"The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God." -St Irenaeus of Lyon

On the Transfiguration

In the absolute craziness of the end of camp, I missed posting on the Feast of the Transfiguration (6 August).  I would be remiss if I failed to mention that the Feast of the Transfiguration is one of my favorite feasts to reflect on regularly.  Perhaps it is simply because it is a new feast for me as I didn’t realize it was observed until 2007, or perhaps it is because I find the hymn of the feast to be an exceptionally rich ground for reflection.

One of the hymns of the Transfiguration is recorded thus:

On the Mountain You were Transfigured, O Christ God,
And Your disciples beheld Your glory as far as they could see it;
So that when they would behold You crucified,
They would understand that Your suffering was voluntary,
And would proclaim to the world,
That You are truly the Radiance of the Father!

Another variant of the second line is “Revealing Your glory to Your disciples as far as they could bear it.”  Incidentally, when I visited one of my favorite monasteries last weekend during my travels, I heard yet another variant: “Showing Your glory to Your disciples for as long as they were able to bear it.”  The icon of the Feast shows Peter, James and John falling over themselves as Christ shines with glory.  (You can also read the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.)

I like this feast because of the energetic bumbling of disciples who have been with Jesus for years.  The texts clearly describe them as “terrified,” and the hymns reflect a rich, loving condescension of Christ beyond measure as He restrains Himself to allow His disciples to be present in the moment of the Transfiguration with Him.  It is also notable to me that 3 of the 12 are taken to this special time, incidentally thought to be icons of the 3 principal theological virtues of faith, hope and love, as it seems that the disciples must be prepared for this moment.  Were Peter, James and John close enough to Christ where they could stand to see His glory revealed if only for a moment?

And then I have to wonder in amazement about how Christ prepares people with the strength to bear His fully revealed glory for all eternity as He unites us with Himself.  May He grant to us the courage to be people of divine thanksgiving who approach Him in fear and trembling.

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