2nd Sunday of Lent (C)
///Luke 9:28-36 – Transfiguration – 2nd Sunday of Lent
///Luke 9:28-36 – Transfiguration – 2nd Sunday of Lent
Homilies | Luke 9:28-36
Commentary | Talking Points
Gospel commentary excerpts from a variety of sources. To read more click on links to go to original source material
FR. MICHAEL CHUA – Last week we got a small dose of hell and the devil in the scene of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. This week, its God’s turn – we get a glimpse of heaven in the Transfiguration story.
FR. EAMON TOBIN – The Transfiguration of Jesus is an epiphany story. In epiphany stories, the veil which separates the invisible world from the visible, and the future from the present, is removed temporarily and the divine is revealed. In the Transfiguration story, Peter, James and John catch a glimpse of Jesus in his glory.
DR KIERAN MAHONY – The transfiguration is recounted in all three Synoptic Gospels. It is well worth comparing the three accounts in order to notice what each writer chose to highlight….
- In Mark 9:2-10, it is an epiphany, an anticipation of the end, to give the disciples courage during the passion.
- In Matthew 17:1-9, it is an apocalyptic vision, again to give courage, but with a special intensity.
- Luke, avoiding the word transfiguration (metamorphosis) with its pagan overtones, portrays the encounter as a moment of prayer consistent with Luke’s portrait of Jesus as a man of prayer—in this Gospel, he is shown at prayer twice as frequently as in Matthew and Mark. The disappearance of Moses and Elijah is part of Luke’s theology that the times were changing and a new era beginning, with the new exodus (= departure), explicitly identified with the cross and resurrection of Jesus.
Special to Luke
- Eight days, to pray
- His appearance changed
- His departure (exodus); Jerusalem
- The disciples remain awake
- As they were leaving…
- They entered the cloud
- Silence descends (not instructed)
Jesus’ Inner Circle (v 28b)
Peter, John, and James
FR. EAMON TOBIN – Jesus goes with his inner circle to pray. Some scholars suggest that at this point in Jesus’ ministry, he wonders if he should stay in Galilee to continue preaching the Gospel or to go to Jerusalem where he would most likely be killed.
SERMON WRITER – These three disciples were present at the healing of Jairus’ daughter (8:51). Mark 14:33 and Matt 26:37 tell us that they will also be present at Gethsemane.
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY – The disciples and Apostles must have been frightened and discouraged after Jesus’ first prediction of His death in Luke 9:22. To give them a vision to grasp in their darkest hour, when He fulfills the prophecy of His death, Jesus took the Apostles Peter and the brothers James and John Zebedee up a mountain to witness a manifestation of His glory that confirms His identity as the divine Son of God. The vision also offers them proof that He has the power to defeat death as He also told them in 9:22. Jesus will choose the same three Apostles and take them apart from the others when He faces His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26:36-37; Mk 14:32-33).
The Mountain (v 28c)
Up the mountain to pray
SERMON WRITER – This is more a theological than a geographical statement. Mountains are places of prayer, and it is on mountains that many significant encounters with God take place. Peter will refer to it as “the holy mountain” (2 Peter 1:18)…. “To have ‘mountaintop experiences’ it is not enough to go up on a mountain; one must go up on a ‘mountain to pray’ ” (Knox, 174).
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY – Mighty works/revelations of God often took place on mountains, including the Theophany of God on Mt. Sinai (see Gen 22:2, 11; Ex 19:16-20; 1 Kng 18:19-39; 19:11-18; 1 Chr 21:15-17; 2 Chr 3:1; and Mt 5:1-2).
FR. CLEMENT THIB0DEAU – In Luke, Jesus’ ministry begins with prayer and ends with prayer. He went into the desert to pray at the beginning; He returns his soul into the hands of his Father in his prayer on the cross. In between, he always turns to prayer. All significant events in the life of Jesus find him in prayer still.
