Medieval windows were generally read from the bottom (earth) to the top (heaven) and left to right. The Passion Window at Chartres Cathedral thus begins with an outpouring of light. The image of Jesus’s transfiguration contains six figures and eight rays.
This story, like many which revolve around imminent death, includes visitation of those who have gone before (Moses and Elijah), a bright light (around Jesus and in a cloud), and an incomprehensible force— which evoked fear in those nearby.
Gaze at the top portion of this twelfth-century image. What shapes do you notice? As you think about the most significant symbols of Holy Week, do you see any foreshadowing? (What does the symbolism of the multicolored oval behind Christ suggest? Can you find one or more crosses? How would you represent a sacred power strong enough to change everything?)
The disciples were at first excited, but when a voice boomed from a bright cloud above, they fell to the ground and were “overcome with fear.”
Jesus, whose face had just been shining like the sun, whose clothes had been dazzling white, and who had been affirmed as a beloved, pleasing son, had a very down-to-earth command for these three men, “Get up and don’t be afraid.”
What feelings do you imagine you might have felt and wondered if you were there?
What prayers are in your mind and heart on this Holy Tuesday? Pray them now.
Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. Matthew 17:1 -8 NRSV (See also Mark 9:2-8)
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