Transfiguration Sunday Lectionary Text:
The LORD is king; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
The LORD is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the peoples.
Let them praise your great and awesome name.
Holy is he!
Mighty King, lover of justice,
you have established equity;
you have executed justice
and righteousness in Jacob.
Extol the LORD our God;
worship at his footstool.
Holy is he!
Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel also was among those who called on his name.
They cried to the LORD, and he answered them.
He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud;
they kept his decrees,
and the statutes that he gave them.
O LORD our God, you answered them;
you were a forgiving God to them,
but an avenger of their wrongdoings.
Extol the LORD our God,
and worship at his holy mountain;
for the LORD our God is holy.
Luke 9:28-44: Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen. On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. Just then a man from the crowd shouted, ‘Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It throws him into convulsions until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.’ Jesus answered, ‘You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.’ While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astounded at the greatness of God. While everyone was amazed at all that he was doing, he said to his disciples, ‘Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.
COMMENT: Both texts are filled with many words and depicting a lot of action. However, my attention was riveted on Jesus getting away, apart from crowds and the distracting noise they bring, to pray. The spiritual discipline of prayer was a pivotal part of Jesus’ life. All of the gospels record these events use these terms to signal his intent, “Jesus withdrew to pray or Jesus went into a deserted place to pray.”
On the occasion recorded in Luke 9, Jesus took Peter, James and John with him. By word and example Jesus teaches the disciples the need for time alone with God. In order to grasp the importance of the spiritual discipline of prayer, it is good to read the events before and after Jesus withdrew to pray.
In the beginning of Luke 9, Jesus commissions the disciples to go out and preach the good news of God’s kingdom and he gave them power to perform miracles of healing to validate their message. Then Jesus feeds five thousand people who followed him into the desert. Next, Jesus teaches on the hard subject of suffering. Is spiritually drained a good description of how Jesus must have felt after these events?
When Jesus and the disciples ‘go down’ from the mountain we see the impact of the discipline of prayer. “…Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father.”
“Through the rhythm of contemplation and courageous action” is a phrase found in the creed the Sisters of Saint Joseph recite daily. I believe this phrase captures the essence of the discipline of prayer. With contemplation, we come to know the God of Psalm 99 who transfigures our lives for courageous action so our neighbors lives we are privileged to touch will be, “astounded at the greatness of God.” Luke 9:43
“Extol the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy.” Psalm 99:9
© February 10, 2010
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