Mountain Tabor made true
2nd Sunday of Lent A - St. Augustine, Tamale (GH): Mt 17,1-9
One of the greatest painters of the 20th century was the Russian artist Alexeij Jawlenski, who lived for some years in Germany and died 1941 at Wiesbaden. There in the moment is a big exhibition of his masterpieces. In his later age Jawlenski was very sick. His arms and hands became lame. But Jawlenski didn’t stop painting. Every morning his wife had to bind his hands with a belt and to put his brush between them. And with this method he painted hundreds of pictures. But what pictures! In a first view they all are very similar: A dark border, one stroke of the brush vertical, one horizontal in the upper half of the picture, on endless changing colours in the background. If you contemplate these pictures for a wile, you can make a surprising discovery: The all are images of the human face in a last radical abstraction – made only from a horizontal and a vertical stroke of brush representing a cross and being a metaphor for human being – like shining from inside. Jawlenski himself called these pictures meditations. Specialists today speak about modern icons.
That these simple pictures are able to make such an impression has its reason in their genesis: that a man with the last possibility remaining him in his illness – painting a cross – could make appear faces of such expression and such peace, that people want to rest before them, because they find peace through them for themselves. I think, the icons of Jawlenski are somewhat like an aesthetic commentary about the gospel of the transfiguration of the Lord which we heard even before.
In these pictures you can see how something miraculous is shining out of something what in itself is simply poor. Something like this was the experience of the disciples on the mountain Tabor. Since the beginning of their friendship with Jesus they had seen radiating something fascinating out of him. When he invited them to go with him – and they followed him without hesitation. When people against all what should be expected changed their whole live, like Zachaeus. Or when sick people became healed only through his word and presence. From all this the disciples got the presentiment of a deep mystery in the live of Jesus. And in an our of high intimacy Peter, James and John become able to understand: In all what Jesus says and does God himself is present in such a immediacy that only one word is able to express this proximity: the word ‘son’. This insight of the disciples is so overwhelming as only an insight given by God is able to overwhelm. Therefore Matthew makes speak the voice out of the light cloud – symbol of the presence of the incomprehensible God - with the words: He is my beloved son.
But there is something more. In this moment of their deep insight the disciples see Mose and Elija beside of Jesus. Mose in the bible always represents the divine covenant from the Sinai Mountain and Elija symbolizes God’s struggle for this covenant in the history of the prophets. Between these two symbols the disciples see Jesus. That means: From these two comes light in the mystery of Jesus felt by them. Mose and Elija speak with Jesus. That means: They belong together. He is the centre of Mose and Elija. In his words and doings, in his live will be fulfilled the deepest sense of the covenant and the preaching of the prophets. In him, in Jesus, the original intention of God begins its definite realization.
The disciples in their insight on the mountain feel that. They are embedded in the happiness and brightness of this beginning. Therefore Peter, this sober and pragmatic man, proposes: It’s good to stay here. If you want, we shall make three hats. That means: here we are at home. The disciples had seen for a moment the heaven, the full community of God and humans. And through Jesus this gift is offered to all men and women, who are searching for the real aim of their lives. The acceptation of this gift is realized in trusting the whole life with all its happiness and all its sorrows and troubles in God’s hand.
This possible return of the humans to their God in the real history always new was crossed from human distrust. Crossed so often that one day the question must arise whether God’s intention for us would be a illusion. But to verify that intention against the suspicion to be illusory God himself was coming in the world as one of us to open in a human manner the way for our return in the intimacy with himself.
Therefore the passion and the death of Jesus for Christians are not the end of an illusory dreamer and not the tragic biography of a philanthropic person. Instead his readiness to offer his own life for his message about God has verified his trust in God in the fullest sense which is possible. I shall not be annihilated if I die, because God also holds in his hand the last moment of my life, its end. I trust in him, because, if he is truly God, there can be nothing what would be outside of himself, outside of his reality which in it self is nothing but life. And so the death of Jesus could become the most expressive sign of that everlasting Life that God has prepared just in the beginning of the creation.What radiates on the mountain Tabor in a mysterious way, gets his full clearness at the mountain Golgotha. In the dead of Jesus is revealed the full truth and the meaning of community with God. The transfiguration on the tabor is like the covered inside of the cross. Like in Jawlenski’s icons made under the precondition of powerlessness flashes up the face of the son of men, so in the celebration of the eve of easter this inside of the cross will become uncovered in the lights we will carry in our hands.