Reflection for Friday, August 6, 1999: Transfiguration of the Lord.

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Enman, Fred M., S.J.
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Does Jesus keep good company? That was a serious question for Jesus' disciples in the first century both during his earthly ministry and after his Resurrection from the dead. Jesus' opponents criticized him for socializing with tax collectors and sinners, people who were deemed to be "unclean" by the religious authorities of the time.||In today's readings we receive a portrait of Jesus who keeps good company -- indeed, the very best company. And it is a company that challenges Jesus' disciples, both then and now, to be concerned about a faith that does justice.|In today's Gospel Jesus appears with Moses and Elijah. Moses is the great lawgiver in the Jewish tradition and Elijah is one of the great prophets. The law that Moses represents to the faith community is part of the covenant that Israel entered into with Yahweh at Mount Sinai after the people had escaped from slavery in Egypt. The underlying theme of this law is: "Just as you treated us with mercy and compassion, Lord, so we promise to treat one another the same way--with mercy and compassion." The Mosaic law has special provisions for the care of the widow, the orphan, the poor, the stranger, for these are the people who are most at risk of falling back into slavery. And slavery is not God's plan for the People of God. When Jesus appears with Moses he is invoking this memory of the law.|Jesus also appears with Elijah, the Prophet. Prophets have a very unique role in the life of the People of Israel. The role of the prophet is not to foretell the future, but to indict the present generation for its failure to live up to the Covenant, to the law that Moses represents. When the people go astray in their true worship and are not faithful to their responsibilities to one another, especially to the poor, prophets arise to challenge the people to call them back to true worship and to call them back to accountability for those in need in the community. When Jesus appears with Elijah he is invoking this memory of prophecy.|The dual role of law and prophecy was important to the Jews of the first century and to Jesus. As contemporary disciples of Jesus we must remember that Jesus keeps good company with Moses and Elijah. Jesus invites us to keep good company with Moses and Elijah as well by remembering the heart of the covenant and its concern for those in need and by remembering the prophetic call to be concerned for justice in our society.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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