In Exodus, Moses returns from the encounter with God on the holy mountain, carrying the ten commandments. The people are afraid of Moses because his face shines with the glory of God. He learns to place a veil over his face when he speaks with the people, but removes the veil when he goes to speak with God.
Luke’s Gospel tells us the story of Jesus, who on the mountain with a few of his disciples, begins to shine with the glory of God. The disciples are afraid when a cloud (God’s glory) overshadows them and they hear for themselves the voice of God, calling them to listen to Jesus.
Speaking to the Church in Corinth, Paul uses the image of the veil worn by Moses differently from the original context. He now sees the Jews of his day as veiled and unable to see glory when they read the law of Moses. He declares a greater glory has come to those who are given freedom from legalism by the Spirit of God. Christians now can see the Lord (Jesus) with unveiled faces and discover that they begin to be changed by this glory.
Comment: God’s glory upsets us. The appearance of angel messengers induces fear in men and women when they bring a message from the Divine being. Glory points to a reality so beyond us that it undoes us. Everything we stand on – our abilities, our accomplishments, our sense of self – pales in comparison to this radiant life and being! Our vulnerability as temporary creatures of dust is vividly revealed. But God veils the glory of the divine being in the flesh of Jesus his Son so that we might look upon him, listen to him, and receive from him this very life and being that we fear. God’s glory that undoes me is the same glory that loves me and gives me a new kind of life!