Readings & Reflections with Cardinal Tagle’s Video: Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord A, August 6,2017
Christ’s Tabor radiance is a kind of mirror in which we glimpse the glory that God wills to give his friends. The resplendence of the Transfiguration reveals the fullness of life destined to be ours. The Transfiguration invites us to configuration. As we peer into the glory that pours from every pore of the transfigured Christ, we cast off everything unworthy of our personal relationship with the Infinite, and we take on the luster of the Son of God. Jesus gazes back at us with a luminous look of love that makes us desire to live his transparent beauty – to be luminaries. Silently from Tabor’s splendor, the Savior begs: “Become what you behold!”
“Lord, draw me near to you and let me see your glory. Lord transform me and may I never doubt your love and saving help.” We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18). In Jesus’ Mighty Name, I pray. Amen.
Dn 7:9-10, 13-14 – His clothing was snow bright.
As I watched:
Thrones were set up
and the Ancient One took his throne.
His clothing was bright as snow,
and the hair on his head as white as wool;
his throne was flames of fire,
with wheels of burning fire.
A surging stream of fire
flowed out from where he sat;
Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him,
and myriads upon myriads attended him.
The court was convened and the books were opened.
As the visions during the night continued, I saw:
One like a Son of man coming,
on the clouds of heaven;
When he reached the Ancient One
and was presented before him,
The one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship;
all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not be taken away,
his kingship shall not be destroyed.
The word of the Lord.
Ps 97:1-2, 5-6, 9
R. (1a and 9a) The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.
The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many islands be glad.
Clouds and darkness are round about him,
justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.
R. The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the LORD of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
R. The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.
Because you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth,
exalted far above all gods.
R. The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.
2 Pt 1:16-19 – We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven.
We did not follow cleverly devised myths
when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.
For he received honor and glory from God the Father
when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory,
“This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven
while we were with him on the holy mountain.
Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable.
You will do well to be attentive to it,
as to a lamp shining in a dark place,
until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
The word of the Lord.
Gospel MT 17:1-9 – His face shone like the sun.
Bishop Robert Barron’s Homily: Transfiguration and Deification click below:
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
“Rise, and do not be afraid.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.
As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
“Do not tell the vision to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Reflection 1 – Majestic voice
Dr. Scott Hahn’s reflection click below:
High on the holy mountain in today’s Gospel, the true identity of Jesus is fully revealed in His transfiguration.
Standing between Moses and the prophet Elijah, Jesus is the bridge that joins the Law of Moses to the prophets and psalms (see Luke 24:24-27). As Moses did, Jesus climbs a mountain with three named friends and beholds God’s glory in a cloud (see Exodus 24:1,9,15). As Elijah did, He hears God’s voice on the mountain (see 1 Kings 19:8-19).
Elijah was prophesied to return as the herald of the messiah and the Lord’s new covenant (see Malachi 3:1,23-24). Jesus is revealed today as that messiah. By His death and resurrection, which He intimates today to the apostles, He makes a new covenant with all creation.
The majestic voice declares Jesus to be God’s own beloved Son, in whom the Father is well pleased (see Psalm 2:7). God here gives us a glimpse of His inner life. In the cloud of the Holy Spirit, the Father reveals His love for the Son, and invites us to share in that love, as His beloved sons and daughters.
Shadowed by the clouds of heaven, His clothes dazzling white, Jesus is the Son of Man whom Daniel foresees being enthroned in today’s First Reading.
He is the king, the Lord of all the earth, as we sing in today’s Psalm. But is He truly the Lord of our hearts and minds?
The last word God speaks from heaven today is a command — “Listen to Him” (see Deuteronomy 18:15-19). The word of the Lord should be like a lamp shining in the darkness of our days, as Peter tells us in today’s First Reading.
How well are we listening? Do we attend to His word each day?
Reflection 2 – Do you accept your sufferings for the sake of the Kingdom of God?“
Why is it so hard for Catholics to get excited about their faith? What has to change my life? Love give us hope that change is possible. Man cannot fully find himself unless he fully gives of himself (GS 24). We need to embrace/hug the cross in order to embrace glory! We need to walk the talk! It is only after Good Friday that we have Easter Sunday! Therefore, be open/listen, be obedient, be humble, be ready to serve. Let us deny ourselves something every day to help others.
This Sunday is the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (Mt 17:1-9) on a high mountain before his chosen three witnesses: Peter, James and John. Jesus’ face and clothes become dazzling with light, and Moses and Elijah appear, speaking “of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. A shining cloud covers him and a voice from heaven says, “This is my Son, my Chosen; Listen to Him.’” This transfiguration of Jesus shows forth the Trinity: “the Father in the voice, the Son in the man Jesus, the Spirit in the shining cloud” (St. Thomas Aquinas). The purpose of this revelation is to strengthen the Apostles’ faith in anticipation of his Passion: suffering and death – the ascent onto high “mountain” prepares for the ascent to Calvary. His transfiguration is the sacrament of the second regeneration: our own resurrection whereas Jesus’ baptism proclaimed “the mystery of the first regeneration,” namely our baptism. His transfiguration gives us the foretaste of Christ’s resurrection and his glorious coming which “change our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil 3:21). But we must have to undergo through sufferings or persecutions to enter the Kingdom of God.
Peter did not yet understand this when he wanted to remain with Christ on the mountain. For us today the Lord Jesus challenges us, “Go down to toil on earth, to serve on earth, to be scorned and crucified on earth.” Jesus came down to toil, serve, to be scorned, to suffer and to be crucified. Pope Francis said, “Jesus transfigured on Mount Tabor wished to show His disciples His glory not to avoid their passing through the cross, but to indicate where the cross leads to. One who dies with Christ, will rise with Christ. And the cross is the door of the Resurrection. One who fights with Him, will triumph with Him. This is the message of hope contained in Christ’s Cross, exhorting to fortitude in our existence. The Christian Cross is not a furnishing of the home or an ornament to wear, but the Christian cross is an appeal to the love with which Jesus sacrificed Himself to save humanity from evil and from sin.” The saints had followed the Lord Jesus and one of them was Saint Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila. When government officials asked him: “If we grant you, your life, will you renounce your faith?” Lorenzo responded: “That I will never do, because I am a Christian, and I shall die for God, and for him I will give many thousands of lives if I had them. And so, do with me as you please.” How about you? Do you accept your sufferings or persecutions for the sake of the Kingdom of God, or do you seek the escape? For more interesting discussion on the glory of resurrection: the wonder of our future life click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2017/06/28/the-glory-of-the-resurrection-the-wonder-of-our-future-life/
Reflection 3 – The story of the transfiguration
The story of the transfiguration brings into my heart glimpses I have of the fullness and greatness of God. However, amidst my brokenness and my sinfulness, there are a lot of times when I feel low and spiritually dry. I feel so detached from our Lord that I find it quite difficult to see the great things I have in our God.
These are the times when my circumstances in life are bathed with darkness that to get myself out of such state, I have to reminisce and re-live the good times and the high moments I have with our Lord, the times when I felt His loving embrace, His compassion and understanding, the time when He renewed my life and literally picked me up from the gutter and brought me a new life in the Spirit.
God is good all the time. He turned me from a deserter into a believer and an obedient follower. He gave me the grace to go back and start life anew and live up to the expectations of being baptized in His Name. He made sure that I was able set aside my conventional ideas about Him and empowered me to slowly detach myself from my self-centeredness so that I could live more and more for Him, through Him and in Him.
This new life I received from our God meant following in Christ’s steps and taking up my Cross to bring His kingdom of love, healing and compassion to the world. It meant giving up the comfort of my very private life as I worked in His vineyard. It meant living by a certain standard of discipleship and giving more and more of myself into His service. God continues to transform my broken and sinful being. As I continue to open my heart to Him slowly but surely, He is slowly changing me into what I should be and not into what I want myself to be.
Today, as I ask our Heavenly Father, “why do it?” He responds to me and says: “This is My Son, my Beloved. Listen to Him.” As I try to listen and be one with our Lord Jesus, there are times when trials and opposition from all sides come into my life. The only thing that mattered and kept me spiritually alive was my faith that God loves me despite the kind of person that I am. What kept me going was my internal desire to always be with Him, in contemplation and prayer.
God is always on my side that is why I trust that our Lord will heal me of all the hurts and bad feelings that have plagued my heart. God made me and loves me the way I am. Whenever love of others and even love of self cannot seem to work, it is only God’s love that prevails. It is only God’s love that has kept me whole!
“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us, who will condemn? Christ Jesus it is who died–or, rather, was raised–who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.”
