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Showing posts with label Transfiguration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Transfiguration. Show all posts

Sunday, February 25, 2018

A Homily – Mark 9:2 – 10 ©

The Gospel According to Mark – 2018.02.25


The Transfiguration

The reading for today is pure distillation of mythological tropes common among the Hebrew people.

It carries forward some a set of theological themes that very important in the first century.

It also situates the early Jesus Movement clearly within Rabbinical Judaism, which is otherwise known as Pharisaical Judaism.

Jesus is presented as a Pharisee, a Jew of the Synagogue, his followers address him as Rabbi, and the central concern among the actors in the text: Jesus, Peter, James, and John, concerns the foretelling that Jesus will rise from the dead.

In ancient Judaism, only the Pharisees taught the resurrection of the dead.

Beyond these immediate concerns the writers of Mark’s Gospel were also interested in conveying the message that their teachings were in total alignment with historical Judaism, therefore they depict Jesus as another Abraham, who was also visited by divine messengers, and they show him changed, as Moses was changed on the mountain; furthermore, they show him being given the endorsement of Moses, and also of the prophet Elijah.

This trope is a concrete expression of the faith of the Jesus Movement that their teaching was in alignment with the Patriarchs, the Law Giver, and the Prophets.

In Jesus, the whole history of the people was complete.

This is the message that the periscope intends to convey, and it should be remembered that it is a fiction, these events never happened, they are a literary invention.

It does not transmit a historical truth about the Life of Jesus, but rather a historical truth about what people believed concerning Jesus roughly fifty years after his death.


This is my Son, the Beloved

Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his clothes became dazzlingly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter spoke to Jesus: ‘Rabbi,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say; they were so frightened. And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and there came a voice from the cloud, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’ Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus.
 
As they came down from the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what ‘rising from the dead’ could mean.



2nd Sunday of Lent

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Homily – Matthew 17:1 - 9 ©



The Gospel According to Matthew – 2017.03.12


The Transfiguration


Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone. There in their presence he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them; they were talking with him. Then Peter spoke to Jesus. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and from the cloud there came a voice which said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.’ When they heard this the disciples fell on their faces overcome with fear. But Jesus came up and touched them. ‘Stand up,’ he said ‘do not be afraid.’ And when they raised their eyes they saw no one but only Jesus.

  As they came down from the mountain Jesus gave them this order, ‘Tell no one about the vision until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.’


Constructing Idols in Narrative

As Christians we are bound to read the Gospel in the context of its truthfulness.

Let the Spirit of Truth guide us, even if it means rejecting a passage such as this.

There may have been an event, when Jesus together with James and John went up the mountain by themselves.

It may have been that at such event Jesus connected for his followers the essential message that his ministry was in line with that of Moses, the liberator, the law giver; and Elijah, the truthteller.

The supernatural events described here did not happen.

God, the creator of the universe does not engage in supernatural activities. God is the author of nature and its laws. God does not violate these laws for any reason.

The disciples were also to understand that the ministry of Jesus was also in keeping with that of Enoch, for Enoch is the Son of Man, and he was expected to return.

Jesus warned the disciples that his ministry would lead to his death, but like Enoch, the Son of Man, death would not stop him. He would return.

Always read the gospel in such a way that you strip from it the fantastical elements. Those are not elucidating and they are contrary to the way.

Read through those fantasies only to understand what they tell us about what they people believed who witnessed Jesus’ life, and wrote his story. There is no other wisdom to be had from them.


2nd Sunday of Lent

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 9:28-36 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.02.21 (Sunday)

The Transfiguration of Christ

Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up the mountain to pray. As he prayed, the aspect of his face was changed and his clothing became brilliant as lightning. Suddenly there were two men there talking to him; they were Moses and Elijah appearing in glory, and they were speaking of his passing which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were heavy with sleep, but they kept awake and saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As these were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ – He did not know what he was saying. As he spoke, a cloud came and covered them with shadow; and when they went into the cloud the disciples were afraid. And a voice came from the cloud saying, ‘This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.’ And after the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. The disciples kept silence and, at that time, told no one what they had seen. (NJB)

Myth and Reason

Theology; the words we use to speak about God. These words are only good and useful, if they are grounded and rational.

Mythology; the words we use to contextualize our experience, when we wish to speak in metaphors, and analogies, so that we may link our experiences to the world beyond ourselves.

These two modes of narrative are not necessarily at odds with each other, but they can be. Myth can be grounded and rational, when the motif of the metaphor, or the allegory are understood and properly balanced, when you engage this narrative with your eyes wide open. By the same token theology can be irrational, when the assumptions we make about the nature of reality, the nature of humanity, the nature of the divine, and the divine economy are not rooted in truth. Or worse, if they are rooted in fear, hate and greed.

The mythology behind the transfiguration is easily, and often misinterpreted. It is likely, that this is so because the root of the narrative in itself has its origins in a fundamental misunderstanding of who Jesus was.

It may be the case that those who first gave voice to the narrative, and those who first penned it, only intended the message to be that Jesus stood in the same tradition as Moses; the lawgiver, and Elijah; the prophet.

The motif of the cloud descending on Jesus may have only been meant to suggest that Jesus’ authority, his understanding of the divine will, came from a place of mystery.

The voice from the cloud naming Jesus as “son,” may have only been meant to convey the message that Jesus is the “heir” to the Abrahamic tradition, and not merely a “teacher” in that tradition.

This is the grounded and rational interpretation of this myth.

However, as happens most often, the interpreters of this myth point to the more sensational images in the narrative; the bright lights, and the shining garments, the presence of Moses, and Elijah (as if they were actually there), their journey into the cloud with Jesus (as if they went there bodily), the voice from that cloud naming Jesus as God’s son, as an actual declaration of paternity.

This fantasy-based in interpretation has led to great confusion through the centuries. Incredible conflict has ensued based on these fantastic beliefs; conflict and bloody warfare among Christians, and with non-Christians. All because they felt the need to take sides on the question of who Jesus was, and defend their side with violence.

It is a tragedy.

Jesus was a human being, like any other. Like all creatures he carried a seed of the divine within him, and where the divine is, the divine is present fully. The fullness of God dwelt within Jesus, just as the fullness of God dwells within each of us. We are connected and in relationship to God, and Jesus, just as we are connected and in relationship to every creature who ever was, is, or yet will be.

What differentiated Jesus from his followers was his understanding of these truths and his ability to apply that understanding in a way that points the way for us; to live in a moral and just society to, for our own understanding of that truth to flow from it.

2nd Sunday of Lent