“Never look directly at the sun” is good advice. Even though it is 150 million kilometres away, it is so bright that looking at it briefly with unprotected eyes can cause damage to our sight. Harmfully bright light is our theme for the day as we consider the Transfiguration of Jesus. God’s glory is also too bright to be looked at unprotected. When Moses meets God, his brief time in God’s presence makes his face shine brightly as it reflects God’s glory. In order to protect others, Moses has to wear a veil as it would be harmful for them to see this light directly. We also get a glimpse of this light during the Transfiguration of Jesus. There, Jesus does not change who He is, but rather God allows the disciples to clearly see God’s glory fully in Jesus
In our reading today, Paul is having to defend his ministry to the Corinthians. It seems the complaint against him is that he is too easily understood! While it is a novel complaint, it makes sense that the sophisticated people of Corinth would struggle to understand that God could be revealed to them in such a straightforward way. Paul has to explain that the people in Moses’ day were not righteous and could not look upon God’s glory directly. The veil that Moses had to wear prevented them from harm also prevented them from seeing God’s glory. Now, thanks to Jesus, the Corinthians have been declared righteous and have the veil removed so they can see God clearly. This enables them to understand what Paul is saying.
It’s the same for us. Through Jesus we have been restored to a right relationship with God and are able to see God’s glory reflected in Jesus. We are able to understand the meaning of scripture and see where it is pointing us. But Paul reminds us this is only the beginning of the process. As we encounter God’s glory, we are changed by it and our lives then begin to reflect God’s glory through how we live. This allows others to see God’s glory reflected in us. Over time, we are changed until ultimately we will reflect God’s glory as fully as Jesus did. It may take a lifetime but that is the future that awaits us. Therefore, living as disciples of Jesus is not meant to benefit only us but everyone else. If we live as disciples, people can look directly at the Son and see, perhaps for the first time, how life is meant to be.