Transfigured!Fr. Barnabas Powell
Here’s a long quote from C.S. Lewis’ book “The Weight of Glory”
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which,if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
Wow, if this is true then all our interactions today will be with these so-called “immortals!”
Why is it we humans have such a hard time embracing this reality of the people around us? I’m convinced because we have such a hard time accepting this cosmic reality is true about our own selves. We just can’t believe we are meant to be more than the sum total of our desires, so we treat others in that debased way as well.
The Lord’s Disciples got a huge wake up call today as the Lord took His “inner circle” with Him to the mount of Transfiguration. Look at our Gospel Lesson today in Matthew 17:1-9:
At that time, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led him up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of man is raised from the dead.”
They had lived with Him. They had listened to His teachings. They had seen His miracles, but, to this moment, they still weren’t “sure” of just Who He was. And now, on this mountain, at this miraculous moment, there is no doubt. The Man, this Jesus, is no mere prophet, no mere guru or religious teacher. No, this Man was One Who conversed with Moses (the Law) and Elijah (the Prophets) and even God the Father’s Voice revealed Him as “my beloved Son.” And the Father’s command still rings in our ears this very day: “listen to Him!”
The Feast of the Transfiguration is a revelation not just of the identity of our Lord Jesus, but of our potential identity as well. You see, the whole of the Orthodox Faith is about shaping you and me to be “like Christ.” All our liturgies, spiritual disciplines, prayers, actions, homilies, and worship is designed to so reshape you and me that we take on the likeness of Jesus Christ Himself. The ultimate work in the Eucharist is to have us take Christ within us so that we can be “fed” by Him and become “like” Him. After all you are what you eat!
Today, are you satisfied with playing at the periphery of this awesome truth or are you finally willing to press into this wondrous Faith with purpose and love? Are you willing to be made into His likeness by the collected wisdom of 20 centuries of Orthodox insight, or will you be satisfied merely standing in the “narthex” of the Faith. On this Feastday when He reveals Himself AND reveals what you could be, it’s time to be Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. This Orthodox Faith is so deep and beautiful, it seems a shame to keep it to ourselves, especially with the spiritual hunger that is all around us. Did you know that in calendar year 2015 a million Americans will STOP going to church! That’s why Faith Encouraged Ministries is creating the Video Series “A Journey to Fullness” to introduce Orthodoxy to the average person. Will you help us? Go to “A Journey to Fullness Video Project” and learn how you can help today!