Wednesday, 6 August 2008

My Thoughts on the Bible Readings of this day

Question: why did Peter offer to make three tents (one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah) when he saw the Lord transfigured? To answer this question, we must first ask, why tents? Why not shrines, etc.?
Tents for one thing commemorate the accommodations of the Israelites when God brought them out of slavery in Egypt to mastery in the Promised Land. Thus in building tents Peter wanted to honor Jesus, Moses and Elijah and in this way commemorate what God has done in bringing about their marvelous manifestation. A tent is also the first home the Israelites built for their God for Him to live among them and talk to them. Peter was indirectly asking the three heavenly, prophetic figures to stay among the disciples and teach them about God. And lastly Peter wanted to be hospitable (i.e. giving them a place to stay), like he would have treated guests from afar.
But that's not what the event was all about. The main actor in the event was Jesus, and He was already among the disciples. There is no more direct access to God than through Jesus. So there was no need for Moses and Elijah to remain. The Transfiguration was only meant to confirm Jesus' identity for His disciples, not the start of a new mission.
We can learn from this too. Often we think we need to do more to hear God. We need to pray more, help others more, go to more seminars, etc. But God says “listen to my Son.” This is a much less elaborate thing, but often a much harder thing. All the elaborate works merely put us in a place where we are more ready to listen to Jesus. At the end of the day, we still need to find a quiet place & time to listen to God so we can hear Him, hear His plans for us, and know how to obey Him. This is more important than chasing after some spiritual experience that convinces us of God's presence and power. Such experiences are meant to be fleeting (like the Transfiguration) and merely serve to show us the right path to God.

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

What is this feast all about? Let's refer to Wikipedia, shall we?

- The Transfiguration of Jesus is an event in which Jesus was transfigured upon a mountain (Mount Tabor?) It put Jesus above the two preeminent figures of Judaism: Moses and Elijah and also supported his identity as the Son of God
- the Feast of the Transfiguration is observed on 6 August and is considered a major feast

And here's something Pope Benedict XVI preached about the Transfiguration (taken from http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/angelus/
2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_ang_20060312_en.html):

Today's Gospel reading re-proposes to us the episode of the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor. Awestruck at the sight of the transfigured Lord who was speaking with Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John were suddenly overshadowed by a cloud, out of which came a voice which proclaimed: "This is my beloved Son on whom my favour rests; listen to him" (Mk 9: 7).
When one has the grace to live a strong experience of God, it is as if one is living an experience similar to that of the disciples during the Transfiguration: a momentary foretaste of what will constitute the happiness of Paradise. These are usually brief experiences that are sometimes granted by God, especially prior to difficult trials.
No one, however, is permitted to live "on Tabor" while on earth. Indeed, human existence is a journey of faith and as such, moves ahead more in shadows than in full light, and is no stranger to moments of obscurity and also of complete darkness. While we are on this earth, our relationship with God takes place more by listening than by seeing; and the same contemplation comes about, so to speak, with closed eyes, thanks to the interior light that is kindled in us by the Word of God.

Today's Bible Readings (Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord)

The readings for today Wed 6 Aug:

Daniel 7: 9-10, 13-14
"While I was watching, thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His attire was white like snow; the hair of his head was like lamb’s wool. His throne was ablaze with fire and its wheels were all aflame. A river of fire was streaming forth and proceeding from his presence. Many thousands were ministering to him; many tens of thousands stood ready to serve him. The court convened and the books were opened."
As the visions during the night continued, I saw:
"And with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man was approaching. He went up to the Ancient of Days and was escorted before him. To him was given ruling authority, honor, and sovereignty. All peoples, nations, and language groups serve him. His authority is eternal and will not pass away. His kingdom will not be destroyed."

2 Peter 1: 16-19
For we did not follow cleverly concocted fables when we made known to you the power and return of our Lord Jesus Christ; no, we were eyewitnesses of his grandeur. For he received honor and glory from God the Father, when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory: “This is my dear Son, in whom I am delighted.” When this voice was conveyed from heaven, we ourselves heard it, for we were with him on the holy mountain. Moreover, we possess the prophetic word as an altogether reliable thing. You do well if you pay attention to this as you would to a light shining in a murky place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Matthew 17: 1-9
Six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John the brother of James, and led them privately up a high mountain. And he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. Then Moses and Elijah also appeared before them, talking with him. So Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you want, I will make three shelters – one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a11 bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my one dear Son, in whom I take great delight. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they were overwhelmed with fear and threw themselves down with their faces to the ground. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Do not be afraid.” When they looked up, all they saw was Jesus alone.
As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Do not tell anyone about the vision until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”

Daily Bible Verse

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