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Monday, August 16, 2010

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

A cloud came and cast a shadow over them,
and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.
Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
‘This is my chosen Son; listen to him.’
Luke 9:34,35

On August 6th the Church celebrated the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

Before the story of the Transfiguration, Peter, James, John, and Jesus had been hanging out a lot. They traveled together, shared meals together, preached, healed the sick, and taught together. Right before this Gospel passage Jesus “summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority … and sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:1a, 2a). They had heard the first prediction of the Passion story and they had been warned of the conditions and requirements of discipleship.

In the story of the Transfiguration, Peter, James, and John went up the mountain with Jesus, saw him with Elijah and Moses, and then Peter offered to make tents for each man. A cloud came over Peter, James, and John and from that cloud a voice spoke, saying “‘This is my chosen Son; listen to him’” (Luke 9:35b) and then Peter, James and John were alone with Christ.

The line that always strikes me in this story is ‘they became frightened.’

Honestly, if I heard a voice from the clouds, I would probably be frightened as well. But I think the fear that the disciples felt in this story is different than fear at other points in the Gospel. For example when the disciples were on the boat in the storm, they were afraid of capsizing; during the Crucifixion, the disciples were fearful of death. In the story of the Transfiguration Jesus shared his true self. He shared his true nature as being the Son of God.

Imagine being on that mountain: you think you know Jesus, this man with countercultural stories and ideas, you have seen miracles and healings; you have heard the parables and lessons. You have traveled, eaten, fished, healed, taught, lived with this man. And now, this new revelation. A new revelation into the depth of who Christ is.

How would you handle this situation? How do you react when friends share surprising and unexpected news?

When we share of our true self, our true identity, our inner thoughts, feelings, emotions we make ourselves vulnerable to the judgments of others. We open ourselves to the rejection, hatred, and opinions of others.

Yet, in order to share our true self we must move beyond the fear of persecution and misunderstanding in order to enter into deeper and more meaningful relationships with others. In order to enter into true Christian community and relationships we must be willing to share our true selves, make ourselves vulnerable to others, and receive the surprising, unexpected, and sometimes unnerving revelations of others.

It is only through sharing our true selves that we can be challenged to grow, challenged to develop our thoughts, and open ourselves to receiving the love of others. Only through receiving the revelations of others can we make ourselves available to the true nature of others. Together through the sharing and receiving between friends we are able to commit ourselves to meaningful, deep, Christians relationships.

‘and they became frightened’
We must move beyond this initial fear, move beyond hesitation and second-guessing. The goal of letting go of this fear is to enter into a deeper relationship with Christ. We must be willing to share and receive our true selves with Christ. We must be open and honest in our needs and desires and be willing to receive God’s dream for us.

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