August 12, 2022

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

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in Alushta in 1957)

The glorious feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord gives us reason to ponder the words of our Lord Jesus Christ addressed to the people and the Apostles: “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Kingdom of God come in power” (Mk. 9:1).

We could not understand these extraordinary prophetic words of the Son of God if we related them to the manifestation of the Kingdom of God at the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, for more than 1900 years have already passed; and all the contemporaries of the Lord Jesus have died, and we are still waiting for the Second Coming.

Only six or eight days before his most glorious Transfiguration, the Lord spoke these words, and on the very feast of the Transfiguration they were already fulfilled. For on this great day on Mount Tabor, three beloved disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ: Peter, James and John - saw their Lord in Divine glory, as far as it could be seen by mortal people, they saw two great saints - Moses and Elijah, who were talking with Him on their knees. After all, the eternal and endless life of the righteous in the Kingdom of Heaven consists precisely in the close communion of the saints with God Himself, in silent conversations with Him, in the multiplication of higher knowledge and eternal truth, in the worship of the saints to God in spirit and in truth.

Contemplating the Son of God transfigured by the Divine light, hearing His conversation with the great participants in eternal life, the Apostles already saw the Kingdom of God come in power.

This is what our Lord Jesus Christ spoke about, this great event, and predicted it a few days before it happened.

Bliss and great joy seized the Apostles while contemplating this small corner of the Kingdom of Heaven. And the Apostles wanted to continue this blessedness, and the Apostle Peter said to the Lord Jesus, not understanding the foolishness of his words: “Lord! it's good for us to be here; if you wish, we will make three tabernacles here: one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Matthew 17:4).

This strange proposal was unexpectedly interrupted by a thick cloud that surrounded them, from which the voice of God the Father was heard: “This is My beloved Son, in Him I am well pleased: listen to Him” ( Matt. 17:5 ).

And suddenly everything changed: the cloud disappeared, Moses and Elijah became invisible, and the Lord Jesus Christ stood before the Apostles in His usual earthly form.

But the words of God, just heard from the cloud, were forever imprinted in the minds and hearts of the Apostles and resounded unceasingly in their ears.

Let us remember that exactly the same words of the great God the Father had already been heard by the people from the height of heaven at the Baptism of His Eternal Son in the waters of the Jordan, then the Holy Spirit descended from heaven on His head in the form of a dove.

Let us transport ourselves in thought to the garden of Blessed Joseph of Arimathea, to the tomb in which the Body of the Savior of the world, taken down from the Cross, was laid; we will see a rolled away stone and an empty tomb, we will see angels sitting on a stone and guards of the tomb cast to the ground.

Are not these great events enough - the Theophany at the Jordan, the Transfiguration of the Lord on Mount Tabor and His Most Glorious Resurrection - so that in our hearts and minds the picture of the Kingdom of Heaven shown to the three Apostles on the great day of the Transfiguration of the Lord is forever imprinted, so that our faith in the Son of God was just as firm and invincible as the Apostles of Christ who preached it to the whole world.

Let us go, not deviating either to the right or to the left, along the path indicated to us by the Lord Jesus Christ, and we will come to the gates of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the Keeper of the keys of these gates, the great Apostle Peter, will open them for us. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.