Feast of the Transfiguration
Due to technical difficulties, there will be no Preached Homily
Through this experience shared with Saints Peter, James and John, which was first and foremost an experience of prayer, the divine glory, the divine nature of Jesus is revealed. As if that wasn’t enough to convince them, and us, the Father speaks loud and clear! The Messiah is not just an incredible man; he is Son of God, he is God.
So, what does it mean that Jesus was ‘transfigured’? The idea of something, or in this case, someone being transfigured… is often mistakenly taken to mean that that person has been transformed. That the person or some aspect of the person has changed from being one thing into being another. Our confusion is understandable because in English the two words have often been used interchangeably. As well, the Greek word used by Saints Matthew and Mark to mean transfigured, has the same root as the word transformed and could be translated one way or the other. The confusion is compounded because of the continuing influence of Greek and Roman thought, myths and mysticism up to our own time in history. In the Greek and Roman world that influenced the earliest Christians, the idea of metamorphosis was common and was understood to mean you weren’t just changed in appearance, but that you were changed in what you are.
However, the Church has always resisted the confusion and insisted that the scripture ought to be translated to mean that Jesus was not transformed, but rather, he was transfigured. St. Luke, who did not use the same Greek word as Saints Mark and Matthew, used a word that more clearly affirmed that Christ was transfigured and not transformed. This was also true in the earliest translations of the scriptures into Latin. The evangelists used the words intending to mean that Jesus "transfigured" and not "transformed" to emphasize that this man was still identifiable as Jesus but also so much more than his humanity would allow to be seen.
The word "transfiguration" as it relates to Jesus, signifies a complete change of appearance which results in revealing his divine glory which his humanity served to veil. No aspect of Jesus became something substantially different nor was he changed into something which formerly he was not. Jesus is and was a body soul unity just as we are, but unlike us Jesus has two natures, each in their fullness. The divine nature of Jesus had been hidden, but on Mt Tabor that day, it was revealed to Saints Peter, James and John and they were blessed to be witness to this revelation. Jesus, fully divine and fully human stood before them, completely revealed, and their understanding of Jesus began to be transformed.
Encounters with God, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit have a ‘transformative’ effect in as much as our thoughts and actions are changed, and these encounters as well as the continued graces which we receive, have a ‘transfiguring’ power. Our appearance can be changed as we become like living stones, images of Christ, salt and light reflecting the glory of the Lord. As we grow in holiness through our sanctification, we increasingly reflect that glory more brightly and more fully reveal that which is hidden. The divine. God.
Peace doesn't just happen; it's made.
CampusPadre is a college ministry Priest Chaplain with 30 years experience in youth and young adult ministry, who strives to let the Holy Spirit lead and challenges students to seek holiness above all.