19th Sunday – Year B
The Solemnity of Transfiguration
Prophet Elijah and the Transfiguration of the Lord
At times we question ourselves as to why was Elijah chosen to appear at the side of Jesus and Moses. Representative of “prophets”, neither a man of literature nor an author, Elijah was the only one who was said to have been transported to heaven. For the Jews, his return is expected. It seems that this wait is still going since an empty chair is always reserved to “Eliahu ha-navi” (“Elijah the prophet”). His appearance at the side of the Messiah literally fulfills the popular wish, after it had been accomplished symbolically and spiritually in the person of John the Baptist.
A common point, not really substantial, unite Moses and Elijah to Jesus transfigured on the sacred mountain: the fact of having fasted for 40 days (1 (3) Kings 19:8). Between them, Moses and Elijah are both prophets and climbed up Mount Sinai or Horeb.
We cannot ignore the difficulties that crop up as we read details of Elijah’s violence. A man of his era, with his “zeal for the Lord of the hosts”, Prophet Elijah did not go everywhere to eliminate the priests of Baal. Lord Jesus, “priest at the rank of Melkisedek”, accepted it with all its proverbial gentleness. At the Last Supper, He instituted without bloodshed the new priesthood and the new temple.
May our zeal be crowned with mansuetude! And may the glory of the Lord, that is “on the face of Christ” (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4) get to be reflected on our faces and in our lives!
Fr. P. Madros