My son, Ignatius just got a pile of kid’s science books. They are awesome. I immediately tried to convince him that he wanted to read all of them. I didn’t win him over, but he did find his interest piqued by the ‘sun and moon’ book (Eclipses). After reading it (during which Bess continually sang “A Total Eclipse of the Heart”) I felt like an accomplished father doing all I can to teach my son that the sun isn’t gone forever during an eclipse. Imagine my surprise when the book came rushing back to me as I sat and read today’s Gospel.
Before I connect science for three-year-olds to the Transfiguration I want to call our attention to the other readings the Church offers us today. Don’t miss the intentionality behind their selection. Now, on to other pursuits!
The connection that struck me regarding Jesus and eclipses is that the Transfiguration is like a reverse eclipse. Instead of the moon moving in front of the sun, the moon is getting out of the way and the sun is being revealed, or rather the Son is being revealed. In many ways we struggle with Christ’s identity as fully human and fully God because we wonder “if God is so much bigger than humanity, why isn’t Christ’s divinity more self-evident?” This question is not far from the one posed in my son’s book, “The sun is 400 times bigger than the moon. So how can the moon cover it?” Just as the sun is eclipsed by the moon’s closeness, so too Christ’s humanity eclipses his divinity. He comes so close to us that we don’t always see him as he is.
Why does God allow himself to be eclipsed? Is this God enforcing distance between us? No, rather a closing of the gap and drawing us close for God’s similarity to the sun is not that both are far away, but that both are too bright for unaided eyes. God was always close, but the Lord eclipsed himself to aid our eyes so we could look upon him. For God is a brilliant mystery. However, God’s mystery is one of light not of darkness. He is hidden in a grand brightness beyond our ability to pierce, not lurking in the shadows like a thief.
The eclipse has not ended. Christ tells us clearly that He will continue to approach us behind the shadow of humanity. In the same way that the moon “wears” the sun’s crown during a solar eclipse, try to see the Son’s crown on those you interact with this week.