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An account of Jesus’ transfiguration on the mount is included in each of the first three Gospels, and in each one it serves as an epiphany, a manifestion of the truth that Jesus is not only the messenger of salvation but also the saving message itself.

Jesus took Peter, James, and John up a mountain, where they beheld his figure clothed in dazzling glory and his conference with Moses and Elijah. Moses was the servant of God who received the divine covenant and delivered it to Israel; while the prophet Elijah was expected to come again and inaugurate the end of the ages, when Israel would be restored and vindicated in the sight of all the nations. The vision of Jesus conversing with these two figures revealed that he was the third founder of Israel and, as God’s very Son, the fulfillment of all the promises made in the Law and the Prophets.

The Transfiguration also foreshadowed the still greater event of resurrection, and it gave a foresight of what salvation and the life of glory would be like. The evangelists all began their accounts of the Transfiguration by focusing on Jesus’clothing. It was not stripped off him, as it would be at the crucifixion; instead it was almost unbearably enhanced. Saint Paul would pick up on this image in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, where he spoke of the Christian hope in these terms: “While we are in this earthly tent we sigh with anxiety; not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that
what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” Elsewhere he would speak of “putting on Christ” and of “being clothed with Christ.” Salvation, then, will not be a stripping away of what makes us human, but a donning of the vesture of glory; and the vesture of the blessed will be nothing other than the life of the risen Christ himself.

O God our Hope and Strength,
grant us in all time of our testing
to know your presence and obey your will,
that following the example of your servant John Mason Neale,
we may accomplish with integrity what you give us to do,
and endure with the courage of love
what you give us to bear;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


The icon of Transfiguration of the Lord in the church Chiesa di Santa Croce, early 20th Century. iStock 1488388683