Sunday’s gospel takes us to a mountaintop for a God’s-eye view of things to come in the life of Jesus and his companions. In everyday life a mountain often symbolizes a struggle. We contend with mountains of paperwork. The demands of work and struggles against serious illness are uphill battles. Americans seeking professional or social achievement climb the ladder of success. People who are poor work to climb out of poverty.
On the mount of transfiguration, Jesus and his disciples experience neither success or vision but an overshadowing cloud. However, this is no ordinary cloud shielding them with its shadow from bright sun and providing coolness in the heat. This is the shekinah (sheh-KI-nah), the cloud of God’s presence that accompanied the people of Israel in the desert – the cloud that rested over the tent of meeting where Israel kept the tablets of its covenant with God, a cloud that is luminous by day and fiery by night.
This excerpt from Sunday by Sunday is by Joan Mitchell, CSJ