The story of the Transfiguration comes up a couple of times during the liturgical year, which reminds us of its importance. In a world that sometimes seems to be spinning out of control, it’s helpful to remember that our powerful God is at the helm.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
The one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.
The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.
2 Peter 1:16-19
“This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
Today’s readings deal with two important elements of faith: Jesus’ authority and power, and our witness to it. The first reading might sound familiar, even if you’ve never read the book of Daniel. That’s because John, when he wrote the book of Revelation, borrowed heavily from Daniel (…and Isaiah…and Ezekiel…and Jeremiah…). The point of the reading is that Daniel had a vision; a first-hand experience of God’s power and might. He conveys his vision to us of the Son of man who receives honor, glory and power from the “Ancient One”, who we call The Father. It’s sort of a heavenly Transfiguration experience for Daniel.
The second reading is from Peter’s first letter, in which Peter shares his first-hand vision of Jesus’ honor, power and glory in the Transfiguration on the mountain. Peter reminds us to listen to Jesus, and to remember in our dark times, that God’s shining power is in our hearts.
The Gospel tells the story that Peter describes in his letter. The significance of being on the mountain, is the same as Daniel’s vision that transported him to heaven—the mountain is high up, or close to God. Jesus is shown in dazzling white which represents his purity, victory over sin and death, and the “shekinah” which is a Hebrew word for “the shimmering presence of God.” These physical aspects are meant to point to a spiritual reality, but also God’s perfect authority in the physical world. Each of the readings speak of the witness, the testimony, of those who were present at these events.
Draw a picture of God with the “shimmering presence”.
When Peter reflects on his experience of the Transfiguration, he tells us that, “You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” How can paying attention to God’s power in this story be a light for you in dark times?
This week, as you ponder the readings, consider how you have experienced God’s honor, glory and power. What has been some concrete evidence, or what have been some personal experiences you’ve had with God that expressed God’s power to you? How do you witness to this? Do you see your witness as important? Are you afraid to share? Jesus told the disciples to stand up straight and not be afraid. If you are hesitant to share your experience of God in your life, ask him to help you to not be afraid, but to speak from your heart.
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”