Jesus’ Face and Clothing (v 29)
His face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white
MARY M. MCGLONE – The essential action of the story is that Jesus was praying. In that moment, communion with his Father caused his very appearance to change. It was as if the reality of who he was in relationship to the Father became tangible. His inner self became visible through his radiant face, even to the extent that his whole being shone as symbolized by his dazzling white clothing. Nothing but the resurrection could compare to Jesus physical appearance in this moment; we might say that in both cases, the overwhelming truth of who he was became evident to those who encountered him.
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY – The change in the appearance of Jesus’ face recalls the description of Moses’ radiant face after being in the presence of God in Exodus 34:29-35. In St. Matthew’s account, he describes Jesus’ face as “radiant” and his garment as “as white as light” (Mt 17:2).
Two Men Conversing with Jesus (v 30)
Moses and Elijah who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus
The word “Exodus”
DR. BRANT PITRE – In Luke’s version of the Transfiguration, Luke tells us what Jesus was speaking about with Moses and Elijah: namely, Jesus’ Exodus. [This] new exodus… was both similar and dis-similar to the old Exodus.
- Both involve a journey with a beginning and and end that is supposed to set God’s people free and bring them home to The Promised Land.
- But, the old exodus began in Egypt and ended in Jerusalem (the earthly promised land); the new exodus that Jesus will inaugurate will begin in Jersusalem and end in the heavenly promised land.
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY – The Old Covenant Church was represented by Moses and Elijah who embodied the Law and the prophets of the old Israel, and Peter, James, and John represented the Kingdom of the New Covenant, embodying the hierarchy of the new Israel, the Church of the people of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth (CCC 751-52, 877).
The word “Glory”
SERMON WRITER – The word “glory” is used in the Bible to speak of various wonderful things—but it is used especially to speak of God’s glory—an aura associated with God’s appearance that reveals God’s majesty to humans. Biblical writers, attempting to describe God’s glory using human words, portrayed it as “like devouring fire” (Exodus 24:17).
When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God replied,
“You cannot see my face, for man may not see me and live” (Exodus 33:20)…
The point is that God’s glory is so overwhelming that humans aren’t engineered to be capable of experiencing it. An analogy might be coming into contact with a live high-voltage electrical line. It would be too much for us. We can’t deal with it.
As we might expect, “the glory of Yahweh filled the tabernacle” and the temple (Exodus 40:34; 1 Kings 8:11). God promises that the day will come when his glory will fill all the earth (Numbers 14:21).
LECTIO THE LITURGY: In 2 Corinthians 3:18, St. Paul tells us that God’s glory begins now.
“All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
The unveiled face is translated from the Greek to mean to show in a mirror; to present a clear and correct image of a thing, or to reflect. We don’t become the image, we reflect the image, which is God’s glory. The verb Paul chose is “are.” We are being transformed, or we are being transfigured, into the same image, the image of glory, the same image to which Jesus was changed.
🔴 CATHOLIC PRAXIS
What Exactly is a Catholic?
MSGR. JOE PELLEGRINO – On the Second Sunday of Lent we consider the way we are following the Lord. Do we allow ourselves to be exposed to the spiritual? Do we pray, really pray? Do we allow the spiritual to become real in our lives? Are we allowing God’s plan to take effect in our world? Are we living as citizens of heaven, or is our glory the mere external following of our religion? If someone were to ask any of us, “What exactly is a Catholic?” in what terms would we form our answer?
Three Tents (v. 33)
Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents
SERMON WRITER – Peter is an action-man! No restraint! Action is both his strength and his weakness. At a time when anyone else would sit in stunned silence, Peter says, “Let’s make three tents!” None of the Gospels tells us why he wants to build three tents:
- Perhaps he wants to prolong the mountaintop experience—to keep Jesus safe on the mountain rather than seeing him exposed to suffering, rejection, and death (v. 22).
- Perhaps he wants to honor Moses, Elijah and Jesus—to offer them a bit of hospitality.
- Probably, he just wants to do something. An action-man needs to act!
Feast of Tabernacles (Feast of Booths)
NEW AMERICAN BIBLE NOTES – in a possible allusion to the feast of Tabernacles, Peter may be likening his joy on the occasion of the transfiguration to the joyful celebration of this harvest festival.
