The Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ commemorates the event wherein Jesus took the three closest disciples of Peter, James and John on Mount Tabor and was transfigured before them.

One detail which is so telling of this feast relates to the face of Jesus: The evangelist Matthew recounts the following: And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light (Mt 17:2). Thus, the first and most powerful sign of the transfigured Jesus, the Consecrated One, is his shining face! On this fact Peter the Venerable (1092-1156), the abbot of Cluny, had this to say in his Sermon 1 for the Transfiguration:

What was surprising about Jesus’ face becoming like the sun since he himself was the sun? He was indeed the sun, but a sun hidden behind a cloud. Now, for a moment, the cloud dispersed and he shone out. What is this cloud that dispersed? It was not so much the flesh but the weakness of the flesh that disappeared for a moment. This is the cloud spoken of by the prophet: “See, the Lord will ride on a swift cloud” (Is 19:1): the cloud, the flesh that covers his divinity; swift, because this flesh bears not a trace of evil in itself, a cloud concealing the divine splendor; swift, because it is to rise up to the eternal splendor. This is the cloud of which it is written in the Song of Songs: “I was seated in the shadow of him for whom my soul longs” (cf. Sg 3:2). It is a swift cloud because this is the flesh of “the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn 1:29) and, once these have been removed, the world is carried up to heavenly heights, divested of the weight of all its sins. The sun concealed by this flesh is not that “which rises for good and bad alike” (Mt 5:45) but “the Sun of righteousness” (Mal 3:20), which rises only for those who fear God. Veiled, normally, by the cloud of the flesh, this light that “enlightens everyone” (Jn 1:9) shines out today in all its brilliance. Today it gives glory to this same flesh, it displays itself deified to the apostles so that they, the apostles, might make it known to the world.

Praise the Lord

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