Today we celebrate one of the great feasts in the life of the Church, the transfiguration of our Lord, God and savior Jesus Christ before His holy disciples, Peter, James and John, upon Mt. Tabor.
In this feast we celebrate the dramatic event of Our Lord’s brilliant revelation of Himself as the Lord of glory. On the day that the Lord took His inner circle upon the mountain, He revealed something unique to them. He revealed His glory. What was typically hidden away from our perception and understanding was on full display for the disciples. Christ shone with a brilliant light and radiance.
It is amazing to us that these things are hinted at throughout scripture, for instance in the Psalms we are told that God “covers Himself with light as with a garment.” This light was not reflecting of another surface. Christ was in fact the source of the light! He radiated light from within. Often if you study our iconography you will see that there is a tradition of writing icons that appear to be lit from within. This is to symbolize that the radiance of Christ and the grace of the Holy Spirit are emanating from the one who is pictured.
As we celebrate this feast today I want to tell you that this magnificent event of the transfiguration has in a way been repeated many many millions of times over the last 2000 years. Each and every time that a person in baptized and chrismated and brought into the Church, they receive the gift of this light. In fact, you are clothed with this light. Listen to the Troparion or hymn that is chanted after catechumens are received into the Church.
“Grant unto me a luminous robe, O thou who covers thyself with light as with a garment, O most merciful Christ our God.” –Troparion (Plagal of 4th Mode)
God has desired that each and every human being who has ever lived, should come out of darkness and look towards the light, towards His light. And as we draw nearer to this light of Christ we learn that the Lord Jesus Christ became a man precisely in order that He might share this light with us in a special way. He desires to make us partakers of this light, sharers of the divine nature. There can never be a moment when we as the children of God can ever say that God neglected us or withheld something important from us. No. When we were baptized and chrismated, we truly became His children. He showered us with every possible gift. He gave us to partake of the light, His light. The light is now yours. Christ is yours and you are Christ’s.
I pray that each of you will dedicate your life to preserving this light of Christ. Dedicate yourselves to growing this light and tending this fire and this fire will warm and sustain and comfort you through the dark days, and there can be no doubt that as Christians we will have dark days at certain times and seasons of our lives. But now we have full assurance that He is with us. Darkness can never extinguish light. Death can never defeat life. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ.
St. Gregory Palamas writing about this Feast says “He possessed the splendor of the divine nature hidden under His flesh. This light, then, is the light of the Godhead, and it is uncreated. According to the theologians, when Christ was transfigured He neither received anything different, nor was changed into anything different, but was revealed to His disciples as He was, opening their eyes and giving sight to the blind. Take note that eyes with natural vision are blind to that light. It is invisible, and those who behold it do so not simply with their bodily eyes, but with eyes transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.“(Homily 34)
May the Lord allow you the grace to struggle daily to know and acquire and to see this light of God with your whole being, in order that you might become also be full of His divine light. AMEN.