Peruvian theologian, Gustavo Gutierrez is the author of Theology of Liberation, considered by many to be a foundational text for liberation theology. He was recently in the Vatican at the invitation of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller. AP:
The founder of liberation theology, the Latin American-inspired Catholic theology advocating for the poor, received a hero's welcome...at the Vatican as the once-criticized movement continues its rehabilitation under Pope Francis.
In late February, Gutierrez was a "surprise speaker" at the presention of a new book edited by Cardinal Mueller titled Poor for the Poor: The mission of the church. Gutierrez contributed to the book. The above photo was taken at that event. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)
The book was actually published in Germany in 2004. The current volume is a new edition. It appears that Cardinal Mueller, a former student of Gutierrez', deliberately manufactured the occasion in order to signal Gutierrez' rising stature in the Vatican's estimation.
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.
5But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” 8So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Translation: And late on the sabbath, toward the dawning into the first day of sabbath, Maria, the one of Magdala, and the other Mary, went to see the tomb. And behold! A great earthquake happened, for an angel of the Lord descended out of heaven and came (and) rolled back the stone and was sitting upon it, and his appearance was like lightning and his raiment white as snow. And from the fear of him, the ones keeping him were shaken and became as dead ones.
And the angel answered (and) said to the women, "Fear not, for I have known that you are seeking Jesus, the crucified one. He is not here, for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he was lying, and go quickly. Tell his disciples that he was raised from the dead ones, and behold! he is going before you into Galilee. There you will see him. Behold! I told you." And they left quickly from the grave with fear and great joy. They ran to tell his disciples. And behold! Jesus met them, saying, "Grace to you." And they came (and) held his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Fear not. Go tell my brothers so that they might go into Galilee, and there they will see me."
Background and situation: All four of the gospel accounts have unique elements in their resurrection stories. Mark, the primary source, has a rather sparse eight verses on the first Easter. Both Matthew and Luke expand the story in their individual directions.
That all four gospels tell the story in different ways also indicates that there was no normative and clearly established Easter narrative in the first few decades after the earthly life of Jesus.
Behold!: In Matthew, Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary" went to "see" the tomb. Matthew says nothing about anointing the body with spices (as in Mark) because, for Matthew, there was no way the women were actually going to be able to get into that tomb. A "great" stone stood in front of it.
"Behold! A great earthquake happened"--idou seismos egeneto megas. As at the death of Jesus (27:51), the resurrection of Jesus is accompanied by spectacular signs in nature. The foundation of the "old world" is shaken. As the birth of Jesus had been accompanied by heavenly signs (2:2), now the resurrection of Jesus is accompanied by the shaking of the foundations of the earth.
When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” 4This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, 5“Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” 6The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 10When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?”11The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Translation: And when they approached into Jerusalem and came into Bethphage, into the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village, the one over-against you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied and a colt with her. Loose (and) bring to me." And if anyone might speak to you, you will answer, 'The Lord has need of them,' and immediately he will send them." And this had happened so that it might be fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, "Speak to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your king comes to you, meek, and mounted upon a donkey, and upon a colt, a son of a beast of burden." And the disciples went and did just as Jesus appointed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and they placed the garments upon them, and they sat (him) upon them. And a very great crowd spread their garments in the way, and others were cutting down branches from the trees and were spreading in the way. And the crowds, the ones going before him and the ones following, were crying out, saying, "Hosanna to the son of David. Blessed (is) the one coming in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest." And when he entered into Jerusalem, all the city was shaken, saying, "Who is this?" And the crowds were saying, "This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee."
Background and situation: The original source is Mark (11: 1-11)--the other parallels are Luke 19:28-38 and John 12:12-19.
Mark has three passion predictions which are mirrored in Matthew (16:21-23, 17:22-23, 20:17-19), each with some Matthean additions. In the first passion prediction, Matthew adds to Mark a statement about the necessity of going to Jerusalem (16:21): "From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem." (Jesus doesn't actually head south until 19:1.) In our text for Palm Sunday, he has arrived.
Dueling processions: Jesus was approaching Jerusalem from the east. Bethphage is just to the east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives is just east of the Temple. (Random factoid: The word Bethphage means "house of figs.") The Mount of Olives was, in Israel's Sacred Memory, the place from which an assault on Israel's enemies was to begin (Zech 14: 2-4).
