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Mountaintop Experiences - Transfiguration

Dr. D'Ambrosio - Holy Land Pilgrimage

 

The Role of Mountaintop Experiences:

A Reflection on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ

 

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio - God Our Father, the Lord’s Prayerby: Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio

 

Mount Moriah - El ShaddiOne of the bible’s names for the God is “El Shaddai” or “God of the Mountains.”  And from the very beginning of salvation history, we see that mountains are a special place to communicate with Heaven.  Abraham ascends Mount Moriah to sacrifice his son (Genesis 22).  God reveals his name and to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 3).  Moses later receives the 10 Commandments on that very spot (Ex 31:18).  Elijah returns to the same mountain, also known as Horeb, to hear what God’s “still, small voice” has to say (I Kings 19:8).

 

So it is no surprise that Jesus brings His “pillars” (Galatians 2:9) with Him up a high mountain to experience a special moment of communion with the Most High.

 

Transfiguration on Mount TaborIt is this event that is commemorated by the Church each year on August 6.  The gospel of the day tells the story.  As tradition has it, Mount Tabor is the place.  Rising from the plain of Jezreel, its summit provides a spectacular view of all of Galilee.  But, what Jesus intends for Peter, James, and John to see is not the countryside.  He wishes to provide them a glimpse of who He really is.

 

Jesus is a carpenter from Nazareth, true.  He must have looked much like any other Jewish craftsman of that time and place.  That much could be seen by the naked eye.  But this exterior appearance of His ordinary humanity was a veil hiding something more extraordinary–His glorious divinity.  So on Tabor, God pulls back the veil.  Moses and Elijah appear.  These heroes of old had long since passed out of this world and gone to God.  So what does it say about Jesus’ identity that they appear on His right and His left?

 

Jesus’ clothes suddenly appear dazzlingly white, “whiter,” notes Mark, “than the work of any bleacher could make them.”  The first reading tells us the significance of this.  In a vision, Daniel sees a vision of the “Ancient One.”  How does He appear?  With clothing that is snow bright.  Then one like “a Son of Man” comes on the clouds to receive dominion, glory and kingship from the Ancient One.

 

Transfiguration on the Mountain - El ShaddiOn Tabor, a cloud comes and overshadows Jesus and a Voice from the Cloud proclaims that this particular Son of Man happens to be the beloved Son.

 

What we have here is what is called a “theophany,” a manifestation of God.  It is revelation, first of all, of the divinity of Christ.  What The Creed says about Him could be viewed as a commentary on this very episode: “God from God, light from light, true God from true God.”  But it is also a manifestation of the entire Trinity.  The cloud that overshadows the apostles is the same one that overshadowed Mary.  It is the glorious cloud of the Holy Spirit out of which the Father’s voice resounds.  Father, Son, Holy Spirit, one God in three persons, prefigured in Daniel’s vision, revealed in the Transfiguration.

 

Suddenly, after a brief prostration, they get up and see only Jesus, looking the way He had always looked.  The veil was now back in place.

 

Transfiguration - El Shaddi - Mt. TaborThe five senses are wonderful gifts from God.  But they are limited nonetheless.  Often we make the mistake of thinking that reality is nothing more than what our senses perceive it to be.  So God gives us occasional mountaintop experiences, glimpses into realities that our senses can’t normally detect.  Jesus is always divine, regardless of His everyday human appearance.  Jesus is always accompanied by saints and angels even when He appears to be alone.  It was the entire Trinity who opened the eyes of the man born blind, even though it was only Jesus’ hand we could see touching the man’s eyes.

 

Even though it’s much easier to forget such things and live according to what everybody can see, faith is remembering such moments of revelation and building our lives upon them.

 

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This was originally published in Our Sunday Visitor as a reflection upon the readings for the Feast of the Transfiguration, liturgical cycle B (Dn 7:9-10, 13-14; Ps 97; 2 Pt 1:16-19; Mk 9:2-10).  It is reproduced here with the permission of the author.

 

For other articles about the Transfiguration be sure to read It is Good for Us to Be Here by Saint Anastasius and the Law Through Moses by St. Leo the Great! and From Tabor to Calvary by Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio.

 

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Great Adventure Bible Time Line Catholic Bible Study by Jeff Cavins -- DVD
 Jeff Cavins, Great Adventure Time Line Catholic Bible Study The Bible Timeline provides a clear understanding of the underlying Scriptural narrative, which is essential to all Bible reading and study. The 24-part Bible Timeline Bible Study dives deep into the Biblical story. A combination of individual reading and study, group discussion, and lecture commentary guides participants as they read through the 14 narrative books of The Bible Timeline and discover the meaning of each in light of the whole.

 


 

 

I Believe - The Heart of the Catholic Faith - DVD Set
In this dynamic, four-part faith formation series, on the Creed, Dr. D'Ambrosio explains how this expression of the basic beliefs of Roman Catholicism is relevant to our personal relationship with God.

 


 

The Early Church Fathers

The Early Church Fathers, Catholic Church, Fathers of the Church, Marcellino D'AmbrosioA society characterized by the loss of respect for life, violence, exotic religious cults, sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, and even pedophilia. Sound familiar?

 

The Early Church Fathers succeeded in bringing a Pagan society to Christ. If we pay attention to what they taught, we will succeed in doing the same for our own de-Christianized society!

 

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Album 2: The Apologists, Ambrose, and Augustine

 

Early Church Fathers 2 DVD Set—$44.00

Early Church Fathers 2 CD Set—$18.00 

 


 

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Why Be Catholic? - CD
 Why be Catholic? by Catholic theologian Marcellino D'Ambrosio exploring the catholic church Marcellino D'Ambrosio's personal pilgrimage of faith from nominal Catholic teen rock 'n roller to active and vibrant faith in Christ, and why he decided to remain in the Catholic church.


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