For the apostles the transfiguration formed part of their training.
It should have disposed them to believe in the divinity of Christ, even during His passion and death. In particular, the three favoured apostles should have become sufficiently mature to remain faithful during their Master's deepest humiliation on Olivet and Calvary.
For us the transfiguration is, and will always remain, heaven's testimony to Christ's divinity. All the miracles of Christ served this end, to reveal the divinity of Christ. Jesus passed His life on earth as a poor, ordinary, simple Jew. But at the transfiguration, one may say, He threw off the dark mantle of humanity and revealed Himself in full divine splendour. In spirit we gaze upon Him glorified and say, "Lord, I believe. Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Yet another truth is proclaimed in today's mystery, viz., some day we too will be glorified. Using words from St Paul, the Breviary tells what today's feast anticipates: "We eagerly await a Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ. He will refashion the body of our lowliness and conform it to the body of His glory."
Lastly, what is the import of the transfiguration to the liturgy itself? Remember, the liturgical texts not only serve to give instruction; their principal function is to signify that which actually takes place. What once happened during the night on Mount Tabor happens again every time the holy Sacrifice is offered. We may see only the simple appearances upon the altar, but with the eyes of faith we behold the glorified Christ; we see, in fact, the King of glory with His court, the saints of the Old and New Covenant. Liturgy actualises in our very presence the sanctifying act of Christ at His transfiguration.
It is, therefore, not only Christ who becomes transfigured — He allows me to share His glory. The holy Eucharist is the sacrament of transfiguration, for it is "the seed of glory." The purpose of the liturgy is the divine transfiguration of the participants'.
Fr. Pius Parsch. "Lent II." from Seasons of Grace (New York: Herder and Herder, 1963).
This book is in the public domain.
Father Pius Parsch, C.R.S. (1884-1954) was a Czech liturgist and member of the Canons Regular at Klosterneuburg Abbey. He is the author of Seasons of Grace.Copyright © 1963 Herder and Herder
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