Christian Movies and Saints
The study groups take a break during the summer from homework and enjoy movies with a Christian theme or about a saint.
You are invited to join us for one, two, three or all of the movies.
Times: Monday 9:30 - 11:30 am
Monday 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Where: East Meeting Room off the lower level of the church.
Listings will be right here.
August 21: Confessions of a Prodigal Son
Wisdom: God's Vision For lifeIn this program, you will:
Begins September 11 and ends October 30
Offered Mondays from 9:30 - 11:30 am or 6:30 - 8:30 pm and Tuesdays 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Cost - $20.00
RSVP to Barb Woods at 515-210-6649, hopefully by August 15.
Historical Cultural Context
Feast of the Transfiguration
of the Lord
August 6, 2017
John J. Pilch
Reading I: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
Responsorial Psalm: 97:1-2, 5-6, 9
Reading II: 2 Peter 1:16-19
Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9
TransfigurationThroughout his Gospel, Matthew is intent upon presenting Jesus as a Moses-like figure. Here Jesus’ face shines like Moses’ did (Ex 34:29-30). Moses is named before Elijah.
Scholars agree that it is impossible to say exactly what “really” happened in this event in Jesus’ ministry. Mediterranean culture, however offers some helpful insights.
(1) Honor, the main Mediterranean cultural value. Jesus’ demonstrated power over demons gave him a solid claim to honor in his culture. This ability stood in contrast to his known origins. Remember Nathanael’s sarcastic question to Philip: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (Jn 1:46).
(2) Power and shame. Jesus’ power over demons also placed him in jeopardy. No one ever denied the reality of this power (Mt 13:54), but many leaders wondered about the source of Jesus’ authority (Mt 21:23). Some concluded that he was in cahoots with the devil (Mt 9:34).
If Jesus does not possess legitimate power and authority; then he is arrogating to himself something to which he has no right. This is very shameful.
(3) Power and politics. To complicate matters; power belongs to the realm of politics. In the Gospels, Jesus’ healings and exorcisms are viewed by all—friend and foe alike—as political activities. This is the concern behind the puzzlement in Mt 21:23. Unapproved political activities could lead to death.
Jesus will come at the end to judge that Church according to the new or better righteousness that he taught.
Jesus was not unaware of these potential consequences of his ministry. He told his disciples that “he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Mt 16:21). Fully accepting the risk of his ministry, Jesus was also convinced that God would grant him ultimate, honorable vindication. He would be raised by God! What an honor!
Jesus will come at the end to judge that Church according to the new or better righteousness that he taught. Only Matthew refers to this experience as a vision (Mt 17:9), but this is a most important piece of information. Modem psychological anthropology points out that alternative states of consciousness like visions and dreams are normal human experiences common to the majority of the world’s cultures. Cultures in which these are not so common, like the contemporary United States, are the ones to be explained.
In Matthew’s lifetime, many actual and potential Mediterranean believers in Jesus were troubled by his shameful death. If this man’s life and ministry were pleasing to God, why did it seem that God abandoned him?
Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus as another Moses shows that God no more abandoned Jesus than he abandoned Moses. Matthew exhorts his Church to stand under the Lordship of the risen Lord who is a second Moses and lawgiver to his Church. Jesus will come at the end to judge that Church according to the new or better righteousness that he taught, just like Moses, on a mountain (see Mt 5-7, especially Mt 5:1, 20).
What does the transfiguration story say to contemporary Western believers? In his honor and shame culture, Jesus maintained steadfast trust in God no matter how shameful his life experiences appeared. To a large degree, he had no other choice in his culture. But his faith and trust paid off: God restored honor to him in a way that no human ever could have.
In our very different culture, where self-reliance is highly valued, it is equally challenging to trust in God, especially when we feel we are fully in control of our life and destiny. Would that the behavior of all believers in every culture would merit divine approval: “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
John J. Pilch