I exalt God and thank Him for all that he has been in my life. As I remain faithful to Him He has made sure that I will be transformed and changed in order that I may be able to do a little humble work for Him. As God is total goodness and love, He restores every person, life or situation. And this He has slowly but faithfully brought to me and my loved ones. My thankful heart can only say to God indeed, “Lord, it is good that we are here” for with You we have been fully blessed!
Let us all make it a practice to pray to God and ask Him what we must do to leave behind our old and sinful lives, to find our new life with Him and become the blessing that He has envisioned us to be.
Let us stand firm as we await the return of our savior Lord Jesus Christ. “He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.”
Let us move forward and follow God’s plan for us, as Abram did. He said: “Go you forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you “I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.”
Let us give our life to our Lord totally and without reserve. He will bless us and transform us into His likeness. Prayer should always be part of our daily lives.
O LORD, I am your servant. You have loosed my bonds and have set me free. To You will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving and I will call upon your Name forever! Amen.
Reflection 4 – Taste of Heaven
Reflection 5 – The mystery of the Transfiguration
Jesus often referred to himself as the Son of Man. In doing so, he refers to Daniel’s vision, which we read in the first reading. The Ancient One is the Father, the Son of Man is the only-begotten Son of God. In his heavenly vision, Daniel sees the Son receive dominion, glory and kingship from the Father. This same divine kingship is announced by Jesus at the beginning of his public life, for it was the Father’s will that Christ inaugurate the kingdom of heaven on earth. Ultimately, the Father’s will is to raise up men and women to share in his own divine life. He does this by gathering men and women around his Son Jesus Christ. “This gathering is the Church, ‘on earth the seed and beginning of that kingdom’” (CCC, 541).
On the one hand, the Transfiguration is a confirmation of Peter’s confession of faith that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God (Matthew 16:16). On the other, it teaches the disciples that Jesus will gather people around him above all through his death on the Cross and through his Resurrection. In this way he accomplishes the coming of the Kingdom: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (CCC, 542).
The mystery of the Transfiguration, then, is a manifestation, an unveiling, of the glory that the Son receives from the Father. Both Moses and Elijah saw God’s glory on the mountain and they were privileged, during the Transfiguration, to see the glory of the Son. Just as Moses brought three men up the mountain covered by the glory of God and the cloud (Exodus 24:9-18), Jesus brings three Apostles with him to witness his glory. Moses, we are told, brought Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and seventy elders of Israel up the mountain. There, they beheld God and ate and drank on the mountain as a conclusion to covenant just established. After six days, on the seventh day, a voice called out to Moses from the cloud (Exodus 24:16). We are not told what God said. The narration of the Transfiguration also makes reference to a period of six days, and a voice that speaks from the bright cloud. This time we are told that it is the voice of the Father and are told what he said: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him”.
The six days could also be a reference to the Feast of Tabernacles. Peter confesses Jesus’ divinity on the Day of Atonement in Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13-20), and the Apostles travel south for six days and reach Mount Tabor. The Transfiguration would have taken place, then, on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. During the Feast the people of Israel recalled the time of Israel in the desert; they did this by living in tents. The people also looked forward to the age of the Messiah, when the just will dwell in tents (Zechariah 14:16).
So, when Peter wants to make three tents – one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah – he is recognizing the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles: the Messianic age has come. “It is only as they go down from the mountain that Peter has to learn once again that the messianic age is first and foremost the age of the Cross and that the Transfiguration – the experience of becoming light from and with the Lord – requires us to be burned by the light of the Passion and so transformed” (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, vol. 1, 315).
Moses and Elijah appear on the mountain and speak to Jesus about his exodus, his departure, that he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. Once again, the Transfiguration is a revelation that the way to glory passes through the Cross. The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he ‘will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body’. But it also recalls that ‘it is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God’ (CCC, 556). On Tabor, light pours forth from Jesus; on Calvary, blood pours forth (E. Leiva-Merikakis, Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word, Ignatius Press, 564)
Jesus’ Transfiguration is also connected to his Baptism in the Jordan. He was baptized on the threshold of his public life; he was transfigured on the threshold of his Passover. “Jesus’ baptism proclaimed ‘the mystery of the first regeneration’, namely, our Baptism; the Transfiguration ‘is the sacrament of the second regeneration’: our own Resurrection” (CCC, 556).
The Transfiguration is a central mystery of Christ’s life. John tells us that in the Incarnation, the Word of God pitched his tent among us, fulfilling what was celebrated (God’s protection in the desert) and longed for (the age of the Messiah) in the Feast of Tabernacles. The Transfiguration recalls the old covenant of Sinai and looks forward to the New Covenant. It confirms Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah, but also reveals that the Messiah saves us through the exodus of the Cross. It looks back to Jesus’ Baptism and looks forward to Jesus’ Resurrection. It is a manifestation of the glory that the Son received eternally from the Father, but also looks forward to the glory he will receive through his Passion, Death and Resurrection, and is a foretaste of the glory of his second coming. It unveils the hidden glory of the Son in his first coming and looks forward to the glory we will receive from the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. – Read the source text: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/daily-homily-the-mystery-of-the-transfiguration
Reflection 6 – Listen to my beloved Son
Are you prepared to see the glory of the Lord and to share in his glory as well? The Lord Jesus is eager to share his glory with us! We get a glimpse of this when some of the disciples see Jesus transfigured in glory on a high mountain. [In many churches of the east and west this event is celebrated as a major feast on August 6.] Jesus often went to a lonely place to pray – to seek solitude and sanctuary away from the crowds. But on this occasion, Jesus’ face became radiant like the sun and his clothing became dazzling white (Matthew 17: 2 and Luke 9:29).
This vision of radiant light and glory is prefigured in the prophecy of Daniel. In chapter 7 of the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament we see a vision of the “Son of Man who came with the clouds of heaven” and was presented before the royal court of heaven and the “Ancient of Days” who is clothed in a radiant garment “white as snow” (Daniel 7:9,13). The prophet Daniel foretold that God would send his Anointed One, the Son of Man who would come on the clouds of heaven to bring God’s reign of glory and righteousness on the earth (see Daniel 7:13-15). Daniel’s vision describes a royal investiture of a human king before God’s throne. The Son of Man is a Messianic title for God’s anointed King, the Lord Jesus Christ. The New Testament word for “Messiah” is “Christ” which literally means the “Anointed One” or the “Anointed King”. God sent us his Son not to establish an earthly kingdom but to bring us into his heavenly kingdom – a kingdom ruled by truth, justice, peace, and holiness. The kingdom of God is the central theme of Jesus’ mission. It’s the core of his Gospel message.
The Lord Jesus came to fulfill all that Moses and the prophets spoke
Jesus on three occasions told his disciples that he would undergo suffering and death on a cross to fulfill the mission the Father gave him. As the time draws near for Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the cross, he takes three of his beloved disciples to the top of a high mountain. Just as Moses and Elijah were led to the mountain of God to discern their ultimate call and mission, so Jesus now appears with Moses and Elijah on the highest mountain overlooking the summit of the promised land. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that Jesus was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light (Matthew 17:2).
Jesus reveals his glory to the apostles and to us
Why did Jesus appear in dazzling light with Moses and Elijah? The book of Exodus tells us that when Moses had met with God on Mount Sinai the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God (Exodus 34:29). Paul the Apostle wrote that the Israelites could not look at Moses’ face because of its brightness (2 Corinthians 3:7). After Elijah, the greatest of the prophets, had destroyed all the priests and idols of Baal in the land, he took refuge on the mountain of God at Sinai. There God showed Elijah his glory in great thunder, whirlwind, and fire, and then spoke with him in a still quiet voice. God questioned Elijah, “What are you doing here?” And then directed him to go and fulfill the mission given him by God. Jesus, likewise, appears in glory with Moses and Elijah, as if to confirm with them that he, too, is ready to fulfill the mission which the Father has sent him to accomplish.
Jesus went to the mountain knowing full well what awaited him in Jerusalem – betrayal, rejection, and crucifixion. Jesus very likely discussed this momentous decision to go to the cross with Moses and Elijah. God the Father also spoke with Jesus and gave his approval: This is my beloved Son; listen to him. The Father glorified his son because he was faithful and willing to obey him in everything. The cloud which overshadowed Jesus and his apostles fulfilled the dream of the Jews that when the Messiah came the cloud of God’s presence would fill the temple again (see Exodus 16:10, 19:9, 33:9; 1 Kings 8:10; 2 Maccabees 2:8).
Christ’s way to glory
The Lord Jesus not only wants us to see his glory – he wants to share this glory with us. And Jesus shows us the way to the Father’s glory – follow me – obey my words. Take the path I have chosen for you and you will receive the blessing of my Father’s kingdom – your name, too, will be written in heaven. Jesus fulfilled his mission on Calvary where he died for our sins so that Paradise and everlasting life would be restored to us. He embraced the cross to win a crown of glory – a crown that awaits each one of us, if we, too, will follow in his footsteps.
