August 7, 2023

Homily Two on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Savior (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ is a glorious Despotic feast, because it refers to the Despot Christ and is closely connected with the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, and shows what Holy Scripture is and what is its purpose. These two points are interesting and will be highlighted today in this written sermon.

The first point is that what the Evangelists describe on Tabor is a living Holy Scripture. When we speak of Holy Scripture, we mean the Old and New Testaments that God joined in with His people. The Old Testament includes what is described in the holy books from the Genesis of the world and the history of the Israelite people, and the New Testament includes all those things related to the life of Christ and the activity and teaching of the Holy Apostles.

This can be seen vividly on Mount Tabor. Christ is in the middle between the two Prophets, Moses and Elijah, who are representatives of the Law and the Prophets respectively, and below Christ who is in His glory, are the three Disciples, Peter, James and John, who are representatives of the Apostles, and Christ allowed the Light of Divinity to be seen, which had been hidden until then.

The representatives of the Old Testament, Moses and Elijah, now see the Son of God incarnate, the One they saw without a body, and the Disciples see the glory of Christ's Divinity in His Body. Thus, this whole scene shows that the center of all people, Old and New Testament, is the glorified Christ and, of course, there is an identity of experiences between the Prophets, the Apostles and the Saints, through all the centuries.

The voice of the Father that was heard at that time, "This is My beloved Son; listen to Him" (Mark 8:7) shows that Christ, who appeared without a body to the Prophets and became human, is the Son and Word of God, He is the archetype of the creation of man, He recreated man, and therefore the basis of God's Revelation is Christology. That is why we must be Christ-centered.

Various modern theologians teach that the appearances of God in the Old Testament are appearances of the Father, while in the New Testament the appearances of the Son and Word of God are recorded. The Church from the 2nd and 3rd centuries, facing such heretical teachings, decided that He is the one who appears in the Old and New Testaments, in the Old Testament without flesh, in the New Testament with flesh.

We must, therefore, observe the commandments of Christ, because they are not the commandments of men, but the revelation of God. Observing the commandments of Christ, we distinguish between God and the devil, between the will of God and the will of the devil, between Paradise and Hell. Holy Scripture is not a human book, but a spiritual book that shows us what God wants us to do in our lives.

The second point from God's revelation on Tabor is what is the purpose of Holy Scripture. It is clear that the purpose of Holy Scripture is to show us what Christ is, that He is true God, and of course the ultimate purpose is to guide us to the mountain of our own transformation.

In the troparia of the Church of this feast, it can be seen what is the highest purpose of the incarnation of the Son and Word of God. In a very theological troparion it is written: "He Who spoke of old to Moses by symbols on Mount Sinai, saying, I am Who I am, has manifested Himself today on Mount Tabor to His Disciples, showing in Himself the archtypal beauty of the image, by taking unto Himself human substance."

This means that this glory of Christ, which was manifested on Mount Tabor, when His face shone like the sun and His clothes became white like the Light, this was the prototype of our image. That's how Adam and Eve were after their creation, even as infants, and that's where they had to end up. This is the theology that man was created in the image and likeness of God, this is our purpose.

And, of course, this is the purpose of Orthodox theology, which should not deal only with human knowledge, but with how man should reach the vision of the glory of God, as Light. The pastoral care of our Church with the Mysteries and the observance of Christ's commandments should be aimed at this.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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