A reflection on 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 for Transfiguration Sunday, February 27, 2022.
Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practise cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God.
2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 (NRSVA)
Once again, we have a passage pointing to veils – and their removal.
Perhaps it is only someone with Paul’s background that can get away with such a bold statement about the veil that separates those who give themselves to the reading of the Torah and its deeper meaning. After all, Paul is well versed in the Law of Moses. He has studied under leading Pharisees. He was expected to be one of their finest.
Even so, Paul’s claim here is bold and offensive. Only a turning to ‘the Lord’ can help anyone see. And yet it is the vision of a humble, suffering, crucified, and risen Christ that truly transforms. It is this radical pivot from God as cosmic strongman to God as broken and healed that invites us into a world of transformation.
This perspective change, however, is anything but reason to arrogance or pride. Paul goes out of his way – no doubt out of necessity – to insist that this transformation does not arise from within us but from the ‘God’s mercy’.
This is where we find our confidence – not in a hiding of who we were, are, or of who God is making us to be. On the contrary, ours is an open, unashamed declaration of God’s surprising mercy.
May your life unveil this God of mercy – without compromise.
How does you life declare the mercy of God?