Watching for the Morning of February 23, 2020
The Feast of the Transfiguration
Sunday is the last of the Alleluias. By tradition, they are omitted during Lent; we do not sing them again until the cry goes out: “Christ is risen!” and the darkness turns to light in that night that dawns into Easter morning.
Sunday we are on the mountain peak. The cloud of God’s presence surrounds Jesus and he is made radiant by God’s glory. It is a vision that confirms the word spoken at Jesus’ baptism: “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased.” It is a vindication of all that Jesus has said and will yet say. “Listen to him,” the heavenly voice says. Listen to him. Dare to hear what he says about the cross and resurrection. Dare to follow him to Jerusalem. Dare to see the arms stretched wide and the blood outpoured. Dare to trust the word of the women who will see the vision of angels and the empty tomb. Dare to trust and live the redemption of the world that happens here where shame is suffered and mercy given. Listen to him.
Sunday we are made ready for our Lenten journey. In our first reading we are reminded of Moses ascending into the cloud of God’s presence at Sinai. In the psalm, we hear the divine voice say of the king “You are my son; today I have begotten you,” words that gain their fullest meaning as they are spoken of the lamb who shall reign over a world made new. We hear the author of 2 Peter testify to their vision: “We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.” And we will hear Matthew’s account of that moment, and how Jesus came and touched Peter, James, and John, telling them not to be afraid.
There is a path ahead that is full of wonder and mystery that Jesus’ followers will not fully understand until the Spirit beats in every heart. But we are made ready for the journey. This is God’s beloved. And we will go with him from death into life.
The Prayer for February 23, 2020
Holy and Wondrous God,
hidden in mystery yet revealed in your Son, Jesus,
of whom the law and prophets bear witness
and upon whom your splendor shines:
Help us to hear his voice
and see your glory in his outstretched arms;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
The Texts for February 23, 2020
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 lie 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.
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