Origen (185-254 AD), a noted early church bible scholar and teacher, explains the significance of Jesus’ transfiguration for our own lives:
“Do you wish to see the transfiguration of Jesus? Behold with me the Jesus of the Gospels. Let him be simply apprehended. There he is beheld both “according to the flesh” and at the same time in his true divinity. He is beheld in the form of God according to our capacity for knowledge. This is how he was beheld by those who went up upon the lofty mountain to be apart with him. Meanwhile those who do not go up the mountain can still behold his works and hear his words, which are uplifting. It is before those who go up that Jesus is transfigured, and not to those below. When he is transfigured, his face shines as the sun, that he may be manifested to the children of light, who have put off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. They are no longer the children of darkness or night but have become the children of day. They walk honestly as in the day. Being manifested, he will shine to them not simply as the sun but as he is demonstrated to be, the sun of righteousness.” (Commentary on Matthew)
Luke’s Gospel tells us that while Jesus was transfigured, Peter, James, and John were asleep (Luke 9:32)! Upon awakening they discovered Jesus in glory along with Moses and Elijah. How much do we miss of God’s glory and action because we are asleep spiritually? There are many things which can keep our minds asleep to the things of God: Mental lethargy and the “unexamined life” can keep us from thinking things through and facing our doubts and questions. The life of ease can also hinder us from considering the challenging or disturbing demands of Christ. Prejudice can make us blind to something new the Lord may have for us. Even sorrow can be a block until we can see past it to the glory of God.
We are partakers of his glory
Are you spiritually awake? Peter, James, and John were privileged witnesses of the glory of Christ. We, too, as disciples of Jesus Christ are called to be witnesses of his glory. We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). The Lord wants to reveal his glory to us, his beloved disciples. Do you seek his presence with faith and reverence?
“Lord Jesus, keep me always alert to you, to your word, your action, and your constant presence in my life. Let me see your glory.” – Read the source: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/aug6.htm
Reflection 7 – The Gospel story of the Transfiguration
“It’s an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride.” “Twice the action, and twice the excitement, of the original.” “Monumental, mesmerizing and spellbinding.” “The action sequences will leave you breathless, gasping for more!” Summer is the season for action movies, and this year is no exception. The war is on for the “Planet of the Apes,” “Wonder Woman” tries to stop a world war, and “Spiderman” is coming home.
Lest the Church get left behind, she makes sure to share a blockbuster story with us as well. Actually, two stories—the dream of the prophet Daniel, and the Gospel story of the Transfiguration. Both are filled with as much action, adventure, and special effects as any big screen blockbuster.
The First Reading contains the least gory, and most hopeful part of the dream of the prophet Daniel. The section we hear today regards the victory of the Ancient One, and the one like the Son of Man. “Son of Man” is a title Jesus will take for himself, especially when he makes reference to his Second Coming. Daniel dreamed of four beasts (a lion with eagle’s wings, a bear, a leopard, and a beast with ten horns). They symbolized four kingdoms that would oppose the heavenly kingdom. Ultimately, the heavenly kingdom will win; the first three kingdoms lose their power, and the fourth is thrown into a great fire (that part about the great fire is left out of our reading so that the Church can keep her “G”-rating).
But the main feature, so to speak, is the Transfiguration. “Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.” Mountains have an important role in salvation history. On Mount Sinai, God entrusted Moses with the Ten Commandments, and detailed the way the Israelites were to worship. In the life of our Lord, mountains are the scenes of temptation, great preaching, agony, and ultimately his death on the Cross. When a Gospel event takes place on a mountain, you know something is going to happen. So when it is said that Jesus took Peter, James, and John up a “high mountain” you know something spectacular is going to occur.
“While he was praying, his face changed in appearance, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah . . .” Here, Christ’s Godly nature is revealed. Jesus is the fulfillment of all the prophets. Jesus is the new Moses, who will give his people a new commandment, and lead his people to the ultimate Promised Land.
We say that Jesus was “transfigured.” Not that he was” transformed.” Nothing changed, but everything was revealed. As his disciples, we are not transfigured, but transformed. We are not yet who we are called to be. We are people in need of transformation and conversion, to become who we were created to be.
Everything we do as a Church, every brick in this building, every class that is taught, every prayer that is prayed, every Mass that is offered is ordered towards one thing—our transformation. Jesus is the “beloved Son” of the Father. “In his Son, and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and, thus, heirs of his blessed life.” (CCC 1) Through baptism, we become “sons in the Son,” children of God, disciples of Jesus Christ. And we are to listen to him.
If there is one transformation that demands almost constant attention, it is the transformation of our eyesight. Not our physical eyesight, but our spiritual eyesight. “And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.” Elijah and Moses had disappeared. They only see Jesus in his human appearance.
It is understood that Jesus shared this experience with Peter, James, and John to strengthen them for the future. Right after the transfiguration, Jesus gives Simon a new name, and a great mission, entrusting him with the “keys of the kingdom.” He foretells his own suffering and death, as well as revealing that his disciples also must take up their crosses if they are to follow him.
This is another gift of the Transfiguration—the gift of seeing our difficulties, not as failures, but as crosses. Without the eyes of faith, our losses and suffering can only be seen as failures, bad luck, or bad karma. With the eyes of faith, we find purpose and meaning in everything, including our losses and suffering. We recall this event for the same reason Jesus chose to reveal his true identity to Peter, James, and John. Because it offers us the hope and assurance we need to remain faithful, and remain in the Church until death.
The event of the Transfiguration is shared with us for the times in our lives when we are afraid—afraid of what lies in our future: for the times we are unsure; for the times we doubt God’s ability to work in our lives; and for the times when we wish to avoid the cross. The Gospel is not a cleverly devised myth. The message shared with us is reliable and true. (c.f. 2 Pt 1:16, 19)
Peter says, “Lord, it is good that we are here.” It is good that we are here to listen to the story of the Transfiguration—to share in an event that, for Peter, James and John, had to be more monumental, mesmerizing, and spellbinding than any summer blockbuster. To be given the assurance, consolation, and hope that through the acceptance of our crosses, we will find transformation here on earth, and on the other side of death. – Read the source: http://www.hprweb.com/2017/07/homilies-for-august-2017/
Reflection 8 – The size of a soul
The Gospel today, focused on the Transfiguration, reveals the truth about Jesus — and us.
It all starts when Jesus takes Peter, John and James up Mount Tabor. As they watch, “he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.” They are witnessing the true glory of Jesus Christ, who is God and man. But from this we can also learn the true glory of human beings, who are both body and soul, says St. Thomas Aquinas. “At his transfiguration, Christ showed his disciples the splendor of his beauty, to which he will shape and color those who are his,” he wrote. “He will reform the body of our lowness configured to the body of his glory.”
All of the readings today are meant to remind us that we are called to something much greater than our current state. In the first reading, God tells Abram to leave his homeland and go to a land God will give him — and “I will make of you a great nation. … All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.”
St. Paul, in the second reading, celebrates “Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.”
If we are to be immortal in Christ and “a great nation” for God, than we are great indeed.
And this is precisely why care for our souls is so important — and so difficult.
Today’s Gospel starts to explain.
First, it shows Jesus visited by Moses and Elijah.
The two figures have a lot in common, says St. John Chrysostom: They both spoke on behalf of the faithless, they both faced down tyrants, and they both led people away from idolatry; neither was eloquent, and both were poor.
In other words, they both saw the true importance and grandeur of the human person — and both responded with extreme humility.
The apostles are invited to do the same. “This is my beloved Son of whom I am well pleased. Listen to him,” says the Father. They heard the same advice from Jesus’ mother, Mary: “Do whatever he tells you.”
In a way, they are like Abram, being given a great promise and invited on a great journey, where they will “Bear our share of the hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God,” as St. Paul puts it.
It is a journey into the places that need to be conformed to God — including in our own souls. – (Source: Tom Hoopes http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/the-size-of-a-soul)
Reflection 9 – The Transfiguration of the Lord is within you
Atop Mount Tabor in Israel is where the pure light of Christ — the uncreated light of his true identity — was first revealed to the world. Not at his birth, not at his baptism, nor as he preached and healed. Although the Light of the World came to us in those momentous events, it was not revealed so clearly, so powerfully, so dramatically as when he let Peter, John, and James witness it on the mountaintop, as seen in today’s Gospel passage.
