The Feast of the Transfiguration is celebrated on a fixed date, August 6. The transfiguration of Jesus is a visible image of theosis. In his homily on the transfiguration St. John of Damascus says, “What was human became divine, and what was divine human by mode of exchange and unconfused mutual coinherence and the strictest hypostatic union.”
Jesus did not, however, become something new, something he was not before this event. Rather, he manifested what he always was. He manifested the glory of divinity united with humanity which existed from the moment of his conception in the womb of the Theotokos.
On the Mount of Transfiguration Christ showed humanity the archetypal beauty of its image. Christ revealed who we are and who, by grace, we are to become. He showed the deification of human nature.
The word “transfiguration,” translated from the Greek, μεταμορφοϖ, has both an exterior and an interior meaning. It suggests a change that is visible to others as well as an inward change of a fundamental character or condition. Both meanings are important to our understanding of theosis. You cannot have one without the other. Our exterior life manifests our interior condition and our interior condition orients and guides our exterior behavior. As one moves further along the journey toward theosis the interior change and growth should be manifest and visible to others by how we live, behave, and relate. If it is not one has to wonder whether growth and movement in the direction of theosis has really taken place.
O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with you, O Father, and you, O Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)
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