Posts Tagged ‘Transfiguration’

Transfiguration Cloud

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

This is the fruit of an Ignatian exercise on Friday 11-14-2008, contemplating Christ at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8). I humbly offer this as pure speculation. I have no idea how it stands theologically.

The Transfiguration (top portion), Raffaello Sanzio 1516- 1520

The Transfiguration (top portion), Raffaello Sanzio 1516- 1520

What struck me about this passage, which I had never noticed before was that “a bright cloud cast a shadow over them.” I wondered if the cloud is bright then how is it that it can cast a shadow… [If the light is coming from the cloud wouldn’t it shine light]? Bright things usually illuminate other things. Then it occurred to me that the cloud is bright because there is a greater light behind it. If the cloud is blocking the light, as earthly clouds block the sun, then this cloud will cast a shadow. This made me see that the Father is covered with this cloud and the Father’s light shines through it and around it, such that the full greatness of Him is kept from our vision (cf Exodus 24:16-18). Later as I read that the cloud is the Holy Spirit (CCC 555), it occurred to me that this overshadowing is like that which God’s messenger Gabriel said would overshadow Mary so that she would conceive Jesus and He would be called holy and the Son of God(Luke 1:35). So here the cloud overshadows the Apostles, Moses and Elijah at the inception of the Church. Is it right to say that God conceived the Church in them? Certainly the Church is not the invention of man but men have cooperated with the Holy Spirit just as Mary cooperated with the Holy Spirit. The National Catholic Register wrote in their Guide to the Rosary that Peter, James and John, whom Jesus chose to witness the transfiguration, were thus rewarded for three acts of piety:
1. Saying yes to Christ’s invitation
2. Praying
3. Staying close to Jesus
This is what we honor Mary for doing at the Annunciation when she heard the good news that she would bare Christ. Mary was likewise rewarded for:
1. Saying yes to be God’s handmaid (Luke 1:38)
2. Praying and keeping these things in her heart (Luke 2:19)
3. Staying close to Jesus
So I think that this idea has merit… that the Apostles bore and raised the Church as Mary bore and raised Jesus. That brings up the question, when was the Church conceived rather than born or instituted (Jesus instituted the Church at His Ascension Matthew 28:18-20)? It may be that the Church was announced at the Transfiguration, conceived at the Last Supper, labored for at the Crucifixion and born at the Resurrection. Indeed, as scripture says, this child was born quickly…

Isaiah 66:7-8
7Before she was in labour, she brought forth; before her time came to be delivered, she brought forth a man child.
8Who hath ever heard such a thing? and who hath seen the like to this? shall the earth bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be brought forth at once, because Sion hath been in labour, and hath brought forth her children?

National Catholic Register – Guide to the Rosary, Copyright 2003 Circle Media Inc., pg 25

Matthew 17:1-8
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
1And after six days Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart:
2And he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow.
3And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him.
4And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
5And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him.
6And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid.
7And Jesus came and touched them: and said to them, Arise, and fear not.
8And they lifting up their eyes saw no one but only Jesus.
Exodus 24:16-18
View in: NAB Vulg Hebrew
16And the glory of the Lord dwelt upon Sinai, covering it with a cloud six days: and the seventh day he called him out of the midst of the cloud.
17And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like a burning fire upon the top of the mount, in the eyes of the children of Israel.
18And Moses, entering into the midst of the cloud, went up into the mountain: and he was there forty days, and forty nights.
Luke 1:35
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
35And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
Luke 1:38
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
38And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Luke 2:19
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
19But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.
Matthew 28:18-20
View in: NAB Vulg Greek
18And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.
19Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.
CCC 555
¶555 For a moment Jesus discloses his divine glory, confirming Peter's confession. He also reveals that he will have to go by the way of the cross at Jerusalem in order to "enter into his glory". Moses and Elijah had seen God's glory on the Mountain; the Law and the Prophets had announced the Messiah's sufferings. Christ's Passion is the will of the Father: the Son acts as God's servant; the cloud indicates the presence of the Holy Spirit. "The whole Trinity appeared: the Father in the voice; the Son in the man; the Spirit in the shining cloud."

You were transfigured on the mountain, and your disciples, as much as they were capable of it, beheld your glory, O Christ our God, so that when they should see you crucified they would understand that your Passion was voluntary, and proclaim to the world that you truly are the splendor of the Father.