Richard S. Vosko

Musings on religion, art and architecture

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Homily: Secure the Stakes

Please note that even if you heard this homily earlier today critiques and comments are welcomed. Thank you. Peace. RV

Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18, Psalm 27:1,7-9, 13-14, Philippians 3:17-4:1 or 3:20-4:1, Luke 9:28-36 (Link to today’s readings.)

If you have ever been camping and pitched a tent you know there are some things that cannot be overlooked. Pick a site that’s not in a gully, clear the rocks and debris underneath, avoid dripping pine trees overhead and remember to secure the stakes.

In today’s gospel, Peter was absolutely beside him. He just witnessed an awesome event and wanted to set up three tents. The tents are biblical references to the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. They are reminiscent of the booths set up by the Israelites as they trekked through the desert and of the fragile tents now set up around Port du Prince in Haiti.

The Festival of Tabernacles anticipates a messianic age, an age of salvation. Pope Benedict the 16th writes that the great events in Jesus’ life are always connected to the Jewish festival calendar. [1] This gospel is linked to the first reading from the Hebrew bible. Using an ancient ritual God and Abraham entered into a contract that guaranteed the people of God would have a land where justice and peace prevailed. In the Christian world Jesus is the fulfillment of that covenant.

In this gospel Jesus just got through telling his disciplines that there was a change in plans and that he was going straight to Jerusalem to “challenge religious authorities.” [2] That would turn out to be a dangerous trip one that ended in his suffering and death. Jesus asks if the disciples will stick with him on the journey. They go to the mountain to get some rest and pray.

The transfiguration is a paranormal experience that shows Jesus in messianic splendor. Theologian John Pilch says that such alternate realities [in the bible] are intended to provide enlightenment about things not easily understood. [3] How someone gets transfigured is one of those mysteries. How suffering and death can turn into something good is a mystery. Why do bad things happen to good people?

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