August 5, 2016

Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ

The Transfiguration of Christ

August 6th, is the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord. It was declared a universal feast by Pope Callixtus III in 1456 to commemorate the victory of Christian forces at the Siege of Belgrade. The Transfiguration is found in all three 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). It is the only miracle involving Jesus exclusively. Prefiguring His Ascension and manifesting His Divinity, Jesus, is transfigured, becoming resplendent in glory upon Mt. Tabor. At that moment, Christ's interior Divinity and Beatific soul overflowed His body, so that Jesus shone as bright as the sun. The apostles Peter, who according to Aquinas, loved Jesus the most, James, who was the first of the Apostles to die for his faith, and John, who the Lord loved especially, were the only eyewitnesses. From the Gospel of Mark:
Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, "Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him."Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them (Mark 9:2-8). 
The Transfiguration is a pivotal event in Jesus' life and ministry. The words of God the Father, "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him." are a further revelation of the identity of Jesus as the Son of God and evoke the Father's words at Jesus' Baptism. The significance of this identification is enhanced by the presence of Elijah and Moses. Jesus is the voice of God par excellence, not Elijah (who represents the prophets) or Moses (who represents the law). Jesus is the preeminent moral authority that should be listened to, surpassing the law of Moses by virtue of his filial relationship with the Father. The Transfiguration embodies Jesus as the one in whom human nature meets God: the union of the temporal and the eternal, with Christ as the bridge between Heaven and earth.

This great Theophany anticipates the Resurrection of Christ in his glorified body. Saint Thomas Aquinas called the Transfiguration "the greatest miracle" because it complemented baptism and showed the perfection of life in Heaven. O God, who in the glorious Transfiguration of your Only Begotten Son confirmed the mysteries of faith by the witness of the Fathers and wonderfully prefigured our full adoption to sonship, grant, we pray, to your servants, that, in listening to the voice of your beloved Son, we may merit to become co-heirs with Him.

No comments :