The highest experience of faith was, and still is what happens when the Father says, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” The transfiguration of Christ occurs again and again every time we listen to him and our faith is enlightened. It happens every time we have a breakthrough from blindness to understanding, from sinfulness to holiness, from doubt to trust. However, now we are transfigured with Jesus!
Whenever we let his uncreated light consume the darkness within us, the people around us see Christ’s true identity in us. We shine with him. Therefore, it’s vitally important that we give Jesus the areas of darkness that still linger within us and let him expose the truth in his light. By repenting (which means we change), we’re transformed into our true identity. What is our true identity? It’s our innermost being that was created in the image of God. It’s our sainthood!
Listen. Can you hear God’s voice saying about you what he said about Jesus on Mount Tabor? “This is my beloved child; listen to him/her.” He is saying this to others as you do the work to which he’s called you. Some folks will hear him, some won’t, but our yes to his calling is not based on how many people will heed his voice. We serve God because we have been transfigured. Our holiness impels us to go where we can do the greatest good.
Questions for Personal Reflection:
What sins do you still try to hide or deny? Why are you afraid to let Jesus shine his light into these areas of darkness? Are you afraid he’ll stop loving you? What do you do that reveals your sainthood?
Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
Describe a time when you listened to Jesus and the truth you learned from him transformed you. How did it help you become a true child of God more fully? How did it reveal your true identity more accurately? – Read the source: http://gnm.org/good-news-reflections/?useDrDate=2017-08-05
Reflection 10 – The transfiguration of Christ and our transfiguration.
Today, the Gospel presents the event of the Transfiguration when “Jesus took Peter, James and John with him, and carried them away, on a high mountain “(Mt 17: 1) to pray (Lk 9, 28). While praying, Christ shone and revealed to the chosen disciples himself to be light, an ineffable light, and that the greatest prophets were with him.
God is light, and Jesus gives his closest friends the experience of this light that dwells in him. After this event, He will be their inner light, able to protect them from the assaults of darkness. Even in the darkest night, Jesus is the lamp that never goes out. Saint Augustine sums up this mystery with a beautiful expression. He says: “What for the eyes of the body is the sun we see, (Christ) is for the eyes of the heart “(Sermo 78, 2: PL 38,490).
On Mount Tabor, the mountain on which Christ ascends to pray, the Son of God made man shows that prayer is the thing that “provokes” the splendid vision of what He is and of what we are intended to be. While Christ’s divine-human truth is manifested, a transfiguration of the disciples occurs too: “It is in fact the transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ, but it is above all the one of the disciples who saw it, a transfiguration that was for them a certain vision of the Divinity, an image of the future world, a prelude of the glorious coming of the Lord “(Gregory Palamas).
To us in prayer -like to the three Apostles of about two thousand years ago on Mount Tabor, the mount off prayer- Jesus is transfigured, shining and beautiful. Also to us, witnesses chosen by his love, the Lord manifests his glory, and the body which He shares with the rest of the humanity, enlighten him with such glow that his face shines like the sun and his clothes become as white as snow.
It is important that we also go up with the Son of God, the Beloved, on the mountain to pray. The mountain in the Bible represents the place of closeness to God and of the intimate encounter with Him. It is the place of prayer, where to stand in the presence of the Lord. Let us also go up with Christ on the “mount” of prayer, to contemplate on his human face the glorious light of God. Let us go up with Christ on the mountain to find ourselves in Christ and listen to Him, because it is in the place closer to God that we are given the space of silence where to better perceive his voice.
This going up to meet God does not cut us off the earth, rather it pushes us to “Get up to the mountain” and “come back” down to the plain where we meet our sisters and brothers burden by labor, illness, injustice, ignorance and material and spiritual poverty. To these brothers and sisters in trouble, we are called to bring the fruits of the experience we have had with God, sharing the grace received and the word we heard”(Pope Francis).
This word is a sound loaded with a presence to be received with devotion and love. The Father’s invitation is very important: “This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him” (Mt 17: 6). We, disciples of Jesus today, are called to be people who listen to his voice and take his words seriously.
2) Origin and destiny.
At this point, I think that it is useful to remind that the main purpose of the Transfiguration was and is to allow the hearts of the disciples (and our hearts) not to be shocked when the Cross disfigures the humanity of Christ. This manifestation of light and truth is necessary so that the humiliation of the imminent voluntary passion of Christ does not upset the faith of those to whom he had been revealing the greatness of his hidden dignity. It is not a coincidence that the story of the Transfiguration is placed by the Gospel during the ascension of Jesus to Jerusalem, in the context of his passion announced to the disciples. This is well understood by the liturgy of the Eastern Church, which in the Kondakion (liturgical poetic-musical liturgical text) sings: “The disciples, according to their ability, contemplated your glory, Lord, so that in the hour of the cross they understood that your passion was voluntary. “St. Gregory of Nazianzus saw rightly in the Transfiguration the synthesis of the Gospel, the announcement of the Paschal Mystery made in front of the Church, depicted by Peter, James and John, and before the Old Testament, the Law (represented by Moses) and the prophets (represented by Elijah) appeared to share the glory of the Son of God.
It should also be remembered that the Transfiguration is the foundation of the hope of the Church. In fact “the whole Mystical Body of Christ became aware of the transformation that was reserved to him, and the members could be intended to participate in the glory they view shining in the head (Saint Leo Magnus, Sermo LI, 2-3, 5-8: PL 54, 310-313). The Transfiguration is a central mystery in the Christian faith, a revelation of resurrection, and the prophecy of the transfiguration of each flesh, of each one of us, in God. Jesus on Mount Tabor, the mountain of the prayer, shows who he is and that he “took that splendor out of his own nature; he did not need to pray for the divine light to shine on his body but praying did nothing else than indicate his origin and our destiny: the splendor of God that brightens and sustains with the light of his face, as it is said in the Gospel: ‘The just shall shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father’”(Mt 13,43) (Saint Ambrose of Milan).
Amazed by the joy of the transfiguration of the Son of God and ours, it comes to us spontaneously to exclaim like St. Peter: “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish I will make here three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah “(Mt 17: 4). But listening to Christ who manifests God’s love, we shell understand that it makes no sense to prepare a terrestrial tent for the one who lives in the heavens. The Redeemer did not come to have a house on earth. He did not want even to have a stone on which to lay his head. He did not come to live on earth in a house built by us but to take us in the dwelling that He has prepared for us up there. “It’s great for us to stay here.” Of course, it is nice to stay with Christ on the mountain, but it will be far more beautiful to go where we will be truly happy in the eternal home. If this momentary joy is beautiful, let think how much more beautiful will be eternal happiness. If it makes happy to see the humanity of Christ briefly dressed in glory, let us imagine how great will be the joy that will bring our soul into the eternal contemplation of the eternal Love that will keeps us forever in his arms.
However, before that, as Christ has suffered for us, we too must suffer for Him. It is really necessary that, descending from the mountain we become companions in his passion so that afterwards we can be part of his glory. There, in the eternal tents, he will each greet each of us and the many we love. There, not three tents, one for Christ, one for Moses is one for the prophets, are prepared but only one tent, for the Father, for the Son, and for the Holy Spirit. This tent will be ourselves. “God will be all in all” (1 Cor 15:28) when, as we read in the Revelation: “The abode of God shall be with men, and they shall be his people, and he shall be the God-with -them “(Acts 21: 3). Because we are baptized we are already this home, this Temple of the Holy Spirit. To live this divine abode let’s look at the prophetic testimony of the consecrated virgins. These women with their consecration have fully welcomed Christ, abandoning themselves totally to Him and relying on the power of His love. They never cease to welcome Him into theirs life, listening to prayer and serving Him among their brothers and sisters in humanity. These consecrated witness that the Transfiguration is not an event that comes to a certain moment of existence, after death. In f act,from the moment in which one person adheres to Jesus, this adhesion becomes a constant transformation. The more we welcome his love, the more we are transformed from glory into glory, that is, we make more visible the love received and communicate it to others.
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430)
On the words of the gospel, Mt 17,1 “After six days Jesus taketh with Him Peter, and James, and John his brother,” etc.
1). We must now look into and treat of that vision which the Lord showed on the mount. For it is this of which He had said, “Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man in His Kingdom.”1 Then began the passage which has just been read. “When He had said this, after six days He took three disciples, Peter, and James, and John, and went up into a mountain.”2 These three were those” some,” of whom He had said, “There be some here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man in His kingdom.” There is no small difficulty here. For that mount was not the whole extent of His kingdom.3 What is a mountain to Him who possesseth the heavens? Which we not only read He doth, but in some sort see it with the eyes of the heart. He calleth that His kingdom, which in many places He calleth the “kingdom of heaven.” Now the kingdom of heaven is the kingdom of the saints. “For the heavens declare the glory of God.”4 And of these heavens it is immediately said in the Psalm, “There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their sound is gone out through all the earth, and their words unto the end of the world.”5 Whose words, but of the heavens? And of the Apostles, and all faithful preachers of the word of God. These heavens therefore shall reign together with Him who made the heavens. Now consider what was done, that this might be made manifest.
