Thursday, August 14, 2014
What is reality?
Is there a connection between the Transfiguration and the Assumption? The Assumption is of course not the Octave day of the Transfiguration, but is it an accident the two feasts are so proximate?
The Transfiguration makes us question the nature of reality. The disciples are used to seeing Jesus doing ordinary human things, yes there are miracles but it is easy to see them as a human action, a wonder, rather than a divine revelation. The Transfiguration forces them to question this basic perception, on the holy mountain they experience Jesus as being quite unlike them. What they glimpse is directly linked to Jesus' death, it is supposed to strengthen them for his death, presumably they are supposed to look beyond the very human aspects of his suffering, death and burial.
They are left to struggle with the question of what is more real, the humiliation of Jesus in his passion or his exaltation and the reconciliation of God and man, what they are called to see is what God sees.
There are earthly and heavenly realities, both these feasts invite us to look beyond the veil.
The ancient way of portraying the the Assumption is the Apostles gathering for the Blessed Virgin's funeral after she appears to die, but like the synagogue officials daughter she appears to be dead but to God she merely sleeps. The disciples are focused on her body, they do not see Christ who also stands behind them who comes to receive her soul with two (some times more) saintly bishops, there are two planes of reality in this icon, what is happening perceived by physical eyes in the city of Jerusalem (or Ephesus) and what is happening under the watchful eye of the seraph, which is perceived by the eyes of faith alone.
The Christian faith calls us to look beyond what appears to the senses to what is revealed by faith, to see with eyes of God.
The Assumption or Dormition invites to see human death with the eyes of faith, just as the Transfiguration invites us to view Jesus suffering from the perspective of Heaven. Death and corruption, pain and suffering melt away in the presence of God's glory. Christians are called to look beyond the veil to the heavenly reality.
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