The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 9 years ago

Yearning for the Light of the Transfiguration!

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The very fact that our savior insistedon bringing with him his disciples, the fact that Moses and Elias were gatheredtogether, to him, shows that he wants to cast the radiance of hisdivinity on men. He wants to cover us with his light, he wantsto illumine us and join off through it and to him. Ancient Faith Radioand patristic nectar publications present the arena Sunday homilies and theological reflections with Father JosiahTrenne. Father Josiah is the pastor of Saint Andrew Orthodox Christian Church in Riverside, California. He is also the founder of Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofitorganization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. For more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dotpatristic nectar dot org. And now, Father Josiah, in the name ofthe father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, one God, brothers and sisters, I want to speak to you about the transfiguration,but I was pressed in my heart by that beautiful epistolescent and by that textthat frightened me just now where Saint Paul said, don't you know that yourbody is the temple of the Holy Spirit? Whoever destroys the Temple of God,God will destroy him. You ever heard of homely on that? Ihave never heard of homely on that text. Whoever destroys the Temple of God,God will destroy him. Wow, putting this in my mind for nextyear when this reading comes up. Thank God for the liturgical calendar. ThankGod that we in the church worship with forethought and dignity and that our holyfathers have given to us the worship life that we have. Brothers and sisters, you know the true God because of it. You understand the mighty worksthat Jesus has accomplished for you because of the liturgical schedule that we have inthe church. This is why you've been taught to bow and to have yourheart dance at the incarnation of the son of God. You know how important, how beyond human description, the fact that the Co Eternal Son of God, in time, became a man in the womb of the Virgin Mary.You know this because for weeks we prepare for it in the church liturgically andwe celebrate the Nativity in the flesh of our savior. You know how importanttheophany is, when our Lord called the Holy Spirit down upon himself in thewaters of the Jordan and sanctified the water so that we too could be cleansedof our sins by water and the Holy Spirit. You know how important andmagnificent his life, giving cross, his sacred passion, is, because wecelebrate it in holy week. We Kiss it numerous times. You know thathis resurrection is Your Life. You know that death has been trampled and thatour future is bright, because you celebrate POSCA every year. Do you seewhat I'm saying? Brothers and sisters? You know the Lord and you knowhis mighty works because you faithfully worship the...

...triune God in the church. Accordingto the turgical calendar of the church, you learn to appreciate all the aspectsand the facets of our saviors beauty, of his saving power. We cangive thanks to God for that. However, we have some weak spots, wehave some holes in our life, in our mentality, ty in ourappreciation, because of a number of feasts which are not properly honored by us. Yet in this nation, these feasts are fall out of great appreciation becausethey don't fall on Sunday and we are so formed and fashioned by this Protestantconcept of worship that Sunday is it. And so the great feasts of ourSavior, like his ascension on the forty day after his resurrection, which alwaysfalls on a Thursday, is not as central to our deep devotion to oursavior. And I don't think many Orthodox could give a clear answer on what'sthe big deal about ascension. I don't think so. Maybe some. Andbesides ascension, another feast just like it, no less important to our salvation,is the feast we celebrate, and it's forefeast today and in fruition tomorrow, the Feast of the transfiguration of our Lord on Mount Table. This feastalways falls on the sixth of August, Forty days before the Exaltation of theLife Giving Cross on September fourteen, because there's a tradition in the church thatour saviors transfiguration on the mountain took place forty days before his passion. Itmeans in six out of seven years you don't see it unless you throw offthe concept that worship is a Sunday thing alone and you come to the greatfees during the week when transfiguration falls. This is the only way to actuallyhave the transfiguration every year be pressed into your heart, into your mind,into your experience, so that you can understand and really know what the bigdeal is about transfiguration, and it is a big deal. Our Savior chosethree of his dear disciples, Peter, James and John, and he wentup onto the mountain tabor and there, it says in the text of theGospels, as he began to pray, the countenance of his face was transformedand that he began to shine with a light brighter than the sun. Andthere appeared, with our Savior on the Mountain Moses, the Godseer and EliasThe prophet, and they were conversing with him about his coming exodus, abouthis coming death, his saving passion. The disciples were undone, overwhelmed,transfixed by seeing the uncreated light. They were not prepared for it and theywere undone and fell down. And then the voice of the father came andspoke and he said this is my beloved son in him. I am wellpleased hear him. And the Holy Spirit appeared as a cloud descending onto themountain. When the disciples shook off their days, they didn't see Moses andElias Anymore, and there was the Lord, and the Lord said to them whatyou have seen speak to no one until my death. This is thetransfiguration. What is it? What is...

