The earthly life of Jesus Christ portrays an image of humility and self-renunciation. He was born in a cave, left the safety of his home in Jerusalem, performed miracles and asked that no one be told (Messianic Secret), and in the end returned to Jerusalem where there was a shameful and painful execution awaiting him.
There were only a few occasions when his divinity shone forth, most notably his birth, baptism, and transfiguration. On those few exceptions, few saw it and most, even his apostles, did not know what it all meant. Most often, there was awe, and uncertainty. There was always confusion.
The church asks us to simply enter into the joy of these feasts with our heart and mind. They are not easily explained, as scholars for centuries have noted and struggled with.
The single word which dominates the Feast of Transfiguration is light. The verses of Vespers speak of it repeatedly.
The world has become cold, dark, and terrifying. It is not the world God created at the beginning of time. However, this Transfiguration light serves to properly transfigure man and restore him to his original beauty and perfection. When man is filled with this light of Transfiguration, everything is different; everything is changed.
Only then will man, like the Apostle Peter, cry out, “Lord, it is good to be here.” This is the prayer for and of transfiguration; it is the prayer of Christ’s victory over darkness and despair. It becomes the center of our faith, which in turn becomes our continual thirst for transfiguration and a return to God.
- Fr Marc Vranes