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Posts Tagged ‘Transfiguration’


Psalm 125:2: Re-Creation – Mountains and Hills

Easter Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Throughout sacred scripture we see the importance of high places in our human search for connection and intimacy with God.

I look to the mountains;
    where will my help come from? (Psalm 121:1)

The eternal human cry for help is as old as the mountains themselves.

So my sheep wandered over the high hills and the mountains. They were scattered over the face of the earth, and no one looked for them or tried to find them. (Ezekiel 34:6)

God sees the abandoned flock and gathers his sheep when their leaders take them astray.

How wonderful it is to see
    a messenger coming across the mountains,
    bringing good news, the news of peace!
He announces victory and says to Zion,
    “Your God is king!” (Isaiah 52:7)

Still, our human eyes remain on the mountain tops, awaiting the messenger we are promised.

Six days later Jesus took with him Peter and the brothers James and John and led them up a high mountain where they were alone. (Matthew 17:1-8)

Jesus himself climbs to a high place when he visits with Moses and Elijah as a precursor to his own exodus. He takes with him, Peter, James and John to witness his Transfiguration.

They took Jesus to a place called Golgotha, which means “The Place of the Skull.” (Mark 15:22)

As Jesus himself climbs a hill outside Jerusalem to surrender himself to crucifixion, he carries the weight of our fears and anxieties with him.

As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
    so the Lord surrounds God’s people,
    now and forever. (Psalm 125:2)

Just as Jerusalem rests in the circle of God’s mountains, so do we humans rest in the eternal refuge of God’s enormous and endless arms.

 

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Luke 2:41-51: Found

jesus in the temple as a child

Tintoretto: The Finding of the Savior in the Temple

Palm Sunday, March 20, 2016

Today’s familiar story foreshadows the conflict that will take place in Jesus’ adult years when his message of God’s mercy brings the wrath of leaders against him, and lays the fate of creation in his hands. As a child, Jesus remains in Jerusalem after Passover to converse with temple elders. Discovered by his parents, he goes home to live obediently with them. The child Jesus dazzles leaders and yet lives in humility. The child Jesus knows that God is in charge.

Coptic Icon of the Transfiguration of Christ

Coptic Icon: Transfiguration of Christ

The man Jesus goes up to the mountain to experience his own transfiguration, but he does not go alone. He takes two friends who later testify to this beautiful experience on the mountain top. The man Jesus confounds his friends and yet delivers the expectation that his kingdom is here and now. The man Jesus knows that God’s outrageous hope is essential to human existence.

The prophet Jesus brings healing and confidence to the marginalized and forgotten. He escapes the crowd by disappearing over the brow of the hill. He slips through the fingers of those who would obliterate him. He challenges our beliefs and our doubts. The prophet Jesus knows that God’s enduring faith is critical in the human journey.

The risen Jesus defies all laws of physics and logic to bring hope to the abandoned and faith to the desperate. He hands himself over to the authorities who despise him. He suffers meekly at the hands of his enemies whom he calls to goodness. He offers the gift of healing and solace to all of creation. Christ Jesus knows that God’s enormous love is crucial in our human lives.

messiah has comeOn this Palm Sunday we reflect on the Passion story in one or all of the Gospels. As we enter into this holiest of weeks, let us remember our Lenten practices while we journey up to Jerusalem. As we near our Easter home, let us pray, meditate and remember that once we were fearful, and now we rest in Christ. Once we doubted and now we believe. Once we were lost and now, like the child Jesus, we are found.

For a video message from musician Matt Maher about the significance of Palm Sunday and how palms were a sign of rebellion in the Roman Empire, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbHHqPAwcIM 

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Mark 9:2-10: Transfiguring Our Lives

Raphael: The Transfiguration

Raphael: The Transfiguration

Second Sunday of Lent, March 1, 2015

In today’s Gospel we hear a clear call to rise to our own potential, to experience our own transfiguration. Since Ash Wednesday we have looked at the early books in the Old Testament to examine our earliest human ideas of the Living God and the special relationship we experience with this deity. This is a God who is not distant or removed; rather, the Lord accompanies us always in all places.

As we read the Gospel at the link above, we consider whether we live outside or inside the Lord’s camp, we consider where and how we find strength, and we examine our own sense of devotion to the Lord. As we reflect on both the Gospel and the ideas brought forward in our Lenten reflections, we consider how we might be transfigured in Christ, and how we might become – or continue to be – good and faithful servants to this Living God. And we determine to bring God to one another as we engage in social justice work.

As we scroll back through the last few weeks of The Noontimes, we linger with those that open the possibility of transfiguration to us in this Easter season.

homeless-peopleRaphael’s painting of the transfiguration was comissioned by Cardinal Giulio de Medici who later became Pope Clement VII. To learn more about the painting and the painter, click on the image.

