Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord
2 Peter 1:10-19
Jesus went up to the mountain with 3 of his apostles. And they were the three who were closest to him, Peter, James, and John. Who were they?
Peter was the leader of the Apostles. In the previous chapter of this gospel, we learn that it was he who first recognized, and articulated, that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. And it was because of this that Christ built the Church upon him, gave him the Keys of the Kingdom, and gave him individually the authority to bind and loose.
James? Well, we don’t know a great deal about him. He was John’s brother - they were called “Sons of Thunder”. And he was obviously close to Jesus. Lastly, of the 12, he was the first to be martyred.
John was the only one of the three to write a gospel. It was John who had the vision of the Apocalypse. It was to John that Jesus gave the care of His mother after the crucifixion. And John was the only one of the 12 to not meet a martyr’s death.
Three Apostles, collectively representing all of the Church. Peter shows us those who openly and boldly confess Christ. James shows those who love Christ and are willing to give their life for Him. And John shows us those who love Christ, those who receive visions, those who have a special devotion to the Theotokos, and those who live a long life devoted to Him.
What did Jesus show them? He revealed a bit of His glory to them. As we sing in the Troparion and Kontakion, He revealed as much of His glory that they could behold.
Years later, John would write, “Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is”.
John says it doesn’t yet appear what we shall be. But how can that be, since, along with Jesus, he saw two of the greatest Old Testament saints in glory? Because, again, our Lord revealed as much of his glory as they could behold, a glory which Moses and Elijah reflected.
That shining glory of the Lord is reflected just by our being with him. In Exodus, we read, “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tables of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God”.
And, then, years after this, and after he wrote his epistle, John had a vision of Christ, recorded in the Apocalypse. “Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man,[b] clothed with a long robe and with a golden girdle round his breast; his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters; in his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth issued a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength”.
I think that the natural state of man, the sinless state, is this bright, luminous glory that comes from being with Christ. Do you remember the story about Adam and Eve in the Garden? “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’”
Were they naked before? Of course. But, when they sinned, something was taken away, and then they knew that they were naked. You might say that their innocence was taken. But some Church Fathers suggest that what they lost was the same bright, luminous glory that the Apostles saw on the Mount of Transfiguration. And some of the holiest of saints have displayed that same glory - all of which is a reflection of God’s glory.
Have you ever met a Christian who is so Christlike in character that you were immediately drawn to them? I know I have. The glory of the Transfiguration may not be visible in them, but it’s certainly present on a spiritual level.
Remember, you and I, every single one of the Baptized, is a member of the Royal Priesthood. We minister not just to each other here, but to the world. And one way that ministry happens is when we show forth Christ’s glory in our actions, in our love. It’s lovingly living out the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, it’s living out the Beatitudes. It’s lovingly living out the three Theological Virtues - Faith, Hope, and Love - and the 4 Cardinal Virtues - Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance, and Justice.
So, ask yourself, are you living Christ’s admonition? “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”.
Remember, YOU are the light of the world.