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March 1, 1996     The Message
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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 omrnentary-_. The transfiguration of Jesus: from cross to glory 1996:Second Sunday of 4.. Matthew 17:1.9 t is lmp0rtant to recognize the the transfig- event occurs Luke. In all it is placed "after some great will ex- him. Disciple- even lead to These sayings of discipleship -III first pre- OWn suffering and death, but death fol- As followers of Jesus may be to death, so they will also follow to be the point of Matthew's Jesus promises not only suf- martyrdom for the disciple, to glory. His own life, death, is a- .are a path for the disciple. u introductory sentence to the story of when Jesus says to his disciples: Standing here who will not taste ;he Son of man (Jesus) coming changed Mark's state- le will not taste death until they see of God "has come with power." end of time and the return the displays of power he portrays in , Mark 13. The end did not come By FATHER DON DILGER COLUMNIST as expected. Matthew (also Luke) has to deal with the problem of Jesus not showing up as expected. Matthew changes the meaning by deleting a reference to power. The statement in Matthew refers to the transfiguration of Jesus only. The disciples present on the mountain of transfiguration were soon to see Jesus in his glory. Now some details about the transfiguration story. Matthew makes few changes in the story as he found it in Mark. He deletes one statement from Mark, a statement that seems derogatory to Peter. Mark wrote about Peter: "He did not know what he said because they were very frightened." Matthew allows the disciples to be afraid but he does not allow Peter to speak incoherently as Mark does. Matthew adds a sentence after the transfiguration: "Jesus came and touched them, saying: 'Rise, and do not be afraid.'" Here Matthew betrays one of the sources that influenced the formation of the transfig- uration story in our gospels. That source is the Old Testament Book of Daniel. Daniel also has a vision and is overwhelmed by it. In Daniel 10:18-19 we read: "... one having the assurance of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said: '... do not be afraid .... '" There are other influences from the Book of Daniel. We saw that in the above-cited introductory sentence to the transfiguration Jesus is referred to as "the Son of man coming in his kingdom." That title and phrase derives from Daniel 7:13. where "one like a son of man...was given dominion and glory and kingdom." The son of man in Daniel is also surrounded by a cloud just as in the transfiguration. The cloud also veils the divinity as in the Old Testa- ment Book of Exodus. In Exodus God spoke from a cloud as does the voice from heaven in the transfigu- ration. The appearance of Moses andElijah are im- portant as witnesses to Jesus. They represent the Torah (Law of Moses) and the prophets. In Matthew's theology Jesus fulfills both Torah and prophets. At the end of the transfiguration they dis- appear and Jesus is left alone. They have served their purpose. Now all eyes are on Jesus, as Matthew writes: "They saw no one but Jesus only." Peter's suggestion to build three booths or tents is ignored or implicitly rejected. The reason for its rejection goes back to Peter's reaction to Jesus' first passion prediction. He refused to accept it and repri- manded Jesus for speaking in such fashion. Peter re- jected suffering. He rejected the cross. He wanted glory now. That was not to be for himnor for us. That is why the voice from heaven not only gives Jesus' credentials as beloved Son with whom the Fa- ther is well pleased, but all hearers of all times are cautioned with the words: "Listen to him!" In other words, when Jesus speaks not only of glory but of the cross also, "Listen to him!" That is the message for Lent. Good Friday looms over the whole season of Lent. But after Good Friday comes Easter Sunday and the resurrection to glory. 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