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August 6, 2023

Homily Eight on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

The great feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord gives us a reason to remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him" (John 10:37–39).

Great and countless are the miracles of our Lord Jesus Christ: with one word He raised the dead daughter of Jairus, the head of the synagogue, the son of the widow of Nain, and even Lazarus, who had been lying in the tomb for four days; with one word of He commanded the stormy wind and the high waves of Lake Gennesaret to subside, and a great silence ensued; He fed five thousand people with five loaves and two fishes, besides women and children, and four thousand with seven loaves. Every day He healed the sick of various diseases, and cast out evil spirits from the demoniac; He restored sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf with one touch.

"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" (2 Pet. 1:16), says the witness of the Transfiguration the Holy Apostle Peter in the Epistle. The light of God shone upon the world from Mount Tabor, for He is the Radiance of the glory of the Father (see Heb. 1:3).

Does the light of Christ shine as brightly now as it shone on Mount Tabor? Alas, for many it does not shine at all. People lose faith and confess with sorrow that the light of Christ is fading in their souls. It fades in the same way that the light of the sun fades when clouds obscure the light of the sun. It fades to those who are blind or who, although not blind, close their eyes from the light, not wanting to see it. It fades in the souls of many who have fallen into despair, mired in sin. It fades because people themselves obscure it with the darkness of their sins.

The bloody darkness of cruelty, violence, murders, the darkness of wickedness, like black, terrible clouds, obscured the "gladsome light of the holy glory of the immortal Heavenly Father." The light of Christ is obscured by spiritual darkness - that black smoke of sins, hatred and enmity, which even now rises from the earth.

Even the prophet Isaiah spoke words that are effective in our time and apply to all of us: "Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them" (Matt. 13:14-15; cf. Isaiah 6:9-10).

And in order to somehow get through to us, people who are stubborn, hard of hearing and hard of seeing, to all that we thought was not enough, the Lord Jesus Christ added the great miracle of His Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. The ancient prophets Moses and Elijah appeared to Him, who shone with a dazzling Divine light, and bowed before Him, the Creator of the Law. In fear and trembling, the chosen apostles Peter, James and John looked at this wonderful sight. And from the cloud that covered them came the voice of God: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, listen to Him" (Matt. 17:5). And the holy apostles preached to the whole world that our Lord Jesus Christ is truly the Radiance of the Father.

It would seem that upon hearing this, the whole world should have prostrated themselves before the Lord Jesus Christ and worshiped Him as the True Son of God. But people's hearts have become hardened, they can hardly hear with their ears, for they shut their ears, not wanting to heed the word of Christ. And even if someone wishes to listen, the terrible noise around - the roar of enmity and hatred - does not make it possible to make out the quiet and gracious words of Christ. They are not heard, they are not listened to, just as no one would enjoy the marvelous melody of Mozart's Requiem during an aerial bombardment.

It would seem that the standing before the transfigured Lord Jesus on Tabor by the two greatest Old Testament prophets Moses and Elijah would forever close the ungodly mouths of the scribes and Pharisees who hated Him, as if violating the law of Moses. But even to this day the Jews do not believe in Him as their Messiah. They have closed their eyes and do not want to see the light. They do not hear with their ears, they do not want to comprehend the truth of Christ in their hearts and turn to Christ to heal them.

And not only the Jews do not believe. For many Christians, the Divine Light of Tabor is growing dim. The small flock of Christ is becoming smaller and smaller, for whom this light shines with the same power with which it once shone for the apostles Peter, James and John on Mount Tabor. Who is guilty? Isn't it the people themselves? Whose fault is it? Are they not those who sow enmity and hatred among people? Distrust between peoples has multiplied to alarming proportions, and the light of Christ is obscured by the dark clouds of atheism. More and more often we remember the terrible word of Christ: "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth" (Luke 18:8)?

But let's not lose heart, for He said: "When this begins to happen, then rise up and lift up your heads, because your deliverance draws near" (Luke 21:28). Let us live in such a way that on the terrible day of Judgment we have the boldness to raise our heads, and not lower them low in deep despair. And let us remember these words of Christ: "Fear not, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you a kingdom" (Luke 12:32). The light of Christ shines now, as it did then. The sun always shines brightly, but the clouds obscure it. However the light of Christ never fades: it is only obscured by human sins.

The light of Christ does not fade in the hearts of those who have loved Christ, who follow Him, who live according to His commandments, who consider the Gospel of Christ to be the highest truth. It shines for all those of whom it is said: "Blessed are your eyes that see; and your ears that hear" (Matt. 13:16).

We see His miracles, we hear His holy preaching. Blessed are the eyes of those who relentlessly direct them to where the truth of Christ shines; eyes that are often turned to Holy Scripture, the lives of saints, the writings of the Holy Fathers. From there the Divine light ceaselessly pours into them.

Be seers and do not obscure the light of Christ in any way. May your ears always be turned to the holy words of the Lord Jesus, His holy apostles, to the words of the Holy Fathers, to the words of divine hymns. Blessed are the eyes that always look with trepidation at the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ and cannot see the darkness and sins of the world without tears! Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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