Transfiguration Sunday 2023 – 06 August 2023

Readings for the day

Preached by Br Josias

Today the church commemorates the feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord. The feast is also celebrated on a Sunday before Ash Wednesday. I think that is done so to alert us to keep the radiance of God always before our eyes as we enter into the solemn period of Lent. Traditionally the feast is commemorated on the 14th Sunday after Easter, or the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, depending on how you look at it. I believe the feast is observed around this time just to remind us that God’s glory is still in our midst. It is also meant to remind us to always keep the presence of God in our daily lives.


I must confess, I really do not know much about transfiguration. However, when I searched for the word “transfiguration” in my dictionary it said: a great change of appearance that makes a person more spiritual. I thought to myself, I would really like that. In my very short life here on earth I have never experienced an event like that, so that still remains a mystery for me. So I am not going to even attempt to explain what the change in Moses and Jesus’s faces mean. Even the disciples and the leaders of Israel could hardly understand what was going on. 


Something interesting, though, about the transfiguration of both Moses and Jesus is that these events take place when they had just spent time alone with God. Preparing to be a faithful bearer of God’s word requires time alone with God. In the Chapter preceding the one read at the first lesson this morning, Exodus 33:11 we learn that God used to speak to Moses “face to face, as a (person) speaks to a friend”. Don’t we all aspire to that 

So the glow of Moses, as we have had from the first reading, comes from him standing in the presence of the Divine. Others may notice the glow, before the bearer sees it. I am not sure if Jesus was aware of his glow, but it was really something for the disciples to see. So do not go out telling people you are surrounded by God’s radiance, rather let others see God’s radiance through you. As St Benedict says in his tools of good works: Do not aspire to be called holy before you really are, but first be holy that you may more truly be called so (RB 4: 62). So let us aspire to speak to God “face to face”, that will help us resemble God in everywhere we go and in everything we do. 

The one understanding of the transfiguration of both Moses and Jesus is that they reflect God’s glory. What does it mean?  Does that mean only the two man can resemble God’s glory? Paul in his 2nd letter to Corinthians (3:18) writes:  All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord… transforms us into his likeness in an ever greater degree of glory. 

All of us, reflect the glory of the Lord…  If we can keep that in mind, then humanity will live in harmony.  

The second century Greek bishop, theologian and now the doctor of the Church, St Irenaeus once said: “The glory of God is human person fully alive; and to be alive consists in beholding God”

Think about that: The Glory of God is human person fully alive. What does this mean? Well, Glory, according to my dictionary it is that which radiates from God, that which shows God’s Holiness. Therefore, the Holiness of God is radiated in the human person fully alive. To be fully alive is to be alive both physically and spiritually, for we are spiritual beings as well as physical beings. Therefore, to paraphrase Irenaeus we can say: The Holiness of God is seen in people who are physically and spiritually alive. 


And what does that mean? For me, that phrase means our virtual life or morality should go hand in hand with our spirituality. Spirituality should influence our morality. I think that is what happened with Moses and Jesus. Spending time with God helped them to be more life giving to others.  


Before Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, he had some time with God on the mountain. Even in the period of the wilderness, he would leave the camp and spend time with God. After that he would come with much enthusiasm and tell the people what God told him. This was the same with Jesus, before he started with public ministry he spent some time away with God in the desert. Even during his ministry, he would withdraw from the crowds to be with God. This for me emphasis the fact that our morality should always be influenced by our spirituality. 


What are you saying Josias? Even though I don’t understand the mystery of the transfiguration, I am moved by the fact that Moses and Jesus spent time with God. For other people to see God’s radiance through me, I need to be alone with God. Spending time alone with God will help me to be more life giving to others. Thus my spirituality, my inner understanding of God and inner understanding of myself should influence my morality, which is my good and right behaviour. My face may not shine, but I should try to resemble God in everywhere I go and in everything I do. “to be alive consists in beholding God” 


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