Thursday is the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord. On this day we remember the appearance of Jesus to his closest disciples on top of Mount Tabor when his face and clothing shone luminously and God the Father spoke from a cloud, saying, “This is my well beloved Son; hear ye him.”
For seventeen hundred years, beginning in Armenia, Christians have kept a special day of the year to remember the Transfiguration of Jesus. In part this is because every moment in the life of Jesus teaches us something crucial and important about the mystery of salvation. But more than this, we remember the Transfiguration because it as a moment in the life of Christ that reveals what the Christian life is all about: seeing the glory of God in Jesus and becoming like him.
The first lesson the Transfiguration teaches is the identity of Jesus. Throughout the Scriptures we are told that God is light, that he shines like the Sun. And in the Transfiguration we see the uncreated light of God shining in and through the humanity of Jesus. The first lesson of the Transfiguration is not only man, but God. He is, as we confess in the Nicene Creed, “light of light, very God of very God.” The divine light shines through his human person.
But the second truth we learn from the Transfiguration of Jesus is who we are meant to be. As St Paul writes: “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.” The goal of the Christian life is to be ‘transfigured” by the power of the Holy Spirit so that we, like Christ, become transparent to the light of God.
The Transfiguration teaches us, then, that Jesus is the God-man, and that we are to be images of his love, shining like him.
Fr Christopher Snook