The Strength of the Transfiguration

Transfiguration, by Raphael, (1520)

So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place (2 Pet. 1:18).

Today we celebrate the glorious Feast of Our Lord’s Transfiguration. We are familiar with this event in the life of Our Lord because every year, on the second Sunday in Lent, this Gospel is read so that the scandal of the Cross might be removed from the hearts of the disciples. Every mystery of our faith has an objective value in and of itself and a subjective value insofar as each mature disciple of Christ endeavours to apply this truth to oneself and to one’s concrete situation in life. As we reflect on the Mystery of the Transfiguration and celebrate it today, let us dwell on the more personal and intimate aspect of this Mystery, as it pertains to our own discipleship. The Transfiguration reveals Our Lord’s divinity; He is God, the Word Incarnate. What is more, in the words of the Apostle Peter who witnessed this event, His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who has called us to His own glory and excellence…that [we] might escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:3-4). Everything we need to know about our life’s purpose and how to live our life is contained in these two verses of Sacred Scripture. We do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place (2 Pet. 1:18). Our transformation in Christ is the purpose of our life; that we might escape from the corruption that is in the world and consequently, become partakers of the divine nature.

This is how this Mystery which objectively reveals something to us about God subjectively becomes a Mystery that we can participate in; and we participate in this Mystery especially and essentially through divine worship. In his monumental work, The City of God, St. Augustine explains the importance of worship as exemplified by the posture of Peter, James and John who fell to the ground in the presence of God. Surely the supremely important thing in religion is to model oneself on the object of one’s worship (The City of God, VIII, 17). St. Paul explains the effect of this worship in words very familiar to us: And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18).

If we consider these words seriously, soberly, we see how important it is for us to understand that our discipleship is authentic only inasmuch as we grow in the likeness of Our Lord. We are exhorted by St. Peter: make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love (2 Pet. 1:5-7). Our transformation in Christ conforms us to the mature Face of Christ; to the One who bore our grief and carried our burdens and who taught us bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill His law (Cf. Gal. 6:2). Surely, this is what we endeavour to do to as we mature and follow Our Lord along the path of devout humility. This is the work of a lifetime and it is a work that has its influence on others because none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself (Rom. 14:7).

St Paul rightly observes: When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways (1 Cor. 13:11).Our Christian discipleship calls us to sobriety of life; to have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). This means that we must intentionally resolve to imitate Our Lord and conform ourselves to Him through grace, imitation and love; and especially to come to know Him through prayer, for as Scripture warns us, the unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned (2 Cor. 2: 14).

On Mount Tabor Our Lord was transfigured before His disciples.  Our sacred Tradition calls a tabor the throne upon which we place the monstrance during Eucharistic Adoration. It is in Eucharistic Adoration most especially that with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,  [we] are changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18). In the intimately personal, quiet and sober prayer of Adoration the work of our transformation in Christ is most intimately brought about. This form of prayer is an invitation to deepen our personal relationship with Our Lord. It is an invitation to spiritual maturity, sobriety of life and heroic faith and charity.

The strength derived from Eucharistic Adoration enables us to be resolute in the face of adversity and to extend the Kingdom of God and the reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The transformative effect of the grace of God enables us to be clothed with the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 13:14); and bravely to live our Christian Faith in an age of unbelief and mockery of the things of God such as out times have become. Whatever our circumstances, whatever the time, the imperative to conform ourselves to the God whom we adore, to restore and to defend the sacredness of both life and worship is always our work as disciples of Christ. Therefore gird up your minds, be sober…As He who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, ‘You shall be holy for I am holy’ (1Pet. 1: 13-16).