The first of a two part reflection on the Transfiguration of Christ.
“In those days, the LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God.” (Exodus 24:12-13)
The first of the Three Old Testament readings for the eve of the Feast of Transfiguration tells of God writing His law on tablets of stone for His chosen people. God was not hoping to create an idol or a sacred relic, rather His intention was to give the people a sense of the permanency of His Law so that they would always be mindful of it. God didn’t write the commandments on a stone tablet so the people could venerate it, but so they wouldn’t forget it. It was to be a sign to them to remember His Word – to permanently engrave it on their hearts.
God was not trying to wed His Word to stone, nor to petrify it. God wrote His Word on stone, but the Word did not become stone as it did become flesh (John 1:14). God did not intend His Word to remain “enstoned” but He chose for the salvation of the world that His Word would be enfleshed for all eternity.
What God planned was that His Word written on the tablets of stone was to keep His people mindful of their relationship to God. The Word was not to remain on the stone tablets but was to enter into the hearts and minds of His people. “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:4-6). God did not want His Word to remain on the tablet of stone; He wanted it written in our hearts. And He certainly didn’t want our hearts to turn to stone by having His Word written on them! Thus says the Lord: “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances” (Ezekiel 36:26-27; 11:19-20). These words were fulfilled in Christ: ” you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:3).
The Word of God became flesh to heal our hardened, broken, sick and sinful hearts – to make them truly human, as God intended for humans to be from the beginning. He came to transfigure and transform our hearts into fruitful gardens for the Lord. He came into the world to unite God to humanity again, and to give humans a heart of flesh in which the Word can dwell.