meaning. The Law and the Prophets are the essential background to understanding Jesus; that is why the Church goes on reading them. But, as Paul tells us, Jesus is the essential key to understanding them. They remain veiled, unfulfilled without him.
Moses and Elijah speak to Jesus presumably about "his departure, which he was about to accomplish in Jerusalem". The Greek word used is Exodus. It signifies much more than a simple leaving. The Exodus was the liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the promised land. The "Exodus" of Jesus, his death and resurrection, will be the liberation of all people from their slavery to the false worship of this world, to live in that communion with God for which we are made.
The cloud represents both the presence and the mystery of God.
The voice from the cloud underscores the importance of what has been happening throughout the ministry of Jesus. The divine voice affirms Jesus' identity as the Son of God and instructs the disciples to heed Jesus' teaching. If God were to say only one sentence to us, it might well be "This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!"
MY THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
I think it is important that we listen to God when he speaks to us and be alert to his instruction. For most of us this is rarely a 'Damascus Road' experience but more likely through reading the Scriptures, prayer, other people, nature and God's creation and the Arts. God only wants what is good for us his children. However, the paths in which he will lead us, will not always be easy. We should be careful therefore that we don't ignore His voice and follow an easier option and also let us not confuse God's voice with our own will and intention.
It is useful from time to time in a quiet moment to look back over periods in our life, both in the shorter term and the long term and to recognise God's hand in our lives. But be warned, God is not a God of instant gratification.
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice.
I would like to end this blog with a prayer, as under.
As always with my love and prayers.
Chaplain, Holy Trinity Funchal
God of grace and mercy,
your son Jesus wept at the tomb of his friend Lazarus.
Send your Holy Spirit on those who grieve,
any who struggle, and all who fear.
Meet us in our times of questioning, anger, and doubt.
Show us what we can do to enable one another
to overcome isolation, distress, and despair.
And make us a humbler people who know our need of you.
In Christ's name.