The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 10 years ago

Yearning for the Light of the Transfiguration!

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The very fact that our savior insisted on bringing with him his disciples, the fact that Moses and Elias were gathered together, to him, shows that he wants to cast the radiance of his divinity on men. He wants to cover us with his light, he wants to illumine us and join off through it and to him. Ancient Faith Radio and patristic nectar publications present the arena Sunday homilies and theological reflections with Father Josiah Trenne. Father Josiah is the pastor of Saint Andrew Orthodox Christian Church in Riverside, California. He is also the founder of Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization 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 dot patristic nectar dot org. And now, Father Josiah, in the name of the 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 text that frightened me just now where Saint Paul said, don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? Whoever destroys the Temple of God, God will destroy him. You ever heard of homely on that? I have never heard of homely on that text. Whoever destroys the Temple of God, God will destroy him. Wow, putting this in my mind for next year when this reading comes up. Thank God for the liturgical calendar. Thank God that we in the church worship with forethought and dignity and that our holy fathers 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 works that Jesus has accomplished for you because of the liturgical schedule that we have in the church. This is why you've been taught to bow and to have your heart 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 and we celebrate the Nativity in the flesh of our savior. You know how important theophany is, when our Lord called the Holy Spirit down upon himself in the waters of the Jordan and sanctified the water so that we too could be cleansed of our sins by water and the Holy Spirit. You know how important and magnificent his life, giving cross, his sacred passion, is, because we celebrate it in holy week. We Kiss it numerous times. You know that his resurrection is Your Life. You know that death has been trampled and that our future is bright, because you celebrate POSCA every year. Do you see what I'm saying? Brothers and sisters? You know the Lord and you know his mighty works because you faithfully worship the...

...triune God in the church. According to the turgical calendar of the church, you learn to appreciate all the aspects and the facets of our saviors beauty, of his saving power. We can give thanks to God for that. However, we have some weak spots, we have some holes in our life, in our mentality, ty in our appreciation, 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 because they don't fall on Sunday and we are so formed and fashioned by this Protestant concept of worship that Sunday is it. And so the great feasts of our Savior, like his ascension on the forty day after his resurrection, which always falls on a Thursday, is not as central to our deep devotion to our savior. And I don't think many Orthodox could give a clear answer on what's the big deal about ascension. I don't think so. Maybe some. And besides 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 feast always falls on the sixth of August, Forty days before the Exaltation of the Life Giving Cross on September fourteen, because there's a tradition in the church that our saviors transfiguration on the mountain took place forty days before his passion. It means in six out of seven years you don't see it unless you throw off the concept that worship is a Sunday thing alone and you come to the great fees during the week when transfiguration falls. This is the only way to actually have 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 big deal is about transfiguration, and it is a big deal. Our Savior chose three of his dear disciples, Peter, James and John, and he went up onto the mountain tabor and there, it says in the text of the Gospels, as he began to pray, the countenance of his face was transformed and that he began to shine with a light brighter than the sun. And there appeared, with our Savior on the Mountain Moses, the Godseer and Elias The prophet, and they were conversing with him about his coming exodus, about his coming death, his saving passion. The disciples were undone, overwhelmed, transfixed by seeing the uncreated light. They were not prepared for it and they were undone and fell down. And then the voice of the father came and spoke and he said this is my beloved son in him. I am well pleased hear him. And the Holy Spirit appeared as a cloud descending onto the mountain. When the disciples shook off their days, they didn't see Moses and Elias Anymore, and there was the Lord, and the Lord said to them what you have seen speak to no one until my death. This is the transfiguration. What is it? What is...

...it and what does it have to do with your salvation? Why is it such a big deal? Brothers and sisters? The transfiguration of our Savior on Tabor was revealed to the disciples so that they could have a deep conviction about who he is. Peter had just confessed his divinity. Peter had just before they went up the mountain. Peter had just said to him thou art the Christ, the son of the Living God. Our Savior blessed him said that that statement was a revelation, not from men. Peter didn't learn that from men, but from God above. And then manifested his divinity. On the top of Tabor. He said to his disciples, there are some who are standing here who will not die until they see the Kingdom of God come with power. Having said that, he took his three beloved to the top and he showed them the Kingdom of God with power. He revealed the Kingdom of God, and that is what happened on the top of the mountain. Jesus is divinity, his radiance, his glory, which had been sheltered by the his humility, by the assumption of human flesh, which confused so many and kept so many in the dark about who he really was. Our savior pulled back that veil, he lifted the blinders 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 with the father and that he did not give up and becoming a man. He simply cloaked it for a time. This is Mount Tabor, and you learn something else. The very fact that our savior insisted on bringing with him his disciples, the fact that Moses and Elias were gathered together, to him, shows that he wants to cast the radiance of his divinity on men, he wants to cover us with his light, he wants to illumine us and join us 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 could look upon him. Elias was already living in it, because he had been taken up in some mysterious and Glorious Way and chariots of fire into the very nearness of God. But the disciples learned it. They learned that this glory that our Savior possesses by nature, which permeates his flesh, is intended to be given to them. The Lord desires his light, his radiance, his glory, His grace, to be ours. This is extremely important if you want to understand how Jesus has saved you, brothers and sisters, we don't accept the concept that salvation is just forgiveness. This is the standard concept in American civil religion about what Jesus has done. Jesus has come and has forgiven us by the work of the Cross. We delight in that, we rejoice in that, we proclaim it with a loud voice, for sure, but it does not end there. That is not, in fact, what salvation is. 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 likeness of God. Sometimes Saint Paul describes it as being in Christ or being united with 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 or deification. It means that we actually have an eternal progress to make with God. 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 and deeply, we ourselves are transfigured such that our destiny is to be like Christ in 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 was able to delight in the presence of his father and no longer be a slave to earthly needs, worn down by weariness, worn down by lack of sleep, worn down by hunger, covered with tears, that is not our future to have. That our future is deliverance from all of the all of that fallenness and to possess a human life such that there is no great separation between God and us. We live in his light Jesus is the light that has come into the world to enlighten every man, Sat John says, and believe me, those three disciples never were the same. Peter was so gripped his whole ministry until his martyrdom by the transfiguration. He wrote about it in his second epistle. He said the things I'm telling you. Don't think that I'm making this up. He said we were eyewitnesses of His Majesty on the top of 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 so altered by his time on Tabor that he became the mouthpiece of the glory of Christ, 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 of the father, full of grace and truth. This came from his experience. He was able to say these things not as ideas, but as a description of his life. Tabor matters, brothers and sisters, and it should matter to you. There's no way we can live a normal orthodox life without transfiguration at the heart, because we will always have some reduced, bogus concept of what 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 strengthens and gives birth to a true Christian life. Let me tell you specifically what I mean, and I'm going to tell it with this rock. There were a couple other times that Jesus took these three with him, not just to table. He took them into get semony, to his agony. He experienced the Agonia in the presence of his disciples, and it was very important that he was on tabor before he was in get semony with the disciples. He also took them to the passion, to the Cross. They're seeing his glory is what enabled them to understand his death and his suffering, because suffering cannot be endured in truth, without the transfiguration,...