DEACON JOHN HARDEN – On the one hand, Sukkot commemorates a time when the people of Israel had no land, and therefore had no harvest. On the other hand, it celebrates the great harvests Israel enjoyed when they were dwelling in the Promised Land. It is a celebration of already and not yet. Like many Old Testament feasts, it looks forward to a future fulfillment in Christ…. Peter couldn’t fathom how the man he had just proclaimed to be “the Christ, the Son of the Living God” could be crucified by the Romans (Matthew 16:16, 22-23)! Shouldn’t Jesus, God’s chosen Messiah, simply march into Jerusalem and drive out the Romans? What Peter didn’t understand was that the new and definitive exodus is not from Egypt or Rome. Rather, it is from sin and death.
The Cloud (v. 34)
A cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY– A cloud is a frequent vehicle for the manifestation of God’s presence in Scripture. The Greek word for the shadow of the cloud cast over them is episkiazo. It is the same word found in the account of the Holy Spirit overshadowing the Virgin Mary in the Incarnation (Lk 1:35), and it is the same word used in the Greek translation of Exodus when God’s Spirit overshadowed the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant (Ex 40:34).
The Disciples are Afraid
FR RICHARD OUNSWORTH OP – One of the biggest differences between the three accounts of the Transfiguration is when the disciples are afraid. For Mark, it is right from the off; for Matthew, it is the voice of God that causes fear, which certainly makes sense. For Luke it is the cloud – another reminder of the exodus, when a cloud led the people through the wilderness. We are indeed on a journey, through penance and passion, to the resurrection and the end of time, but it is a journey so often overshadowed by clouds of confusion and doubt. Lent is a time to hear again the words of the angel to Mary: be not afraid.
The Voice (v. 35)
“Listen to him”
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY– The voice is the same voice that was heard at Jesus’ baptism by St. John the Baptist (Lk 3:22). Notice how the Most Holy Trinity is manifested in this event as He was at Jesus’ baptism:
- God the Father’s voice is heard from heaven.
- God the Son is present in His glory (and in His humanity at the baptism).
- God the Holy Spirit is represented by the overshadowing cloud (and by a dove at Jesus baptism).
SERMON WRITER – Jesus has told them that he will suffer and die (vv. 18-20)—and that they will also suffer and die (vv. 21-27). While Luke does not tell of Peter’s protest (see Matthew 16:22), it is clear that the disciples are not prepared to hear Jesus talk about suffering and death. They expect him to conquer—not to die.
The disciples will neither listen well nor carry out their tasks faithfully—until after the resurrection.
• They will fail to heal a boy with a demon (Lk 9:37-43).
• They will fail to understand Jesus’ warning about his betrayal (Lk 9:43-45).
• They will argue about which one of them is the greatest (Lk 9:46-48).
• They will not understand Jesus prediction of his death and resurrection (Lk 18:31-34).
• Peter will deny Jesus (Lk 22:54-62).
• They will stand at a distance while Jesus was crucified (Lk 23:49).
2ND READING CONNECTION
MSGR. RUSSELL G. TERRA – The Transfiguration event had to have made a deep impression upon the three disciples. Yet, in their future weakness, Peter denied Jesus – John and James ran away with the others at his arrest – And only John, of all the others, went to the cross with Mary, the mother of Jesus. Today, St. Paul tells us how to remain faithful despite our powerlessness today. We must not be “enemies of the cross of Christ.” We must accept all the suffering we experience in this life – trusting in the power of God. We must, truly, “rise above earthly things.” We can’t let the material attractions of our culture seduce us – or even distract us! We must stand for the truth in all things – for the goodness in all that is godly – and for the beauty that is inherent in the natural world around us!
Related Page: Discussion Questions
CROSS REFERENCES SOURCE: B. Blayney, Thomas Scott, and R.A. Torrey with John Canne, Browne, The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, vol. 2 (London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, n.d.).
Image: detail from the painted ceiling in the Dominican church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Portland, Oregon, photographed by Lawrence Lew OP.
28. And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.
29. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.
30. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:
31. Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
EUSEBIUS. Our Lord, when He made known to His disciples the great mystery of His second coming, that it might not seem that they were to believe in His words only, proceeds to works, manifesting to them, through the eyes of their faith, the image of His kingdom; as it follows, And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.
