Aperuit Illis 14: The Transfiguration

On occasion, Pope Francis offers a thought from off the beaten path. I wouldn’t have expected the Transfiguration to be tied closely with the Word, but here it is–the witness of Moses and Elijah:

14. One of the most significant moments in Jesus’ relationship with his disciples is found in the account of the Transfiguration. He goes up the mountain with Peter, James and John to pray. The evangelists tell us that as Jesus’ face and clothing became dazzlingly white, two men conversed with him: Moses and Elijah, representing respectively the Law and the Prophets; in other words, sacred Scripture. Peter’s reaction to this sight is one of amazement and joy: “Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” (Lk 9:33). At that moment a cloud overshadows them, and the disciples are struck with fear.

We turn our thought to the renewal under Ezra and Nehemiah, after the return from Babylonian Exile.

The Transfiguration reminds us of the Feast of Tabernacles, when Ezra and Nehemiah read the sacred text to the people after their return from exile. At the same time, it foreshadows Jesus’ glory, as a way of preparing the disciples for the scandal of the Passion: that divine glory is also evoked by the cloud enveloping the disciples as a symbol of God’s presence.

Are we prepared to enter into the experience of transcendence in our encounter with the living Word of God?

A similar transfiguration takes place with sacred Scripture, which transcends itself whenever it nourishes the lives of believers. As the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini reminds us: “In rediscovering the interplay between the different senses of Scripture it becomes essential to grasp the passage from letter to spirit. This is not an automatic, spontaneous passage; rather, the letter needs to be transcended” (No. 38).

By attuning our prayer to the spirit of the Scripture, we can discern the touchpoints with our own experiences in life and faith. Otherwise, the best we can do is to be admiring spectators to the events, teaching, and poetry of the Bible. We can do all that, but Jesus beckons us to experience more.

The full document can be read here. The text reproduced from it is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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