...it and what does it have todo with your salvation? Why is it such a big deal? Brothers andsisters? The transfiguration of our Savior on Tabor was revealed to the disciples sothat they could have a deep conviction about who he is. Peter had justconfessed his divinity. Peter had just before they went up the mountain. Peterhad just said to him thou art the Christ, the son of the LivingGod. Our Savior blessed him said that that statement was a revelation, notfrom men. Peter didn't learn that from men, but from God above.And then manifested his divinity. On the top of Tabor. He said tohis disciples, there are some who are standing here who will not die untilthey see the Kingdom of God come with power. Having said that, hetook his three beloved to the top and he showed them the Kingdom of Godwith power. He revealed the Kingdom of God, and that is what happenedon the top of the mountain. Jesus is divinity, his radiance, hisglory, which had been sheltered by the his humility, by the assumption ofhuman flesh, which confused so many and kept so many in the dark aboutwho he really was. Our savior pulled back that veil, he lifted theblinders so that the disciples could see not just his flesh but his divinity,to which his flesh is inseparably united. They saw the Kingdom of God,they saw the king of that kingdom in his radiance that he's always had withthe father and that he did not give up and becoming a man. Hesimply cloaked it for a time. This is Mount Tabor, and you learnsomething else. The very fact that our savior insisted on bringing with him hisdisciples, the fact that Moses and Elias were gathered together, to him,shows that he wants to cast the radiance of his divinity on men, hewants to cover us with his light, he wants to illumine us and joinus through it. And to him, you knew this already because of Moses. His life. Moses had already experienced it on the top of Mount Sina. Remember, his face was radiant, so much so that no one couldlook upon him. Elias was already living in it, because he had beentaken up in some mysterious and Glorious Way and chariots of fire into the verynearness of God. But the disciples learned it. They learned that this glorythat our Savior possesses by nature, which permeates his flesh, is intended tobe given to them. The Lord desires his light, his radiance, hisglory, His grace, to be ours. This is extremely important if you wantto understand how Jesus has saved you, brothers and sisters, we don't acceptthe concept that salvation is just forgiveness. This is the standard concept in Americancivil religion about what Jesus has done. Jesus has come and has forgiven usby the work of the Cross. We delight in that, we rejoicein that, we proclaim it with a loud voice, for sure, butit does not end there. That is not, in fact, what salvationis. Are you listening to me? Salvation is a lot more than that. In our tradition we call this the...

...fullness of salvation being in the likenessof God. Sometimes Saint Paul describes it as being in Christ or being unitedwith Christ. St Peter Calls it becoming a partaker of the divine nature.It's the fullness, in Saint Paul's language. Our Great Fathers Call it paosis ordeification. It means that we actually have an eternal progress to make withGod. In drawing near to him and coming into communion and union with him, and in the process of connecting to the Lord like that so intimately anddeeply, we ourselves are transfigured such that our destiny is to be like Christin his glorified human existence, that body which was able to look down death, that body which was able to triumph over sickness, that body which wasable to delight in the presence of his father and no longer be a slaveto earthly needs, worn down by weariness, worn down by lack of sleep,worn down by hunger, covered with tears, that is not our futureto have. That our future is deliverance from all of the all of thatfallenness and to possess a human life such that there is no great separation betweenGod and us. We live in his light Jesus is the light that hascome into the world to enlighten every man, Sat John says, and believe me, those three disciples never were the same. Peter was so gripped hiswhole ministry until his martyrdom by the transfiguration. He wrote about it in his secondepistle. He said the things I'm telling you. Don't think that I'mmaking this up. He said we were eyewitnesses of His Majesty on the topof the mountain. This is second Peter One. We heard the majestic voice. This is my beloved son, with whom I'm well pleased. Believe me, he was never the same after his time on Tabor. John was soaltered by his time on Tabor that he became the mouthpiece of the glory ofChrist, the one who described the word becoming flesh and tabernacling among us,and we have beheld his glory, the Glory as of the only begotten ofthe father, full of grace and truth. This came from his experience. Hewas able to say these things not as ideas, but as a descriptionof his life. Tabor matters, brothers and sisters, and it should matterto you. There's no way we can live a normal orthodox life without transfigurationat the heart, because we will always have some reduced, bogus concept ofwhat it means to be a human being and what it means to be saved, and we won't have the vision for our life that enables, that strengthensand gives birth to a true Christian life. Let me tell you specifically what Imean, and I'm going to tell it with this rock. There werea couple other times that Jesus took these three with him, not just totable. He took them into get semony, to his agony. He experienced theAgonia in the presence of his disciples, and it was very important that hewas on tabor before he was in get semony with the disciples. Healso took them to the passion, to the Cross. They're seeing his gloryis what enabled them to understand his death and his suffering, because suffering cannotbe endured in truth, without the transfiguration,...

