August 6, 2020

Homily on the Epistle Reading for the Transfiguration of Christ (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

The prophetic and apostolic texts are not the fruit of philosophical theories and reflections, but the fruit of apocalyptic/revelatory theology. That is, both the Old Testament Prophets and the New Testament Apostles saw the glory of God. The Prophets saw the Word of God before His incarnation, and the Apostles saw Christ after His incarnation. So, they recorded this experience in their texts and guided the Christians with the content of this theology.

We see this in the apostolic reading we read today in the Church, because of the feast of the Transfiguration of Christ. It is a part of the second catholic epistle of the Apostle Peter and which refers to the experience of the Transfiguration of Christ that the Apostle Peter had. It is well known that the Apostle Peter was one of the three disciples who was found worthy to be on Tabor when Christ was transfigured before His disciples, where His face shone like the sun and His robes became white as light.

Among other things, the Apostle Peter says that he did not recognize the power and presence of Christ with the myths of human wisdom, that is, with imagination and contemplation, but "we were eyewitnesses of His majesty" (2 Peter 1:16). And then he refers to the great event of the Transfiguration of Christ, when he heard the voice of the Father "this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" and he heard that voice, as he says, "for we were with Him on the holy mountain”(2 Peter 1:17-18). Therefore, what he says is the fruit of apocalyptic/revelatory theology and not of philosophy and ethics.

With this experience the Apostle Peter guides Christians and his counsel is inspired by this great revelatory truth. He does not teach Christians with human words and does not give them human advice, nor is his speech limited to a social ethic and a teaching to become good people and good citizens. And this is evident from the very apostolic text that we read today in the Divine Liturgy.

Among other things, he says to Christians: "Be more zealous to confirm your call and election" (2 Peter 1:10). In other words, it takes great zeal and struggle for Christians to know and experience their calling and election. Man immediately after his creation had been called by God to attain the divine likeness, to be united with God. This is the great call and the great election. That is why Saint Basil says that man is called to be a god, that is, he has been called to become a god by grace. When man sees his calling and election, and strives to fulfill it, in the way the Orthodox Church teaches, then "there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:11). And of course, when we talk about the kingdom of Christ and entering into it, it means that man has entered into the glory of His Transfiguration.

From these things it seems, beloved brethren, that we are made for great and lofty, for eternal and inalienable good things. We were not created by God to have a good time in this life and to exhaust ourselves only in biological, social and family life. The center of our lives must be God. We must realize this, because then our lives will change and everything we experience will have a different perspective and a different meaning.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.