GOSPEL, FIRST READING & PSALM TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):
A third element of the transfiguration that’s distinctive of Luke (and this one’s the one that’s most fascinating to me) is that when Moses and Eli’jah appear to him, it actually tells us what they were talking about. Luke alone does this. It says that they were speaking of his departure which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem. Now the RSV here has the word “departure” as a translation. I like the New American Bible’s translation better because it’s more accurate. The New American Bible says “of his exodus” that he was to accomplish in Jerusalem. And that’s a good translation because the Greek word is actually exodos, and it means departure (or journey), but the echo of the exodus in the book of Exodus is much clearer when you just translate it (or transliterate it) in a literal fashion. What does that mean though? What is Jesus’ exodus that he’s going to accomplish at Jerusalem and why was it so important that Moses and Eli’jah are discussing that exodus with him? I think the answer here is simple but it’s really significant. Namely, that in the Old Testament, the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, over and over again, depict the future age of salvation as a new exodus. That when God comes in the future he’s going to save his people in ways that are similar to the way he saved them in the past at the exodus at the time of Moses. So, it’s going to be a new exodus and Jesus (in Luke 9) is being revealed as the one who’s going to inaugurate that new exodus and accomplish it in Jerusalem.
Now, to be very specific here, it’s really crucial to recognize that the new exodus is both similar to the old and different from the old. If you think about it this way, both of them are similar in the sense that they involve a journey that has a beginning and an end, and it’s a journey that is meant to set the people of God free and bring them home to the promised land. However, they’re different in their locations and in their destinies. The old exodus (think about it) began in Egypt and then ended in Jerusalem in the sense that the Israelites, the twelve tribes, were set free from slavery to pharaoh, they journeyed though the wilderness for forty years, and then they ended up in the promised land, fought the enemies of Israel (the Canaanites), and then finally, built the city of Jerusalem and the temple at the time of David (that’s kind of like the apex or completion of the exodus journey). You can see this in Exodus 15 where it talks about how God is going to bring a sanctuary that the people are going to worship him in. The old exodus begins in Egypt, ends in Jerusalem, whereas Jesus’ exodus (this is important), it begins in Jerusalem and where does it end? Not in the earthly promised land, but in the heavenly promised land. And you can see this in the last line of Luke. How does Luke’s gospel end? It ends not just with Jesus being raised from the dead, but ascending into heaven. His departure is going to be his passion, death, resurrection and ascension. His exodus is his passion, death, resurrection and ascension into the heavenly Promised Land. So he reveals that the ultimate destination of the exodus he wishes to accomplish is the heavenly, and not the earthly land of Canaan. It’s the transcendent reality. It’s a greater exodus than the first exodus, but the only way to that is through the cross; through his passion and his death. So you can see, that although the transfiguration has all these elements of glory, it also is pointing us already (already in the 2nd week of Lent), we are looking ahead to the cross and the resurrection, and even the ascension.
SECOND READING TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):
You can probably notice already from that last verse that Philippians is one of Paul’s most affectionate letters. It’s one of the ones… it’s written to a congregation that he really loves deeply. He describes them as his joy and his crown, so if you want a really beautiful, uplifting letter of Paul, read the letter to the Philippians. If you want to hear Paul furious, read the letter to the Galatians. He’s not so happy with the Galatians.
But here in Philippians, he’s joyful in their faith. He’s proud of them. And he’s ending a letter here — this is toward the end of the letter — he’s giving them an exhortation (that you’ll find elsewhere in his letters) to imitate him. One of the interesting things Paul will say to his congregation — not just imitate Christ (he’ll see that), but “imitate me, St. Paul.” Well, he doesn’t call himself St. Paul… but, “imitate me as an apostle of Christ.”
Because he’s trying to teach these young congregations often of formerly, predominantly, formerly pagan, Gentile converts that their faith in Christ means they have to change the way they live. And for a lot of them, they’ve never seen anyone live like the apostles lived. They didn’t see Jesus Christ walking around the streets of Nazareth and the cities of Galilee, preaching and teaching and living a life of perfect holiness. So they need a model to imitate, and they can’t pull out their Lives of the Saints
and read about all of the saints throughout the centuries, because the saints have not yet come to be. This is in the first generation of the Church.
So Paul tells them, “Imitate me. The way you see me live? Mimic that.” The Greek word, we actually get the word “mimic” — mimesis
, the Greek word for “imitation.” So he’s saying:
Brethren, join in [mimicking] me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us.
Because not everyone is living according to the example of the apostles. Paul recognizes that:
For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ.
That’s a striking condemnation. So he’s talking about the fact that not everyone lives according to the Gospel. In fact, some people live as if they are enemies not just of Christ, but enemies of the cross itself.
Who’s he talking about here? What kind of people are these? Well, he gives some examples. He says first:
Their end is destruction…
In other words, he means they’re going to be damned — that’s pretty serious. Second, he says:
… their god is the belly…
What does that mean, “their god is the belly”? That means they worship the pleasures of the flesh, especially the pleasures of food and drink. So what Paul is describing here is something that would have been fairly common in, especially in, first century paganism, which was known for having many festivals in celebration of the gods — like the god Bacchus, the god of wine, or the god Dionysus… you’ll see Dionysius sometimes… also the god of drunkenness and revelry is what it’ll often be called. Comos, another Greek deity, was the god of partying, basically.
And during these festivals, in celebration of these pagan gods, there would be drunkenness. There would be gluttony, so they would have used both food and drink. And then they would do the kinds of things people do whenever they’re drunk or satiated by food and drink. They would commit sins that followed from drunkenness and the abuse of food and drink.
So here, what Paul is doing is he’s speaking to a congregation that is having to leave that kind of life behind — the life of paganism, the life of gluttony and drunkenness and immorality — that was part of pagan culture at the time and part of the worship of the gods and goddesses, not just of Greece but of Rome as well. So he’s saying:
Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame…
They not only prey through human weakness to sins of the flesh; they actually celebrate it. They glory in it, is what Paul says:
… they glory in their shame…
They think it’s great, because their minds are set on earthly things. But — so here Paul sets up the contrast:
But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Alright, so notice what Paul is doing here — this is really, really crucial. He’s setting up a contrast between the way the pagans think and the way the Philippians who are in Christ should think. And the first contrast he puts here is that their minds are set on earthly things, but our citizenship or our commonwealth is in Heaven.
Now, as soon as you go to that verse — that verse is so crucial, but people translate it in different ways. Okay, so there are three major translations that you’ll find here...
For full access subscribe here >