DAMASCENE. (Orat. de Trans fig. §. 8.) Matthew and Mark indeed say that the transfiguration took place on the sixth day after the promise made to the disciples, but Luke on the eighth. But there is no disagreement in these testimonies, but they who make the number six, taking off a day at each end, that is, the first and the last, the day on which He makes the promise, and that on which He fulfilled it, have reckoned only the intervening ones, but He who makes the number eight, has counted in each of the two days above mentioned. But why were not all called, but only some, to behold the sight? There was only one indeed who was unworthy to see the divinity, namely Judas, according to the word of Isaiah, Let the wicked be taken away, that he should not behold the glory of God. (Isai. 26:10 LXX.) If then he alone had been sent away, he might have, as it were from envy, been provoked to greater wickedness. Henceforward He takes away from the traitor every pretext for his treachery, seeing that He left below the rest of the company of the Apostles. But He took with Him three, that in the mouths of two or three witnesses every word should be established. He took Peter, indeed, because He wished to shew him that the witness he had borne to Him was confirmed by the witness of the Father, and that he was as it were to preside over the whole Church. He took with Him James, who was to be the first of all the disciples to die for Christ; but He took John as the clearest singer of the sacred doctrine, that having seen the glory of the Son, which submits not to time, he might sound forth, In the beginning was the Word. (John 1:1.)
AMBROSE. Or, Peter went up, who received the keys of the kingdom of heaven; John, to whom was committed our Lord’s mother; James, who first suffered martyrdom. (Acts 12:1.)
THEOPHYLACT. Or, He takes these with Him as men who were able to conceal this thing, and reveal it to no one else. But going up into a mountain to pray, He teaches us to pray solitary, and going up, into stooping to earthly things.
DAMASCENE. (ut sup. 10.) Servants however pray in one way; our Lord prayed in another. For the prayer of the servant is offered up by the lifting up of the mind to God, but the holy mind of Christ, (who was hypostatically [ὑπόστασιν] united to God,) prayed, that He might lead us by the hand to the ascent, whereby we mount up in prayer to God, and teach us that He is not opposed to God, but reverences the Father as His beginning; (ὡς ἀρχὴν ἑαυτὸν) nay, even tempting the tyrant, who sought from Him whether He were God, (which the power of His miracles declared,) He concealed as it were under the bait a hook; that he who had deceived man with the hope of divinity might fitly himself be caught with the clothing of humanity. Prayer is the revelation of Divine glory; as it follows, And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Not as though His body changed its human form, but a certain glistening glory overspread it.
DAMASCENE. (ut sup. 13.) Now the devil, seeing His face shining in prayer, recollected Moses, whose face was glorified. But Moses indeed was arrayed with a glory, which came from without; our Lord, with that which proceeded from the inherent brightness of Divine glory. (Exod. 34:29.) For since in the hypostatical union there is one and the same glory of the Word and the flesh, He is transfigured not as receiving what He was not, but manifesting to His disciples, what He was. Hence, according to Matthew, it is said, that He was transfigured before them, and that His face shone as the sun; (Mat. 17:2.) for what the sun is in things of sense, God is in spiritual things. And as the sun, which is the fountain of light, cannot be easily seen, but its light is perceived from that which reaches the earth; so the countenance of Christ shines more intensely, like the sun, but His raiment is white as snow; as it follows, And his raiment was white and glistering; that is, lighted up by its participation of the divine light. And a little afterwards, But while these things were so, that it might be shewn there was but one Lord of the new and old covenant, and the mouths of heretics might be shut, and men might believe on the resurrection, and He also, who was transfigured, be believed to be the Lord of the living and the dead, Moses and Elias, as servants, stand by their Lord in His glory; hence it follows, And behold there talked with him two men. For it became men, seeing the glory and confidence of their fellow servants, to admire indeed the merciful condescension of the Lord, but to emulate those who had laboured before them, and looking to the pleasantness of future blessings, to be the more strengthened for conflicts. For he who has known the reward of his labours, will the more easily endure them.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 56. in Matt.) Or else this took place because the multitude said He was Elias or Jeremias, to shew the distinction between our Lord and His servants. And to make it plain that He was not an enemy of God, and transgressor of the law, He shewed these two standing by Him; (for else, Moses the lawgiver, and Elias who was zealous for the glory of God, had not stood by Him,) but also to give testimony to the virtues of the men. For each had ofttimes exposed Himself to death in keeping the divine commands. He wishes also His disciples to imitate them in the government of the people, that they might be indeed meek like Moses, and zealous like Elias. He introduces them also to set forth the glory of His cross, to console Peter and the others who feared His Passion. Hence it follows, And spake of his decease, which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. The mystery, namely, of His incarnation, also the life-giving Passion accomplished on the sacred cross.
