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August 6, 2022

Homily One on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on August 19, 1950)

On this great day, we remember the glorious Transfiguration of our Lord and our God Jesus Christ, when He revealed to us the Divine light of His Person, His entire Nature.

We must understand what spiritual light is. My sermon will be about spiritual light.

You all know how every living creature quiveringly reaches out to the sun, to the light of the sun, to the material light, shining from the sky. You know how every insect, every grass, every leaf and flower always reaches for the light. The light of the sun, the material light is known to all of you, and you all love it.

But do you all know that besides the light of the sun there is also a great light, an immaterial light, a spiritual light? Are you all drawn to this spiritual light?

How hard it is for me to say this: no, not all, far, far from all. I will even say moreover: very few are drawn to it, while the rest of the multitude living on earth do not need spiritual light, they do not want to know anything about it. They need only material light: they need those benefits that are associated with this light.

I will say more: I will make a reservation that I said earlier that all living things are drawn to the light of the sun. No, no, I did not make a reservation: there are many birds, animals and nocturnal insects that seek darkness, avoid the light of the sun, there are toads and worms, there are fish of underground waters that do not perceive light.

There are many people like them, such unfortunate people who need not light, but darkness, for you know that all thieves and robbers, all fornicators and adulterers seek darkness, do their dark deeds in darkness, in the darkness of night. The light disturbs them, the light is unbearable to them, they do not like it.

And if they do not even love material light, then spiritual light, the light that has shone upon the world from the Lord Jesus Christ, is all the more unbearable for them.

Well, let them not stand it, but nevertheless the Divine light that Christ showed us on Mount Tabor still shines and will never cease to shine.

Often thick clouds obscure the heavenly sun. There are people who close their eyes from the sun, there are blind people who cannot see the light.

About those who cannot endure spiritual light, the apostle and evangelist John the Theologian said in his wondrous Gospel, speaking of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Light that came to earth:

“That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.”

Oh, what terrible words - they didn't receive Him.

“And to those who received Him, to those who believe in His name he gave the power to become children of God” (John 1:9-12).

And this light shines and will shine forever, no matter how much they turn away from Him, no matter how unnecessary this light may seem to the world.

But in the eyes of the world this light fades, it fades the farther, the more it shines in the heavens, but in human souls it fades, like sunlight obscured by heavy clouds.

Don't you remember how the light of Christ faded, what a terrible bloody darkness settled over the world so recently, when our German enemies committed their indescribable atrocities?

Don't you know what bloody darkness, what impenetrable darkness is in the hearts of those American soldiers, those pilots who exterminate the innocent population of Korea? Darkness, bloody, impenetrable darkness...

And the darkness is thickening more and more, and we are scared, scared when we see that this darkness reigns in the hearts of many people.

They look quite prosperous, they have everything: strength, and vigor, and beauty, and an abundance of fruits of the earth, and beautiful clothes - they have everything. It seems they are alive, but only it seems, for the darkness of their hearts is spiritual death. One can say about them with the words of the Apocalypse: “You bear a name as if you were alive, but you are dead” (Rev. 3:1).

These include the words of the holy Apostle John the Theologian: “Whoever says that he is in the light, but hates his brother, he is still in darkness. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no stumbling block in him. And whoever hates his brother is in darkness, and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:9-11).

For true life, it is not the light of the sun that is necessary, but another light, spiritual light, illuminating and enlightening our hearts.

Were there not enough great bearers of spiritual light in the caves of the Kiev Caves Monastery? Didn't these great people live without the light of the sun, in whose hearts a great, bright, shining spiritual light shone brighter than sunlight?

It is possible, living without light, to be a bearer of light; it is also possible, living in the light of the sun, to be dead, to have no spiritual light in oneself.

In ancient Persia they worshiped the sun. This is pitiful paganism, but in this paganism one can see that people who worshiped the sun understood at least in part what spiritual light is, that, worshiping the sun, they worshiped not only its light, visible to everyone, but also saw in that sun the immaterial light, the truth by which we call the Lord Jesus Christ.

There were also fire worshipers in Persia. Can it be said that their faith is absolutely contemptible? No, for in Holy Scripture we read: "God is a consuming fire."

These pagans, these fire-worshippers themselves did not clearly understand and felt that fire could be a prototype of the Deity, purifying everything, eating away all filth and ungodliness. These fire-worshippers were aware of this. And they must be placed above those for whom there is no spiritual light, nothing exists except for material goods, except for the light from the sun shining in the sky.

And to us Christians, on this great feast, the Lord showed us that His human body could shine with Divine light. If so, if the body of the God-man could shine with Divine light, then the bodies of Christians destined for the God-human can also shine with heavenly light.

And we know, we know that not only the Lord on the day of His Transfiguration shone with all this Divine light, for the Old and New Testaments give us an example of this.

When the great Moses descended from Mount Sinai, carrying the tablets on which the ten commandments were inscribed with the finger of God, his face shone with Divine light, and this Divine light was so bright, so unbearable that the Israelites asked to cover Moses with a covering over his face, for people could not look at it.

When the Holy Archdeacon Stephen stood before the Jewish Sanhedrin and fearlessly spoke about Christ, “all who sat in the Sanhedrin, looking at him, saw his face, like the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15) - like the face of an angel, which means illuminated by the light of heaven.

We know even more: we know that the face of the Venerable Seraphim at times shone with the same heavenly light.

He had a friend, the neighboring landowner Motovilov, who was a kind and pure man. He often talked with him, and once during such a conversation, Seraphim said to him: “Look at me!” Motovilov looked and was horrified, for suddenly the face of the Venerable Seraphim shone with divine light.

You see that the Lord, opening the way to God-manhood for us, gave at the same time the opportunity to shine with heavenly light, such a light as His whole body shone on that great day on Mount Tabor.

Oh, how important it is, how great it is, how desirable it is!

If we can shine with spiritual light, Divine light, shall we not make every effort to become worthy of it?!

“The righteous in the kingdom of heaven will shine with heavenly light if they prove worthy. The righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.”

This is what our Lord Jesus Christ Himself said.

And now, while we live in the earthly body, we must remember what the Lord said: “There is still a little time for you to have light."

"Believe in the light, that you may be sons of light."

Sing in your hearts that song that you hear so often today: “You were transfigured upon the mountain, O Christ our God, showing to Your disciples Your glory as much as they could bear. Do also in us, sinners though we may be, shine Your everlasting light, by the intercessions of the Theotokos, O Giver of light. Glory to You."

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.