...without a knowledge that behind all suffering lies the unconquerable glory and Power of Christ. Nothing happened to him. That was not his will. He voluntarily embraced the passion and get semony and at any moment he could have called twelve legions of angels to put an end to the opponents that he had. He didn't, because it was his will to 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 to Tabor, so that when he would come to his passion, they would know he was embracing this not of necessity but of pure love, voluntarily. Brothers and sisters, if you have this in your mind, if you know in fact that the God man is governing your life, that you're his and that the 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 like the sun in the Kingdom of his father. This is our future, theosis. If you have this conviction and you believe this, then you can accept the suffering that's going on in your life the way that the disciples learned to accept our saviors passion, the way that he accepted. This rock is a rock from the Holy Land. Someone gave the in our Paris gave this to me 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's ascension. The mother of God used to kneel on the top of this mountain and pray that her passage to the next life would be glorious and unfettered by demonic opposition, and the Lord heard her prayer and our brothers and sisters have gone there ever since. I keep this in my office, but not very long usually, because it's gone around the members of our parish for the last ten years and it's been with most of those who have passed to the next life. When they passed, this was in the hands of Andrew. When Andrew passed away several months ago, as a matter of fact, it was very difficult to get it back. People get attached to the transfiguration rock and they don't want to pass it back. Sometimes I have to pry it from their 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 hold the transfiguration rock before a surgery or before your own repose and every time you'll look at it you'll remember that your deptiny is not dust, your destiny is not suffering. Those things are God's means to glorify you. Your destiny is beauty, 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 the mountain top. Father, I need something practical. I hear this a lot. I hear this a lot. This is not a fantasy. Every saint in this church has a Nimbus around his or her head to bear witness of the fact that they actually accomplished it, they actually became one with God and His light actually deified them. There's lots of degrees of viification, brothers and sister. There are some who are in it, but barely, and there are others that are way up here St...

Paul and his language. He says there are many different glories of the stars, and Star differs from star in glory. Some have seen the light, even in this parish. Some have found a little bit of quietness in their heart and have seemed the light of God and tasted it so that when they seeing that, we have seen the true light. Some of you even know that by experience. Others have been able to re establish that as something that isn't that irregular. Some who are at the very top over here are able not just to remain near to God in the light, but they're able to become agents of communicating that light to other people and they're able to see all created existences in that light, which is the destiny of all human beings who make up to paradise. There are all sorts of degrees, but, brothers and sisters, this is your future and it takes place here's the practical here. If the practical, it takes place the same way it took place to Jesus on the top of Mount Tabor when he said it says while he was praying, the countenance of his face was transfigured. This is what we seek in prayer, is to be with God, near God. We're not just hoping that he listens to us so that he can answer what we're asking. That is not what we're shooting for in prayer. What we're shooting for in prayer is to actually come into the presence of our father, to actually become united to him, to be one with him, and for him to give to us that light so that we can 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, which is the cause of all our troubles. prayerlessness, brothers and sisters, is why 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, I was driving one of my sons to basketball game, and you caught me off guard a little bit, as on the way he said, pops, can you say a prayer for my game? I said sure, what do you what do you want me to ask? I was very, very proud of him that. He did not say, ask POPs, that we crush them under 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, he said, pops, pray that, you know that everything goes fine, everything goes well, and I thought to myself, and I did so. I prayed and I asked God you know, grant that they might compete with a manliness, it might compete in a manly fashion but with self control, that they might be able to be honorable sportsman, that no one, we would be damaged, no one we injured, and that it would be a way that we could be with him, be with our God. Well, I was 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. There shouldn't be this dichotomy in our life of church life secular life. I pray in the morning, but then I turn off the SPIGOT and I go to work 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 fails US and deification. To try to go where you're going with God. Sat Paul says, whatever you do, even the mundane eating and drinking, do it all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the glory of God. Elsewhere, he says, pray...

...without ceasing. God help us to do that. Amen. We hope that you have enjoyed and have been edified by this presentation offered to you by Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. If you are interested in other available titles or if you would like more information on patristic 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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