Sunday, February 26, 2017

Transfiguration Sunday

Today is Quinquagesima, the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, or the fiftieth day (hence the name) before Easter. The three named pre-Lent Sundays have been eliminated from the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, although a few Anglican provinces still mark these days. In many Western Christian denominations, this is also Transfiguration Sunday, commemorating the event, recorded in the Synoptic gospels, where Jesus transformed into his glorified appearance along with Moses and Elijah atop Mount Tabor in Galilee.

The Facebook page of Christ the Bridegroom Monastery in Burton, Ohio, had a lovely piece in 2013 in commemoration of the Feast of the Transfiguration, observed in August in Eastern churches. (A former student is a nun at that Byzantine Catholic monastery.) I found the quoted-from book and the passage:

"The disciple must see 'Jesus only', Jesus in his humility. If, at rare moments, his image does seem to us to be clothed in light, and if we seen to hear the voice of the Father commending the Son to our love, these lightning flashes do not last; and we must immediately find Jesus again where he is normally to be found, in the midst of our humble and sometimes difficult everyday duties. To see 'Jesus only' also means: to concentrate our attention and our gaze on Jesus alone, and not to allow ourselves to be distracted either by the things of this world or by the men and women we meet, in short, to make Jesus supreme and unique in our lives. Does this mean that we must shut our eyes to the world that surrounds us and often needs us? Some of us are called to be absolutely alone with the Master: let them be faithful to this vocation. But most of Jesus' disciples, who live in the midst of the world, can give another interpretation to the words 'Jesus only'. Without renouncing a grateful contact with created things, and a loving and devoted contact with men, they can attain a degree of faith and love which will allow Jesus to become transparent through both men and things; all natural beauty, all human beauty will become the fringe of the beauty that is itself Christ's; we will see its reflection in everything which attracts and merits our sympathy in others; in short, we shall have 'transfigured' the world, and we shall find 'Jesus only' in all those on whom we open our eyes."

--- from "The Year of Grace of Our Lord: A Scriptural and Liturgical Commentary on the Calendar of the Orthodox Church" by a Monk of the Eastern Church (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1992), 241-242.

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