Transfiguration 2009

Ordinary Time 18/Trinity 8 – Thursday
Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ

The Transfiguration of Christ by Theophanes the Greek
The Transfiguration of Christ by Theophanes the Greek

Collect for the Feast of the Transfiguration

Eternal God, our glorious King,
whose Son Jesus Christ was transfigured on the holy mountain
and seen in splendour by his chosen witnesses:
grant us, his followers, faith to perceive his glory,
to listen to him, and to walk in his way,
that we may be changed into his likeness from glory to glory;
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The priest on duty today for the lunchtime Mass at St. John’s had some interesting thoughts to share on the Gospel reading (Mark 9:2-10).

She said in her homily that like the three apostles who were with Christ, his inner circle, we sometimes are stunned, afraid and unsure of what to do. Like them on the mountain, we stammer out words when we have an epiphany. And as in the icon above painted by Theophanes the Greek, we  fall down. Sometimes to the point when we are right down at the base of the mountain. But whether or not we are on the top of the mountain after we have gone through the our stunned, afraid and unsure phase or down in the bottom of it and the valley as we go through trials and tribulations, we look towards another hill from whatever vantage point we have. The hill of Golgotha to see one crucified on a cross for us and our salvation. No matter where we are, we are called to not be afraid. We are not afraid because like Christ on Mount Tabor, the faithful too will be transfigured upon the day of resurrection.

My own reflections now. Christ on Mt Tabor appears in brilliance. At NCYC09 this year, they called this the Napisan moment in St. Mark’s Gospel (after the laundry detergent that will get your white clothes, and nappies for that matter, as bright as can be). Jesus is shown in his glory and the full radiance and splendour of God incarnate. His three closest friends tremble and hide themselves as best as they can from what is in view before them. But a few chapters later in the Gospel (which could be a year or so later in real life), Jesus also shows his glory on the hill of Golgotha. God’s power and strength made manifest in weakness and humiliation. Christus victor. And his three closest friends along with the rest of the apostles and disciples (bar Judas) hide themselves away too in sadness, questioning and with their faith crushed until the news comes back that Christ is risen on the following first day of the week.

Today’s feast day gives us a chance to reflect on this prefiguration of the resurrection body that Christ would take on after his death and a prefiguration for us in showing us the glory we will share with Christ in the end. In the New Jerusalem. In the name of the Father +, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Coelestis formam gloriae (O wondrous type! O vision fair!)
(Sarum Breviary, Venice, 1495; trans. Rev. John M. Neale 1851):

Coelestis formam gloriae, | Quam spes quaerit Ecclesiae, | In monte Christus indicat, | Quo supra solem emicat.
(O wondrous type! O vision fair! |  Of glory that the church shall share, | Which Christ upon the mountain shows, | Where brighter than the sun He glows!)

Res ihemoranda saeculis; | Hic cum tribus discipulis | Cum Moyse et Helia | Grata promit eloquia.
(From age to age the tale declares | How with the three disciples there | Where Moses and Elijah meet, | The Lord holds converse high and sweet.)

Assistunt testes gratiae | Legis atque prophetiae, | De nube testimonium | Sonat Patris ad Filium.
(The law and prophets there have place, | Two chosen witnesses of grace, | The Father’s voice from out the cloud | Proclaims His only Son aloud.)

Glorificata facie | Christus claret hodie, | Queis sit honor credentium | Deo pie fruentium.
(With shining face and bright array, | Christ deigns to manifest that day | What glory shall be theirs above | Who joy in God with perfect love.)

Visionis mysterium | Corde levat fidelium, | Unde solenni gaudio | Clamat nostra devotio.
(And faithful hearts are raised on high | By this great vision’s mystery; | For which in joyful strains we raise | The voice of prayer, the hymn of praise.)

Pater cum Unigenito | Et Spiritu Paraclito | Unus nobis hanc gloriam | Largire per praesentiam.
(O Father, with the eternal Son, | And Holy Spirit, ever One, | Vouchsafe to bring us by Thy grace | To see Thy glory face to face.)

+ 2231hrs

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