The direction of approach is significant for at least two reasons: (1) Coming to the city from the Mount of Olives is a prophetic and eschatological image, and (2) there were two processions into Jerusalem during the time of passover; one--the procession of the Roman army--came from the west; the other--those with Jesus--came from the east.
The Roman army was coming to maintain order during passover, a time when the population of Jerusalem would swell from around 50,000 to well over 200,000--both conservative estimates. Moreover, passover was a celebration of liberation from Pharoah in Egypt, and Rome was uneasy about the anti-imperial message of this association.
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ 4But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ 5Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
Translation: But a certain person was weak, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and Martha, her sister. And it was Mary who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair whose brother, Lazarus, was weak. Then the sisters sent to him, to say, "Lord, you know who you love is weak." And when Jesus heard, he said, "This weakness is not to death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God might be glorified through it." And Jesus was loving Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Therefore, as he heard that Lazarus was weak, then he remained in which place he was two days.
Background and situation: Prior to the resurrection of Jesus, there are seven "signs" in the fourth gospel. If the number seven is the number of God--the number of completion and wholeness--then the seven signs of the fourth gospel, taken together, give us a complete picture of Jesus. (After Easter, there is an additional sign, the eighth one, which is a sign of the new creation.)
The first sign is the wedding at Cana where Jesus revealed his "glory" and his disciples "faithed" in him. The story of the raising of Lazarus is the seventh "sign." In this seventh "sign," God is "glorified" and the disciples will "faith." Thus, the seven "signs" both begin and end in "glory" and "faith."
Colorado's best political commentator, Mike Littwin, eviscerates Senate candidate Cory Gardner over Gardner's sudden 180 degree shift on the "personhood" amendment. He was for it, then, as soon as he found himself in a state-wide race--a state which rejected "personhood" by 3-1--he got political religion and flip-flopped. Snippet:
Even though Gardner was running for Congress and the issue was on the ballot and it was being widely discussed and he was passing out petitions in support of the personhood amendment and everyone else in Colorado knew what the amendment would do, Gardner says he somehow didn’t understand the bit about contraception.
Now this makes him either not too bright or not too curious or not too honest — and since he is both bright and curious, you can see the difficulty.
As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ 3Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ 6When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7saying to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.
Translation: And passing by, he saw a person blind out of birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinner? This one, or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither this one sinned, nor his parents, but so that the works of God might be made manifest in him. It is necessary for us to work the works of the one who sent me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one is able to work. When I am in the world, I am light of the world." Having said these things, he spat on the ground, and he made mud out of spittle and placed the clay upon the eyes. And he said to him, "Go to wash in the pool of Siloam"--(which is translated, "one who has been sent"). Then he went an washed and came back seeing.
Background and situation: Like the encounters with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, the reading for this week features a lengthy story, typical for the fourth gospel, involving dialog between Jesus and the other primary character. This reading, like those, is lengthy, but unlike them this one has many characters--the man born blind, Jesus, parents, disciples, pharisees, and Judeans!
The story is the sixth of seven "signs" in the fourth gospel, the first being turning water into wine at the wedding of Cana (2:1-11), the seventh being the raising of Lazarus (11:1-45).
It's the rare biography that, after reading it, you actually know less about the person you're reading about than you did before. That's the case with Eric Metaxas' biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Bonhoeffer is entirely misrepresented in Metaxas' book, which he apparently wrote in order to try to steal Bonhoeffer into the American evangelical camp. It's like Metaxas wrote the book with blinders on, seeing only what he had decided in advance he wanted to see.
Bonhoeffer, incidentally, held the relatively common German view that American theology was shallow. His closest friends in America, however, were all mainline pastors and theologians, and he found great vitality in the black church. He taught Sunday School for a time at Abyssinian Baptist in NYC. I can't recall that he said or wrote anything at all about American evangelicals.
When Metaxas' discusses Bonhoefferian theology that would make American evangelicals quesy, such as those in his later writings, he described Bonhoeffer's position poorly and said his thoughts should basically be ignored.
Which is why it is so refreshing this morning to see Scott Paeth utterly dissect and refute Metaxas' abominable book in a post titled Eric Metaxas and the Egregious Misuse of Bonhoeffer.
