A Homily Thread on the Transfiguration

August 6 is the Transfiguration of the Lord

Collect of the Day  O God, who on the holy mount didst reveal to chosen witnesses thine Only Begotten Son wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may be permitted to behold the King in his beauty; who with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, ever one God, world without end. ℟ Amen.

Happy Feast of the Transfiguration!

So what is it about the Transfiguration that should be so encouraging, so enlightening? Well, we were eyewitnesses of his majesty, Peter says. His majesty. Peter knew and had followed Jesus, the mostly homeless and itinerant rabbi.

And for all the power of his teaching, and even the miracles he had witnessed, Jesus is still, far as Peter can see, subject to all the usual and unjust earthly powers and authorities.

After all, just a week prior to this, Jesus had announced his intention to go to Jerusalem, where Peter and the other Apostles are sure he, and probably they as well, will be killed. “Let us go with him that we may also die with him,” Thomas says.

And Peter himself tries to prevent Jesus from going, only to have Jesus say, “get behind me Satan.” Peter is worried. Jesus is taking them to a dark and dangerous place.

But before Jerusalem, before Mt Calvary, Jesus takes Peter and these other “chosen witnesses” up Mt Tabor, and there the veil of dust and care and time and frail, oriented-to-death human flesh is pulled back for just a few minutes, and the Apostles see, and we by faith see with them, the Incarnate Son of God in his eternal glory. That is, we see his glorified humanity - which is our own humanity, in perfect and complete union with his divinity.

In other words, in the Transfiguration, the Apostles received a glimpse, a foretaste, of Christ’s victory, and they see their own potential, the potential of every single human being who is united to Christ by faith and baptism.

As St Irenaeus said all the way back in the second century, in Christ “God became what we are in order to make us what he is himself." In Christ, our own humanity, purified by grace from every spot and stain of sin, may have a share in divinity, in the eternal life and light of the Most Blessed Trinity.

And with that hope, and keeping our eyes on that prize, we may have courage to face up to what our collect, with affecting understatement, calls, “the disquietude of this world.”