To learn how we might transfigure our own lives by helping the marginalized, we might learn about the homeless by following the link connected to the image to the left. We might also learn how we can change our lives to include the homeless in a positive way at: http://www.tillhecomes.org/how-to-help-homeless-people/ 

 

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Second Sunday in Lent, March 16, 2014

holy_spirit-hahlbohm_l__73391_zoom

Hahlbolm: The Holy Spirit

Matthew 13:15

Prayer for a Willingness to Listen

Jesus says: For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.  (Matthew 13:15)

These words alone ought to prepare us to listen for God’s healing voice; and yet we resist.  Let us take seven minutes of our busy day to listen to words from Julian Treasure delivered at a TED talk in Oxford, England in July of 2010.  Find “Shh! Sound health in 8 steps” at the link below.  When we listen to Julian, we find new readiness and new energy . . . to listen . . . and to pray . . .

https://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_shh_sound_health_in_8_steps

Creator of ears and sound, help us to hear the music of your creation. 

Christ of human voice and compassion, help us to listen to the Word you have brought us.

Spirit of God’s mercy and care, help us to perceive the Word that lives in us.

God of words and voices, help us to nurture our willingness to hear your Spirit’s wisdom.

Amen.

Today’s Gospel is Matthew 17:1-9. What do the disciples see and hear? How do we see and hear God who transfigures our lives?

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

76d2ce62177a139a96b48d628d63c470[1]1 John 5:13-14

Simple Truths

I write these things to you so that you may know that you have eternal life . . . And we have this confidence in the Son of God, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 

This week we have highlighted several verses from the first letter of John and we have examined the words he records to remind us of how much and how well we are loved.  Today, if there is time in our busy schedules, we might spend time with the entire letter.

John experienced friendship with Jesus first hand.  He was present at the Transfiguration.  John is the Beloved Apostle to whom Jesus gave over care of his mother, Mary.  He is the faithful disciple who writes the beautifully soaring Gospel defining Jesus as the Word that has been from the beginning and will be to the end.  We do well to spend time with this letter written directly to each of us today.

“The purpose of this letter is to combat certain false ideas, especially about Jesus, and to deepen the spiritual and social awareness of the Christian community . . . The author affirms that authentic Christian love, ethics, and faith take place only within the historical revelation and sacrifice of Jesus Christ . . . The author sets forth the striking contrasts between light and darkness, Christians and the world, and truth and error to illustrate the threats and responsibilities of Christian life.  The result is not one of theological argument but one of intense religious conviction expressed in simple truths”.  (Senior 387)

Why are we so reluctant to believe the good news that each of us has a personal invitation to be as close to Jesus as John is?  Do we cherish the idea that some of us are more special or less special to Christ?  In believing this we would be straying from the lesson Jesus teaches us.

When are we ever happy with the story of salvation?  When it is the version we have dreamed for ourselves?  In thinking this we would be missing the lesson Jesus taught us.

How will we come to grips with the fact that following Christ requires intense religious conviction?  Or are we hoping to write our own plan for salvation and telling God how we best fit into this plan for the world?  In this desire we illustrate that we have missed all that Jesus has taught us.

John reminds us in his first letter that we are Children of God, that we suffer threats and share responsibilities as Christ’s followers, and that we reap gifts beyond imagining when we allow ourselves to be one with the Mystical Christ.  These simple truths bring forth complex emotions and intense reactions.  They call us out of ourselves and into the world for others.  They carry the weight of the world yet raise us in freedom and salvation.  These simple truths are lived out for us by Christ each day . . . and they bring us the message of our rescue from darkness that we long to hear . . . that Christ hears our petitions . . . and holds them as dearly as he holds each of us.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.387. Print.

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Second Sunday of Lent, February 24, 2013 – Sirach 8 & 9 – Part II

The Measure of Friends

af-grain-pouring-mali[1]Today’s Gospel is Luke’s description of the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28b-36) and each time we come across these verses we are given the opportunity to again think about the concept of friendship: what it means to us, how we live out friendship with others, and what qualities we hope to find in friends.  So often in the New Testament stories we watch Jesus interact with those closest to him and we always find Jesus giving more than words or gestures to his friends; he brings more than The Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah). He brings himself; he gives his full and total self.  And the marvel of Jesus is that he continues to be present to each of us today . . . even when we do not number him as one of our friends.  In his love for us, Jesus reminds us of the important of giving even when we anticipate receiving nothing in return for the measure with which we measure will be measured out to us.  (Luke 6:38, Mark 4:24, Matthew 7:2).  Jesus spares nothing in his great love for his friends.  We must spare nothing as well.  Sirach has words that help us to nurture friendship, and to gain the wisdom that helps us to be a good friend to others.

Sirach cautions us to stay away from the powerful.

Know that you are stepping among snares and walking over a net.

Sirach tells us that we ought not to worry about a “sinner’s fame” or a “proud man’s success”.

You know not what disaster awaits him . . . he will not reach death unpunished.

Sirach suggests that we measure our neighbors in order to associate with the wise and learned.

Let your conversations be about the law of the Lord.

Sirach reminds us of the intimacy of a shared meal.

Have the just for your table companions.

Sirach says to us what we know to be true about new friendship.

A new friend is like new wine which you drink with pleasure only when it has aged.

And Sirach tells us that time and patience are important between friends if the relationship is to have value.

