Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord
The Transfiguration of our Lord is celebrated on August 6. Let’s spend time especially with the Scriptures for this feast day. The significance of this event is often overlooked or underestimated. Think about the event for a moment:
Imagine you are with Peter, James, and John and are asked by Jesus to come apart with him to pray – it seems that Jesus asked them to do this fairly often. (These are the same three whom he invited to join him more closely in the Garden of Gethsemane, too.)
Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.” (Matthew 17:1-2, 5)
How do you think you would react?
Now, read this from the first reading from the prophet Daniel (Peter, James, and John would likely be familiar with this passage):
One like a Son of man coming,
on the clouds of heaven;
When he reached the Ancient One
and was presented before him,
The one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship;
all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not be taken away,
his kingship shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)
How are these two Scripture passages related?
We understand that the prophetic vision of Daniel is referring to the Messiah, the Son of Man, Jesus Christ. It is through our understanding of the Old Testament in light of the New Testament that we can make this connection. We received this understanding from Jesus himself. On Easter Sunday Jesus gave explicit instruction, “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures” (Luke 24:27) on the road to Emmaus and in the Upper Room:
He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. (Luke 24:44-45)
Then, for forty more days He continues to teach them and lead them in understanding everything. Peter recalls the Transfiguration event in his letter, the second reading for the feast. He gives an account and encourages our belief in it as a lamp, until the dawn of day breaks in our own hearts. (cf. 2 Peter 1:19) This means we should rely on the testimony of others until our own conversion takes place.
This is exactly what we do when we evangelize and catechize others, especially our own children. If you are a parent or catechist, think about how you are presenting the Faith to your children and students. Do you give them the Catechism of the Catholic Church or the Holy Bible in their crib and say, “here you go, let me know if you have any questions?” No, of course not. We don’t do that with anyone who is a child in the faith. We help them to come to know the Lord through our relationship with them. Children (really all people) come to believe in Jesus because we teach them through our own testimony. They will have their own conversion experiences whether they are big “blinding on the road” moments, or small whispering sound moments.
Think about how you came to believe in God. Was it through books or was it by the testimony of others? And remember, the Bible is really a testimony of others, not like any other book. So, if you came to believe through Scripture, it was by the testimony of the human authors and the Divine Revelation of the Holy Spirit whom you encountered. Reflect on how you share your testimony with others. Is it by the example of your life? Is it through conversation? Is it through ministerial service? Is it explicit or implicit? Talk with your family about how each person gives testimony to their belief in Jesus Christ. If you have not shared your conversion story with your children, take time this week to do so, in whatever way you feel comfortable and is age-appropriate for them. Allow your children to tell you their own conversion stories – for small children ask the question: How does God (or Jesus) talk to you? Can you tell me a story about when He has spoken to you or when you have seen Him?
We all have our own conversion experiences when the light of day shines in our hearts and we believe; not because our parents or teachers believe, but because we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Maybe you are still waiting for that dawn to break – pray for it.
Peter, James, and John were given a great vision of Jesus Christ’s glory. Let us take a moment this week and pray for our own vision of God’s glory. And recognize that at each and every Mass, the Lord Jesus Christ appears to us – we encounter heaven in the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar. It is another Transfiguration moment as we cry out, “Thy kingdom come!”
To the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit!
How does the Transfiguration call you closer to Jesus?
by Beth Cowles, MACE
HOO™ Co-Founder and Director of Faith Formation | Lead Catechist