Watching for the morning of March 2
The Feast of the Transfiguration
These Sundays after the culmination of the Christmas season with the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6, began with the account of Jesus baptism where the Spirit descended upon him and the voice from heaven declared, “This is my Son, the Beloved.” Now at the end of this season we hear again the voice of heaven declare, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased,” adding the words “listen to him!”
“Listen to him” because he has just began to teach his followers about the cross and resurrection; he is going to Jerusalem to be rejected and killed – a very un-messiah like thing to do. Indeed, by every common standard, to be crucified would prove he was not God’s chosen one.
We hold these two images in tension: Jesus broken and repudiated upon the cross, and Jesus radiant with the reflection of God’s glory. It is precisely as the one who suffers that he reigns as Lord of all. It is in the laying down of his life that the path of life is opened. The faithful son is wounded but lives: dies but is raised. He remains faithful to God, obedient unto the cross, and through him we who proved unfaithful receive the crown of life.
“Listen to him,” says God. “Listen to him.”
The Prayer for March 2, 2014
Holy and Gracious God,
wrapped in mystery, yet revealed in your Son Jesus.
Renew us by the radiant vision of your Son;
make us ever attentive to his voice;
and worthy of your service.
The Texts for March 2, 2014
First Reading: Exodus 24:12-18
“The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” – God speaks to Moses from the cloud on Mt. Sinai. Both the cloud as a symbol of God’s presence and the tradition that Moses’ face shone from speaking to God face to face lies in the background of today’s Gospel narrative of the transfiguration of Jesus.
Psalmody: Psalm 2
“Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain?” – A royal psalm that contains a declaration by God to the king “You are my son; today I have begotten you” similar to that spoken by God to Jesus in the story of the transfiguration.
Second Reading: 2 Peter 1:16-21
“He received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” – The author of 2 Peter alludes to the events on the Mount of the Transfiguration.
Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9
“He was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.” – After Peter has confessed Jesus as the Christ only to be told that the Messiah must suffer and be killed, Jesus takes Peter, James and John up on the mountain where they have a visionary experience of Jesus transfigured by the radiant presence of God.