- The Lord Jesus Himself shone bright as the sun; His raiment became white as the snow; and Moses and Elias talked with Him.6 Jesus Himself indeed shone as the sun, signifying that “He is the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”7 What this sun is to the eyes of the flesh, that is He to the eyes of the heart; and what that is to the flesh of men, that is He to their hearts. Now His raiment is His Church. For if the raiment be not held together by him who puts it on, it will fall off. Of this raiment, Paul was as it were a sort of last border. For he says himself, “I am the least of the Apostles.”8 And in another place, “I am the last of the Apostles.”
Now in a garment the border is the last and least part. Wherefore as that woman which suffered from an issue of blood, when she had touched the Lord’s border was made whole,9 so the Church which came from out of the Gentiles, was made whole by the preaching of Paul. What wonder if the Church is signified by white raiment, when you hear the Prophet Isaiah saying, “Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow”?10 Moses and Elias, that is, the Law and the Prophets, what avail they, except they converse with the Lord? Except they give witness to the Lord, who would read the Law or the Prophets? Marc how briefly the Apostle expresses this; “For by the Law is the knowledge of sin; but now the righteousness of God without the Law is manifested:” behold the sun; “being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,”11 behold the shining of the Sun.
- Peter sees this, and as a man savouring the things of men says, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.”12 He had been wearied with the multitude, he had found now the mountain’s solitude; there he had Christ the Bread of the soul. What! should he depart thence again to travail and pains, possessed of a holy love to Godward, and thereby of a good conversation? He wished well for himself; and so he added, “If Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.” To this the Lord made no answer; but notwithstanding Peter was answered. “For while he yet spake, a bright cloud came, and overshadowed them.”13 He desired three tabernacles; the heavenly answer showed him that we have One, which human judgment desired to divide. Christ, the Word of God, the Word of God in the Law, the Word in the Prophets. Why, Peter, dost thou seek to divide them? It were more fitting for thee to join them. Thou seekest three; understand that they are but One.
- As the cloud then overshadowed them, and in a way made one tabernacle for them, “a voice also sounded out of the cloud, which said, This is My beloved Son.” Moses was there; Elias was there; yet it was not said, “These are My beloved sons.” For the Only Son is one thing; adopted sons another. He was singled out14 in whom the Law and the prophets glorified. “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear Him!” Because ye have heard Him in the Prophets, and ye have heard Him in the Law. And where have ye not heard Him? “When they heard this, they fell” to the earth. See then in the Church is exhibited to us the Kingdom of God. Here is the Lord, here the Law and the Prophets; but the Lord as the Lord; the Law in Moses, Prophecy in Elias; only they as servants and as ministers. They as vessels: He as the fountain: Moses and the Prophets spake, and wrote; but when they poured out, they were filled from Him.
- But the Lord stretched out His hand, and raised them as they lay. And then “they saw no man, save Jesus only.”15 What does this mean? When the Apostle was being read, you heard, “For now we see through a glass darkly,but then face to face.”16 And “tongues shall cease,” when that which we now hope for and believe shall come. In then that they fell to the earth, they signified that we die, for it was said to the flesh, “Earth thou art, and unto earth shalt thou return.”17 But when the Lord raised them up, He signified the resurrection. After the resurrection, what is the Law to thee? what Prophecy? Therefore neither Moses nor Elias is seen. He only remaineth to thee, “Who in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”18 He remaineth to thee, “that God may be all in all.” Moses will be there; but now no more the Law. We shall see Elias there too; but now no more the Prophet. For the Law and the Prophets have only given witness to Christ, that it behoved Him to suffer, and to rise again from the dead the third day, and to enter into His glory. And in this glory is fulfilled what He hath promised to them that love Him, “He that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him.”19 And as if it were said, What wilt Thou give him, seeing Thou wilt love him? “And I will manifest Myself unto him.” Great gift! great promise! God doth not reserve for thee as a reward anything of His own, but Himself. O thou covetous one; why doth not what Christ promiseth suffice thee? Thou dost seem to thyself to be rich; yet if thou have not God, what hast thou? Another is poor, yet if he hath God, what hath he not?
- Come down, Peter: thou wast desiring to rest on the mount; come down, “preach the word, be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”20 Endure, labour hard, bear thy measure of torture; that thou mayest possess what is meant by the white raiment of the Lord, through the brightness and the beauty of an upright labouring in charity. For when the Apostle was being read we heard in praise of charity, “She seeketh not her own.21 She seeketh not her own;” since she gives what she possesses. In another place there is more danger in the expression, if you do not understand it right. For the Apostle, charging the faithful members of Christ after this rule of charity, says, “Let no man seek his own, but another’s.”22 For on hearing this, covetousness is ready with its deceits, that in a matter of business under pretence of seeking another’s, it may defraud a man, and so, “seek not his own, but another’s.” But let covetousness restrain itself, let justice come forth; so let us hear and understand. It is to charity that it is said, “Let no man seek his own, but another’s.” Now, O thou covetous one, if thou wilt still resist, and twist the precept rather to this point, that thou shouldest covet what is another’s; then lose what is thine own. But as I know thee weIl, thou dost wish to have both thine own and another’s. Thou wilt commit fraud that thou mayest have what is another’s; submit then to robbery that thou mayest lose thine own. Thou dost not wish to seek thine own, but then thou takest away what is another’s. Now this if thou do, thou doest not well. Hear and listen, thou covetous one: the Apostle explains to thee in another place more clearly this that he said, “Let no man seek his own, but another’s.” He says of himself, “Not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”23 This Peter understood not yet when he desired to live on the mount with Christ. He was reserving this for thee, Peter, after death. But now He saith Himself, “Come down, to labour in the earth; in the earth to serve, to be despised, and crucified in the earth. The Life came down, that He might be slain; the Bread came down, that He might hunger; the Way came down, that life might be wearied in the way; the Fountain came down, that He might thirst; and dost thou refuse to labour? ‘Seek not thine own.’Have charity, preach the truth; so shall thou come to eternity, where thou shalt find security.”
1 (Mt 16,28
2 (Mt 17,1 Lc 9,28
3 Reguum comprehensum.
4 (Ps 19,1
5 (Ps 19,3-4.
6 (Mt 17,2-3.
7 (Jn 1,9
8 (1Co 15,9
9 (Mc 5,34
10 (Is 1,18
11 (Rm 3,20-21.
12 (Mt 17,4
13 (Mt 17,5).
15 (Mt 17,7-8.
16 (1Co 13,12
17 (Gn 3,19 Sept.
18 (Jn 1,1
19 (Jn 14,21
20 (2Tm 4,2
21 (1Co 13,5
22 (1Co 10,24
23 (1Co 10,33). – Read the source: https://zenit.org/articles/transfixed-by-joy/‘
Reflection 11 – ‘The Event Offers Us a Message of Hope: It Invites Us to Encounter Jesus, to Be at the Service of Brethren’
This Sunday the liturgy celebrates the feast of the Lord’s Transfiguration. Today’s Gospel tells us that the Apostles Peter, James and John were witnesses of this extraordinary event. Jesus took them with Him “and led them up a high mountain by themselves” (Matthew 17:1) and, while He was praying, His face changed in aspect, shining like the sun, and His garments became white as light. Then Moses and Elijah appeared, talking with Him. At this point, Peter said to Jesus: “Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” (v. 4). He hadn’t finished speaking when a bright cloud overshadowed them.
The event of the Lord’s Transfiguration offers us a message of hope – we will be like this, with Him –: it invites us to encounter Jesus, to be at the service of brethren.
The disciples’ ascent of Mount Tabor induces us to reflect on the importance of being detached from worldly things, to undertake the way on high and contemplate Jesus. It’s about disposing ourselves to an attentive and prayerful listening of Christ, the Beloved Son of the Father, seeking intimate moments of prayer, which make possible the docile and joyful reception of the Word of God. In this spiritual ascent, in this detachment from worldly things, we are called to rediscover the peaceful and regenerating silence of meditation of the Gospel, of the reading of the Gospel, which leads to a rich goal of beauty, splendor and joy. And when we do this, with the bible in hand, in silence, we begin to feel this inner beauty, this joy that the Word of God generates in us. In this perspective, summertime is a providential moment to grow in our commitment to seek and encounter the Lord. In this period, students are free from school commitments and many families take their vacations; it is important that, during the period of rest and detachment from daily occupations, the strength of body and soul can be restored, deepening the spiritual journey.