AMBROSE. Now in a mystical manner, after the words above said, is exhibited the transfiguration of Christ, since he who hears the words of Christ, and believes, shall see the glory of His resurrection. For, on the eighth day the resurrection took place. Hence also several Psalms are written, ‘for the eighth,’ (pro octava.) or perhaps it was that He might make manifest what He had said, that he who for the word of God shall lose his own life, shall save it, seeing that He will make good His promises at the resurrection.
BEDE. For as He rose from the dead after the seventh day of the Sabbath, during which He lay in the tomb, we also after the six ages of this world, and the seventh of the rest of souls, which meanwhile is passed in another life, shall rise again as it were in the eighth age.
AMBROSE. But Matthew and Mark have related that He took them with Him after six days, of which we may say after 6000 years, (for a thousand years in the Lord’s sight are as one day;) but more than 6000 years are reckoned. We had rather then take the six days symbolically, that in six days the works of the world were completed, that by the time we may understand the works, by the works the world. And so the times of the world being finished, the resurrection to come is declared; or because, He who has ascended above the world, and has passed beyond the moments of this life, is waiting, seated as it were on a high place, for the everlasting fruit of the resurrection.
BEDE. Hence He ascends the mountain to pray and be transfigured, to shew that those who expect the fruit of the resurrection, and desire to see the King in His glory, ought to have the dwelling place of their hearts on high, and be ever on their knees in prayer.
AMBROSE. I should think that in the three who are taken up into the mountain, was contained in a mystery the human race, because from the three sons of Noah sprung the whole race of man; I did not perceive that they were chosen out. Three then are chosen to ascend the mountain, because none can see the glory of the resurrection, but they who have preserved the mystery of the Trinity with inviolable purity of faith.
BEDE. Now the transfigured Saviour shews the glory of His own coming, or our resurrection; who as He then appeared to His Apostles shall in like manner appear to all the elect. But the raiment of the Lord is taken for the band of His Saints, which in truth when our Lord was upon earth seemed to be despised, but when He sought the mount, shines with a new whiteness; for now are we the sons of God; and it does not yet appear what we shall be. But we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him. (1 John 3:2.)
AMBROSE. Or else, according to your capacity is the word either lessened or increased to you, and unless you ascend the summit of a higher wisdom, you behold not what glory there is in the word of God. Now the garments of the Word, are the discourses of the Scriptures, and certain clothings of the Divine mind; and as His raiment shone white, so in the eyes of your understanding, the sense of the divine words becomes clear. Hence after Moses, Elias; that is, the Law and the Prophets in the Word. For neither can the Law exist without the Word, nor the Prophet, unless he prophesied of the Son of God.
SOURCE: eCatholic 2000 Commentary in public domain.
32. But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.
33. And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.
34. While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.
35. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
36. And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.
THEOPHYLACT. While Christ is engaged in prayer, Peter is heavy with sleep, for he was weak, and did what was natural to man; as it is said, But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep. But when they awake, they behold His glory, and the two men with Him; as it follows, And when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men, that stood with him.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 56. in Matt.) Or, by the word sleep, he means that strange maze that fell upon them by reason of the vision. For it was not night time, but the exceeding brightness of the light weighed down their weak eyes.
