The Feast of the Transfiguration is an annual festival in the Christian calendar that celebrates the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ. According to the three synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), Jesus and his disciples Peter, James and John went to a mountain in order to pray. Whilst they were there, Jesus was suddenly illuminated by a bright light, and the figures of the great prophets Moses and Elijah appeared beside him. A voice from the clouds declared that Jesus is ‘my Son’ to whom the disciples should listen. When the vision passed, Jesus asked his disciples not to tell anyone of what they witnessed. This event is referred to as the Transfiguration, due to Christ being changed from his earthly appearance to a heavenly one. The early Church considered it to be one of the greatest miracles of Jesus and is unique in that it happened to him rather than was performed by him. The Feast of the Transfiguration has been observed in various forms since at least as early as the ninth-century and is today celebrated by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Anglican Churches, amongst others.
Christians perceive the Transfiguration both as the revelation of Christ’s glory and as a foreshadowing of the Resurrection. Scripture often portrays high mountains as the meeting place of heaven and Earth, and Jesus’ Transfiguration on the mountain suggests that he is the bridge that brings the two together. The presence of Moses and Elijah during the moment of revelation also demonstrates that Jesus both fulfils and surpasses the teachings of the Hebrew prophets. The Transfiguration is of particular importance to the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, who believe that it was a moment when Christ revealed the glory of the Holy Trinity. It has often been said, a little simplistically, that whereas the Western Church emphasises the suffering and Crucifixion of Jesus and atonement the Eastern Church emphasises the Transfiguration of Jesus meaning that the theology of Eastern Christianity is more concerned with spiritual glorification.
Let us pray that we may be like Christ and so full of grace and truth as to be fully alive human beings.