The Transfiguration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ-August 6

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

"While we have time, let us visit Christ, let us serve Christ, let us nourish Christ, let us clothe Christ, let us offer hospitality to Christ, let us honor Christ" (Saint Gregory the Theologian).


[Please note: It is said that the Transfiguration came to be a means to strengthen the Holy Apostles during the Crucifixion and the times that would follow. It happened only several weeks before the Crucifixion itself. Had the chronological day been chosen to commemorate this epiphany, it would have interfered with Holy and Great Lent. This day (August 6th) has been chosen instead, as it prefigures the Exaltation of the Holy Cross forty days before September 14th.]


By His Eminence Metropolitan of Nafpaktos, Hierotheos

The Transfiguration of Christ on Mt. Tabor took place a little before His Passion, forty days before the passion and crucifixion, to be exact. Moreover, the purpose of the Transfiguration was to confirm to the Disciples in the faith that this was the Son of God, so that they would not be weakened by the things that they would see in those days. This truth is seen in the troparia (hymns) of the Church. In one we sing: "Before Thy precious Cross and Thy Passion, taking with Thee those among Thy Holy Disciples that Thou hadst specially chosen, Thou hast gone up, O Master, into Mount Tabor". And in the Kontakion hymn of the feast it says: "...that when they saw Thee crucified, they might know that Thy suffering was voluntary, and might proclaim unto the world that Thou art Truly the Brightness of the Father".

So, canonically Christ's Transfiguration (Metamorphosis) should be celebrated in the month of March, corresponding to the time of the year when Pascha is celebrated. But since this time coincides with the period of Lent and could not be celebrated festively, the feast was transferred to the sixth of August. This date is not chosen at random, as it is forty days before the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (14 September), which is similar to Holy and Great Friday.

The events of the feast are preserved in all three Synoptic Gospels, for the Transfiguration is a central event in the life of Christ and contains many theological messages. (St. Matthew 17:1-8; St. Mark 9:2-8; St. Luke 9:28-36).

The Transfiguration (Metamorphosis) of Christ is a crowning event in the life of the Holy Disciples which relates to Pentecost, for it is a great experience of God. To be sure, there is a difference between the Transfiguration and Pentecost, in that at the Transfiguration the Holy Disciples were not yet members of the deified Body of Christ, as they became on the day of Pentecost...

The word 'transfiguration' ('metamorphosis') means change of form. In other words, at a certain moment Christ revealed what He had been concealing. He manifested the glory of the Divinity with which His human nature was united from the moment of His conception in the womb of the Theotokos. Through His great love for mankind, Christ concealed what He always had, in order that the Holy Disciples should not "be burned" by reason of their unfitness, because they had not yet been prepared.

At that moment Christ was transfigured, "not assuming something that He was not, nor changing into something which He was not, but manifesting what He was to His own disciple" (Saint John of Damaskos). Essentially, when we speak of the Transfiguration we mean that He manifested the glory of His Divinity, which He kept unseen in the visible body, because men were not able to face it.

Saint John Chrysostom says that Christ did not show His whole Divinity, but a small energy of it. And He did this, on the one hand to give information what the Divine Glory of the Kingdom is like, and on the other hand, out of love for mankind, lest they lose their life on seeing the full glory of the Godhead. Therefore the mystery of the Transfiguration is both a revelation of the Kingdom and an expression of God's love and His Philanthropy.

The Transfiguration of the Disciples took place in their whole psychosomatic (soul and body) being. The Holy Disciples did not see the Divine Light only with their nous, which is the eye of the soul, but also with those bodily senses which had previously been empowered by the Uncreated energy of God and transfigured in order to see it. The bodily eyes are blind to God's Light, since man's eyes are created and cannot see the Uncreated Light. This is why they were changed by God's action and granted to see the glory of God (Saint Gregory Palamas)...

Christ's Transfiguration took place during the day. The Holy Disciples saw two suns, sensory and noetic. In one of his troparia (hymns) St. John of Damaskos writes: "The visible sun was eclipsed by the rays of Thy Divinity when it saw thee transfigured on Mount Tabor, O my Jesus". That is to say, the sun of our senses was hidden and made to disappear by the rays of Christ's Divinity. Perhaps at first they saw two lights, the created and the Uncreated, as the Saints say who have such experiences, but when they saw a greater energy of the Divinity, they lost the sensory sun completely. Saint Isaac the Syrian says that the Holy Disciples on Tabor saw two suns "one in the sky as usual and one contrary to the usual"...

The Light on Mt. Tabor was the glory of Divinity. According to Saint John of Damaskos, the word "divinity" points to God's nature and His energy, while the word 'God' points to the person, the hypostasis. We cannot call the Father alone or the Son alone or the Holy Spirit alone the Divinity. We can say God the Father, God the Logos/Word, the Divine Spirit, but never the Divinity of the Father, as if it were something separate from the Divinity of the Son and the Divinity of the Holy Spirit...

Christ's Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor took place after a proclamation by Christ, "Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the Kingdom of God present with power" (St. Mark 9:1). And at once the Evangelist describes the event of the Transfiguration which happened six days later, for, as we see in the Gospels, no other event was placed between them, neither teaching nor miracle. This means that these days between Christ's word and His Transfiguration were spent in silence.

People say many things about what the Kingdom of God is. Some identify the Kingdom of God with the will of God prevailing throughout the world, others with the future blessedness of the righteous. However, the connection of the Kingdom of God with the Transfiguration of Christ indicates that the Kingdom of God is the vision of the Uncreated grace and glory Trinitarian God in the human nature of the Logos/Word, and is indeed the deification (theosis) of man…

The Church and the Divine Eucharist (Holy Communion) can be called the Kingdom of God, if those who live in it attain the vision of the Uncreated glory of God, which is the real kingdom. If we speak of the Church and the Kingdom of God and do not link them with seeing God, the vision of the Uncreated Light, we are making a theological error. Moreover, the Mysteries (Sacraments) of the Church manifest the Kingdom of God and guide man to it, precisely because they are very closely connected with the purifying, illuminating and deifying energy of God.

It is a teaching of the Holy Fathers that Christ on Mt. Tabor showed men the archetypal beauty of their image. Christ is the model of the creation of man, because man was formed in the image of the Logos/Word. By this we see the glory of the image and what a great honor it is that we are in the image of God. Our lineage is not low, but high, because the glorified Christ is the prototype of our creation, but also because He is our Artificer and Creator...

At any rate, the transfigured Christ showed the glory of the archetype of our creation. And just as with sculptors, the original has greater value than the copy of it, which anyone can make, so here too the prototype has greater value. The Transfiguration of Christ also shows, by condescension, the origin of man, as well as the purpose, the end, towards which he must aim.

The light seen by the senses, although it is created, is the only reality on earth which can show the glory and shining of the Divinity. The Person of Christ shone like the sun, and His clothing became as white as light, for this is how man can understand the glory of the Deity. There is no other earthly reality to show it.

It is a fact that God is and is called Light, for, on the one hand, it is a revelation of Christ Himself, Who said: "I am the Light of the world" (St. John 8:12), and on the other hand, because all who were granted to see Him saw Him as radiant light. Saint John Chrysostom points out that the Evangelist says that the person of Christ shone like the sun, because there is no other image to present the radiance of Christ's person at that moment.

(To be continued)



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.


"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"-Saint John Chrysostom


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George