At the end of the wonderful experience of the Transfiguration, the disciples came down from the mountain (Cf. v. 9) with transfigured eyes and heart from the encounter with the Lord. It is the way that we can also undertake. The ever more alive rediscovery of Jesus is not an end in itself but induces us to “come down from the mountain,” recharged with the strength of the Divine Spirit, to take new steps of genuine conversion and to witness charity constantly, as law of daily life. Transformed by the presence of Christ and the ardour of His word, we will be a concrete sign of the vivifying love of God for all our brethren, especially those that suffer, all those that find themselves in solitude and abandonment, the sick and the multitude of men and women that, in various parts of the world, are humiliated by injustice, arrogance and violence.
Heard in the Transfiguration is the voice of the Father who says: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!” (v. 5). We look at Mary, Listening Virgin, always ready to receive and keep in her heart every word of her divine Son (Cf. Luke 1:51). May our Mother and Mother of God help us to be attuned to the Word of God, so that Christ becomes the light and guide of our whole life. We entrust to her everyone’s vacation; may it be serene and profitable, but especially the summer of those that can’t have a vacation because of impediments of age, health or work reasons, financial restrictions and other problems, so that it is, in any case, a time of relaxation, gladdened by the presence of friends and happy moments. – Source: Pope Francis https://zenit.org/articles/angelus-address-on-the-feast-of-the-transfiguration/
Reflection 12 – Transfiguration of the Lord
All three Synoptic Gospels tell the story of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-9; Luke 9:28-36). With remarkable agreement, all three place the event shortly after Peter’s confession of faith that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus’ first prediction of his passion and death. Peter’s eagerness to erect tents or booths on the spot suggests it occurred during the Jewish weeklong, fall Feast of Booths.
In spite of the texts’ agreement, it is difficult to reconstruct the disciples’ experience, according to Scripture scholars, because the Gospels draw heavily on Old Testament descriptions of the Sinai encounter with God and prophetic visions of the Son of Man. Certainly Peter, James and John had a glimpse of Jesus’ divinity strong enough to strike fear into their hearts. Such an experience defies description, so they drew on familiar religious language to describe it. And certainly Jesus warned them that his glory and his suffering were to be inextricably connected—a theme John highlights throughout his Gospel.
Tradition names Mt. Tabor as the site of the revelation. A church first raised there in the fourth century was dedicated on August 6. A feast in honor of the Transfiguration was celebrated in the Eastern Church from about that time. Western observance began in some localities about the eighth century.
On July 22, 1456, Crusaders defeated the Turks at Belgrade. News of the victory reached Rome on August 6, and Pope Callistus III placed the feast on the Roman calendar the following year.
One of the Transfiguration accounts is read on the second Sunday of Lent each year, proclaiming Christ’s divinity to catechumens and baptized alike. The Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent, by contrast, is the story of the temptation in the desert—affirmation of Jesus’ humanity. The two distinct but inseparable natures of the Lord were a subject of much theological argument at the beginning of the Church’s history; it remains hard for believers to grasp.
“At his Transfiguration Christ showed his disciples the splendor of his beauty, to which he will shape and color those who are his: ‘He will reform our lowness configured to the body of his glory’” (Philippians 3:21) (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae).
Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1099
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|Events in the|
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|Portals: Christianity Bible Book:Life of Jesus|
The Transfiguration of Jesus is an event reported in the New Testament when Jesus is transfigured and becomes radiant in glory upon a mountain (Lee 2004, pp. 21–33); (Lockyer 1988, p. 213). The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 17:1–9, Mark 9:2–8, Luke 9:28–36) describe it, and 2 Peter 1:16–18 refers to it (Lee 2004, pp. 21–33): it has also been hypothesized that the Gospel of John alludes to it in John 1:14 (Lee 2004, p. 103). Peter, James, John, Jesus, Moses, and Elijah were on the mount of transfiguration.
In these accounts, Jesus and three of his apostles, Peter, James and John, go to a mountain (the Mount of Transfiguration) to pray. On the mountain, Jesus begins to shine with bright rays of light. Then the prophets Moses and Elijah appear next to him and he speaks with them. Jesus is then called “Son” by a voice in the sky, assumed to be God the Father, as in theBaptism of Jesus (Lee 2004, pp. 21–33).
- 2New Testament accounts
- 4Location of the mountain
- 5Feast and commemorations
- 6Gallery of images
- 7See also
- 8Notes and references
- 9External links
The Transfiguration is one of the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels.(Lockyer 1988, p. 213)(Clowes 1817, p. 167)(Rutter 1803, p. 450) This miracle is unique among others that appear in the Canonical gospels, in that the miracle happens to Jesus himself.(Barth 2004, p. 478) Thomas Aquinas considered the Transfiguration “the greatest miracle” in that it complemented baptism and showed the perfection of life in Heaven.(Healy 2003, p. 100) The Transfiguration is one of the five major milestones in the gospel narrative of the life of Jesus, the others being Baptism, Crucifixion, Resurrection, andAscension.(Moule 1982, p. 63)(Guroian 2010, p. 28) In 2002, Pope John Paul II introduced the Luminous Mysteries in theRosary, which includes the Transfiguration.
In Christian teachings, the Transfiguration is a pivotal moment, and the setting on the mountain is presented as the point where human nature meets God: the meeting place for the temporal and the eternal, with Jesus himself as the connecting point, acting as the bridge between heaven and earth.(Lee 2004, p. 2) Moreover, Christians consider the Transfiguration to fulfill an Old Testament messianic prophecy that Elijah would return again after his ascension (Malachi 4:5-6). Gardner (2015, p. 218) states
The very last of the writing prophets, Malachi, promised a return of Elijah to hold out hope for repentance before judgment (Mal. 4:5-6). … Elijah himself would reappear in the Transfiguration. There he would appear alongside Moses as a representative of all the prophets who looked forward to the coming of the Messiah (Matt. 17:2-9; Mark 9:2-10; Luke 9:28-36). … Christ’s redemptive sacrifice was the purpose for which Elijah had ministered whole on earth. … And it was the goal about which Elijah spoke to Jesus in the Transfiguration.
New Testament accounts
“This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” — Mark 9:7
In the synoptic gospels, (Matthew 17:1–9, Mark 9:2–8, Luke 9:28–36) the account of the transfiguration happens towards the middle of the narrative.(Harding & Nobbs 2010, pp. 281–282) It is a key episode and almost immediately follows another important element, the Confession of Peter: “you are the Christ” (Matthew 16:16, Mark 8:29, Luke 9:20).(Lee 2004, pp. 21–33) The Transfiguration narrative acts as a further revelation of the identity of Jesus as the Son of Godto some of his disciples.(Lee 2004, pp. 21–33)(Harding & Nobbs 2010, pp. 281–282)
In the gospels, Jesus takes Peter, James, son of Zebedee and his brother John the Apostle with him and goes up to a mountain, which is not named. Once on the mountain, Matthew 17:2 states that Jesus “was transfigured before them; his face shining as the sun, and his garments became white as the light.” At that point the prophets Elijah and Moses appear and Jesus begins to talk to them.(Lee 2004, pp. 21–33) Luke states that they spoke of Jesus’ exodus (εξοδον) which he was about to accomplish inJerusalem.(Lk 9:31) Luke is also specific in describing Jesus in a state of glory, with Luke 9:32 referring to “they saw His glory”.(Lee 2004, pp. 72–76)
Just as Elijah and Moses begin to depart from the scene, Peter begins to ask Jesus if the disciples should make three tents for him and the two prophets. This has been interpreted as Peter’s attempt to keep the prophets there longer.(Lee 2004, pp. 72–76) But before Peter can finish, a bright cloud appears, and a voice from the cloud states: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him”. The disciples then fall to the ground in fear, but Jesus approaches and touches them, telling them not to be afraid. When the disciples look up, they no longer see Elijah or Moses.(Lee 2004, pp. 21–33)
When Jesus and the three apostles are going back down the mountain, Jesus tells them to not tell anyone “the things they had seen” until the “Son of Man” has risen from the dead. The apostles are described as questioning among themselves as to what Jesus meant by “risen from the dead”.(Hare 1996, p. 104)
In addition to the principal account given in the synoptic gospels; in 2 Peter 1:16–18, the Apostle Peter describes himself as an eyewitness “of his magnificence.”
