August 13, 2020

Homily Two on the Transfiguration of the Savior (Archim. George Kapsanis)

By Archimandrite George Kapsanis,
Former Abbot of the Athonite Gregoriou Monastery


The feast of the Divine Transfiguration of the Lord has profound and many theological meanings. From time to time we hear them from the sacred hymns and from the sacred readings, but here too we have said a few things. Today I want to draw your attention to a certain point, that the Transfiguration of the Lord is not only a Christological event, but it is also an anthropological event. It is done not only to show the glory of Christ the Savior, but it is also done to show the glory of a man in Christ. Man after his fall tarnished the heavenly beauty he had. And since then the clear image of God in man has not been seen. It should have to be revealed therefore what man really is, how much glory and how much beauty he has. This true man was restored by Christ. And he revealed it on the Mount of Transfiguration.

Thus He encourages all His faithful disciples of all ages to exert and to expect and to work, so that they too may become bright images of God. To appear this way to every human being, to every individual, what was seen in our Savior Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. For every Christian to shine with Christ.

So today's feast is for all of us an invitation from God not to stay on earth and in the plains, in the lowlands. Let us not allow the image of God to be tarnished in ourselves. Let us ascend with the Lord to the Mount of Virtues and there, praying to God and enduring for God, to find ourselves worthy to see little by little this great and awesome mystery. And let the tarnishment, the dirt and the darkness slowly recede in us, and allow the light, the beauty and the splendor of a man according to God to be restored.

That is why we are sad today, because we see that there is darkness within us and we have not yet been transformed by the Light of the transfigured Lord, but at the same time we rejoice to see the Light of the Face of Christ, because we know that this Light shone, in order to become our light, to shine on both our face and our human nature.

And here now is the struggle of us all. That slowly the darkness will subside and little by little we will be filled by the Light of Christ. This is the reason why we came to this Holy Mountain, the Mountain of the Theotokos, which is a copy of the Mount of the Transfiguration of the Lord. And just as then on that Mount shone the Grace of the Transfigured Lord, so on this Mount shines the Grace of the Transfigured faces of the Monks who fight well the struggle of repentance.

But also our Christian brethren in the world, who do not have this blessing that we have to be able to ascend a tangible mountain, but they also have the ability to ascend the noetic Mount of Virtues. With their daily struggle, with their humility, with their simplicity, with their faith, with their love for Christ, they ascend a noetic Mount, and there they can slowly be freed from the darkness and be clothed in the Light of Christ.

It is a great consolation, brothers and fathers, that this Light that shone on Mount Tabor is for us. This Light wants to enlighten us too. This Light wants to enter into us, it wants to enter into the innermost parts of our hearts and our souls and even our bodies, so that we too can be illumined and enlightened and shine in this Light. But this cannot be done, unless we long for this on our own and struggle on our own and accept our own cross. This is because you saw that today's feast is inextricably linked to the mystery of the Cross. It is not independent of the Cross, as the hymns of our Church say. And the transformation of each of us, of each Monk and of every Christian, is connected with the personal cross of his asceticism. This Monk or Christian who will accept to be crucified with Christ, also has the hope to share in the divine Light of the Transfiguration and to begin little by little to shine in him this Light of Christ.

Today we humbly ask the Transfigured Lord, who is merciful towards us for our salvation, to enlighten us in the Light of His Face, and to require us, enduring and practicing day by day, to participate in this divine, this sweetest, this most comforting, this glorious Light of His Face, which is the only true Light in this world, which is the only Light that can truly comfort man, and which is the only Light that is the profession and the betrothal of the future and eternal Light of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Source: From the book: Homilies on the Immovable Feasts of the Lord and the Mother of God (Ομιλίες σε ακίνητες Δεσποτικές και Θεομητορικές Εορτές). Published by the Holy Monastery of Saint Gregory, Mount Athos 2015, p. 146. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.