Monthly Scripture Reflection
“You will do well to be attentive to it.”
Before we can settle relaxed into the dog days of August, we are jolted to attention the first Sunday with the magnificence of the Transfiguration of Jesus and its meaning.
Imagine how Peter, James and John felt on their simple walk up the mountain with Jesus when suddenly “His face shone like the sun” and he was conversing with Moses and Elijah! “They fell terrified—and then they heard that voice from heaven say, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Opening their eyes there was only Jesus—and he told them not to tell anyone!
The prophets had long predicted a Messiah whose “kingdom shall not be destroyed,” where “all peoples, nations and languages serve him.” St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans laments that his very own people, the Jews, to whom God had given it all—their adoption, the glory, the covenants, the law, the worship, the promises, the prophets—did not accept what these things were leading up to, Jesus “the Christ.” “The gifts and the call of God are irrevocable,” he says, but their having sinned in rejecting Jesus, a merciful God still wanted to show “mercy upon all.”
“All” is a keynote this month. Isaiah gave some guidelines: “Observe what is right, do what is just.” He was speaking to us all: “The foreigners who join themselves to the Lord…I will bring to my mountain…for my house will be called a house of prayer for all people.” St. Matthew in his Gospel tells how Jesus demurred at helping an outsider, a Canaanite woman—until she pointed that “even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the tables of their masters.” Faith is not limited to the chosen few. Isaiah tells of God taking power from an unworthy person of position and giving it to his own servant.
Jesus in Matthew is coming closer and closer to revealing who he is. He walked on water to the apostles’ boat, calming their bewildered fear with “Take courage; it is I.” “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Now they exclaimed, “Truly you are the son of God.” A while later he asked them, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” “But who do you say that I am?” To Peter, who was inspired to give the right answer, he said ”upon this rock I will build my church, the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” an echo of Daniel’s prediction. Again, Jesus said, “tell no one.”
We see faith growing in these stories, and we wonder how we can grow ours when we don’t have all these miraculous experiences. We get a clue in 1 Kings when Elijah is told to come from his hiding place, for “the Lord will be passing by.” So he went out and witnessed a strong wind, a devastating earthquake, a great fire—but God was not in them. No, Elijah recognized God when he heard “a tiny whispering sound.”
Forget grand spectacle. Listen for, and act on, that
“tiny whispering sound.”
1 Kings 19:12
Mary’s Assumption: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
“Make a loud sound of rejoicing.”
1 Chronicles 15:16