No one ever asked me why Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus during the Transfiguration nor did anyone speculate with me about what the great liberator and the great prophet discussed with Jesus during their visit. Luke has them pondering Jesus’ approaching execution and resurrection;” Mark and Matthew don’t say. Of course, I don’t know what the three discussed but what’s always struck me is how different these three people were. With lives encompassing nearly a millennium and a half years of Jewish history, they represented very different experiences of faith. Yet an overriding concern united them. A crisis in God’s process of creating humanity was taking place and all three had dedicated their lives to that process.
Our faith – this may be true of all faiths – runs the danger of thinking that “it’s all about us.” Sometimes we speak loosely of salvation coming only from Jesus. Sometimes we speak of God’s love bathing the earth only from the spigot of our Church. For my entire childhood, we divided the world into Catholics and non-Catholics. It was the Second Vatican Council that finally voiced the growing realization that God’s process of bringing the world to fullness involved all people and every religion, not just ours. That was a hard pill for many to swallow. For many it still is.
A united destiny ties all people together regardless of who or how they worship and even whether or not they worship at all. From our perspective, God works with and within all people regardless of their thoughts about him. After all, none of our concepts of God comes close to capturing The Reality. Our faith knows and admits that even if it rarely talks like it. The ultimate goal isn’t that we develop a perfect theology or single way of speaking of our Creator, it’s that we all to open ourselves totally to the gift of life.
There is so much division among people, so much tension between differing schemes of human advance that we easily lose our common purpose. The image of the very different Moses, Elijah and Jesus engaged in the advancement of their common dream can help keep that purpose before our eyes.