August 6, 2022

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

By Archimandrite George Kapsanis

We were mentally transported to Mount Tabor, where the Transfiguration of the Lord took place. We mentally saw our God-man Savior transfigured, shining like the sun, and His garments white as light. We saw the representatives of the Old Testament, the prophet Elijah and the prophet Moses, conversing with Jesus. We saw the holy Apostles in awe and marvel. And as those who visit Mount Tabor of the Transfiguration say, on this day of the feast the whole Mount is fragrant. With this sign, this heavenly fragrance, which the pious pilgrims of the Mount of Transfiguration sense today, the Lord gives one more proof of His presence and His Grace on this blessed Taborian Mount.

All Christians, who love God, have a desire within them; they want to be transformed. We do not want our life to remain carnal, we do not want our life to remain in the low, in the earthly, in the vain, in the passions, in sins. We may be sinful and impassioned, but deep down we long for something else. We long to be transformed, to stop being impassioned and to become spiritual people, to defeat the old man, to defeat selfishness, and the darkness that is within us to be defeated by the Light of Christ, and from the dark we are to shine in the Light of Christ already from this present life.

But the event of the Transfiguration, how the Transfiguration took place, also indicates to us how we too can enjoy this Light and shine in this Light, and our own life becomes a bright life. Let us observe, my brethren, three points:

The first point is that the Transfiguration of the Lord took place, according to the hymnology of our Church, "on a high mountain". It didn't happen on some plain, in the lowlands; it happened in the high places. And the Fathers of our Church interpret that this means that man, in order to enjoy the Light of Christ, must ascend to a higher spiritual state, must overcome his passions, must obey the commandments of God. It takes an ascent to see God. You cannot see God when you are down in the earthly, in pleasures, in delights, in vanity, in good times. You have to rise above them. And how will you rise above them? If you struggle to overcome your passions, the old man, the carnal mind, selfishness, pride, vanity, greed, gluttony, insatiability, injustice. When you strive and overcome these by doing the commandments of God, this is the ascent to Mount Tabor, this is the act according to the Fathers.

The second thing that the holy Apostles did, to enjoy this Light, as we saw today, is that they obeyed. They did not go up of their own accord; they did not say to the Lord: "Let us go to Mount Tabor." The Lord said to them: "Come with me, let us go to Mount Tabor", and they said: "May it be blessed" and they went with the Lord; they obeyed. So the second thing, in order for one to be able to enjoy the Light of God and shine in this Light, is to be in obedience to the commands of God, the Church and your spiritual father. It is not possible for man outside the obedience of the Church of Christ and his spiritual father to see the Light of the Lord's glory and to enjoy this Light and rejoice in it. Therefore, the second point, which we must pay attention to as Orthodox Christians, is that obedience is also necessary in order for our lives to be transformed.

But not only the holy Apostles obeyed, our Lord Christ did too. He obeyed God the Father, because the will of His Father was always done by the God-man Lord. And if the Lord received this glory of the Transfiguration and showed it as God and His human nature was glorified in the way that it was glorified, it was also due to His own obedience that He made with extreme humility to the will of the Heavenly Father.

And the third point that impresses us is that the holy Apostles were able to enjoy this Light, because they were in communion with Christ and through Christ with God the Father and with the Church. They were not separate individuals, they were not people who tried to be pious, closed in on themselves, isolated from Christ and from the Church. They were members of the Church; and because they were members of the Church and the brotherhood of the Lord, they could see the Light of Christ.

There were then at that time many other people, both wiser and more capable and perhaps even "better" (within quotation marks) humanly than the three Apostles, which three Apostles also had weaknesses and defects, just as they themselves describe them in the sacred Gospels. However, the Light of Transfiguration was not shown to the wisest and most capable and perhaps even the best of the three Disciples, but it was shown to these three. Why? Because they were inside the Church of Christ, they were members of the Church of Christ, they were brothers of Christ.

So we see, that even we today, if we want to enjoy the Light of Christ, must be members of the Church of Christ. Here is the Grace of God. Here is the Light of Christ, here is the Transfiguration, in our holy Church. And that is why if we are patient, stay in the Church, strive to be living and conscious members of the Church by partaking of the Holy Mysteries of our Church, partaking of the Body and Blood of our Christ, humbly confessing our sins, do not doubt that, the Light of Christ will shine on us, as it shone on all the holy people on this earth.

Therefore, my brothers, let us have joy today, because this Light that shone, the inexpressible, the all-joyful, the all-holy, the all-beautiful, the all-comely Light, which the Disciples of the Lord could not get enough of seeing on the Mount of Transfiguration, we too can see it, feel it and enjoy it already in this life. It is for us this Light of Christ, and it is enough for us to do these three things that we said: ascend, obey and remain in the Church of Christ, conscious members of the Church and brethren of Christ.

The Lord shone for us – not for Himself – and He wants us to enjoy this Light.

I pray the Light of Christ to illuminate the course of your life.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.