Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Elijah and the Mountain

I had lots of computer woes yesterday and couldn't post my reflections on Elijah's "contribution" at the Transfiguration, but from what I remember, here goes:
Elijah made his way to Mount Horeb (Sinai) while being pursued by Ahab, the evil King (husband of the even more evilly infamous Jezebel). The last of the true prophets of God (all the others had been killed off), Elijah was tired of running and had prayed for death. Instead, God sent a messenger and provided mysteriously for him to eat in the desert, so that he had strength enough for mountain climbing. And there Elijah had the most marvelous experience of God: not in the earthquake, not in the powerful wind of a tornado or hurricane, not in raging fire, but in a tiny whisper. The mighty God.
So on the mount of the Transfiguration, God is revealed in human form. Nothing special. The mighty God.
And there on the mountain, God prepared Elijah for the last stage of his prophetic ministry, ordering him to anoint Elisha as his successor. Jesus, too, had brought his "successors," including his future "vicar," to the mountain of revelation. And as Elijah then looked forward to being "taken to his ancestors" (as the saying went in Biblical times), he spoke with Jesus about his "exodus" from this life. In all three synoptic Gospels, the Transfiguration marks a turning point in the ministry of Jesus. Before that, he went around teaching and healing. But coming up to the Transfiguration, he is getting his affairs in order and warning the Twelve about what is coming upon him. After the mountain, he has only one destination: Jerusalem.
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