Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord

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Maronite Icon of the Transfiguration

On 6 August during the season of Pentecost, we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration. It is a central event recorded in the three synoptic Gospels. It appears in Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8 , and Luke 9:28-36. It is also alluded to in the Epistle of Peter (2 Peter 1:16-18) and the Gospel of John (John 1:14).

The feast commemorates the transfiguration of Christ. Before his passion, Jesus took the apostles Peter, James, and John to Mount Tabor, and while they were on the mountain Jesus was transfigured. His face shone like the sun, and garments became glistening white and the prophets Moses and Elijah appeared with him. This event allowed the apostles to recognise Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” It is central to the Syriac focus on the Incarnation.

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Church of the Transfiguration atop Mt Tabor, Israel. Photo: Fadey Sayeh

 

Moses received the law from God, and Elijah was a great prophet. Christ is the fulfilment of both the law and the prophets (Mt 5:17).  Both Moses and Elijah had experienced visions of God, Moses on Mount Sinai and Elijah on Mount Carmel. They represent the living and the dead. Elijah, the living, because he was taken up (assumed) into heaven by a chariot of fire and Moses, the dead, because he did experience death.

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Jesus and his Apostles will have seen this view from the top of the Mountain. Photo credit: Fadey Sayeh

This event perhaps has another significance. As Maronites and Catholics we are sometimes challenged for praying to the saints and Mary. In this event we see Moses who was dead before Christ, conversing with him. Our Lady and the saints can indeed intercede for us and it is good for use to seek their intercession.

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Maronites celebrate Mass inside the Church of the Transfiguration. The area is well known for producing mosaic type art. The ceiling is all mosaic.

Finally, in the Hoosoyo in the Liturgy for this feast we are again reminded that God is fire and Christ is light. If you have not read our article on this topic, it is fundamental to our understanding of the Trinity. You can find the article and further explanations here https://livingmaronite.com/resources/the-holy-trinity-a-unison-of-love/.

In Mass this week listen carefully to the words of the prayer of forgiveness. It is an extraordinary theology lesson. Blessed feast to you all and may the radiant light of Christ guide you always!

Prayer of Forgiveness for the Feast of the Transfiguration

O Christ our God, you showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush that was not consumed. In ancient times, you appeared to your people in a pillar of fire, in a cloud, in lightning, in a clap of thunder, and in the sound of a trumpet. Likewise, on this day, you chose to fulfil your plan of salvation for us.  You went up to the top of the mountain with your disciples Peter, James, and John and were transfigured before them with the light of your divine glory as your clothes became dazzling white. 

They saw Moses and Elijah and heard them talking with you. Then Peter said: “Lord, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Then they heard the voice of your Father from heaven, saying to them: “This is my Son, the Beloved, with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” 

They fell to the ground and were overcome by fear, but you raised them up by your great power and enlightened them, ordering them not to reveal this great mystery until after your passion and resurrection in Jerusalem.

Now, O Christ our God, we implore you, with the fragrance of this incense, to fill your Church with the great light of your transfiguration. Confirm us in the true faith of your apostles. In your compassion forgive our sins, and in your mercy remember our departed. We raise glory and thanks to you, to your Father, and to your Holy Spirit, for ever.

Amen.


Go back to Pentecost