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The Transfiguration

Both Roman and Eastern rite Catholics celebrate the Church's feast of the Transfiguration today, August 6, on its traditional date for both calendars. The feast commemorates one of the pinnacles of Jesus' earthly life, when he revealed his divinity to three of his closest disciples by means of a miraculous and supernatural light.Before his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Christ climbed to a high point on Mount Tabor with his disciples Peter, James, and John. While Jesus prayed upon the mountain, his appearance was changed by a brilliant white light which shone from him and from his clothing. During this event, the Old Testament figures of Moses and the prophet Elijah also appeared, and spoke of how Christ would suffer and die after entering Jerusalem, before his resurrection.Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record that the voice of God was heard, confirming Jesus as his son (Matthew 17:5, Mark 9:6, Luke 9:35). Peter and John make specific reference to the event in their writings, as confirming Jesus' divinity and his status as the Messiah (2 Peter 1:17, John 1:14). In his address before the Angelus on August 6, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI described how the events of the transfiguration display Christ as the “full manifestation of God's light.� This light, which shines forth from Christ both at the transfiguration and after his resurrection, is ultimately triumphant over “the power of the darkness of evil.� The Pope stressed that the feast of the Transfiguration is an important opportunity for believers to look to Christ as “the light of the world,� and to experience the kind of conversion which the Bible frequently describes as an emergence from darkness to light.“In our time too,� Pope Benedict said, “we urgently need to emerge from the darkness of evil, to experience the joy of the children of light!� For Eastern Catholics, the Feast of the Transfiguration is especially significant. It is among the 12 “great feasts� of Eastern Catholicism.Eastern Christianity emphasizes that Christ's transfiguration is the prototype of spiritual illumination, which is possible for the committed disciple of Jesus. This Christian form of “enlightenment� is  facilitated by the ascetic disciplines of prayer, fasting, and charitable almsgiving. A revered hierarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the late Archbishop Joseph Raya, described this traditional Byzantine view of the transfiguration in his book of meditations on the Biblical event and its liturgical celebration, titled “Transfiguration of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.�“Transfiguration,� Archbishop Raya wrote, “is not simply an event out of the two-thousand-year old past, or a future yet to come. It is rather a reality of the present, a way of life available to those who seek and accept Christ’s nearness.�

Transfiguration of the Lord

Stained glass window, Mielno, Poland | photo by Tineau
Image: Stained glass window, Mielno, Poland | photo by Tineau

Transfiguration of the Lord

Saint of the Day for August 6

 

The Story of the 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 week-long Jewish Feast of Booths in the fall.

According to Scripture scholars, in spite of the texts’ agreement it is difficult to reconstruct the disciples’ experience, 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 Mount 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.


Reflection

One of the Transfiguration accounts is read on the second Sunday of Lent each year, proclaiming Christ’s divinity to the Elect 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.


Another Saint of the Day for August 6 is Venerable Anthony Margil.


 

The post Transfiguration of the Lord appeared first on Franciscan Media.

Transfiguration, Crucifixion, and Resurrection

Thus, while the Transfiguration exalts Christ and shows forth his glory, the scene again foreshadows Christ’s destiny as the suffering servant who will die in Jerusalem for the sins of all humanity.

Ultimately, these two themes of Christ’s glory and his suffering are meant to go together, for God’s glory will be revealed most fully not in worldly splendor or self-exaltation but in his self-giving love for us on the cross. And these themes of the Transfiguration stand as a reminder to us: We are called to radiate God’s glory most splendidly through our own sacrificial love here on earth.

—from the book Praying the Rosary Like Never Before: Encounter the Wonder of Heaven and Earth

Our Need for Community

Among the proper lessons of culture is that we remind ourselves of our limits, of our need for community, of our ignorance and the tragic realities of living in such ignorance—lessons, in other words, that help us remember that we are creatures. It is through such recollection, being gathered back to ourselves from the diffuse ambitions that draw us away from our roots, that we are able to begin to heal the damage done to the world and ourselves. “The task of healing,” writes Wendell Berry, “is to respect oneself as a creature, no more and no less.” Humility, by helping to return us to the integrity of our humanity, which involves an acceptance of our particularly human creatureliness, also helps to make our lives more coherent, more integrated. “The more coherent one becomes within oneself as a creature,” writes Berry, “the more fully one enters into the communion of all creatures.” It is by humility then that we join the membership of creation in acceptance that we are a part of the world rather than an individual struggling against it. There is grace and community for us, if only we would accept the gift of our givenness.

