Let me first, beloved reader, insert a little bit of clarification. The writer of Hebrews is placing together Jesus and the children under the Lordship of God even though Jesus was the one who the writer of Hebrews identifies as completing the act of salvation. Verses 10 to 13 establish this fact, if you want to look it up. The RCL picks up then at verse 14.
“Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.”(Hebrews 2:14-18)
These verses and theology stand at interesting opposition to the presentation of the Lord and Transfiguration Sunday. As flesh and blood, Jesus was presented at the Temple but as a baby and certainly not in that moment able to oppose the power of death. But clearly sharing a flesh and blood existence with other babies presented at the Temple. And his transfiguration on the mountain top speaks to a nature that could and would destroy the power of death and be a high priest in the service of God, but not to a nature confined to flesh and blood.
But do not, beloved reader, set this paradox at the feet of the writer of Hebrews. It is the Revised Common Lectionary that has matched the Hebrews passage to the Presentation of the Lord; and my own planning that further matches it to Transfiguration Sunday. This does, however, encapsulate the seemingly contrary nature of Jesus being both human and Divine. I think that is all that needs to be said. Let us move onto the second passage for today.
“Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” (II Corinthians 3:12-16)
This is an interesting portion; not because of what it says about theology and Christology; but because of what if reveals about the writer of II Corinthians. It is the writer of II Corinthians who is the “we” who has such hope and is bold, unlike Moses who hid his face. And the write is one who accepts Christ as Divine, and not like “the people of Israel” who the truth with a veil. He goes on to say . . .
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. (Verses 17 to 18 and chapter 4 verses 1 & 2)
The writer of II Corinthians would not have been surprised by Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain top; in fact, the writer of II Corinthians would have fully expected Jesus to be transfigured in some way from flesh and blood to Divine.
And what of us beloved reader? Do we keep Jesus as a flesh and blood brother? Or do we accept his Divinity and take it as sign that Jesus is Lord and the author of our salvation? Do allow, and in fact seek to be transformed by God and Jesus Christ?
We are on the cusp of Lent. Soon we will start an self examination and be called to confess our faults and do the penance that God requires of us. So for this brief shining time like us seek to be transformed by the power of Christ. Selah! Tomorrow we will look at the psalms passages and take up praise to our God and our Lord Christ.