FRIDAY, AUGUST 6: Eastern Orthodox members may be in the middle of the Dormition Fast, but today, they take a break and feast in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord. (Get a Russian Orthodox perspective here, which emphasizes the link between this event and the Lord’s Second Coming, or the American Orthodox perspective here.) The event this day commemorates – the transfiguration of Jesus into a radiant figure on Mount Tabor before Peter, James and John – is certainly a celebration of Jesus, but it is also a celebration of the Holy Trinity; devotees believe that all three members of the Holy Trinity were present at this event. (Get an easy-to-understand explanation at Wikipedia.) Roman Catholics mark this feast today, too, and it’s believed that while God the Father spoke from heaven, Jesus was transfigured and the Holy Spirit was present in the form of a cloud. (Click here to read how Catholics view this event.)
It’s through this miraculous event that several theories have come about. Primarily, religious scholars argue we can know God through His divine energy, just as His holy light shone on Mount Tabor. Many scholars also agree that the Transfiguration was evidence of not only Jesus’ divinity, but of the fact that His mission on earth was by His own choice. Finally, because Moses and Elijah had also spoken to Jesus on Mount Tabor, it’s believed that the disciples were able to understand Jesus as someone much greater than any previous prophet.
As one of the Church’s 12 Great Feasts, the Transfiguration has been an important part of the liturgical calendar for centuries. (The Orthodox Church in America explains the Transfiguration’s observance throughout history.) By the 4th century, a church had already been built on Mount Tabor in dedication to the Transfiguration. Today, the Huffington Post reports on a vision of the Transfiguration in this and last century - and how the irony of today as the anniversary of Hiroshima reflects on Jesus’ ancient words.
(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)
(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)