Last Sunday of Epiphany
An open ear hears the Lord speaking in both a distant past and in the present moment. The Word is an invitation, indeed, an imperative. “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there” (Ex. 24:12). Waiting, Moses receives “tablets of stone, with the law and the commandments.” These words, however, encode and await fulfillment in the eternal Word of the Father. “We ourselves,” says St. Peter, “heard his voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain” (2 Pet. 16:18). “You do well,” he continues, “to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns, and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Pet. 1:19). What did Peter hear upon the mountain? “This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (2 Pet. 1:17). To hear these words as addressed to him who is the Son of God by nature, and to us who are sons and daughters of God by adoption and grace, is to know that the glory of the head of the Church spills over and into every member.
Returning to Moses, we sense the coming of the word of the Lord upon the holy mountain as a new creation, which we know as consummately true in Christ Jesus. “The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days, and on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud“ (Ex. 24:16). This week may suggest a new creation; certainly epiphanic fire and cloud reveal “the appearance of the glory of the Lord” (Ex. 24:17). In this new glory, receiving divine words, Moses “was on the mountain forty days and forty nights” (Ex. 24:18). To be with God is to stay with God. To hear the Word is to meditate.
“Six days after Peter had acknowledged Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves” (Matt. 17:1). Again, listening to St. Peter, we “do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Pet. 1:19). For we, the intimate friend of Jesus, go up with him in faith to the holy mountain. We see the bright overshadowing cloud, and from it we hear a voice: “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” (Matt. 17:5). Listening, we fall to the ground and are overcome with fear, for the God of all being has spoken. Jesus, in perfect tenderness, says to us, “Get up and do not be afraid.” We rise and see only Jesus. Moses and Elijah ride secret chariots back to heaven. The world is again as it was, and yet the world is new because it is transfigured. In Jesus we see — by faith — Moses and Elijah, a blazing countenance, a bright cloud, and we hear overwhelming words. We listen to him and look to him because in him we find “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise” (Phil. 4:8). Thinking of these things, we are thinking of the Lord Jesus.
Standing on the holy mountain with Jesus, we stand within and look out over an ever-expanding mystery. God is a very small word for an inexhaustible gift.
Look It Up
Read Ps. 2:7 for background.
Think About It
Give the early morning to the “morning star.”