The Transfiguration of Our Lord – 6th August – pt. 1/2

This feast commemorates the Lord’s transfiguration (metamorphosis) before His disciples, Peter, James and John. The Gospel accounts (also a reference in 2 Peter 1: 10-19) describe how Christ took the disciples onto a ‘high mountain’ and there ‘His face shone like the sun, and His garments became white like light’. On either side of Christ are seen Moses and Elijah, talking with Him of His coming sufferings. Peter declared ‘it is good to be here’ and suggested they make booths for the Lord and the two prophets. A luminous cloud then overshadowed them, and a voice was heard coming out of the cloud saying, ‘This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.’ The terrified disciples fell on their faces, but the Lord touched them, saying, ‘Rise, have no fear.’ Looking up, they saw Jesus alone and they descended the mountain.

Icon by Aidan Hart –

Although the Scriptures themselves are silent about the mountain’s identity since at least the third century, it has been understood to be Mount Tabor. The Transfiguration has been observed as a major Feast in the East since early times, but in contrast, the Western church has never given it such prominence. It was not officially recognised until 1456, when Pope Callixtus III inaugurated it to celebrate the victory over the Turks. No provision was made for the observance of this Feast in the Book of Common Prayer at the Reformation. Many Tractarians in the nineteenth century and later adopted the collect epistle and gospel from the Roman Missal using the text of the King James Bible. It was not until the proposed revision in 1928 that a collect, epistle and gospel was included and even then, Parliament failed to adopt it. Common Worship has rectified this in recent times.

The Transfiguration celebrates three expressions of divine glory: affirmation of Christ’s divinity; the transfiguration of humanity and the material world; the union within the church of those in heaven and those on earth. When His glory shone through His flesh, Our Lord not only revealed His divinity but also the divinity which is each persons by the grace of baptism. Christ is God bearing flesh, and each Christian is a human bearing the Holy Spirit which is granted within the Church. The unearthly radiant light, the same light that blinded Saint Paul on the road to Damascus was the uncreated light of Paradise. Our lighted altar candles are in the words of T.S.Eliot, ‘the visible reminder of Invisible Light, too bright for mortal vision.’

Christopher Jobson

Please click here to read Part 2

BEN112975 The Transfiguration, 1480 (oil on panel) by Bellini, Giovanni (c.1430-1516); 115×154 cm; Museo e Gallerie Nazionali di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy; Italian, out of copyright

The feature image for this post is “The Transfiguration, 1480 (oil on panel)”, Wikicommons (P.D.)

One thought on “The Transfiguration of Our Lord – 6th August – pt. 1/2

Leave a Reply