|Moses Receives the Tablets - Marc Chagall|
It was on Mount Sinai that Moses received the Ten Commandments from God. When he descends his face is shining with a brightness so unnatural that it unnerves the Israelites. And so, after subsequent visits to the Holy of Holies, he covers his face with a veil. The message, Paul tells us, is that the Israelites were unprepared or unwilling to encounter God’s glory. Now, thanks to Christ, we are enabled to do so. But our ability to do so does not arise from the Transfiguration that Peter, James and John witness. Rather, that experience prepares them to witness the Resurrection. It removes the veil that would otherwise prevent them from seeing God in a crucified criminal.
|Transfiguration - Fra Angelica (1440)|
The season of Lent just approaching is an opportunity to put aside the various ‘veils’ of selfishness and sin that can hide Easter. Despite the familiarity of the phrase, very few people can expect to have ‘mountain top’ experiences. Yet something much less dramatic can serve the same end. In his hymn ‘Spirit of God, descend upon my heart’ the 19thC Irish Anglican priest George Croly (1780-1860) beautifully encapsulated this thought.
I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
No sudden rending of the veil of clay
No angel visitant, no opening skies.
But take the dimness of my soul away