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Feast of The Transfiguration

 

Our Lord Jesus encountered the Father in a moment of dazzling glory
at the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor.
This event took place as Jesus prayed,
a point that brings the meaning of the Transfiguration close to us:
As Jesus was transfigured in prayer, so we can be transfigured
—brought from one degree of glory to another—
through prayerful contemplation of Christ.

"And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter
and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.

And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered,
and his raiment was white and glistering.

And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:
Who appeared in glory, and spoke of his decease
which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.

But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep:
and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.

And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus,
Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles;
one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.

While he thus spoke, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them:
and they feared as they entered into the cloud.
And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying,

This is my beloved Son: hear him.

And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone.
And they kept it close, and told no man in those days
any of those things which they had seen.

(Luke 9:28-36;  see also Matthew 17:1-13 and Mark 9:2-13)

 

 

The place of Transfiguration is not named by any of the Evangelists,
but the ancient tradition unanimously points at Tabor, a mountain in Galilee,
south of Nazareth. Jesus Christ spent His youth not far from this mountain
and probably many times climbed it and prayed on its top.
The mountain is covered with magnificent oaks and pistachio trees
from foot to middle.

The Saviour did not bring all His disciples up to the mountain,
but only three of them (Peter, James and his brother John the Theologian),
while the others stayed at the foot of the mountain.
Going uphill was tiring, and the Apostles accompanying Christ
lay down for rest and dozed off; the Saviour started praying.
During the prayer, the looks of Our Saviour changed:
His face shone as the sun, and His clothes became white as the light.
The bright light woke up the Apostles and they saw Their Teacher
in His heavenly glory of the Son of God.

 


His Divinity shone through His flesh and clothing.

Looking at the Saviour in astonishment,
the Apostles saw two unfamiliar figures
who were ancient prophets Moses and Elias
coming to Christ from the world invisible.
The coming of the two most authoritative Old Testament righteous people
was the evidence of Christ's Divinity for the Apostles and for all Jews.
First of all, until that time the rumor had been widespread
among common people that Jesus Christ was either Elias,
or another ancient prophet risen.
The appearance of Elias and Moses witnessed the absurdity of this opinion.


The prophets were actually talking to Christ as Messiah and Son of God.

Moreover, many of the Jews accused Christ of disregarding the Law
and even blasphemously and wrongfully assuming
the honor of the Son of God (John 9:16; 10:33),
and the appearance of these two most ardent
champions of the glory of Jehovah had to convince everyone that Christ
really was the promised Messiah and that all His statements were true.

 

The appearance of the ancient prophets who had gone to the better world
must convince us that the life of a human does not end with the death,
and that the souls of those who died are not sleeping, but are awake,
living a full-scale spiritual life.
Jesus Christ has power over life and death, as He says,
"I have the keys of hell and of death" (Apoc. 1:18).

The conversation of Moses and Elias with Christ
was to encourage the Apostles and strengthen their faith in Christ
when the Suffering on the Cross was close ahead.
The Apostles indeed thought about their Teacher's suffering
as humiliation and dishonor, but the prophets called it "glory"
that He intended to manifest in Jerusalem.
And right before the Crucifixion the Saviour viewed the impending suffering
and dishonorable death as the beginning of glorification of His Father
and Himself as the Saviour of the mankind;
He said, "Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son,
that thy Son also may glorify Thee" (John 17:1).

 

The special graceful state of the Apostles during the Saviour's Transfiguration
was expressed by Saint Peter who said,
"Lord, it is good for us to be here!"
Delighted by the glorious vision, Peter wished that it would last, and last forever,
if possible. So Peter suggested to the Saviour to make three tabernacles,
or pavilions, on the top of the mountain.


(Jews and other oriental people made 'tabernacles'
by digging a pole in the ground, stretching ropes from its top
to pegs driven at a certain distance around it,
and covering up with fabric; sometimes skins or leaves
and bark were used instead).

 

As the Evangelists say, at that moment everyone on the mountain
was overshadowed by a bright cloud, and a mysterious voice
was heard from the cloud like it was during Theophany,
"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," and also, "Hear Him."
These last words were to remind to the Apostles of Moses' ancient prophesy
of the Forthcoming Great Prophet Who would herald God's will to the Jews.

 "Whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name,
I will require it of him," says God in Deuteronomy 18:19.
So here on Tabor fifteen hundred years later God Father gave the evidence
of Moses' prophesy about the Messiah as the Greatest of prophets.

 

Hearing the voice from the cloud, the disciples fell on the ground in fear.

Everything was unusual for them here on the mountain:
the seclusion and height of the place, the deep silence of nature,
the appearance of the prophets of the past, the light of extreme brightness
and finally the voice of God Father Himself.

When they were coming down, Jesus forbade the Apostles to tell anyone
what had happened on the mountain until His rising from the dead.
The Lord transfigured in order to affirm to His trusted disciples
that He indeed was the Messiah.

Still it was too early to tell about the Transfiguration to the Jewish public at large

whose senses would anticipate the Messiah as a powerful king and conqueror.

 

One of the eye witnesses of this event, the Apostle Peter,
later recalled it as unquestionably trustworthy
and brought it forth as proof of Christ's divine nature
(2 Peter 1:16-18).

 

 

O God, our Father, in the transfigured glory of Christ Thy Son,
Thou strengthen our faith by confirming the witness of Thy prophets
and by showing to us the splendor of Thy beloved Son,
help us to become heirs to the eternal life with Him,
Who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.

My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love you!