Theophanies in my kitchen -Transfiguration of  Our Lord Jesus – Matthew 17:1- 9

Think about it…what if we were never permitted to see the face of God, ever ! But here we are today, privileged to gaze at Him in the Blessed Sacrament and receive Him in Holy Communion.

Not so if you were an Old Testament prophet or patriarch, much less an ordinary Israelite. Moses and Elijah, both of whom are mentioned in the narration of the transfiguration, never saw God’s face. To make matters worse they had to trudge up a high mountain just to hear His voice.  

So what’s with mountains? Jesus seemed to like them a lot. The second temptation is on the mountain, so is His place of prayer. The Sermon on the Mount was given on a mountain and so too, the transfiguration of today’s gospel.

To a Jew of the first century, this imagery would not require an interpreter, even more if you mentioned Elijah and Moses in the same breath. Theophanies or God’s manifestation always took place on a mountain and couple that with a cloud cover. Put the two together and God was going to make an appearance.

So is the presence of Elijah and Moses just for representational purposes to make our narrative look good? After all Elijah represented the prophets and Moses represented the law and no Jew would deny the importance of the law and the prophets. Besides, it makes for a great PR campaign for Jesus.

For greater clarity, (in you spare time) open your Bible to Exodus 24:12-16, 33:17-23 and I Kings 11:13. You will find a lot of parallelisms to the transfiguration of Jesus. Like Jesus, both Moses and Elijah go up a mountain; in fact, the same mountain. Moses takes a disciple, just like Jesus did. Moses and Elijah desired to see God’s face, but were denied. They both saw His glory but not His face for they were told that they would die if they saw God’s face. Both of them had their faces covered by God’s hand or His mantle.

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