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August 6, 2014

The Commandment of the Father at the Transfiguration of Christ

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The light of the Transfiguration of Christ is the light of the Divinity of Christ, which is the light of the Resurrection and the light of the Kingdom of God.

On Mount Tabor Christ was transfigured before His disciples, showing the beauty of His divinity (as much as His disciples could withstand), while a cloud overshadowed the disciples (which was the presence of the Holy Spirit), and from the cloud was heard the voice of the Father: "This is My beloved Son; listen to Him" (Mk. 9:7).

The moment the voice of the Father was heard was the highest point of the Theophany, for it was then that the disciples fell to the ground. Matthew the Evangelist informs us: "When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, and were exceedingly terrified" (Matt. 17:6). Then it was needed for Christ to approach them and touch them and He said to them: "Arise and fear not" (Matt. 17:7).

What we observe here is that the disciples saw the divine light that came from the body of Christ, they saw the cloud of light which was the presence of the Holy Spirit, and they heard the voice of the Father which also, according to the teachings of our Fathers, is the energy of God, like the light. We have the appearance of the Mystery of the Holy Trinity. Thus, as it is written in our sacred hymnography: "Light is the Father, Light is the Son, Light is also the Holy Spirit". And the hearing of the voice of the Father is light.

It is known that no man has seen the Father. Philip asked Christ to reveal the Father, and Christ responded: "He who has seen Me has seen the Father, so how can you say show us the Father?" (Jn. 14:9). The Father is seen in the Son, because the Son is consubstantial with the Father, and because the energy of the Triune God is common.

What must be stressed here is that the Father, according to the highest point of the Theophany, gave a commandment to the disciples to listen to Christ. "Listen to Him", He said. We listen to Christ when we apply His words, when we keep His commandments, when we apply all that He told us. This means that the path to our transfiguration is the application of the commandments of Christ. It is not about our compliance to some general commandments, but the keeping of the commandments of God which are commands for our salvation. For example, Christ at the Mystical Supper told His disciples: "Drink this in remembrance of Me" (Lk. 22:20). This means that the celebration of the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist and our participation in this great mystery, is an application of the commandment of God. The same happens in other cases.

However, the exhortation of the Father to the disciples "listen to Him" refers also to the Church, because the Church is not something separate from Christ, but it is His blessed and sanctified Body. Thus, the Father gave the commandment, as expressed at the revelation of Mount Tabor, so that we can listen to and be obedient to the Church. Of course, when we speak of obedience to the Church we mean obedience to the Prophets, the Apostles, the Martyrs, the Fathers, the Venerable Ones, and generally all the saints who received in their life the personal revelation of God, as well as the blessed institution of the Church which is constituted by the Holy Spirit. We must be obedient to the decisions of the Local and Ecumenical Synods, through which the Holy Spirit taught the members of the Church what they should believe and how they should act, how they should confess their faith and how to experience God in their lives, and what they must do to be saved. This was expressed by the Apostle Paul when he wrote that Christians must learn "how to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15).

It is certain that when people claim to obey Christ, but at the same time do not obey the Church, they do not have a christocentric ethos, because man is unable to live in Christ outside of the Church.

Several Christians nowadays have many theories and views about the Christian life, but that which has great value and importance is to be obedient to Christ, as it has been preserved and preached by the Church, because this is the commandment of the Father.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Κυριακή 6 Αυγούστου, Εορτή της Μεταμορφώσεως του Σωτήρος", July 2006. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.