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The Easter Mystery and Moses

Posted By February 26, 2015 | 4:40 pm | Commentary

By Father Paul Tougas

Lent always gives us  the theophany event of the Transfiguration. This year, year B, gives us Mark. This mystery focuses of the transformation of Jesus into some other-worldly figure. The inclusion of the historic prophets, long dead, Elijah and Moses is startling and they are mostly ignored by preachers. Mark tells us what these prophetic figures were doing: “They were conversing with Jesus.” A simple conversation among the three of them!
The theophany brings Moses, the ancient lawgiver whom we long ago left buried in the desert (Deuteronomy), very much into the New Testament. In fact, Moses is mentioned or cited 80 times in the New Testament more than any other figure; Moses the lawgiver and Elijah the prophet. But Moses is also a prophet.
Just a few weeks ago in a reading from Deuteronomy (Deut. 34:6)  we found the following: “Moses spoke to all the people saying: A prophet like me the Lord your God will raise up for you from among your own kin; to him you shall listen.”
The Gospel reading for the same Sunday placed Jesus in the Synagogue where he was accepted “as one acting with authority.” He was also confronted by a demon. It was his first wonder work in Mark’s Gospel.
Now jumping to the Resurrection stories in Luke, Luke tells us the following. It is the Emmaus story, Luke 24:27, “then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.” A few verses later, in Jesus’s last instruction to the apostolic band, Jesus says, “This is what I meant when I said, when I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses, in the prophets and in  the psalms was destined to be fulfilled. Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures.” Lk 24: 44, 45.
Moses prophesied another like him would be raised up from their kin. The transfiguration event unites Jesus and Moses (with Elijah) and, even more remarkably, the Risen Christ includes the person of Moses in his role as teacher as he teaches (the Apostolic band – the Church) how to understand and interpret the scriptures. As was said above, this happens twice in Luke. The Resurrection figures in to the Transfiguration event also because Jesus orders the disciples not to discuss the event until “the Son of Man has risen from the dead.”
The apostle Paul also argues from Moses and, like Luke, takes Moses to be the first and greatest prophet, arguing in two places in Acts that Moses pointed to Christ, Acts 26:22 and 28: 23.

Father Tougas is a retired pastor in the Diocese of Worcester.