On the Transfiguration of Jesus
A Note on the Rabbi Story: Since using the story I have found it retold a number of different places including two books, a magazine and several web sites. I have to conclude that the story itself is public domain. This version came from: Catholic Vocations
Text: Mk 9:1 - 8
Ok this is the situation, you've been living with this strange guy for a while and he goes up this mountain and all of a sudden things happen.
The only reason you've been living with him is that every now and then he says or does something that just blows your mind. You always thought there should be something more to this being a jew. This guy seems to know that something but he keeps getting caught up on side issues.
So climbing this mountain, and the guy changes. I mean really changes, from homespun to shining white just like that. Elijah appears - yeah Elijah, last seen heading in an upward direction on a fiery chariot. And he wasn't alone, Moses was there too. That's right the Moses who talked to God face to face, the Moses who wrote the Law and began it all.
Well how would you feel? This was serious stuff. All of a sudden the thing I was wanting all along was happening. Scared just doesn't cover it. A real mix of scared, excitement and unreality.
My mouth took over and it was a while before my brain caught up. I knew how stupid it was as soon as I said it. "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for you, and one for Moses and one for Elijah"
Tabernacles, tents made out of branches yet. I don't know whether it was some hark back to the whole journey in the wilderness thing or just that I wanted to stay there. As I said it was my mouth and it was on its own.
I barely heard the words, but somehow their meaning seared its way into me: "This is My beloved son listen to him".
It was over almost before it began. I knew that something had happened, but I didn't know what
1) Confronted by God
What is our response to being confronted with God? Are we ever confronted by God?
My mate Stuart and the classics of the Christian Faith.
Limited interaction with God
Christians who avoid God or control interaction with God
God the gentleman? Huh? John Arnott and Annanias and Sapphira.
A controlled mountain top experience or a life continually challenged by the demands of the heart of the father.
I want an Active Immediate God who is being God in my life.
But day to day I let other things crowd that out.
2) Not realizing who God is
There was a famous monastery which had fallen on very hard times. Formerly its many buildings were filled with young monks and its big church resounded with the singing of the chant, but now it was deserted. People no longer came there to be nourished by prayer. A handful of old monks shuffled through the cloisters and praised God with heavy hearts.
On the edge of the monastery woods, an old rabbi had built a little hut. He would come there from time to time to fast and pray. No one ever spoke to him, but whenever he appeared, the word would be passed from monk to monk: "The rabbi walks in the woods." And, for as long as he was there, the monks would feel sustained by his prayerful presence.
Peter had walked with Jesus a long time but he still didn't get it. If he had got it then it wouldn't have been a surprise.
Peter didn't realize who Jesus was
To what extent do you or I realize who God is?
Actions vs belief? - sins and attitudes
But what about the positive: giving of ourselves
- relationship and interaction with God?
- Is God left walking in the woods like the Rabbi?
I need to see and know my Christ transfigured. I need to have the impact of a God who is truly God in my life.
One day the abbot decided to visit the rabbi and to open his heart to him. So, after morning Eucharist, he set out through the woods. As he approached the hut, the abbot saw the rabbi standing in the doorway, his arms outstretched in welcome. It was as though he had been waiting there for some time. The two embraced like long lost brothers. Then they stepped back and just stood there, smiling at one another with smiles their faces could hardly contain. After a while the rabbi motioned the abbot to enter. In the middle of the room was a wooden table with the Scriptures open on it. They sat there for a moment, in the presence of the Book. Then the rabbi began to cry. The abbot could not contain himself. He covered his face with his hands and began to cry too. For the first time in his life, he cried his heart out. The two men sat there like lost children, filling the hut with their sobs and wetting the wood of the table with their tears.
After the tears had ceased to flow and all was quiet again, the rabbi lifted his head. "You and your brothers are serving God with heavy hearts," he said, "You have come to ask a teaching of me. I will give you a teaching, but you can only repeat it once. After that, no one must ever say it aloud again."
The rabbi looked straight at the abbot and said, "The Messiah is among you." For a while, all was silent. Then the rabbi said, "Now you must go." The abbot left without a word and without ever looking back.
The next morning, the abbot called his monks together in the chapter room. He told them he had received a teaching from "the rabbi who walks in the woods" and that this teaching was never again to be spoken aloud. Then he looked at each of his brothers and said, "The rabbi said that one of us is the Messiah." The monks were startled by this saying. "What could it mean?" they asked themselves. "Is Brother John the Messiah? Or Father Matthew? Or Brother Thomas? Am I the Messiah? What could this mean?" They were all deeply puzzled by the rabbi's teaching. But no one ever mentioned it again.
3) Not realizing who we are
We find it amazing that Peter could walk with Jesus so long and still not get it. Yet we do the same thing.
Paul writes in Romans:
For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For Creation was subjected to futility not willingly but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pangs of childbirth together until now.
That is who we are the children of God.
Somehow we have to get beyond our self vision
Somehow we have to get beyond our image of those around us.
The transfiguration was a opening of the veil around who Jesus was.
We need an opening of the veil around who we are -
- Sons of God
- The ones Creation is groaning for
How often do you get annoyed with someone or something about this church? I think the average for me is 3 or 4 times a week.
Yet those very same people are the Sons of God. They are the ones that all Creation is groaning for.
They are the ones who are in a special relationship with God, the ones important enough for Christ to die and rise again.
I need to get beyond my sin, my viewpoint and to see these people, these brothers and sisters and the children of God.
Three things: actively seek to engage God, live out a realization of who God really is and the reality of who we as the children of God are.
As time went by, the monks began to treat one another with very special reverence. There was a gentle, wholehearted, human quality about them now which was hard to describe but easy to notice. They lived with one another as men who had finally found something. But they prayed the Scriptures together as men who were always looking for something. Occasional visitors found themselves deeply moved by the life of these monks. Before long, people were coming from far and wide to be nourished by the prayer life of the monks and young men were asking, once again, to become part of the community.
In those days, the rabbi no longer walked in the woods. His hut had fallen into ruins. But, somehow, the old monks who had taken his teaching to heart still felt sustained by his prayerful presence.