The history and true meaning of the Transfiguration

Jess theses statement in LukeThe Gospel for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time is that of the Transfiguration. To read this, we must first read, not the First Reading for this Sunday, but Exodus 33:7-Exodus 34:9. To read this, we must first understand why Jesus chose fishermen for his apostles, those he sent out into the world. Nineveh means Fish City. Jesus Ben Nun, means Jesus Son of the Fish.

Exodus 33:7 tells us that Moses went to his tent of time, his אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד.  מוֹעֵד means “Time.” Exodus 33 then describes where the tent is. “As Moses entered the tent, the column of cloud would come down and stand at its entrance while the NAME spoke with Moses. On seeing the column of cloud stand at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise and bow down at the entrance of their own tents.”

Al Harrah in relation to the Red Sea
Locating Mt. Horeb in the Middle East. Luxor is a site associated with the Pharaohs.

Exodus clearly describes a volcano. Numbers 16:28-34 tell us that the ground shakes and fire rises into the air. The ground separates and swallows people. The closest volcano to Sinai is at Mecca. Mohammad did his homework. He found Mount Sinai.

The NAME spoke to Moses face to face, as a person speaks to a friend. Moses would then return to the camp, but his young assistant, Joshua, son of Nun, never left the tent. Moses told the NAME, “See, you are telling me: Lead this people but you have not let me know whom you will send with me…

Sockeye, aren't they just gorgeous fish  Christina CookIn the transfiguration, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John, fishermen as Jesus is Jesus Ben Nun, Jesus son of the fish, to a mountain. There Peter, James, and John ask to build tents as the people used to come out of their tents to worship, proclaim the worthiness of God by rising and bowing at the entrances of their tents. This is as we do in Mass.

In the transfiguration, we come to speak with God face to face in the Liturgy of the Word. This is just as Joshua Ben Nun did with Moses. Exodus 33 goes further, “הַרְאֵנִי נָא.” “Cause me to see your weightiness.” The key word, “כבד” “Kesed,” literally means, “Weight.” “Cause me to see your importance.”

Moses then cuts two fresh tablets for the Ten Words, the “הַדְּבָרִים” עֲשֶׂרֶת.” One of the four pillars of the Catholic Catechism is these Ten Words. The prologue begins with the statement, “It is not to your fathers that I give these Mitzvah, but to us, each of us, alive, here, this day.” The concept of the Physical Presence is present from the beginning, in Deuteronomy 5. Then we read, “I am God your Almighty who rescued you from the land of Oppression, from the House of menial labor.” This is the foundation for all that is to follow.

Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire
Aftermath of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, the Garment factory in Pakiston, and the Empirial Foods fire in Hamlet North Carolina

If we truly remember our rescue from the sweatshops of the 19th century, from the Civil Wars of Europe in the 18th and 19th century, and all the pomp of the landlords, the poverty, the potato famines, and all that feudal society meant, we will get that knot in our guts when we see this happening to others. When we read of garment factory fires in Pakistan, in New York, and in North Carolina, we will do something.

When we see immigration bans on those not like us, and grand words of great walls to keep others out, we will remember that Pharaoh did it to us first. Then we will do something. We will be too busy helping those in need to hurt them in any way, take their property, dishonor the name of the one who rescued us, have affairs with the spouse of our neighbor, and the rest.

Four CausesExodus 34 continues what our transformation is to be toward. “The NAME, The NAME, a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in pure/white/charitable/graceful/kind/ charity/Chesed and truth, continuing his love/Chesed for a thousand generations, and forgiving perversion/being bent from the one true path to God, wilful passing beyond, and deviation. He does not declare the guilty guiltless, but brings punishment for their parents’ perversion on children and children’s children to the third and fourth generation!”

Jesus is Chesed. He is pure white, charitable, and kind. He asks for us to be like him. He stands on God’s mountain with Moses, who gives us our Mitzvah, and with Elijah who shows us our example. Then we hear of tents, just as their were tents at Sinai. There was smoke, quaking ground, fire in the sky, and clouds, just like at Sinai. This is our Mass, where we travel on Sunday to be with the Physical Presence.

The comes the key passage, usually mistranslated from the Greek. The Greek says, “This is my beloved Son, listen of him.” The Greek is in the genitive case, and therefore should be translated as, “Of.” We listen of him in the Mass. Then we follow his example. What is Jesus example? Read the next story, the healing of the person with Grand Mal Seizures. Read Mark’s version of the account. Jesus asks for a medical history. In essence, he asks who this child is. The father responds.

Statue of liberty left foot
Chains upon the feet of the Statue of Liberty to remind us of our freedom from slavery

Then comes the first great line in that exchange, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus responds, “If you can.” The key word is, “You.” For the father, it refers to Jesus. For Jesus it refers to the father. Now catch the end line, ““This kind can only come out through prayer.” There is only one prayer in the entire story. “Then the boy’s father cried out, ‘I do believe, help my unbelief!”

There is only one way to help the unbelief of others. That is to rescue them, from Egypt, from oppression, from poverty, from oppressive employers and landlords. Jesus tells us to get our asses out of dark buildings and to drop the tents on the high hills, to get our rear ends down to the people and rescue them. That is our message for Lent. Matthew 25:31-46 says it well in its address to the nations. As you do to the least of these my brothers, you do it to me.” Then next line begins the Passion. This is just as we finish Lent, and the following Sunday is the Passion.

Did you vote for candidates who support grand walls and treating immigrants harshly? Did you support candidates who do not want our nation to help the less fortunate, as a nation? If so, confessions are on Saturday. We look forward to seeing you. God eagerly awaits your return.


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