Elsewhere in the New Testament, Paul the Apostle‘s reference in 2 Corinthians 3:18 to the “transformation of believers” via “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord” became the theological basis for considering the Transfiguration as the basis for processes which lead the faithful to the knowledge of God.(Chafer 1993, p. 86)(Majerník, Ponessa & Manhardt 2005, p. 121)
Although Matthew 17 lists the disciple John as being present during the Transfiguration, the Gospel of John has no account of it.(Andreopoulos 2005, pp. 43–44)(Carson 1991, pp. 92–94)(Walvoord & Zuck 1985, p. 268) This has resulted in debate among scholars, some suggesting doubts about the authorship of the Gospel of John, others providing explanations for it.(Andreopoulos 2005, pp. 43–44)(Carson 1991, pp. 92–94) One explanation (that goes back to Eusebius of Caesarea in the fourth century) is that John wrote his gospel not to overlap with the synoptic gospels, but to supplement it, and hence did not include all of their narrative.(Andreopoulos 2005, pp. 43–44) Others believe that the Gospel of John does in fact allude to the Transfiguration, in John 1:14.(Lee 2004, p. 103) This is not the only incident not present in the fourth gospel, and the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper is another key example, indicating that the inclusion of material in the fourth gospel was selective.(Carson 1991, pp. 92–94) The general explanation is thus the Gospel of John was written thematically, to suit his theological purposes, and has a less narrative style than the synoptics.(Andreopoulos 2005, pp. 43–44)(Carson 1991, pp. 92–94)(Walvoord & Zuck 1985, p. 268)
Christian theology assigns a great deal of significance to the Transfiguration, based on multiple elements of the narrative. In Christian teachings, the Transfiguration is a pivotal moment, and the setting on the mountain is presented as the point where human nature meets God: the meeting place for the temporal and the eternal, with Jesus himself as the connecting point, acting as the bridge between heaven and earth.(Lee 2004, p. 2)
The Transfiguration not only supports the identity of Jesus as the Son of God (as in his Baptism), but the statement “listen to him”, identifies him as the messenger and mouth-piece of God.(Andreopoulos 2005, pp. 47–49) The significance of this identification is enhanced by the presence of Elijah and Moses, for it indicates to the apostles that Jesus is the voice of God “par excellence”, and instead of Elijah or Moses, he should be listened to, surpassing the laws of Moses by virtue of his filial relationship with God.(Andreopoulos 2005, pp. 47–49) 2 Peter 1:16–18, echoes the same message: at the Transfiguration God assigns to Jesus a special “honor and glory” and it is the turning point at which God exalts Jesus above all other powers in creation, and positions him as ruler and judge.(Evans 2005, pp. 319–320)
The Transfiguration also echoes the teaching by Jesus (as in Matthew 22:32) that God is not “the God of the dead, but of the living”. Although Moses had died and Elijah had been taken up to heaven centuries before (as in 2 Kings 2:11), they now live in the presence of the Son of God, implying that the same return to life can apply to all who face death and have faith.(Poe 1996, p. 166)
The theology of the Transfiguration received the attention of the Church Fathers since the very early days. In the 2nd century, Saint Irenaeus was fascinated by the Transfiguration and wrote: “the glory of God is a live human being and a truly human life is the vision of God”.(Louth 2003, pp. 228–234)
Origen‘s theology of the Transfiguration influenced the patristic tradition and became a basis for theological writings by others.(Andreopoulos 2005, pp. 60–65) Among other issues, given the instruction to the apostles to keep silent about what they had seen until the Resurrection, Origen commented that the glorified states of the Transfiguration and the Resurrection must be related.(Andreopoulos 2005, pp. 60–65)
The Desert Fathers emphasized the light of the ascetic experience, and related it to the light of the Transfiguration – a theme developed further by Evagrius Ponticus in the 4th century.(Andreopoulos 2005, pp. 60–65) Around the same time Saint Gregory of Nyssa and later Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite were developing a “theology of light” which then influenced Byzantinemeditative and mystical traditions such as the Tabor light and theoria.(Andreopoulos 2005, pp. 60–65) The iconography of the Transfiguration continued to develop in this time period, and there is a sixth-century symbolic representation in the apse of theBasilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classeand a well known depiction at Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai in Egypt.(Baggley 2000, pp. 58–60)
Byzantine Fathers often relied on highly visual metaphors in their writings, indicating that they may have been influenced by the established iconography.(Andreopoulos 2005, pp. 67–69) The extensive writings of Maximus the Confessor may have been shaped by his contemplations on thekatholikon at Saint Catherine’s Monastery – not a unique case of a theological idea appearing in icons long before it appears in writings.(Andreopoulos 2005, pp. 67–81)
In the 7th century, Saint Maximus the Confessor said that the senses of the apostles were transfigured to enable them to perceive the true glory of Christ. In the same vein, building on 2 Corinthians 3:18, by the end of the 13th century the concept of “transfiguration of the believer” had stabilized and Saint Gregory Palamas considered “true knowledge of God” to be a transfiguration of man by the Spirit of God.(Palamas 1983, p. 14) The spiritual transfiguration of the believer then continued to remain a theme for achieving a closer union with God.(Majerník, Ponessa & Manhardt 2005, p. 121)(Wiersbe 2007, p. 167)
One of the generalizations of Christian belief has been that the Eastern Church emphasizes the Transfiguration while the Western Church focuses on the Crucifixion – however, in practice both branches continue to attach significance to both events, although specific nuances continue to persist.(Poe 1996, p. 177) An example of such a nuance is the saintly signs of the Imitation of Christ. Unlike Catholic saints such as Padre Pio or Francis (who considered stigmata a sign of the imitation of Christ) Eastern Orthodox saints have never reported stigmata, but saints such as Seraphim and Silouanhave reported being transfigured by an inward light of grace.(Brown 2012, p. 39)(Langan 1998, p. 139)
Transfiguration and Resurrection
Origen‘s initial connection of the Transfiguration with the Resurrection continued to influence theological thought long thereafter.(Andreopoulos 2005, pp. 60–65) This connection continued to develop both within the theological and iconographic dimensions – which however, often influenced each other. Between the 6th and 9th centuries the iconography of the transfiguration in the East influenced the iconography of the resurrection, at times depicting various figures standing next to a glorified Christ.(Andreopoulos 2005, pp. 161–167)
This was not only a view within the Eastern Church and in the West, most commentators in the Middle Agesconsidered the Transfiguration a preview of the glorified body of Christ following his Resurrection.(Thunø 2002, pp. 141–143) As an example, in the 8th century, in his sermon on the Transfiguration, the Benedictine monk Ambrosius Autpertus directly linked the Supper at Emmaus appearance in Luke 24:39 to the Transfiguration narrative of Matthew 17:2, and stated that in both cases, Jesus “was changed to a different form, not of nature, but of glory.”(Thunø 2002, pp. 141–143)
The concept of the Transfiguration as a preview and an anticipation of the Resurrection includes several theological components.(Edwards 2002, pp. 272–274) On one hand it cautions the disciples, and hence the reader, that the glory of the Transfiguration, and the message of Jesus, can only be understood in the context of his death and resurrection, and not simply on its own.(Edwards 2002, pp. 272–274)(Garland 2001, pp. 182–184)
When the Transfiguration is considered an anticipation of the Resurrection, the presentation of a shining Jesus on the mount of Transfiguration as the Son of God who should be listened to can be understood in the context of the statement by Jesus in the Resurrection appearance in Matthew 28:16–20: “all authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth”.(Garland 2001, pp. 182–184)
Presence of prophets
The presence of the prophets next to Jesus and the perceptions of the disciples have been subject to theological debate. Origen was the first to comment that the presence of Moses and Elijah represented the “Law and the Prophets”, referring to the Torah (also called the Pentateuch) and the rest of the Hebrew Bible.(Andreopoulos 2005, pp. 60–65) Martin Luther, continued to see them as the Law and the Prophets respectively, and their recognition of and conversation with Jesus as a symbol of how Jesus fulfills “the law and the prophets” (Matthew 5:17–19, see also Expounding of the Law).(Luther 1905, p. 150)
The real presence of Moses and Elijah on the mount is rejected by those churches and individuals who believe in “soul sleep” (Christian mortalism) until resurrection. Several commentators have noted that Jesus describes the transfiguration using the Greek word orama(Matthew 17:9), according to Thayer more often used for a supernatural “vision” than for real physical events,[a] and concluded that Moses and Elijah were not truly there.(Warren 2005, p. 85)
In LDS doctrine, Moses and Elijah ministered to Christ as “spirits of just men made perfect” (Doctrine and Covenants 129:1-3; see also Heb. 12:23).
Location of the mountain
None of the accounts identifies the “high mountain” of the scene by name.
