Divine Liturgy every Sunday at 10 AM

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Feast of the Transfiguration

The Feast of the Transfiguration is one of the most important and revealing Feasts concerning not only the Life of Christ and the revealing of who He is as God incarnate; but also, since we are in union with Him, our ultimate destiny in His Kingdom. On Mount Tabor, Christ took His three chief disciples, Peter, James, and John, and there He showed forth Himself in what can only be described in human terms as brilliant white raiment, His face shining like a sun. In doing so He reveals Himself to be truly God incarnate; but that is not the only important truth that was revealed, for along with Christ there appeared Moses and Elijah who also appeared looking exactly like Christ in that they were also adorned in white and glowing just as brightly as Jesus. This confused the disciples who thought they might be seeing three Divine beings, so they wanted to build three Tabernacles to commemorate the experience.

The Fathers teach us that the person of Moses was there as an indication that the Old Testament law was fulfilled in Christ. Likewise, the person of Elijah was there to show that all the prophecies were fulfilled in the Life of Christ. Some have thought that this phenomenon was limited strictly to that moment in time; however, as we shall see, this manifestation has also been witnessed by many other people. This story portends a wonderful thing which is open to all who are found to be in Union with Christ. When we are baptized, we are brought into actual Union with Christ’s body, but we also know that Christ’s body is in complete Union with the second Person of the Holy Trinity. Therefore, even Jesus’s flesh shares in the full Glory of God.

When we are united in Christ, we are brought into the possibility of taking on that same reality within ourselves; to be brought into Union with God through Christ. You see, the Transfiguration is as much about our destiny in Christ as believers, as it is Christ revealing His divinity to the world, for he also revealed that in and through him mankind in Christ can be ultimately fulfilled and changed. We, through being united to Christ, can achieve theosis, realizing the Scriptural promise of participating in the Divine Nature. We take on everything that God is by Grace except for being unoriginate. God has no beginning; however, we do.

Now, we have to be careful here, as this does not mean that we become additional members of the Holy Trinity. The reality and the inner persons of the Holy Trinity forever remain within itself. Never will we blend or meld into the Holy Trinity. But through our Union to Christ’s Humanity we take on the Energies of God, which are different and yet not separate from His Essence. Those Energies form and change us into beings far beyond what we might even think possible. We take on Christ like a penetrating cloak of righteousness. We are able to become everything that God desires for us because of who Christ is.

St. Gregory Palamas taught that through prayer, which for him incorporated not only the spiritual but also the physical, we realize that not only does our spirit and mind pray but so can our bodies. Our whole beings participate, not only in active prayer, but also in the benefits of such prayer. This is why some of the disciples in the movement of Hesychasm were known to begin to glow just as Christ, Moses, and Elijah on Mt Tabor did during times of prayer. This phenomenon has been repeatedly encountered through the lives of the Saints of the Church such as Saint Seraphim of Sarov and it became known as the Divine Light. What happened to Moses, Elijah, and the Saints was that the physical body began to take on the Energies of God, to the point that their bodies became filled to the point that they began to radiate those Energies as light. This is not a physical light in that it can be duplicated by scientific means, but it is the same uncreated light that Christ Himself carries within His Person and shares with us. Our bodies take this on by grace and share alongside of our spirit and mind the glory of God. In other words we become very, very Godlike and God filled. This manifestation, however, is not given to everyone nor can anyone earn it. It seems to occur to only those whom God chooses to share it with.

Some monks have strived their entire lives to achieve this, but never experienced the Divine Light. Saint Gregory believes that this is because many of them wanted the gift more than they desired The Giver; while others, who in the eyes of the world were simple fools, began to exhibit the Divine Light in their everyday walks with Christ.

Therefore, during this great feast of the Transfiguration may we all concentrate not just on the Light of Christ but on Christ Himself. May we all become filled with the love and grace of God in such a way that it is hard for the world to distinguish us from Christ, to the glory of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

By Subdeacon Mark Cornelius


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