Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up a mountain to pray.While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white.And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here;let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.
And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elijah talking with them. (St. John Chrysostom:) And this happened for many reason; of which this is the first: because the multitude had been saying He was Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the prophet He here took to himself the chief persons among the prophets, so that from this also they might see what difference lay between the Master and His servants. Another reason is: the Jews continually accused Jesus of being a violator of the Law, and a blasphemer, and of taking to Himself the glory of the Father. That He may be shown guiltless of these accusation He brings before them two persons who had been preeminent in regard to both those things. For Moses had given the Law, and Elijah had been filled with zeal for the glory of the Father.
Another reason was that they might learn that He had power over life and death, and for this He brought Moses before them: who had departed this life by way of death, and Elijah who had not yet suffered death. The Evangelist reveals another reason, namely: to manifest the glory of the Cross, and to comfort Peter and the other Disciples who were fearful of the Passion. for they spoke, of his exodos that he should accomplish in Jerusalem. And so He brings before them these two who had challenged death for the things that were pleasing to God, and on behalf of the people who believed in Him. For both of their own will had faced tyrants; Moses confronting Pharaoh and Elijah Ahab. And lastly He brings them before them so that the Disciples might be Emulous of their special qualities: that they might become gentle, like Moses, and zealous for the glory of God, like Elijah.
This feast became widespread in the West in the 11th century and was introduced into the Roman calendar in 1457 to commemorate the victory over Islam in Belgrade. Before that, the Transfiguration of the Lord was celebrated in the Syrian, Byzantine, and Coptic rites. The Transfiguration foretells the glory of the Lord as God, and His Ascension into heaven. It anticipates the glory of heaven, where we shall see God face to face. Through grace, we already share in the divine promise of eternal life.
Collect: God our Father, in the transfigured glory of Christ your Son, you strengthen our faith by confirming the witness of your prophets, and show us the splendor of your beloved sons and daughters. As we listen to the voice of your Son, help us to become heirs to eternal life with him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.