—from the book Wendell Berry and the Given Life by Ragan Sutterfield

Listen with Your Whole Heart

There is a whole dimension of life to which we have to listen with our whole heart, mind-fully, as we say. Mindfulness is necessary to find meaning—and the intellect is not the full mind. The intellect, one has to hasten to say, is an extremely important part of our mind, but it isn’t the whole mind. What I mean here when I say “mind” is more what the Bible calls the “heart,” what many religious traditions call the “heart.” The heart is the whole person, not just the seat of our emotions. The kind of heart that we are talking about here is the lover’s heart, which says, “I will give you my heart.” That doesn’t mean I give you part of myself; it means I give myself to you. So when we speak about wholeheartedness, a wholehearted approach to life, mindfulness, that alone is the attitude through which we give ourselves to meaning.

—from the book The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life by Brother David Steindl-Rast



Is Your Work a Vocation?

It doesn’t take much looking in our economy to see that in fact there is a great deal of work that doesn’t pray, work that disconnects us from our sources of life rather than moves us toward wholeness. For work to pray, it must have a sense of vocation attached to it—we must feel some calling toward that work and the wholeness of which it is a part, that there is something holy in good work. Vocation is a calling and prayer is a call and response, deep calling to deep. For work to pray, to be vocation, it must be brought into a larger conversation. “The idea of vocation attaches to work a cluster of other ideas, including devotion, skill, pride, pleasure, the good stewardship of means and materials,” Wendell Berry writes. It is these “intangibles of economic value” that keep us from viewing work as “something good only to escape: ‘Thank God it’s Friday.’”

—from the book Wendell Berry and the Given Life by Ragan Sutterfield

Prayer: Singing God's Song

Our heart is a highly sensitive receiver; it can listen through all our senses. Whatever we hear, but also whatever we see, taste, touch, or smell, vibrates deep down with God’s song. To resonate with this song in gratefulness is what I call singing back. This attitude of prayer has given great joy to all my senses and to my heart.

—from the book The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life, by David Steindl Rast, OSB


Reflecting God's Love

The deeper my love the more particular it becomes and the more limited in scope. It is only through such particulars that we can come to save the creation. God may love the world, but we live into God’s image by reflecting such love on a proper scale— among particular places and people. We live into our love when we love our neighbors and, thus necessarily, our neighborhood.

—from the book Wendell Berry and the Given Life by Ragan Sutterfield

Faith Is the Opposite of Anxiety

For Jesus, faith is not opposed to not believing in God, it doesn’t mean you go to church, or that you’re into religion or that you say “Lord, Lord!” (see Matthew 7:21). Faith for Jesus is the opposite of anxiety. If you are anxious, if you are trying to control everything, if you are worried about many things, you don’t have faith, according to Jesus. You do not trust that God is good and on your side. You’re trying to do it all yourself, lift yourself up by your own bootstraps. The giveaway is control. That’s a good litmus test of the quality of your faith. People of faith don’t have to control everything, nor do they have to change people. You have the wisdom to know the difference, as the Twelve-Step people say. You cannot “fix” the soul. “Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on God’s saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself ’” (Matthew 6:33-34a).

—from Jesus' Plan for a New World: The Sermon on the Mount  by Richard Rohr, OFM

 

You're an Eternal Creation

Only prayer lets you realize that who you are is who you were in God before anybody thought anything: before you thought about whether you are good or bad, before anybody else thought about whether you are good or bad. You came forth from God and you will return to God. You are eternal. That’s the only solid ground. That’s the rock of the spiritual journey. That’s what Jesus means when he says in Luke’s Gospel that “your names are written in heaven” (10:20b). You’re an eternal creation of God and there’s no point in denying it or trying to dress it up; it already is. That’s the ultimate good news.

—from Jesus' Plan for a New World: The Sermon on the Mount  by Richard Rohr, OFM