August 6, 2021

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

By Archimandrite George Kapsanis,
Former Abbot of Gregoriou Monastery on Mount Athos

Just as all the events narrated to us by the Holy Evangelists took place for the salvation of men, so also the Divine Transfiguration of the Lord took place for us and for our salvation. There is nothing in the life of our Lord that has no salvific significance, that has nothing to do with our salvation. That is why, after all, He became a human being - for our salvation.

And the Transfiguration of our Lord shows us not only the divinity of the Lord and the glory which He had near His Heavenly Father, before the creation of the world, eternally - which He revealed to His Disciples for a short time, though He did not reveal His full glory, but something of His glory, as it was possible, as the hymnography of the Church says -, but even so He showed us who He is and the purpose of our life.

It is to partake of the Divine Light, of the Glory of God, of the Kingdom of God. For according to the Holy Fathers the Kingdom of God is His Glory, it is the Uncreated Light. It is the vision of the Face of the Lord. On the one hand, then, the Lord is transfigured in order for His Disciples to be convinced - who would be scandalized shortly after by His death on the Cross - that He is indeed the Son of God and the true God. But He also transfigures to tell us how "what happened to Me must happen to you." We are all called to be transfigured. Of course, the Lord was transfigured by His own power. We must be transfigured "from glory to glory," says the Apostle Paul. Not by our own strength, but by the Grace and Light of the Transfigured Lord.

The Old Testament also spoke about this Light, and some, like Moses, as we have heard, received the glory of God. But no one dared to say in the Old Testament, no matter how much they received some Grace and Glory from God, that "I am the Light of the World". Only the Lord Jesus dared to say it because He is life, He is all. Now how will we, full of passions and sinners, participate in the Divine Light? How will we become light? How will we separate from our passions which bring darkness? And our sins that are dark? And how little by little will the darkness that is in us decrease and the light of Christ increase? This is our struggle and that is why we see the Transfigured Lord and we see where we must attain. For every Christian must become an imitator of Christ and what happened to Christ must happen in our own lives, as the Holy Fathers say, that we must walk through the steps of spiritual perfection, of the spiritual ages of Christ, and what happened with Christ is to happen to us too.

Therefore, we must also undergo a Transfiguration through the light of the Transfiguration of our Lord. This is our struggle. How with our repentance, with our prayers, with our humility, with our obedience, with the participation in the illuminating Body and Body of the Lord - because Holy Communion is also Light - as participants of all these holy graces of our Triune God, will we also be able to reduce the darkness within us little by little and to increase the Light of Christ?

Blessed are those who, seeing the Transfigured Lord, also see themselves. For ourselves we feel sad, because we do not see this Light shining in our existence. For the Transfigured Lord we rejoice and thank and glorify Him. But today we humbly ask Him to help us long for the Uncreated Light, the Light of His Face. To aspire to replace the inner man, to make him luminous, as luminous as Christ is, who is all Light and all Life and all Resurrection and all Truth.

And so, fighting the good fight, we apply the Holy Will of the Lord, because the Will of the Lord, as we have said many times, is to become gods according to Grace. And how can one become a god according to Grace if one is in darkness and if the Light of Christ has not flooded their Existence?

We also sing in the Doxology "in Your light shall we see light". Indeed, we can see light only in the light of the Person of Christ. We have a Christ who shines. We have the Theotokos who is most luminous. We have luminous saints and we also are called to be luminous.

May God help us as well as the prayers of all the Saints, who achieved illumination, radiance, deification, saw the light of the Transfiguration and many of them were seen in the light of the Transfiguration. For, the Saints not only saw the light of the Transfiguration, but also were seen in that light by those considered worthy to see it. Remember from the life of Saint Gregory Palamas, that when it came time for his holy soul to depart, two priests who were there, one a hieromonk and the other married, worthy priests, saw his face shining entirely in the light of the Transfiguration. Could the Holy Palamas, who came to the Holy Mountain at twenty years of age and desired to be set free from the darkness by continuously crying out "illumine my darkness", is it possible for his prayers not to have been heard and for the light of Christ to shine within him? With holy zeal let us ask the Lord to make us worthy to fight for this light, the eternal light, the uncreated light, the light that is the Kingdom of God and for which we are all called. And if from this life we also see something from this light, we have hope that the Lord will find us worthy to live in the light of the heavenly Kingdom, which I pray for us all. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.