Second Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

Our readings for Sunday are here

These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis Dillon SJ’s homilies from the Masses of

  • March 12, 2017 9PM
  • March 16, 2014 8:30AM

The poems Fr Dennis references this year are:

In 2017, we reflected that —

  • How do I know I’m Christian?
  • How does anyone else know I’m Christian?  One technique — among many! — is to “practice resurrection” a là Wendell Berry’s Manifesto.  We keep turning, in forgiveness and joy, to the Light — most especially when we have been hurt.
  • The Transfiguration reveals the resurrected Jesus, foreshadowing (or foreLighting, I suppose!) that Jesus will rise from the dead in glory.  The Gospel of Matthew uses words that have been used to describe angels of light — “his face shone like the sun,” “his clothes became white as light.”
  • Mary Oliver’s poem captures the transcendence of the moment of The Transfiguration — or at least what we might imagine!  But the sense that “once you’ve there, you’re there forever” captures the gift of message Jesus was sharing.
    • rl notes we have most of the Lenten journey ahead of us, but what a gift, what a promise we receive in The Transfiguration reading.
  • D2 noted that a parishioner at D2’s previous parish almost always had tears in his eyes at Communion.  He shared that he felt so in communion in the moment, he felt he was seeing the Transfiguration and portion of the Resurrection.

In 2014, we reflected mostly on the Transfiguration Gospel that —

  • The readings from last week and this week provide the interesting pairing of Jesus being tempted (last week, The Temptations) and Jesus in charge (this week, The Transfiguration of Matthew).
  • One puzzle (and rather humorous) is that the apostles don’t have any reaction to Jesus in conversation with Moses and Elijah in a radiant cloud of glory as beings of light (clearly presented as divine) but drop in fear at the voice in the cloud, now super clear they are in the presence of the Divine.  Why?
  • Another puzzle is in the text “Peter said to Jesus in reply [emphasis added],”  Was this a typo?  Bad writing?  Or what had Jesus said (that we don’t hear or read)?
  • A tent for each?  Symbolically, Moses is the Law, Elijah is the prophet (the greatest of all the Hebrew Scripture prophets) ==> Jesus is the fulfillment of law AND prophecy; the three of them (Jesus, Moses, Elijah) comprise a Trinity of law, prophecy, and fulfillment.
    • Interestingly, Elijah didn’t write / record his own words, someone else recorded his words in what we call The Book of Kings.  Other prophets did write down their prophecies.  Jesus, the greatest of all the prophets (remember?  priest, prophet, king), also didn’t leave any writings of his own words.
    • Also, the interlinear translation of Ancient Greek for Peter’s “tents” is σκηνάς, or “tabernacles” or “eternal dwellings.” However, other sources indicate they are the sukkah tents for the Sukkot festival. (I have used up all my “knowledge” of this aspect of Jewish faith and culture with the previous sentence.)
  • God, the voice from the clouds says, “[L]isten to him.”  (In New Testament for Everyone and some other translations, “pay attention.”)  All these combine to exhort us to focus, focus on Jesus.
  • Another resource D2 introduced us all to is the blog “Left Behind and Loving It.” A West coast minister pulls apart the Greek for us and the context of the readings. He is part of a Protestant denomination, so the readings don’t always match with the Catholic place in liturgy — but close enough more often than not!
  • In Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day, she writes
    • “Who made the world?” is the first question and line of the poem, in other words, who is our Creator?
    • “I do know how to pay attention …” “how to be idle and blessed” in paying attention to God in the world to celebrate what is here.
  • In the Transfiguration — Jesus shines like the sun, like what is just shines in the Reign of God; like the Angel of Resurrection will shine like the lightning, and Jesus shows us in the Light of his Transfiguration, how through his Resurrection, we will all each shine like Jesus, like the sun, as part of one Holy Family.

Our main image today is the Transfiguration of Jesus, Oil on Canvas by Armando Alemdar Ara (Creative Commons License © via Wikimedia Commons).  The brightness of the three figures captures the sense of transfiguration yet the painter also keeps the foreboding and overawed wonder Peter, John, and James experienced as they dropped to the ground.

Another image is from the St John’s Bible, the first illuminated Bible since the invention of the Gutenberg printing press!  This link also includes information buttons in the image that explain some of the creation techniques of the Transfiguration image.

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