Discard not an old friend, for the new one cannot equal him.

When we feel ourselves caught by the allure of control, when we feel trapped by the deception of an associate, when we realize that a colleague has been manipulative . . . we know that it is time to take measure.  Not of the other, but of ourselves.  Are we willing to witness to truth?  Are we willing to break silence about a long-held lie?  Where do we find comfort . . . in the solace of associates who stroke my wounded self . . . or in the integrity of a relationship where we are lovingly corrected?  And in turn, are we willing to become a wounded healer?  Are we willing to be a true friend?

Tomorrow, a prayer for Friends and Friendship.

The other Transfiguration stories appear in Matthew 17:1-8 and Mark 9:2-8.

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Transfiguration


Monday, August 6, 2012

Ludovico Carracci: Transfiguration

Today is the Feast of Transfiguration and it brings us an opportunity to reflect on the plans God has in mind for us.  Let us spend time this week reflecting on God’s goodness . . . and the plans he has in mind for our joy.

Matthew 17:2 – Jesus was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.

God says: You have read this story a number of times and you always think that it is only describing what I have in mind for my son.  Remember that you are also my child . . . and I call you to transfiguration as well.  I have only marvelous plans in mind for you.  I will always turn the harm that you suffer to goodness.  You are so very precious to me.

Let us think again about what the Transfiguration means for us. Type the word Transfiguration in the blog search box and select a reflection.  The journey of discovery always begins with a first simple step.

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Saturday, April 7, 2012 – Matthew 20:17-28 – Prediction

Thursday and Friday evenings as I stepped off the church walkway and into the darkness I realized that the night sky was not as dark as usual.  The large Paschal Moon hovered over the campus, challenging the brightness of the large, artificial, man-made lamp stands.  Having stayed later than most worshipers to spend a bit of extra time reflecting, I was nearly alone on the campus . . . and I said a small, quiet prayer to the Creator for all the gifts I so easily use that he has so lovingly given.  It was a sacred moment which I wanted to hold, much as the apostles wanted to hold the beauty and fullness of The Transfiguration.  We who live in a place where food and peace are aplenty have much to be grateful for.  We who are called to labor in the vineyard of the one who knows us intimately have much to be faithful to.  We who are so well-loved and guided in the Spirit have much to be hopeful in. God’s justice, Jesus’ compassion and the Spirit’s fidelity can be counted on  . . . always  . . . this we can predict. Just as Jesus’ predicted his own passion we can predict our own struggle with loved ones, colleagues and strangers . . . and our own struggle to follow Christ.

Hans Suess von Kolmbach: Mary Salome and Zebedee with their sons James the Greater and John the Evangelist

Perhaps the Sons of Zebedee today give us a picture of our relationship with Jesus, or maybe we better see ourselves as their mother, Salome.  Like the early friends and relatives of Jesus, we often do not see the consequences of our requests; and we are surprised and even angry at the twists and turns of fate that seem to us to be capricious gods that play havoc with our hopes and dreams.  We become bogged down and may even wallow in self-pity and indignation when events and people beyond our control disrupt our plans.  We see that what we had predicted for ourselves is somehow not budding, is for some reason refusing to come to fruition.  We blame all sorts of people and circumstances, all the while neglecting to give thanks for the one sure thing that we can all predict with ease:  we will be loved always, we will be cared for and rescued always, and we will live in eternal union with our brother, the Christ.  What a great, and awesome and marvelous God we have.   What a sureness.  What a constancy.  What a greatness. What a God!   

The full Easter moon rides high across the skies during this extraordinary season of forgiveness.  Its cool light breaks through the darkness, telling us of the daytime sun that bathes the opposing side of the globe.  The tin-tinted orb reminds us that even when we do not feel the warmth and brilliance of Jesus he is with us anyway. 

The Paschal Moon rises just as expected, just as predicted.  God guides and protects us, just as expected, just as predicted.  Jesus sacrifices self and rescues us, just as expected, just as predicted.  The Holy Spirit abides with us and graces us, just as expected, just as predicted.  Discipleship will be difficult and arduous . . . just as expected, just as predicted.  The reward for fidelity will be greater than we have ever imagined . . . just as expected . . . just as predicted.  All of this we can foretell with certainty.  The events of our lives, the time and manner of our dying, the size of our income, and the number of our days we cannot.  So tonight, if the sky is clear, step outside your door for just a moment to search the heavens for the Paschal Moon and remember all that has been predicted.  And in the hush and quiet of that moment let us recall all that we have requested and all that we have been given.  And let us pray:

Jesus dies, Jesus rises.  We are saved.  We are loved.  And all . . . just as expected . . . just as predicted.  Amen.

For an inspirational reflection on Salome and her sons, click on the image of the Zebedee family above or go to: http://teamnoah.info/Stirred/ms.html

To learn more about how the date for Easter is chosen, click on the image above or go to: http://news.yahoo.com/moon-affects-date-easter-131202555.html

For the names of the full moons and what these names mean, go to: http://www.farmersalmanac.com/full-moon-names/ 

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