AMBROSE. For the incomprehensible brightness of the Divine nature oppresses our bodily senses. For if the sight of the body is unable to contain the sun’s ray when opposite to the eyes which behold it, how can the corruption of our fleshly members endure the glory of God? And perhaps they were oppressed with sleep, that after their rest they might behold the sight of the resurrection. Therefore when they were awake they saw His glory. For no one, except he is watching, sees the glory of Christ. Peter was delighted, and as the allurements of this world enticed him not, was carried away by the glory of the resurrection. Hence it follows, And it came to pass as they departed, &c.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. For perhaps holy Peter imagined that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, and therefore it seemed good to him to abide on the mount.
DAMASCENE. (Orat. de Trans. fig.) It were not good for thee, Peter, that Christ should abide there, for if He had remained, the promise made to thee would never receive its accomplishment. For neither wouldest thou have obtained the keys of the kingdom, nor the tyranny of death been abolished. Seek not bliss before its time, as Adam did to be made a God. The time shall come when thou shalt enjoy the sight without ceasing, and dwell together with Him who is light and life.
AMBROSE. But Peter distinguished not only by earnest feeling, but also by devout deeds, wishing like a zealous workman to build three tabernacles, offers the service of their united labour; for it follows, Let us make three tabernacles, one for thee, &c.
DAMASCENE. (ubi sup.) But the Lord ordained thee not the builder of tabernacles, but of the universal Church. Thy words have been brought to pass by thy disciples, by thy sheep, in building a tabernacle, not only for Christ, but also for His servants. But Peter said not this deliberately, but through the inspiration of the Spirit revealing things to come, as it follows, not knowing what he said.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. He knew not what he said, for neither was the time come for the end of the world, or for the Saints’ enjoyment of their promised hope. And when the dispensation was now commencing, how was it fitting that Christ should abandon His love of the world, Who was willing to suffer for it?
DAMASCENE. (ubi sup.) It behoved Him also not to confine the fruit of His incarnation to the service of those only who were on the mount, but to extend it to all believers, which was to be accomplished by His cross and passion.
TITUS BOSTRENSIS. (non occ.) Peter also was ignorant what he said, seeing that it was not proper to make three tabernacles for the three. For the servants are not received with their Lord, the creature is not placed beside the Creator.
AMBROSE. Nor does the condition of man in this corruptible body allow of making a tabernacle to God, whether in the soul or in the body, or in any other place; and although he knew not what he said, yet a service was offered which not by any deliberate forwardness, but its premature devotion, receives in abundance the fruits of piety. For his ignorance was part of his condition, his offer of devotion.
CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) Or else Peter heard that it was necessary Christ must die, and on the third day rise again, but he saw around him a very remote and solitary place; he supposed therefore that the place had some great protection. For this reason he said, It is good for us to be here. (Exod. 24:15, 2 Kings 1:12.) Moses, too was present, who entered into the cloud. Elias, who on the mount brought down fire from heaven. The Evangelist then, to indicate the confusion of mind in which he utters this, added, Not knowing what he said.
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Ev. l. ii. c. 56.) Now in what Luke here says of Moses and Elias, And it came to pass as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here, he must not be thought contrary to Matthew and Mark, who have so connected Peter’s suggestion of this, as if Moses and Elias were still speaking with our Lord. For they did not expressly state that Peter said it then, but rather were silent about what Luke added, that as they departed, Peter suggested this to our Lord.
THEOPHYLACT. But while Peter spake, our Lord builds a tabernacle not made with hands, and enters into it with the Prophets. Hence it is added, While he thus spake there came a cloud and overshadowed them, to shew that He was not inferior to the Father. For as in the Old Testament it was said, the Lord dwelt in the cloud, so now also a cloud received our Lord, not a dark cloud, but bright and shining.
BASIL. (in Esai. c. 4. 5.) For the obscurity of the Law had passed away; for as smoke is caused by the fire, so the cloud by light; but because a cloud is the sign of calmness, the rest of the future state is signified by the covering of a cloud.
AMBROSE. For it is the overshadowing of the divine Spirit which does not darken, but reveals secret things to the hearts of men.
ORIGEN. (in Matt. tom. 12.) Now His disciples being unable to bear this, fell down, humbled under the mighty hand of God, greatly afraid since they knew what was said to Moses, No man shall see my face, and lice. Hence it follows, And they feared as they entered into the cloud.
