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The Transfiguration - Unveiling the Mystery - August 6th.

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

The Transfiguration August 6th

On Sunday, August 6th, the Church celebrates the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ. There are a number of accounts of this event in the first three Gospels (Matthew 17:1-13, Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36). It is the story of the apostles Peter, James and John witnessing the unveiling of the divine glory of Christ, and the appearance with him of Moses and Elijah. The verses bear out Mark's theme of Jesus' 'divine Sonship'. It is here on top of the high mountain that Peter, James, and John gaze upon Jesus in transfigured splendour and hear the voice from the bright cloud declare, This is my beloved son, in whom I take delight; hear him!” (17.5)

There are number of reasons given, especially by the early Church Fathers and theologians for the Transfiguration. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, they are: (1) Christ wanted to bolster the faith of the Apostles prior to His crucifixion and death, so they would recognize that, as his divine glory is hidden beneath his human appearance, so too a real victory would be concealed in the apparent defeat of the cross; (2) The disciples would know that Christ is truly divine, with Moses and Elijah bearing witness to Him, and the voice of God speaking from the cloud; (3) All Christians would learn to hope for their own glory, as they are being transformed by Christ's grace.

According to John Mason Neale (1818-1866)in his sermon regarding the Transfiguration, our Lord's baptism was a type of our own regeneration; and that is brought to pass by all the persons of the Godhead: by the Father that made; by the Son that redeemed; by the Holy Ghost that sanctifies. In essence, our Lord's Transfiguration was a type of our own Resurrection; and there we also have the act of each person of the Trinity. These bodies were the work of God's hands; they were fed with the body, and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, (according to that saying, “Whoso Eateth My flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life; and I will raise him up again at the last day”) and they were the temples of the Holy Ghost. Therefore the Trinity was manifested at Christ's baptism and transfiguration, because each of its three blessed persons is concerned in the work of our individual Baptism and Resurrection.

The Transfiguration confirms the fact that the earlier confessions made by Peter and the Apostles to the effect that Jesus is indeed the Son of God. This command to hear Jesus is an exhortation from God; that the Apostles are to attend carefully to Jesus' words regarding the necessity both of His own going the way of suffering and they're emulating him in the same manner. St. Paul writes: –“but we all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord;” (2 Cor. 3:18). The message for us is that Jesus was transfigured while He dwelt here in heavenly glory and we, while we are yet in the flesh, may also be transfigured to his image!

What is Jesus telling us through His Transfiguration?

So how does one interpret the Transfiguration? How do we reflect upon the influence of Jesus Christ in our lives and how does it affect our understanding of the World? These were questions for not only for the Apostles, but also for the millions of Christians who read this story over the last two millennia.

Because of the Transfiguration, Christ walks with us in our suffering. Indeed, God is with us at all times, He is truly Emmanuel or God with us. We now journey from a life of deception to a life of integrity. We no longer hide who we are and we become authentic people. we ultimately discover that they can endure and persevere in this life.

Because of the Transfiguration, Christ redeems us in our guilt. God, and no one else, is judge and He is revealed to be merciful in his deliberations. It is in knowing this that our journey in life moves from a state of condemnation to a place of forgiveness. This leads us to discover that we are redeemed for our sins. The slate, as it were, becomes clean.

Because of the Transfiguration, Christ liberates us from an oppressive and hostile world. Because of our new freedom, we become willing participants with God in this endeavour to challenge evil in the world. We truly Christian soldiers. In this world, with God's help, we fight battles against social injustice. Our goal is to help create a world that is fair for everyone. The journey has an end point or destination. It is the 'City on the Hill which cannot be hid' (Matthew 5:14); it is the 'New Earth'. We ultimately learn that through Christ, we are vindicated in our struggle and that we are put here on Earth to co-create a 'new kingdom' and a 'Just Society'.

Because of the Transfiguration, we learn that Christ teaches us how to be whole in a seemingly empty world. We now see God as being within us, and because of this we are not alone. Indeed, it has become a Spiritual journey where we move from a world that is dead to a world that is very much alive. We ultimately discover that with God, we are fulfilled.

Because of the Transfiguration, we learn that Christ lifts the veil. God is the Divine One. He is the eternal now. He is the Alpha and the Omega. The Transfiguration becomes a transformative experience because we discover that we can move from a world which alienates us toward a world where we genuinely feel a sense of belonging, and what we discover in this process is a state of unity with the Divine; both in this world and in the world to come.

The Transfiguration will continue to be interpreted and understood in a variety of different ways, even more than what I've presented. Our 'Theological Worlds' will guide us and we may even hold to more than one point of view. But the important thing is that we, as Christians, can all agree that the Transfiguration was a turning point in our understanding of the Glory and Majesty of Jesus of Nazareth, who was and is the 'Christ', the 'Son of God'.

There are many different interpretations of the significance of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ with regard to what it means for each and every one of us. This is a good thing. We take the awesome display that was given to the Apostles by Jesus on the mountain and we use it to fuel our own Christian journey. With the help of the Holy Spirit, through the example of Jesus Christ, and with the love of God, we work toward oneness with the Divine.

On our spiritual journey, as Christians, we learn to persevere, we learn to forgive, we learn to be free, we learn to be complete and we learn to participate in this world for the betterment of humanity. I can only help but think that the Transfiguration will guide us into a life where we become spiritually healthy and whole people. And for that, thanks be to God!

The Second of two Reflections on the Transfiguration Published on July 15th, 2018 in The Traditional Anglican News Volume 6 Issue 7 {Revised on August 4th, 2021 & December 8th,2022}

© Dr. Charles Warner 2022

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