Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Article | August 4, 2017

Lectionary Reflection: The Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ

Blog|The Rev. Canon Mark Stanger

Exodus 34:29-35; Luke 9:28-36; 2 Peter 1:13-21

The Transfiguration as a feast day was first observed by the desert monks of the ancient Christian East and later embraced by the West. Here in the Western Christian tradition, with our reminders of human weakness and the need for redemption, we welcome this Eastern Christian emphasis on affirming the reality of transfiguration and divinization of all that is human, which cannot stay hidden even in the face of evil and death. Our life need not be spent only tiptoeing through a minefield, careful to avoid evil. What if it were a search for hidden radiance, glimpses of the divine, hidden gifts of grace, hidden chances for transformation and renewal?

We also celebrate the Transfiguration on the last Sunday after the Epiphany, with the real possibility of glory established before the Lenten journey to Easter. It occurs about forty days before Good Friday, when the glory of the Crucified One shines even from the cross. Similarly, today’s celebration comes forty days before September 14, the Feast of the Holy Cross. This balance is appropriately observed at the spring and autumnal equinoxes, with the balancing of daytime and nighttime.

Worldly powers cannot tolerate this possibility of transfigurative light shining through our humanity. The Roman occupying power and their collaborators killed Jesus. On this day in 1945, the United States dropped the first atomic bombs ever used on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Still today, from the halls of power, tens of thousands around the globe are bombed and shelled, or left to die from starvation and curable diseases.

The Transfiguration mystery upholds our call to radiant transformation into God-like-ness, even in the face of a culture of death.

This reflection was written by The Rev. Mark E. Stanger, Canon for Formation.

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