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.
AUGUST 6TH--THE FEAST-DAY OF THE HOLY TRANSFIGURATION (METAMORPHOSIS) OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST (Part IV)
by His Eminence Metropolitan of Nafpaktos, Greece, HIEROTHEOS
Just as at the moment of Christ's Baptism there is also a manifestation of the Holy Trinity, so also at the moment of His Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor the Trinitarian God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is revealed. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Who was made man, shone before the holy Disciples and manifested the glory of His Divinity. The Father affirmed that this was His Beloved Son, and the Holy Spirit was the bright cloud which overshadowed the Holy Disciples.
The Trinitarian God is light, for light is the shining of the Divinity, the vision of Grace of the Trinitarian God. The Church sings: "Today on Tabor is the manifestation of Thy Light, O Logos/Word...we have seen the Father as Light and the Spirit as Light..." The face of Christ shone like the sun, the voice of the Father was a very powerful vision of Light, and so, as Saint Gregory Palamas says, just then the holy Disciples were unable to hear it and they fell to the ground, and the cloud, which was the presence of the Holy Spirit, was bright. Everything expresses the glory of the divinity.
At the highest degree of vision of God the voice of the Father was heard: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (St. Matthew 17:5). When we analyze the Baptism of Christ, we saw in it what this affirmation of the Father means. Here we must mention the view of Saint John Chrysostomos that the Father shows His great love for His beloved Son according to nature, the Only-Begotten One. The Father's love is threefold, first, because He is a Son and every father loves his child; second, because He is beloved; and third, because He is well-pleased in Him...
"...At the great event of the Transfiguration of Christ there were only three Disciples present: Peter, James and John. These three persons are included by Christ also at all the great moments, such as at the raising of the daughter of Jairus and His prayer in Gethsemane.
This choice cannot be characterized as favoritism. We cannot ascribe to Christ human dispositions and passionate feelings. There is a deeper theological cause. We know very well that the revelation and manifestation of God can be Paradise for those who are fit for this vision of God and hell for those who are unclean, or at least for those who are not prepared. This is why one must be in a suitable spiritual condition to receive the revelation of God as a vision of God, and not punitively. So it seems that the three Disciples were most suited for receiving this revelation of God. To the others He had to remain hidden and be revealed after His Resurrection.
The three Disciples had some qualifications which made them fit to share this vision of God. All three were superior to the other disciples (St. John Chrysostom). Their superiority is seen in the fact that Peter loved Christ very much with the warmth of faith, John was very much loved by Christ because of his superlative virtues, and James because he was extremely disagreeable to the Jews, for which Herod even killed him (Zygavinos).
At any rate, two of the three Disciples who were present on Mt. Tabor at the tremendous hour gave their witness concerning the event. The Apostle Peter writes in his epistle: "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His Majesty". And when he refers to the voice of the Father he writes: "And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain...." (2 Peter 1: 16-20). But John the Evangelist also writes in his General Epistle: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, we proclaim concerning the Logos/Word of Life. The Life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the Eternal Life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us" (1 John 1:1-2). In addition to these two passages we can note that all the texts which the holy Apostles wrote are proof of the Divine sight, they are a result of the experience which they had on Mt. Tabor and at Pentecost.
In their delight at seeing Christ Transfigured, the three holy Disciples also said "it is good for us to be here. If you wish, let us make here three booths: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah", and then when the bright cloud overshadowed them and the voice of the Father was heard, "they fell facedown to the ground and were terrified" (St. Matthew 17:6). The holy Fathers of the Church (Saint Basil the Great, Saint John Chrysostom, and Saint Gregory Palamas) say that they fell to the ground because of the excess of light. Furthermore, the voice of the Father was a vision of God, and indeed to a greater degree than the holy Disciples had had before. So they were frightened by the exceedingly great light...
"...We have already emphasized that the two holy Prophets were representatives of the Old Testament and the three holy Apostles were representatives of the New Testament. So it is clearly to be seen that Christ is the center of the Holy Scripture. The Old Testament describes the revelations of the Unincarnate Logos/Word and prophecies His incarnation, and the New Testament describes the Incarnation of the Son and Logos/Word of God. It not only represents it, but gives evidence that men too can partake of the Incarnation, in the sense that they can become members of the Body of Christ.
Thus the central point of Holy Scripture is Christ, and indeed Christ in glory. This is why we must stop at a few stories and draw moral conclusions, though these of course are unavoidable and necessary, and overlook the basic message of Holy Scripture. And since Christ is the center of Holy Scripture, the Unincarnate and Incarnate Logos/Word, and the Church is the Body of Christ, therefore Holy Scripture is interpreted infallibly only by the Church and by those who are living in the God-Seeing atmosphere of the Church. The deified (theosis), who are the living members of Christ, are able to interpret Holy Scripture...
"...The Transfiguration of Christ shows just what the Church is and what it is like, it also shows what its purpose is. membership of the Church includes Prophets and Apostles and those who accept their enlightening theology and are struggling to have the same perspective. Of course there are many degrees of participation but one must at least be in the stage of purification.
It is also clear what is the nature of the deepest and most essential purpose of the Church .It is to guide man to deification (theosis) which is the vision of the Uncreated Light. The whole work of Priests is aimed at this lofty target. Deification (theosis) then, does not constitute a luxury for the Christian life, but is its mystical entelechy and deepest purpose. Both the Mysteries (Sacraments) and asceticism aim at this state. When they are cut off from this, they become idols.
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostomos
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God