In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!
Transfiguration! What a wonderful feast: It bears witness to the spiritual prototype of man, to man’s spiritual perfection.
One of the forefeast stichera calls the faithful to change in the best way, to worthily ascend Mt. Tabor and see the glory of the Transfiguration. “But how is that possible?” we ask. “Can we change ourselves so much in the short period of the forefeast?” And Mt. Tabor is far away, and it is impossible to achieve perfection with one visit. The Church calls us, brothers and sisters, to a spiritual ascent up Mt. Tabor—a moral ascent, an ascent of the heart and good Christian thoughts.
Why is it necessary to make the best change possible? Because not everyone can be on Tabor with Christ, even mentally; because not everyone is worthy to see the glory of God.
The Lord went up Mt. Tabor, as the Evangelist says, to pray, taking only three of His disciples with Him (Mt. 17:1-2). The Evangelist lists Peter, James, and John. Peter was taken to Tabor as the rock of faith. The Lord said to him: Upon this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Mt. 16:18). The apostle John the Theologian is rightly known as the Apostle of Love, and he can be called the rock of love. He Himself had love, and he preached love: Let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth (1 Jn. 3:18). The apostle John the Theologian was so imbued with the virtue of love that he subdued his enemies thereby. Love helped him everywhere throughout his entire life and especially in his exile on the island of Patmos. The third rock of Mt. Tabor was the apostle James—a model of patience. Thus, in order to be accounted worthy of seeing the radiant Transfiguration of the Lord, you have to be either a pillar of faith, or a bearer of love, or be able to patiently accept what is sent to you in life. These virtues can make us worthy of ascending Mt. Tabor.
The holy Church, dear brothers and sisters, calls us to change our way of life, and to change it in a short time. St. John Chrysostom says that the image of the Wise Thief, who was accounted worthy of Paradise in one hour, should never leave our memory. Even on the cross he was able to make the greatest change. And we have the grace of the Holy Spirit ever acting and helping us, especially in our striving for spiritual perfection. Therefore, if you are cruel, become merciful: It would be a good change. If you love only yourself, learn to love your neighbor as yourself. It would be a worthy change. If love brings you grief and sorrow and it is very difficult for you to endure this burden, recall the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: In the world ye shall have tribulation: but take courage (Jn. 16:33). Only by being courageous do we learn patience.
If we manage to make a great change in ourselves, that is, to change for the better, then we will undoubtedly be found worthy to mentally ascend Mt. Tabor and see the glory of the Transfiguration of the Lord.
However, you know that there are various kinds of changes. It is said of the transfigured Lord that the appearance of His countenance was altered and His raiment became white, glistering (Lk. 9:29). We sometimes think it is enough to dress ourselves in good clothes and change our image. And sometimes—what women especially love to resort to—it’s considered enough to change our face with makeup. Undoubtedly, this is not the type of change the holy Church speaks about, and it is not to such changes that we are called. The holy Church calls us to purity of soul and body. It calls us to have a bright face and kind eyes to please our neighbors, who may be in greater sorrow than we are.
The feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord calls us first of all to change our internal image. It is especially convenient now, because the fast is a time of repentance. This fast is dedicated to the Theotokos, and the Most Holy Virgin Mary herself becomes our helper in our spiritual development. Let us make ourselves worthy to see the Taboric light through the Sacrament of Repentance, through purifying ourselves from sins, and exclaiming together with the Church: “Let Thine everlasting Light shine upon us sinners! Through the prayers of the Theotokos, O Giver of Light, glory to Thee!”
Let our hearts and minds strive for such thoughts, dear brothers and sisters. And the Lord, transfigured in glory, by the prayers of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, will render His all-powerful help in our spiritual development and purification. Amen.