AMBROSE. Now observe, that the cloud was not black from the darkness of condensed air, and such as to overcast the sky with a horrible gloom, but a shining cloud, from which we were not moistened with rain, but as the voice of Almighty God came forth the dew of faith was shed upon the hearts of men. For it follows, And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear ye him. Elias was not His Son. Moses was not. But this is the Son whom you see alone.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. (in Thes. lib. 12. c. 14.) How then should men suppose Him who is really the Son to be made or created, when God the Father thundered from above, This is my beloved Son! as if He said, Not one of My sons, but He who is truly and by nature My Son, according to whose example the others are adopted, He ordered them then to obey Him, when He added, Hear ye him. And to obey Him more than Moses and Elias, for Christ is the end of the Law and the Prophets. Hence the Evangelist adds significantly, And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone.
THEOPHYLACT. Lest in truth any one should suppose that these words, This is my beloved Son, were uttered about Moses or Elias.
AMBROSE. They then departed, when our Lord’s manifestation had begun. There are three seen at the beginning, one at the end; for faith being made perfect, they are one. Therefore are they also received into the body of Christ, because we also shall be one in Christ Jesus; or perhaps, because the Law and the Prophets came out from the Word.
THEOPHYLACT. Now those things which began from the Word, end in the Word. For by this he implies that up to a certain time the Law and the Prophets appear, as here Moses and Elias; but afterwards, at their departure, Jesus is alone. For now abideth the Gospel, legal things having passed away.
BEDE. And mark, that as when our Lord was baptized in Jordan, so also when He was glorified on the Mount, the mystery of the whole Trinity is declared; for His glory which we confess at baptism, we shall see at the resurrection. Nor in vain does the Holy Spirit appear here in the cloud, there in the form of a dove, seeing that he who now preserves with a simple heart the faith which he receives, shall then in the light of open vision look upon those things which he believed.
ORIGEN. (ubi sup.) Now Jesus wishes not those things which relate to His glory to be spoken of before His passion. Hence it follows, And they kept it close. For men would have been offended, especially the multitude, if they saw Him crucified Who had been so glorified.
DAMASCENE. (ubi sup.) This also our Lord commands, since He knew His disciples to be imperfect, seeing that they had not yet received the full measure of the Spirit, lest the hearts of others who had not seen should be prostrated by sorrow, and lest the traitor should be stirred up to a frantic hatred.
SOURCE: eCatholic 2000 Commentary in public domain.
Mass Readings Explained
Hearers of the Word
KIERAN 0’MAHONY, OSA – Augustinian friar and biblical scholar, currently assisting in Donnybrook parish (Dublin). He provides notes and commentaries in four formats: 1. PDF — the full notes, including weekday introductions, 5 pages. 2. The gospel notes only in audio format. 3. The gospel notes presented in a portable format suitable for smartphones and tablets. 4. YouTube video: A further exploration of the Gospel (usually) from a different angle.
The Word Exposed
CARDINAL LUIS ANTONIO TAGLE– The Word Exposed with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples reflects on Sunday’s Mass readings each week. From the Vatican, produced by Jesuit Communications.
A Walk in the Word
St. Paul Center
SCOTT HAHN – Each week Scott Hahn and John Bergsma give a weekly reflection on the Sunday Mass readings. They go deeper than a scholarly discussion—they also ask how the readings apply to our own lives and the times we live in now. With these personal reflections, you’ll get to know Dr. Hahn and Dr. Bergsma, you’ll get to know the Scriptures, and you’ll go deeper each week into your own relationship with the Lord. $15 per month, or $156 for an annual subscription. Click here for more information.
The Word in the World
FR. ARUN PAUL is pastor of Saint John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Naples, Florida.
Centre for Christian Spirituality
The Word Proclaimed Institute
FR. FRANCIS MARTIN – Fr. Francis Martin +August 11, 2017, taught at the Gregorian University in Rome, the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem, Catholic University in Washington, D.C., Franciscan University of Steubenville), and the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C.