I could have as easily titled this post "The Egregious Eric Metaxas's misuse of Dietrich Bonhoeffer," because, make no mistake, Metaxas is egregious, and the cottage industry he has cultivated in selling right wing Christian self-righteousness under the banner of comparing their moral sclerosis to the genuine courage and moral risk taken by Dietrich Bonhoeffer is disgusting and offensive. And the fact that he has done it through a biographical hatchet job that has become successful by flattering the delusions of American evangelicals that they are embroiled in a struggle for the soul of America that is in some way equivalent to that of the German Confessing Church just piles offense on offense.
The civil war came six years early in Kansas. From the mid-1850's until the start of the war, Kansas was roiled by brutality from both pro-slavery guerrillas, sometimes known as "border ruffians" from Missouri, and anti-slavery guerrillas as well, such as John Brown. The state became known as "bleeding Kansas."
No one is quite sure of the first use of the word "jayhawk." Whatever its provenance, in the 1850's, the term "jayhawk" became associated with the struggle against slavery.
After the outbreak of the civil war in 1861, one of the anti-slavery guerrillas, Charles "Doc" Jennison, received a command in the newly-formed Kansas militia. He later became colonel of the Seventh Kansas Cavalry which soon became known as the “Independent Mounted Kansas Jayhawkers.” (An 18 year old William Cody, later known as "Buffalo Bill," was one of its first recruits.)
These "jayhawkers" were involved in several skirmishes and raids in western Missouri in the early days of the war. Jennison had the policy that anyone not supporting the union cause would have their property confiscated--and that's if they were lucky.
Jennison's troops were not always careful to distinguish between those who were pro-slavery and and those who were against it. Put another way, their looting was sometimes indiscriminate. This looting came to be called "jayhawking."
Under pressure from the highest ranks of the Army, Major General David Hunter issued General Orders No. 17 in the Department of Kansas on February 5, 1862, declaring marital law in Missouri.
“... the crime of jayhawking shall be put down with a strong hand and by summary process, and for this purpose the trial of all prisoners charged with armed depredations against property or assaults upon life will be conducted before the military commissions ...”
Not everyone, however, considered "jayhawking" in negative terms. In the fall of 1861, for example, Kansas newspaperman, John Speer, encountered wagons of African-Americans on their way from Missouri to free-state stronghold, Lawrence, Kansas. Speer asked if they were runaway slaves and an elderly woman replied they had been taken by “De blessed Kansas Jayhawkers. Dey Jayhawked us!”
Jennison resigned his commission in May, 1862. The following year, pro-slavery guerrilla, William Quantrill, and his raiders sacked the town of Lawrence. Kansas Governor Thomas Carney called on Jennison to raise a regiment of cavalry to protect the border. This regiment became known as the Kansas 15th.
After the war, Jennison was elected to two terms in the Kansas House of Representatives. In 1871, he was elected to the State Senate.
Image: Charles "Doc" Jennison, leader of the Mounted Kansas Jayhawkers
I don't care for his theology much, but, nevertheless, have always had considerable respect for Billy Graham, especially in his later years.
True, Graham was late on civil rights and, at one time, was a rather vigorous anti-semite. He waved the Nixon flag with gusto because he considered Nixon the most righteous of politicians, in his naivete not realizing that Nixon had suckered him from the beginning.
Toward the later years of his life, Graham became more ecumenical, and less divisive. He sought common ground, and became more irenic in his attitude.
His son, Franklin, is more like the early Billy than the late one. He loves him some Vladimir Putin because Putin knows how to bash gay people, unlike that wuss, Pres. Obama.
“Isn’t it sad, though, that America’s own morality has fallen so far that on this issue — protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda — Russia’s standard is higher than our own?”
Oh, that "homosexual agenda"! It has been depressing enough to see our foreign policy revolve around questions of "showing strength" or "showing weakness," as if foreign policy were about the mental world of adolescent boys. Now Putin is a moral guide as well as a bare-chested warrior? The apple fell at least a little ways from the tree when Franklin was born.
So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
Translation: Then he comes into a city of the Samaria named Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to Joseph his son, and Jacob's well was there. Therefore Jesus, wearied by the journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
Background and situation: After the death of King Solomon, the ten northern tribes of Israel, in essence, seceded from the monarchy and formed another nation (922 BC).
