Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Feast of the Transfiguration


The feast of the transfiguration of our Lord is celeberated each year on August 6th. The feast commemorates the transfiguration or metamorphosis of Christ on Mount Tabor, when our Lord appeared in His divine glory before the Apostles Peter, James, and John.

The event of the Transfiguration is recorded in three of the four Gospels: Matthew 17:1-9 , Mark 9:2-8 , and Luke 9:28-36 . The epistle of Peter (2 Peter 1:16-18) and the Gospel of John (John 1:14) also breifly allude to this event. Peter describes himself as an eyewitness "of his sovereign majesty."

Jesus took the Apostles Peter, James, and John with Him up upon a mountain, and while they were on the mountain Jesus was transfigured. His face shone like the sun, and His garments became glistening white.

Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ, talking to Him. Saint John Chrysostom (Mor Ivanios) explains the presence ofthese two fathers of the faith, Moses and Elijah from the Old Testament in three ways. He states that they represent the Law and the Prophets (Moses received the Law from God, and Elijah was a great prophet); they both experienced visions of God (Moses on Mount Sinai and Elijah on Mount Carmel); and they represent the living and the dead (Elijah, the living, because he was taken up into heaven by a chariot of fire, and Moses, the dead, because he did experience death).

Peter declared how good it was for them to be there and expressed the desire to build three booths ( booth or tent is translated into Malayalam as Koodaram കൂടാരം) for Moses, Elijah, and Christ. This reference to the booths could imply that this occurred during the time of the Feast of Tabernacles when the Jews would be camping out in the fields for the grape harvest; for this Feast had acquired other associations in the course of its history, including the memory of the wanderings in the wilderness recorded in the Old Testament book of Exodus. This is why this feast is also known as Koodara perunal (കൂടാര പ്പെരുനാള്‍).

While Peter was speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them. A voice came from the cloud saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him." When the disciples heard this they fell on their faces filled with awe. Jesus came to them and told them to not be afraid. When the three looked up they saw only Jesus.

As Jesus and His disciples came down the mountain, He told them not to speak of what they had seen until He had risen from the dead.

The feast of the transfiguration also points to the great and glorious Second Coming of our Lord and the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God when all of creation will be transfigured and filled with light.

There is one more learning for us Orthodox Christians from this feast. When the so called reformed groups tell us that the saints including St. Mary the Mother of God, cannot intercede for us, since they are dead; we can clearly see in the scripture, Moses who was long dead before Christ, having a conversation with Christ. If Moses, who was dead could converse with Christ, St. Mary, St. Peter and other saints who are also physically dead can converse with Christ. They can and will intercede for us.

Readings for the day

source: http://syrianorthodox.googlepages.com/transfiguration

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