...without a knowledge that behind all sufferinglies the unconquerable glory and Power of Christ. Nothing happened to him.That was not his will. He voluntarily embraced the passion and get semony andat any moment he could have called twelve legions of angels to put an endto the opponents that he had. He didn't, because it was his willto do the father's good pleasure, to suffer and save us and the apostles. He wanted them to know this. This is why he took them toTabor, so that when he would come to his passion, they would knowhe was embracing this not of necessity but of pure love, voluntarily. Brothersand sisters, if you have this in your mind, if you know infact that the God man is governing your life, that you're his and thatthe glory that is his is promised you, which he has said so many times. He says that in his parabolic teaching, that we will shine likethe sun in the Kingdom of his father. This is our future, theosis.If you have this conviction and you believe this, then you can acceptthe suffering that's going on in your life the way that the disciples learned toaccept our saviors passion, the way that he accepted. This rock is arock from the Holy Land. Someone gave the in our Paris gave this tome about ten years ago. It's taken literally from the top of Mount Tabor. I call it the transfiguration rock because it's from the Mount of transfiguration,a place that has been visited by pious believers from the time of our Savior'sascension. The mother of God used to kneel on the top of this mountainand pray that her passage to the next life would be glorious and unfettered bydemonic opposition, and the Lord heard her prayer and our brothers and sisters havegone there ever since. I keep this in my office, but not verylong usually, because it's gone around the members of our parish for the lastten years and it's been with most of those who have passed to the nextlife. When they passed, this was in the hands of Andrew. WhenAndrew passed away several months ago, as a matter of fact, it wasvery difficult to get it back. People get attached to the transfiguration rock andthey don't want to pass it back. Sometimes I have to pry it fromtheir hands. But, brothers and sisters, it's a fantastic witness and a reminder, and this is what its purpose is. One day maybe you'll holdthe transfiguration rock before a surgery or before your own repose and every time you'lllook at it you'll remember that your deptiny is not dust, your destiny isnot suffering. Those things are God's means to glorify you. Your destiny isbeauty, radiant, being permeated with the life, grace and spirit of God. This is the truth of the transfiguration. And you may be thinking a father, that's nice, but you're sounding a little ethereal, little on themountain top. Father, I need something practical. I hear this a lot. I hear this a lot. This is not a fantasy. Every saintin this church has a Nimbus around his or her head to bear witness ofthe fact that they actually accomplished it, they actually became one with God andHis light actually deified them. There's lots of degrees of viification, brothers andsister. There are some who are in it, but barely, and thereare others that are way up here St...

Paul and his language. He saysthere are many different glories of the stars, and Star differs from star in glory. Some have seen the light, even in this parish. Some havefound a little bit of quietness in their heart and have seemed the light ofGod and tasted it so that when they seeing that, we have seen thetrue light. Some of you even know that by experience. Others have beenable to re establish that as something that isn't that irregular. Some who areat the very top over here are able not just to remain near to Godin the light, but they're able to become agents of communicating that light toother people and they're able to see all created existences in that light, whichis the destiny of all human beings who make up to paradise. There areall sorts of degrees, but, brothers and sisters, this is your futureand it takes place here's the practical here. If the practical, it takes placethe same way it took place to Jesus on the top of Mount Taborwhen he said it says while he was praying, the countenance of his facewas transfigured. This is what we seek in prayer, is to be withGod, near God. We're not just hoping that he listens to us sothat he can answer what we're asking. That is not what we're shooting forin prayer. What we're shooting for in prayer is to actually come into thepresence of our father, to actually become united to him, to be onewith him, and for him to give to us that light so that wecan be illuminated, so that he would give us of his Holy Spirit,so that we would not fall into the abyss of separation from God, whichis the cause of all our troubles. prayerlessness, brothers and sisters, iswhy we have misery. So why we have anxiety's why we get depressed,it's because we drop the communion ball. This week. This week, Iwas driving one of my sons to basketball game, and you caught me offguard a little bit, as on the way he said, pops, canyou say a prayer for my game? I said sure, what do youwhat do you want me to ask? I was very, very proud ofhim that. He did not say, ask POPs, that we crush themunder the souls of our feet and they banked for mercy. He did.He did not say that. You didn't say that, although he is competitive. I'm happy about that. No, he said, you know, hesaid, pops, pray that, you know that everything goes fine, everythinggoes well, and I thought to myself, and I did so. I prayedand I asked God you know, grant that they might compete with amanliness, it might compete in a manly fashion but with self control, thatthey might be able to be honorable sportsman, that no one, we would bedamaged, no one we injured, and that it would be a waythat we could be with him, be with our God. Well, Iwas so delighted about was the fact that he had made the request at all. You know that brothers and sisters is what we should shoot for. Thereshouldn't be this dichotomy in our life of church life secular life. I prayin the morning, but then I turn off the SPIGOT and I go towork and then maybe I turn it back on before I go to bed.We're trying to end that turning off and this is my practical encouragement to you. This is the path to becoming illuminis nated. It's the path to failsUS and deification. To try to go where you're going with God. SatPaul says, whatever you do, even the mundane eating and drinking, doit all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the glory ofGod. Elsewhere, he says, pray...

...without ceasing. God help us todo that. Amen. We hope that you have enjoyed and have been edifiedby this presentation offered to you by Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committedto nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. Ifyou are interested in other available titles or if you would like more information onpatristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. Again, that's www dot patristic nectar dot org.

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