The Transfiguration of Christ

August 6, 2021
Ordinary Time

Today’s Readings:   Exodus 34:29-35 / Psalm 99 / 2 Peter 1:13-21 / Luke 9:28-36 / Reflection: The Divinity of Jesus

Evocation

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.

Isaiah 9.2

Collect

O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with you, O Father, and you, O Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. [1]

Hymn

“Christ Whose Glory Fills the Skies”

By Charles Wesley

Representative Text [2]:

1 See whose glory fills the skies:

Jesus, the light of the world!

Sun of righteousness, arise:

Jesus, the light of the world!

Refrain:

We’ll walk in the light!

Beautiful light!

Shine where the dewdrops of mercy shine bright. 

Oh, shine all around us by day and by night,

Jesus, the light of the world.

2 Pierce the gloom of sin and grief,

Jesus, the light of the world!

Scatter all my unbelief,

Jesus, the light of the world! [Refrain]

3 More and more thyself display,

Jesus, the light of the world!

Shining to the perfect day,

Jesus, the light of the world! [Refrain]

4 Visit, then, this soul of mine,

Jesus, light of the world!

Fill me, Radiancy divine!

Jesus, the light of the world! [Refrain]


“The Transfiguration” 
by Raphael, c. 1520
(source)

Old Testament: Exodus 34:29-35

Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them. Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; but whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

Intercession

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ,

let us pray to the Father.

Lord of glory, it is good that we are here.

In peace we make our prayer to you.

In trust we confirm our faith in you …

Help us to set our faces steadfastly to where you would have us go.

Lord, look with favour.

Lord, transfigure and heal.

Lord of glory, look with favour on your Church,

proclaiming your beloved Son to the world

and listening to the promptings of his Spirit …

May she be renewed in holiness that she may reflect your glory.

Lord, look with favour.

Lord, transfigure and heal.

Lord of glory, look with favour on the nations of the world,

scarred by hatred, strife and war …

May they be healed by the touch of your hand.

Lord, look with favour.

Lord, transfigure and heal.

Lord of glory, look with favour on those in need and distress,

suffering as your Son has suffered

and waiting for the salvation you promise …

May the day break

and Christ the Morning Star bring them the light of his presence.

Lord, look with favour.

Lord, transfigure and heal.

Lord of glory, it is good if we suffer with you

so that we shall be glorified with you.

According to your promise bring all Christ’s brothers and sisters …

to see him with their own eyes in majesty

and to be changed into his likeness from glory to glory.

To him be praise, dominion and worship

now and for all eternity.

Amen. [3]


12th-century icon of the Transfiguration
Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai (Egypt)
(source)

The Response: Psalm 99

Dominus regnavit

1 [The Lord is King;

let the people tremble; *

he is enthroned upon the cherubim;

let the earth shake.

2 The Lord is great in Zion; *

he is high above all peoples.

3 Let them confess his Name, which is great and awesome; *

he is the Holy One.

4 “O mighty King, lover of justice,

you have established equity; *

you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.”]

5 Proclaim the greatness of the Lord our God

and fall down before his footstool; *

he is the Holy One.

6 Moses and Aaron among his priests,

and Samuel among those who call upon his Name, *

they called upon the Lord, and he answered them.

7 He spoke to them out of the pillar of cloud; *

they kept his testimonies and the decree that he gave them.

8 O Lord our God, you answered them indeed; *

you were a God who forgave them,

yet punished them for their evil deeds.

9 Proclaim the greatness of the Lord our God

and worship him upon his holy hill; *

for the Lord our God is the Holy One.

Acclamation

By the appearance on earth of our Saviour Jesus Christ

God has broken the power of death

and brought life and immortality to light.

Arise, shine, for your light has come

and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

For though darkness shall cover the earth

and thick darkness the nations,

the Lord will rise upon you

and his glory will be seen upon you.

By the appearance on earth of our Saviour Jesus Christ

God has broken the power of deathand brought life and immortality to light. [4]

Amen.


“Transfiguration” 
by Alexandr Ivanov, 1824
(source)

The Epistle: 2 Peter 1:13-21

I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to refresh your memory, since I know that my death will come soon, as indeed our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.

So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Blessing

Christ, whose glory fills the skies,

fill you with radiance

and scatter the darkness from your path.

Amen.

Christ, the Sun of Righteousness,

gladden your eyes and warm your heart.

Amen.

Christ, the Dayspring from on high,

draw near to guide your feet into the way of peace.

Amen.

And the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always.

Amen. [5]


The Franciscan Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor in Israel. Mount Tabor is traditionally identified as the Mount of Transfiguration.
(source)

The Gospel: Luke 9:28-36

Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” —not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.


