The Transfiguration


August 6

Our Redeemer and Master Jesus had already consumed more than two and a half years preaching and performing wonders. He was approaching the time predestined by the eternal wisdom for satisfying divine justice, for redeeming the human race through his Passion and Death, and thus to return to his eternal Father. Since all His works were ordered with the highest wisdom for our instruction and salvation, the Lord resolved to prepare and strengthen some of his Apostles for the scandal of his Passion by manifesting to them beforehand in its glory that same body, which He was so soon to exhibit in the disfigurement of the Cross. Thus, would they be reassured by the thought, that they had seen it transfigured in glory before they looked upon it disfigured by His sufferings. This He had promised a short time before in the presence of all, although not to all, but only to some of his disciples, as is recorded by Saint Matthew (Matth. 16, 28). For his Transfiguration, He selected a high mountain in the center of Galilee, two leagues east of Nazareth and called Mount Tabor. Ascending to its highest summit with the three Apostles, Peter, and the two brothers James and John, He was transfigured before them (Matth. 17, 1; Mark 9, 1; Luke 9, 28).

The three Evangelists tell us that besides these Apostles, the prophets Moses and Elias were also present discoursing with Jesus about his Passion, and that, while He was thus transfigured, a voice resounded from heaven in the name of the eternal Father, saying: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him." The Evangelists do not say that the Blessed Virgin Mary was present at this Transfiguration, nor do they say that She was not there; this did not fall within their purpose, and they did not think it proper to speak of the hidden miracle by which She was enabled to be there. However, at the same time in which the holy angels were commissioned to bring the souls of Moses and Elias from their abode, others of Mary’s own guard carried the heavenly Lady to Mount Tabor, in order to witness the Transfiguration of her divine Son, for without a doubt She really witnessed it. There was no necessity of confirming the most holy Mother in her faith, as was necessary with the Apostles; for She was invincibly confirmed in faith. But the Lord had many different objects in view at his Transfiguration, and there were special reasons for his not wishing to celebrate this great event without the presence of his most holy Mother. What for the Apostles was a gratuitous favor, was a duty in regard to the Queen and Mother, since She was His Companion and Co-partner in the works of the Redemption even to the foot of the Cross. It was proper to fortify Her by this favor against the torments in store for her most holy soul. Moreover, She was to remain on earth as the Teacher of the holy Church, therefore it was proper that She should be one of the eye-witnesses of this great mystery. To grant such a favor was easily within the power of her divine Son, since He was wont to lay open to Her all the workings of his divine soul. Nor would the love of such a Son permit Him to withhold that favor from his Mother; for He otherwise omitted nothing whereby He could in any way demonstrate his tender love for Her, and this certainly would be a token of highest esteem for her excellence and dignity. most holy Mary assisted at the Transfiguration of her divine Son, our Redeemer.

During this Transfiguration the blessed Mary saw not only the humanity of Christ our Lord transformed in glory, but She was favored by an intuitive and clear vision of the Divinity itself; for the Lord wished Her to partake of the privilege implied in being present at this event in a more abundant and distinguished manner than the Apostles. Moreover, there was a great difference between her insight and that of the Apostles into the glory of the transfigured body; for the Apostles, as Saint Luke tells us (Luke 9, 32), were not only asleep when Jesus at the beginning of this mysterious glorification retired to pray, but they were also seized with such fear at the voice resounding from heaven, that they fell with their faces to the earth and rose not until the Lord himself spoke to them and raised them up (Matth. 17, 6). On the other hand, the blessed Mother witnessed and heard all these events without undue excitement; besides being accustomed to such great manifestations of glory, She was divinely fortified and enlightened for looking upon the Divinity. Hence She was enabled to look fixedly upon the glorified body, without experiencing the terror and weakness of the senses which overtook the Apostles. The effects caused in Her by this vision were such that She was totally renewed and inflamed by this communication with the Divinity. As long as She lived She never lost the impression caused by the sight of such glory manifested in the humanity of Christ. The memory of it greatly consoled Her in the absence of her divine Son, whenever His glorious presence was not otherwise felt by Her. Yet on the other hand the memory of this glorious Transfiguration of Christ also made Her feel so much the more deeply the maltreatment experienced by Christ in his Passion and Death. 

The Transfiguration


But no human ingenuity can suffice fully to describe the effects of this glorious vision of her Son on her most holy soul. With inmost gratitude and deepest penetration, She began to ponder upon what She had seen and heard; exalted praise of the omnipotent God welled forth from her lips when She considered how her eyes had seen refulgent in glory that same bodily substance, which had been formed of her blood, carried in her womb and nursed at her breast; how She had with her own ears heard the voice of the eternal Father acknowledge her Son as his own and appoint Him as the Teacher of all the human race. With her holy angels, She composed new canticles to celebrate an event so full of festive joy for her soul and for the most sacred humanity of her Son. His countenance began to shine like the sun and his garments became whiter than the snow (Matth. 17, 2). This outward splendor was merely the effect of the glory of his Divinity always united to his beautified soul. At his Incarnation, the glory which would naturally have been communicated permanently to his sacred body, was miraculously suspended for the time of his natural life: now, this suspension of his divine glory ceased and the body, for a short time, was allowed to share the glory of his soul. This is the splendor which became visible to those who were present. Immediately after the miraculous suspense, the divine glory was again confined only to his soul. As his soul was always in the beatified state, so also his body, according to the common order, should have continually shared in this glory, and therefore this transient glorification of his body was likewise a miracle.

* From Ven. Mary of Agreda's City of God

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