Since the 3rd century, some Christians have identified Mount Taboras the site of the Transfiguration, including Origen. See Meistermann 1912 citing Origen‘s reference to Ps 89:12 Tabor has long been a place of Christian pilgrimage and is the site of the Church of the Transfiguration. In 1808, Henry Alford cast doubt on Tabor due to the possible continuing Roman utilization of a fortress which Antiochus the Great built on Tabor in BC219, and which Josephusrecords was in use by the Romans in the Jewish War.(Alford 1863, p. 123) Others have countered that even if Tabor was fortified by Antiochus this does not rule out a transfiguration at the summit.(van Oosterzee 1866, p. 318) Edward Greswell, however, writing in 1830, saw “no good reason for questioning the ancient ecclesiastical tradition, which supposes it to have been mount Tabor.”(Greswell 1830, p. 335)
John Lightfoot rejects Tabor as too far but “some mountain near Caesarea-Philippi”(Lightfoot 1825) The usual candidate in this case is Mount Panium, Paneas, or Banias a small hill situated at the source of the Jordan, near the foot of which,Caesarea Philippi was built.
France (1987) notes that Mount Hermon is closest to Caesarea Philippi, mentioned in the previous chapter of Matthew. Likewise Meyboom (1861) identified “Djebel-Ejeik.”[b] but this may be a confusion with Jabal el Sheikh, the Arabic name for Mount Hermon.
Whittaker (1984) proposes that it was Mount Nebo primarily on the basis that it was the location where Moses viewed the promised land and a parallelism in Jesus’ words on descent from the mountain of transfiguration; “You will say to this mountain (i.e. of transfiguration), ‘Move from here to there,’ (i.e. the promised land) and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.
Feast and commemorations
The Feast of the Transfiguration is celebrated by various Christian denominations. The origins of the feast are less than certain and may have derived from the dedication of three basilicas on Mount Tabor.(Baggley 2000, pp. 58–60) The feast was present in various forms by the 9th century, and in the Western Church was made a universal feast on August 6 by Pope Callixtus III to commemorate the lifting of the Siege of Belgrade (1456).(Puthiadam 2003, p. 169)
In the Syriac Orthodox, Indian Orthodox, Revised Julian Calendars within Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholic, and Anglicanchurches, the Feast of the Transfiguration is observed on 6 August. In those Orthodox churches which continue to follow theJulian Calendar, August 6 in the church calendar falls on August 19 in the civil (Gregorian) calendar. Transfiguration is considered a major feast, numbered among the twelve Great Feasts in the Byzantine rite. In all these churches, if the feast falls on a Sunday, its liturgy is not combined with the Sunday liturgy, but completely replaces it.
In some liturgical calendars (e.g. the Lutheran and United Methodist) the last Sunday in the Epiphany season is also devoted to this event. In the Church of Sweden and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, however, the Feast is celebrated on the seventh Sunday after Trinity, the eighth Sunday after Pentecost.
In the Roman rite, the gospel pericope of the Transfiguration is read on the second Sunday of Lent, whose liturgy emphasizes the role the Transfiguration had in comforting the Twelve Apostles, giving them a powerful proof of his divinity, and a prelude to the glory of the Resurrection on Easter and the eventual salvation of his followers in view of the seeming contradiction of his Crucifixion and death. This theme is expounded in the Preface for that day.(Birmingham 1999, p. 188)
Gallery of images
Novgorod school, 15th century,
Theophanes the Greek, 15th century
Icon in Yaroslavl, Russia, 1516
Mosaic in Church on Spilled Blood, St Petersburg, Russia, 19th century
Churches and monasteries
The Franciscan cemetery on Mount Tabor
Notes and references
- Alford, Henry (1863). The New Testament for English Readers: The three first gospels. Rivingtons.
It was probably not Tabor, according to the legend ; for on the top of Tabor then most likely stood a fortified town
- Andreopoulos, Andreas (2005). Metamorphosis: The Transfiguration in Byzantine Theology and Iconography. St Vladimir’s Seminary Press. ISBN 978-0-88141-295-6.
- Baggley, John (2000). Festival Icons for the Christian Year. A&C Black. ISBN 978-0-264-67488-9.
- Barth, Karl (2004). Thomas Forsyth Torrance, ed. Church Dogmatics. The Doctrine of Creation. Volume 3, Part 2: The Creature. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 978-0-567-05089-2.
- Birmingham, Mary (1999). Word and Worship Workbook for Year B: For Ministry in Initiation, Preaching, Religious Education. Paulist Press. ISBN 978-0-8091-3898-2.
- Brown, David (2012). The Divine Trinity. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 978-1-61097-750-0.
- Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel According to John. Wm. B. Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-85111-749-2.
- Chafer, Lewis Sperry (1993). Systematic Theology. Kregel Academic. ISBN 978-0-8254-2340-6.
- Clowes, John (1817). The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Explained According to Their Spiritual Meaning, in the Way of Question and Answer. Manchester: J. Gleave.
- Edwards, James R. (2002). The Gospel According to Mark. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 978-0-85111-778-2.
- Evans, Craig A. (2005). The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: John’s Gospel, Hebrews-Revelation. David C Cook. ISBN 978-0-7814-4228-2.
- France, Richard T. (1987). The Gospel According to Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary. Inter-Varsity.
- Gardner, Paul D. (2015). New International Encyclopedia of Bible Characters: The Complete Who’s Who in the Bible. Zondervan. ISBN 978-0-310-52950-7.
- Garland, David E. (2001). Reading Matthew: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the First Gospel. Smyth & Helwys Publishing. ISBN 978-1-57312-274-0.
- Greswell, Edward (1830). Dissertations upon the principles and arrangement of a harmony of the Gospels.
- Guroian, Vigen (2010). The Melody of Faith: Theology in an Orthodox Key. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8028-6496-3.
- Harding, Mark; Nobbs, Alanna (2010). The Content and the Setting of the Gospel Tradition. Wm. B. Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-8028-3318-1.
- Hare, Douglas R. A. (1996). Mark. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 978-0-664-25551-0.
- Healy, Nicholas M. (2003). Thomas Aquinas: Theologian of the Christian Life. Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-1472-2.
- Langan, Thomas (1998). The Catholic Tradition. University of Missouri Press.ISBN 978-0-8262-1183-5.
- Lee, Dorothy (2004). Transfiguration. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 978-0-8264-7595-4.
- Lightfoot, John (1825). The Whole Works of the Rev. John Lightfoot: Master of Catharine Hall, Cambridge. Vol 1. London: J.F. Dove.
- Lockyer, Herbert (1988). All the Miracles of the Bible. Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-310-28101-6.
- Louth, Andrew (2003). “Holiness and the Vision of God in the Eastern Fathers”. In Stephen C. Barton. Holiness: Past and Present. A&C Black. ISBN 978-0-567-08823-9.
- Luther, Martin (1905). Luther’s Church Postil Gospels: Advent, Christmas and Epiphany sermons. 1905. Lutherans in All Lands Company.
When he was transfigured on the mount, Math. 17, 3, Moses and Elijah stood by him; that means, the law and the prophets as his two witnesses, which are signs pointing to him
- Majerník, Ján; Ponessa, Joseph; Manhardt, Laurie Watson (2005). Come and See: The Synoptics: On the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke. Emmaus Road Publishing.ISBN 978-1-931018-31-9.
- Meistermann, Barnabas (1912), “Transfiguration”, The Catholic Encyclopedia, XV, New York: Robert Appleton Company, retrieved 2007-08-15
- Moule, C. F. D. (1982). Essays in New Testament Interpretation. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-23783-3.
- Palamas, Saint Gregory (1983). John Meyendorff, ed. The Triads. Paulist Press.ISBN 978-0-8091-2447-3.
- Poe, Harry Lee (1996). The Gospel and Its Meaning: A Theology for Evangelism and Church Growth. Zondervan. ISBN 978-0-310-20172-4.
- Puthiadam, Ignatius (2003). Christian Liturgy. Bombay: St Paul Society. ISBN 978-81-7109-585-8.
- Rutter, Henry (1803). Evangelical Harmony: Or, The History of the Life and Doctrine of Our Lord Jesus Christ, According to the Four Evangelists. London: Keating, Brown, and Keating.
- Thunø, Erik (2002). Image and Relic: Mediating the Sacred in Early Medieval Rome. L’ERMA di BRETSCHNEIDER. ISBN 978-88-8265-217-3.
- van Oosterzee, Johannes Jacobus (1866). Theological and Homiletical Commentary on the Gospel of St-Luke. Vol 1.
The only really formidable difficulty is that adduced by De Wette, from Robinson, that, at this period, the summit of Tabor was occupied by a fortress. But even if Antiochus the Great fortified this mountain BC 219, this by no means proves that a fortress existed in the time of Christ ; while if, as Josephus tells us, it was fortified against the Romans, this must certainly have happened forty years later