On the Mountain You were Transfigured, O Christ God,
And Your disciples beheld Your glory as far as they could bear it (Apolytikion)
In the Transfiguration, Jesus Christ reveals His true nature, His divinity, and His glory, and so directs our gaze towards our intended destination. He shows us who He is, and where He wants us to come: a place of true Light!
Christ shows us that our own life can be filled with His Radiant Light. This is not something we can achieve because we deserve it; neither is it a reward for following certain rules, morals, and practices. Instead, it is granted to those who truly desire to love God with all their strength. It is this type of relationship between man and God that can transform the darkness in our life into light.
He who is united with Christ in absolute and non-conditional love, loves his neighbours and keeps the Divine Commandments because of this deep relationship with his Maker. It is this bond which affects how he sees his own life, and that is why he undertakes to struggle against self, sin, and negative thoughts. Trusting in Christ’s love for him, the Christian accepts God’s will, no matter how difficult it may seem at times. Alone, he cannot rid himself of weaknesses and passions, yet he knows that his loving Lord can accomplish all things. The whole person, not just certain habits and traits, can become transfigured and sanctified because of God’s grace, as long as the struggling Christian remains in the Church.
When the three disciples witnessed Christ’s Transfiguration on Mt Tabor, Christ’s true nature was revealed to them in proportion to what they could bear. Next to their Lord, they saw the two prophets from the Old Testament, Moses and Elijah, who had specifically requested to see God’s face and His glory. Upon Moses’ query ‘If I have found grace in Your sight reveal Yourself to me, that I may see You clearly…’, God replied: ‘You cannot see My face; for no man can see My face and live’ (Exodus 33:13 & 20). Elijah addresses God and says, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord Almighty since the children of Israel have forsaken You’ (3 Kings 19:10). In both cases, God responds to their common desire to see Him. However, neither one of the great Prophets was allowed to see God face to face. Moses saw only God’s back (Exodus 13:23), while Elijah witnessed God’s glory as a gentle breeze (3 Kings 19:11-12).
The holy feast of the Transfiguration reminds us that remaining in the Church with holy zeal, we may be shown the beauty of Christ’s face and become partakers of His resplendent Light, which He transmits to all of His children. This is what the Prophets had desired, and only saw in part. However, it can become ours more fully, because Christ has fulfilled God’s promise of salvation through His Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection.
Source: August-September 2014 Lychnos Edition