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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Daily Devotion for January 27, 2014

i>Transfiguration of Christ</i> by Giovanni Bellini, ca. 1480.
Transfiguration of Christ by Giovanni Bellini, ca. 1480. This famous depiction of the Transfiguration shows Elijah on the left and Moses on the right (as we face Christ), with John, Peter and James crouching at their feet in awe. It is full of Renaissance symbolism; notice the rocky chasm and spiky fence ahead of them, with a sign on the fence showing that it represents the cross. Behind them is scenery characteristic of Christ's teaching years, such as the Jordan River, scenes of parables, etc. (See Full-size)



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.


Lord of Eternity, another home run by Fernando Ortega.

For the Day Ahead

Oh Lord God, I come to you in the morning, full of hope that the day to come might be filled with joy and energy. Grant that I may do my work with a light and happy heart; and if there are tasks that I do not look forward to, or even dread, let me undertake them with courage and resolve. For this day could be perfect, if I can only live it in You and with You and for You.

Where I face frustration today, let me handle it with acceptance and faith that the outcome is in Your hands. Lead me away from anger or judgment of other people. Let me tend to my own garden instead of looking over the fence. If my neighbor's yard is filled with weeds, help me not to criticize, and keep me from envy of those whose tree bears more fruit.

And let everything I attempt be filled with the knowledge and guidance of Your Holy Spirit. I pray that the Spirit will be with me at every moment, and that I will always be aware of Him, and live every moment of this day in Your presence. In Christ's name, I pray,



[Where I face frustration today, let me handle it with acceptance and faith that the outcome is in Your hands.]

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

O   God, who is near us always, I think you for all the good gifts with which you have filled my life; for love that makes life beautiful, for all thoughts that uplift and gladden, for faith to believe and strength to attain, for every experience which humbles and teaches the need of you. Let me never doubt that, having led me thus far, you will lead me to the end. I wish to serve you; show me how I can do it best. Graciously look upon me and use me as you will. And grant that I may employ all of your gifts to the end of setting forth of your glory; through Jesus Christ, our Lord,


Community of Prayer

I  pray to you, dearest Jesus, for all the graces I need to know you, to love you and serve you faithfully unto death, and to save my soul. Give me a tender and fervent devotion to your sacred passion by which I was redeemed, venerating you each day in prayer, and teach me how to unite sorrows and sufferings of my life with your own.


(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.

<i>Transfiguration</i> by Fra Angelico, ca. 1440.
Transfiguration by Fra Angelico, ca. 1440. Fra Angelico's genius for sheer piety gives us a spiritually accessible depiction of the Transfiguration that has never been equalled. (See Full-size)

2 Kings 2:6-11 (NKJV)

[Elijah said to Elisha] “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!” So the two of them went on. And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood facing them at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan. Now Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the water; and it was divided this way and that, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground.

And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?”

Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.”

So he said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.”

Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 17:1-8 (ESV)

The Transfiguration [1]

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.

And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

Notes on the Scripture

The Transfiguration of Christ is an odd moment and one we pay little attention to, generally, compared to the other great moments in Christ's life. But it was apparently important to God and to the evangelists, for it appears in all three Synoptic Gospels. We see Christ transformed at six points: 1) At his birth, the Word is transformed into flesh; 2) His baptism, when the Spirit descends upon him; 3) the Transfiguration; 4) Death; 5) Resurrection; and 6) Ascension. On four of these occasions, the transformation is outward, permanent and visible. But his baptism and transfiguration seem to be moments where we understand something might be going on that we cannot fully comprehend.

The first thing to notice about the Transfiguration is when it occurs: Immediately after Peter first recognizes the divinity of Christ and is told that He will have to suffer death, but will rise again. (Matthew 16:13-23) So, in one sense, Peter is the central figure, for the full glory of Christ as the Son of God is fully revealed to him. The presence of John and James is not explained and difficult to understand; but the very Judaistic nature of the event might lead us to think that they are witnesses, there to provide the second and third witness commonly needed to establish truth of an event under Jewish law (as Simeon and Anna witnessed Christ's divinity as an infant).

The appearance of Moses and Elijah is easier to fathom: Moses embodies “the law”, and Elijah embodies “the prophets”. We cannot be sure if they are there in the flesh, or as a vision, but the second seems more likely, because Moses died and was buried. Simply put, they now “pass the torch” to Christ.

There is a tendency on the part of Christians to envision Jesus as a complete person of God, omniscient and all-powerful, from the moment of his birth; but time and time again, this reductionist tendency, this simplification of the life of Jesus, is contradicted by the gospel accounts. Jesus' relationship with God the Father was complex. He prayed to the Father frequently, and spoke of him in terms of reverence. Christ was most surely not omniscient — He specifically tells us that He does not know everything the Father knows, e.g. Mark 13:32. On the other hand, He just as surely knew a great deal that common men did not. He was acutely aware of his future sacrifice and resurrection when He began his ministry.

Something seems to have happened on the mountain here, just as something seems to have occurred at Jesus' baptism, having to do with Christ's state in relationship to the Father, but we cannot know it or fully understand it. But we can understand it in relationship to the fulfillment of the law and the prophets, for Christ here changes into the embodiment of that fulfillment, fully and completely. We might understand it as the moment when Christ officially changes from teacher into sacrifice. His role to impart knowledge ends, and his passion, his journey to the cross, begins.

Which is why it occurs immediately after Peter first says, out loud, “You are the Christ”. It is the final lesson Christ's ministry was designed to teach.

endless knot

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1 John 2:9 (ESV): Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.

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