They took the name with them. The land of the northern tribes became Israel. It lasted almost exactly 200 years until defeated by the Assyrians in 722 BC.
In order to decrease the possibility of future rebellions, the Assyrians moved some of the people out, and moved others in. Over the course of several generations, the local population that had been allowed to remain had intermarried with various other peoples. The region became known as Samaria.
135 years later, in 587 BC, another power in the region, the Babylonians, conquered the remaining southern kingdom, Judah, and marched its leading citizens off to exile in Babylon. Soon after, the Persians conquered the Babylonians. The Persian leader, Cyrus the Great, allowed the exiles to return to Jerusalem.
The exile had lasted about 50 years. In these intervening 50 years, as Ezra put it, the residents of Samaria had become "the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin"--the two tribes that had constituted the southern kingdom (4:1).
The returning exiles decided to rebuild the Jerusalem temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians. The Samaritans asked to help, but were rebuffed by the Judeans. In a fit of pique, the Samaritans appealed to Cyrus and argued that allowing the building of Jerusalem's temple would inspire religious nationalism among the Judeans. Persia withdrew its support.
The Judeans proceeded with the project anyway. They disregarded the message cancelling support, and, instead, appealed to Cyrus' earlier permission--rather like Robert Kennedy at the time of the Cuban missile crisis who recommended disregarding Khrushchev's second, more hostile, message and appealing to the Soviets on the basis of Khrushchev's earlier, more conciliatory, message. The dispute over the temple set hostilities between Judeans and Samaritans in concrete.
Despite the mix of nationalities in Samaria, the Samaritans considered themselves descendents of the tribes of Ephraim and Manassah. This gave them a direct line to Jacob and Joseph.
Somewhat ironically, the Samaritans actually held to a more conservative form of Israelite religion than did the Judeans. They worshipped Yahweh, preserved a line of Levitical priests, and accepted the Torah as their holy book. (They did not accept the Writings or the Prophets.) Samaritan religion, in other words, turned out not to have been influenced by other religious traditions as much as the Judeans thought they were.
The Judeans, however, considered the Samaritans mongrels and half-breeds, thought their priesthood didn't count, and believed the Samaritan Torah was textually corrupt. The mutual hostility occasionally broke out into violence. In 110 BC, a Judean army destroyed the Samaritan temple on Mt. Gerizim and burned Shechem. The Samaritans, for their part, twice disrupted the passover in Jerusalem (6 BC and 9 BC).
By the time of Jesus, Judeans, if traveling from Judea to Galilee, might cross over to the other side of the Jordan River in order not to set foot in Samaria. That Jesus entered Samaria at all is a significant statement by itself. Moreover, he goes to a town which is heavy-laden with cultural and religious symbolism as evidenced by references to Jacob, Joseph, and Jacob's well.
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews.2He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” 3Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 4Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 5Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’8The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? 11“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Translation: But there was a person out of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Judeans. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you have come from God, a teacher, for no one is able to do these signs which you do except God be with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly I say to you, unless someone be born from above, that one is not able to know the kingdom of God."
Nicodemus said to him, "How is a person able to be born, being old? That one is not able to enter into his mother's womb a second time and be born." Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a person be born out of water and Spirit, that one is not able to enter into the kingdom of God. That having been born of flesh is flesh, and that being born of Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, 'It is necessary for you to be born from above.' The Spirit blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but you have not known from where it comes and where it goes. So it is (with) everyone who has been born out of the Spirit."
Nicodemus answered (and )said to him, "How are these things able to be?" Jesus answered (and) said to him, "You are the teacher of Israel and you do not know these things? Truly, truly I say to you, that what we have known we speak, and what we have seen, we witness, and you do not receive our witness. If I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not trust, how will you trust if I speak to you of heavenly things? And no one has gone up into heaven except the one who came down out of heaven, the son of humanity. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so it is necessary for the son of humanity to be lifted up so that anyone trusting in him might have life eternal. For God so loved the cosmos that he gave the only-begotten son that anyone trusting into him might not perish but might have life eternal, for God did not send the son into the cosmos so that the cosmos might be judged but so that the cosmos might be saved through him."
Background and situation: This story, like several others in the fourth gospel, is primarily addressed to persons living c. AD 90 who were flirting with joining the Johannine community, but were reluctant to come forward publicly and do so. The fourth gospel encouraged them to be bold and embrace the new world of God as it was represented in the Community of the Beloved Disciple. The fourth gospel often addresses its contemporaries and tells them, as we used to say on the farm, "It's time to get the dog off the porch!"
