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3-Point Mass prep: Why Moses and Elijah?

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Sr. Amata CSFN

Mount Tabor in the background

Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik - published on 03/04/23

To deepen our knowledge of the Master, we must allow ourselves to be taken aside by him ...

The Gospel for this Sunday is Matthew 17:1-9

1.     A word of introduction

The disciples saw two Old Testament figures along with Jesus: Moses and Elijah. The event took place shortly before Jesus’ death, followed by the departure of many of his disciples. In this context, the transfiguration of Jesus in the presence of these very two figures has profound significance.

2.     Keywords

And he was transfigured before them; 
his face shone like the sun 
and his clothes became white as light.

And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.

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Every Shabbat, the Torah, that is, the first five books of the Bible (also called the Law of Moses) and a passage from the Books of the Prophets (the so-called Haftarah) were read in the synagogues. These readings were considered an announcement of the coming of the Messiah, based on the Torah and the Prophets.

Moses represents the Torah, and Elijah is a prophet. Together, Moses and Elijah give full testimony that the expected Messiah, of whom people read in the synagogues every Shabbat, is Jesus Christ.

In addition, the testimony of two people was also important in the courts. For the truth to be established, the account of two witnesses was needed. Moses and Elijah are such witnesses in the event of Jesus’ transfiguration. 

During the transfiguration, Jesus reinforced his disciples’ faith that he was the expected Messiah. And all this so that they would not doubt in him during his passion and death on the cross.

Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, 
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here, 
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

Perhaps the Transfiguration of Jesus took place in autumn, when the Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated, in remembrance of the Israelites’ dwelling in tents during their journey through the desert to the Promised Land. Believing Jews then build huts, for seven days celebrating the exodus of the chosen people from Egypt. Perhaps this is why Peter thought of putting up tents. 

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3.     Today

Pope Francis writes in his message for Lent 2023: “To deepen our knowledge of the Master, we must allow ourselves to be taken aside by him and to detach ourselves from mediocrity and vanity.” 

When was the last time I went out to a secluded place, a church or chapel, to ask for the grace to transform my life for the better? How much time do I have for God every day?

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