This year we have the joy of celebrating the Transfiguration of the Lord on a Sunday, so this week we Lectio the Liturgy with the Collect for the Transfiguration of the Lord.
O God, who in the glorious Transfiguration of your Only Begotten Son confirmed the mysteries of faith by the witness of the Fathers and wonderfully prefigured our full adoption to sonship, grant, we pray, to your servants, that, listening to the voice of your beloved Son, we may merit to become co-heirs with him. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
The Transfiguration has always fascinated me. This prayer calls it glorious, but glorious is more than just an adjective, it means full of glory.
The prayer tells us where the glory can be found. First, the Transfiguration shows who Jesus really is, the son of God. The glory of who He is was shown when he became light. Peter, James, and John saw first-hand the glory in God’s son and it gave them a vision of heaven. What they saw at the Transfiguration was going to be vital for them, and the other disciples, as very soon Jesus would enter into his Passion.
Next, we find glory in the revelation of truth. In scripture we learn that the Fathers of the faith, Moses and Elijah were present on the mountain as well. The Transfiguration confirmed to them, and to us, that everything, the sacrifices that were made, the laws that were, and the words of the prophets, all of it was true. Because it is all true, our faith is confirmed as well.
We find glory in our adoption. We know that at Baptism, we become adopted children of God, and the Transfiguration shows us what we become, and what is to come, when we share in God’s glory in Heaven. It is true that glory comes as a gift, however the voice of the Father at the Transfiguration also tells us that there is some effort required on our part.
In the prayer, we call ourselves servants and we remind God that we are listening, just like He commanded Peter, James, and John on the mountain that day. To listen doesn’t only mean to hear, it means to obey. (Those of us who are parents have probably said it to our children numerous times, “Listen to me!”)
As we listen and obey, we become more conformed to Christ, we mereamur (Lat) - we merit or deserve, to be a co-heir with Christ. As an heir, we share in the sufferings and glory of Christ. As an heir, what belongs to Jesus - God’s glory, his riches, the universe, everything every created by God - also belongs to us.
As I prayed this prayer and meditated on it, there is something else about the Transfiguration that I came to realize. Every time we are at Mass, we partake in a transfiguration. Peter, James, and John climbed a mountain with Jesus. At the summit, they encountered the glorious risen Lord.
At Mass, we, too, climb a mountain with God. Each part of the liturgy, from the procession, to the Scripture, to the Eucharistic prayer, and everything in between, is a step that takes us closer to the summit. At the summit, the Eucharistic Prayer, the bread and wine become the Eucharist, the body, blood, soul, and divinity of the glorious risen Lord.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (par. 1324) tells us that the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” and it is at the summit of the Mass where we encounter the Eucharist, the glorious risen Lord. At this summit, we not only see Him, we bring Him into ourselves.
The Transfiguration of Jesus is a glimpse into our own transformation. When we receive Him, and if we allow Him to work, we are more and more transformed and conformed into His image, bringing His light into the world.
Thanks for praying with me,