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Father Dennis’ Reflection

God’s Living Word for Today - Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Transfiguration of the Lord

[Dan 7:9-10, 13-14; 2 Pet 1:16-19; A: Matt 17:1-9 B: Mark 9:2-10 C: Luke 9:28b-36,685]
"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." [Matthew]

     All three of the "synoptic" gospels report the incident of the transfiguration of Jesus on a mountain.  Tradition assigns this location to Mt. Tabor in Israel and it is indeed a magnificent location for the event described in the gospels!  In the Gospel According to Matthew, Jesus is portrayed as a "New Moses" and he begins his ministry on a "mountain" (5:1) and ends it on a mountain (28:16), just as Moses did important things on Mt. Sinai.  The transfiguration is placed by Matthew at a point in the gospel where Peter has made his confession of faith (16:16) and Jesus has made his first prediction of his passion (which Peter protests).  The transfiguration is a momentary unveiling of the total reality of Jesus to Peter, James and John.  Jesus was no ordinary rabbi or charismatic teacher.

     For centuries after Jesus had died and risen, the church experienced fierce debates about Jesus' identity.  Some would make him less than God (Arians) and some would make him God in a human suit (Docetism).  The Councils of Nicea (325 AD, which gave us the creed we profess on Sundays) and Chalcedon (451) established firmly for our faith that Jesus was fully divine and fully human.  

     To this day Christians will find themselves emphasizing one or the other ways of looking at Jesus.  Some will emphasize his transcendent divine status as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity and Lord of lords.  Others will emphasize his ministry of healing and his teachings about the way we should live our faith.  The Transfiguration reminds us that we can't have one without the other. 

Father Dennis




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