Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Feast of the Transfiguration

The Feast of the Transfiguration is one of my favourites, because it symbolises the transfiguration that must occur in our own lives, as St Paul pointed out in 2 Corinthians 3:

"Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not see the end of the fading splendor. But their minds were hardened; for to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds; but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."

The actual epistle set for the feast is from 2 Peter, and includes the very contemporary sounding refutation of the idea that Christian doctrines are just 'cleverly invented myths' - St Peter insists that this episode in Jesus' life is recorded from eyewitness accounts.

Dr Rowland, in her book on Thomism and culture provides another interesting perspective on this incident, seeing the Transfiguration (as described in Matthew 17 and elsewhere) as an example of the idea that memory needs experiences of the beautiful in order to be receptive to the virtue of hope. Certainly in his sermon for the Feast, St Leo emphasizes that the transfiguration was intended to 'take away from the disciples' hearts the scandal of the cross, lest the voluntary abjectness of His Passion should shake the faith of those men to whom had been revealed the excellence of His hidden Majesty'. Indeed, each detail of the Transfiguration is mirrored negatively in the crucifixion.
The homily set for the day by St John Chrysostom also nicely echoes a point about eschatology made by commenter Peter on yesterday's post. St John points out that though Our Lord talked about both heaven and hell, 'he allows heaven alone to be glimpsed with the eyes, but hell not all...since these (His apostles) were upright and keen men, it was enough that they be confirmed by the better things'.

1 comment:

Michael Sternbeck. said...

Today, the Feast of the Transfiguration, is the 30th anniversary of the death of Pope Paul VI.