The passage is preceded by the wedding at Cana, where Jesus did "the first of his signs." Following that, the fourth gospel tells the story of Jesus driving out the moneychangers in the Temple during passover. Then follows the narrator's comment that "many believed" because of "the signs that he was doing." Jesus, however, was unimpressed. He "would not entrust himself to them." (2:24-25)
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ 4But he answered, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” ’
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you”, and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” ’ 7Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” ’
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour; 9and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ 10Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.” ’ 11Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.
Translation: Then Jesus was taken up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights. Afterwards, he was hungry. And the tempter came (and) said to him, "If you are son of God, speak that these stones might become loaves of bread." But he answered (and) said, "It has been written: The human being will not live on bread alone, but upon all words going out through a mouth of God.'"
Then the devil takes him into the holy city and stood him upon the pinnacle of the temple, and he said to him, "If you are son of God, throw yourself down, for it has been written: 'He will give his angels command around you' and "Upon the hand he will take you up, when you might not stumble your foot to a stone.' Jesus was saying to him, "Again it has been written: 'You will not tempt the Lord your God'"
Again the devil takes him into an exceedingly high mountain and he shows him all the kingdoms of the cosmos, and their glory, and he said to him, "All these things I will give to you, if you might fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Go away Satan, for it has been written, 'You will worship your God, and you will serve only him.'"
Then the devil releases him, and behold! angels came and were serving him.
Background and situation: The primary source is Mark (1: 12-13), sort of. The text begins and ends in Mark, with Q material in between.
Matthew seems to soften Mark's rather chaotic temptation episode. In Mark, the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness. Matthew, however, has the Spirit "take Jesus up" into the wilderness. In Matthew, Jesus appears fully in control throughout. He fasts for forty days and only afterward is he hungry. Unlike Mark, Matthew has no "wild beasts" with Jesus.
After that, the source is Q, and the proper parallel would be Luke 4: 1-13. Matthew differs from Luke in that where Luke has "forty days," Matthew has "forty days and forty nights."
Matthew makes two connections with Israel here. First, the number 40 recalls the travails of the children of Israel who wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Second, the phrase "forty days and forty nights" recalls Moses (Ex 34:28) who had been on Mt. Sinai for "forty days and forty nights." As he does throughout the book, Matthew presents Jesus as "like Moses, but even beyond Moses."
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves.2And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ 5While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’6When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid.’ 8And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’
Translation: And after six days, Jesus takes alongside Peter and James and his brother John with him and brings them up into a high mountain by themselves. And he was transformed before them and his face shone like the sun, and his garment became white as the light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking together with him. But Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you desire, I will make three tents here--to you, one, to Moses, one, and to Elijah, one. Yet, while he was speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This one is my son, the beloved, in whom I am well-pleased. Hear him." And when the disciples heard, they fell upon their face, and they were struck with great fear. And Jesus came and touched him, saying, "Be raised up and do not be afraid." And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. And as they were coming down out of the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, "You may not speak of the vision to anyone until the son of humanity has been raised out of death."
Background and situation: The primary source is Mark--the parallels are Mark 9: 2-9 and Luke 9: 28-36. Both Matthew and Luke follow Mark fairly closely, but with some "tweaks" and changes. As in Mark, Matthew's account of the Transfiguration follows Jesus' remarks about suffering and cross.
Prior to that, Mark has Peter's confession--"You are the Messiah"--and his subsequent rebuke for not understanding the theology of the cross. Matthew has a similar scene, including a rebuke, but over-all makes Peter look much better than Mark does.
In fact, in Matthew, Jesus gets rather gushy about Peter. Right after Peter makes his confession that Jesus is the "Messiah, the son of the living God," (16:16) Jesus says, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah!...you are Peter, and on this rock,I will build my church...I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven..." (Mt 16: 17-19)
The Metamorphosis: "And he was transformed before them and his face shone like the sun, and his garment became white as the light." Our vision is clouded. "Now we see through a glass darkly," said St. Paul. In the "transfiguration", however, the veil is pulled back for a glimpse of the universe's essential spiritual reality, the centrality of Jesus in the world of light.