Covered with shadow

The weather has been cloudy and cold this past week. We see the clouds because they hide the sun. No sun, no clouds! On a pitch black night we don’t know if there are clouds. A cloud is mentioned in the account of the Israelites’ journey through the desert: “Yahweh preceded them by day in a pillar of cloud to show them the way” (Exodus 13:21). The cloud revealed the presence of God to them but they do not see him. It both reveals and conceals.

Peter, James and John are stunned on the mountain when they see Jesus, his face shining and his clothes dazzling. Then “a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and from the cloud came a voice.” The experience overwhelms them and then Jesus comes to them and touches them and says, “Do not be afraid. Tell no one of this until the Son of Man has risen.”

Jesus is among them but who he is and what he has come to do is hidden from them. This vision on the mountain will only make sense in the future. If it was only to strengthen them for the trial of the Passion it was a failure.

But the metaphor of the cloud helps us. Travelling by air we find we are above the clouds but we have to go through the clouds on the way up and on the way down. For a moment or two we can see nothing but the enveloping cloud. A tinge of panic touches us. We trust the pilot knows what they are doing. Then all is clear again.

When we have a panic moment in our ordinary life we too know we have to trust all will be well. The panic can both hide and reveal Jesus. It can be hard going to trust at such moments. Things may not turn out as we want. They can go badly wrong. I am facing a cataract operation on my only functioning eye. I trust the skill of the surgeon and many are kindly joining in praying all goes well. But there is always another possibility. What then?

Some people we meet, especially those who are different, those who have some disability or some irritating quirk of character, unsettle us. A cloud can descend and it is hard to find something attractive in them. Jesus seems to be so hidden in them as to be imperceptible.

The Incarnation can never be neatly stored away in a box marked ‘Christmas.’ It is a reality every day. God is among us, with us and in us. The greatest way in which he is both revealed and concealed is in the Eucharist. The feast we call the Transfiguration comes every 6th of August – just forty days before the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14) – to remind us of this mystery of our hidden God among us.

6 August 2017                                         The Transfiguration

Daniel 7:9-14                                          2 Peter 1:16-19                                       Matthew 17:1-9

Post published in: Faith
  1. Andy Kadir-Buxton

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