My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE METAMORPHOSIS (TRANSFIGURATION) OF OUR LORD AND GOD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST
(August 6th: Abstain from meat products, and dairy products but you may consume or eat fish today)
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Feast. Tone Seven
You were Transfigured on the Mount, O Christ God, Revealing Your glory to your disciples as far as they could bear it. Let Your everlasting Light shine upon us sinners! Through the prayers of the Theotokos, O Giver of Light, glory to You!
Kontakion of the Feast. Tone Seven
On the Mountain You were Transfigured, O Christ God, And Your disciples beheld Your glory as far as they could see it; So that when they would behold You crucified, They would understand that Your suffering was voluntary. And would proclaim to the world, That You are truly the Radiance of the Father!
Troparion (Tone 4)
Come, you faithful, let us welcome the Transfiguration of Christ, And let us joyfully cry as we celebrate the prefeast. "The day of holy gladness has come; The Lord has ascended Mount Tabor To radiate the beauty of His Divinity."
Kontakion (Tone 4)
"Today You have shown forth..." Today all mortal nature shines with the Divine Transfiguration
And cries with exultation: "Christ the Savior is transfigured to save us all".
In the third year of His earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus spoke more frequently to His disciples of His coming Passion, but linked it always with His glory after the His suffering on the Cross. That His coming suffering should not utterly shatter His disciples, so that they fall away from Him, He, the All-Wise, decided to show them before His Passion, something of His Divine Glory. He therefore, taking with Him Peter, James and John, went by night onto Mount Tabor and was there transfigured before them. 'And His face shone as the sun, and His raiment became white as snow', and there appeared beside Him Moses and Elias, the great Prophets of the Old Testament. And the disciples saw and were amazed, and Peter said: "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles: one for Thee, one for Moses and one for Elias." While Peter was still speaking, Moses and Elias disappeared and a bright cloud came and overshadowed the Lord and the disciples, and a voice came out of the cloud: 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.' Hearing this voice, the disciples fell prostrate on the ground as though dead, and remained thus lying in fear until the Lord came to them and said: 'Arise, and be not afraid' (St. Matthew 17). Why did the Lord take only three disciples with Him onto Tabor, and not all of them? Because Judas was not worthy to behold the Divine Glory of the Master whom he was to betray, and the Lord did not want to leave him alone at the foot of the mountain, that the betrayer should not thus work his betrayal. Why was He transfigured on the mountain and not in the valley? That He might teach us two virtues: love of toil and pondering on God. To climb to the heights involves toil, and the heights represent the heights of our thoughts: pondering on God. Why was He transfigured at night? Because the night is more fitted to prayer and meditation than the day, and because the night covers all earthly beauty with darkness and reveals the beauty of the starry heavens. Why did Moses and Elias appear? To shatter the Jewish fallacy that Christ was one of the Prophets--Elias, Jeremiah or one of the others. This was why He revealed Himself as King over the Prophets, and why Moses and Elias appeared as His servants. Up to this moment, the Lord had many times shown His Divine power to His disciples, but on Tabor He showed His Divine Nature. This vision of His Divinity and the hearing of the heavenly witness to Him as the Son of God must have been of support to the disciples in the days of the Lord's suffering, for the strengthening of a steadfast faith in Him and His final victory.
Why did the Lord not reveal His Divine Glory on Tabor before all the disciples, but only before the three? First, because He Himself had given the Law through Moses: 'At the mouth of two witnesses or...of three, shall the matter be established' (Deut. 19:15). Three witnesses were, then, enough. There was, though, a special reason for choosing these three disciples. The three of them represented the three chief virtues: Peter--faith, for he was the first to proclaim his faith in Christ as the Son of God; James--hope, for it was with hope in the promise of Christ that he was the first to lay down his life for the Lord, being the first killed by the Jews; John--love, for he lay on the Lord's breast and stayed beneath the Lord's Cross till the end. God is not the God of the many but the God of the chosen: 'I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob'. God has often valued one faithful man more highly than a whole people.
The Evangelist Luke does not say "after eight days" (like the Evangelist Matthew says "after six days"), but rather "it came to pass eight days after these words." But where the Evangelists seem to contradict one another, they actually point out to us something great and mysterious. In actual fact, why did the one say "after six days," and the other, in ignoring the seventh day, have in mind the eighth day? It is because the great vision of the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord is the mystery of the Eighth Day, i.e., of the future age, coming to be revealed after the passing away of the world created in six days.
About the power of the Divine Spirit, writes St. Gregory Palamas, through Whom the Kingdom of God is to be revealed, the Lord predicted: "There are some standing here who shall not taste death, until they have seen the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom" (St. Matthew 16:28). Everywhere and in every way the King will be present, and everywhere will be His Kingdom, since the advent of His Kingdom does not signify the passing over from one place to another, but rather the revelation of its power of the Divine Spirit. That is why it is said: "come in power." And this power is not manifest to simple ordinary people, but to those standing with the Lord, that is to say, those who have affirmed their faith in Him like Peter, James and John, and especially those who are free of our natural abasement. Therefore, and precisely because of this, God manifests Himself upon the Mount, on the one hand coming down from His heights, and on the other, raising us up from the depths of abasement, since the Transcendent One takes on mortal nature. Certainly, such a manifest appearance by far transcends the utmost limits of the mind's grasp, as effectualized by the power of the Divine Spirit.
Thus, says St. Gregory Palamas, the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord is not something that comes to be and then vanishes, nor is it subject to the sensory faculties, although it was contemplated by corporeal eyes for a short while upon an inconsequential mountaintop. But the initiates of the Mystery, (the disciples) of the Lord at his time passed beyond mere flesh into spirit through a transformation of their senses, effectualized within them by the Spirit, and in such a way that they beheld what, and to what extent, the Divine Spirit had wrought blessedness in them to behold the Ineffable Light.
"What does it mean to say: He was transfigured?" asks the Golden-Mouthed Theologian (Chrysostomos). He answers this by saying: "It revealed something of His Divinity to them, as much and insofar as they were able to apprehend it, and it showed the indwelling of God within Him." The Evangelist Luke says: "And as He prayed, His countenance was altered" (St. Luke 9:29); and from the Evangelist Matthew we read: "And his face shone as the sun" (St. Matthew 17:2). But the Evangelist said this, not in the context that this Light be thought of as subsistent for the senses (let us put aside the blindness of mind of those who can conceive of nothing higher than what is known through the senses). Rather, it is to show that Christ God, for those living and contemplating by the Spirit, is the same as the sun is for those living in the flesh and contemplating by the senses. Therefore, some other Light for the knowing the Divinity is not necessary for those who are enriched by Divine gifts.
Let us, considering the Mystery of the Transfiguration of the Lord in accord with their teaching, strive to be illumined by this Light ourselves and encourage in ourselves love and striving towards the Unfading Glory and Beauty, purifying our spiritual eyes of worldly thoughts and refraining from perishable and quickly passing delights and beauty which darken the garb of the soul and lead to the fire of Gehenna and everlasting darkness. Let us be freed from these by the illumination and knowledge of the incorporeal and ever-existing Light of our Savior transfigured on Tabor, in His Glory, and of His Father from all eternity, and his Life-Creating Spirit, Whom are One Radiance, One Godhead, and Glory, and Kingdom, and Power now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen."
΄Η χάρις τού Κυρίου ημών Ιησού Χριστού και η αγάπη τού Θεού και Πατρός και η κοινωνία τού Αγίου Πνεύματος είη μετά πάντων ημών.
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God