The Transfiguration
By Pietro Perugino, c. 1500
(source)

Reflection: The Divinity of Jesus

“The transfiguration of Christ is a theophany – a manifestation of God, especially of the divinity of Christ through a display of His uncreated, divine energy.” [6] Therefore, the Church “celebrates it as a major feast day.” [7] 

There are several elements of the Transfiguration which show us that Christ is the Messiah and God:

  1. “Because God is light (1 Jn 1:5), the bright cloud, the shining of Jesus’s face like the sun, and the whiteness of His garment (Mt 17:2, 5) all demonstrate that Jesus is God.” [8] 
  2. “The Father bears witness from heaven concerning His Son. He does not say, ‘This is become my beloved Son,’ but ‘This is my beloved Son’ [Mt 17:5], indicating that this divine glory is Christ’s by nature. From eternity past, infinitely before Jesus’ Baptism and Transfiguration, He is God’s Son, fully sharing in the essence of the Father: Jesus Christ is God from God.” [9]
  3. “The Transfiguration not only proclaims Christ’s divine sonship, but foreshadows His future glory when He as the Messiah will usher in the long-awaited Kingdom. The bright cloud recalls temple worship and the cloud that went before the Israelites in the wilderness, the visible sign of God being extraordinarily present. Peter sees this as a sign that the Kingdom has come. Knowing that the Feast of Tabernacles is the feast of the coming kingdom, [Peter] asks to build booths (Mt 17:4), as was done at that feast, to serve as a symbol of God’s dwelling among the just in the Kingdom.” [10]
  4. “Moses represents the law and all those who have died. Elijah represents the prophets and – since he did not experience death – all those who are alive in Christ. Their presence shows that the law and the prophets, the living and the dead, all bear witness to Jesus as the Messiah, the fulfillment of the whole Old Testament.” [11]
    • “The presence of Moses and Elijah also manifests the communion of saints (Heb 12:1). Both men are immediately recognizable and talk with the Lord. The disciples are now able to understand Jesus’ words that ‘Elijah has come already’ [Mt 17:12] referring to John the Baptist. Their eyes have been opened to the fact that Malachi’s prophecy (Malachi 3:22, 23) refers to one coming ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’ (Lk 1:17), rather than to Elijah himself.” [12]
  5. “Finally, the Holy Trinity is manifest here, for Christ is transfigured (Mt 17:2), the Father speaks from heaven testifying to Jesus’ divine sonship (17:5), and the Spirit is present in the form of a dazzling light surrounding Christ’s person, overshadowing the whole mountain (17:5).” [13]

“In the Transfiguration Christ enjoyed for a short while that glorified state which was to be permanently His after His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. The splendor of His inward Divinity and of the Beatific Vision of His soul overflowed on His body, and permeated His garments so that Christ stood before Peter, James, and John in a snow-white brightness. The purpose of the Transfiguration was to encourage and strengthen the Apostles who were depressed by their Master’s prediction of His own Passion and Death. The Apostles were made to understand that His redeeming work has two phases: The Cross, and glory—that we shall be glorified with Him only if we first suffer with Him.” [14]

Concluding Prayer of the Church

Father in heaven,

whose Son Jesus Christ was wonderfully transfigured

before chosen witnesses upon the holy mountain,

and spoke of the exodus he would accomplish at Jerusalem:

give us strength so to hear his voice and bear our cross

that in the world to come we may see him as he is;

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Amen. [15]

Theophanes the Greek, 15th century
(source)

Devotionals compiled/written by S. P. Rogers

Citations:

[1] The Transfiguration. (n.d.). https://www.lectionarypage.net/YearABC/HolyDays/Transfig.html

[2] Author: Charles Wesley, M. A. was the great hymn-writer of the W. family. (n.d.). Christ, Whose glory fills the skies. Hymnary.org. https://hymnary.org/text/christ_whose_glory_fills_the_skies

[3] Church of England. (n.d.). The Transfiguration of Our Lord. The Church of England. https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/worship-texts-and-resources/common-worship/churchs-year/festivals-0

[4] Ibid. 3

[5] Ibid. 3

[6] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). The Transfiguration. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1332). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[7] Ibid. 6

[8] Ibid. 6

[9] Ibid. 6

[10] Ibid. 6

[11].Ibid. 6

[12] Ibid. 6

[13] Ibid. 6

[14] Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord – August 06, 2021 – Liturgical Calendar. Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord – August 06, 2021 – Liturgical Calendar | Catholic Culture. (n.d.). https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2021-08-06

[15] Church of England. (n.d.). The Transfiguration of Our Lord. The Church of England. https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/worship-texts-and-resources/common-worship/churchs-year/festivals-0

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