Archive for the ‘Transfiguration’ Category

Exegesis of Vespers readings on Transfiguration: typology and moral instruction.

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

The Transfuration by Theophanes the Cretan.LISTEN NOW

Synopsis: Exegesis of the Vespers readings (parables, paremia) for the Feast of the Transfiguration, with emphasis on typology, especially comparing the Theophanies Moses and Elijah experienced to the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, and the significant moral instruction these events give us, when viewed in a Christian light.

Seven homilies on TRANSFIGURATION are HERE

Exodus 24:12-18 12 And the Lord said to Moses: Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and the law, and the commandments which I have written: that thou mayst teach them. 13 Moses rose up, and his minister Josue: and Moses going up into the mount of God, 14 Said to the ancients: Wait ye here till we return to you. You have Aaron and Hur with you: if any question shall arise, you shall refer it to them. 15 And when Moses was gone up, a cloud covered the mount. 16 And the glory of the Lord dwelt upon Sinai, covering it with a cloud six days: and the seventh day he called him out of the midst of the cloud. 17 And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like a burning fire upon the top of the mount, in the eyes of the children of Israel. 18 And Moses, entering into the midst of the cloud, went up into the mountain: and he was there forty days, and forty nights.

Exodus 33:11-23; 34:4-6, 8 11 And the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man is wont to speak to his friend. And when he returned into the camp, his servant Josue the son of Nun, a young man, departed not from the tabernacle. 12 And Moses said to the Lord; Thou commandest me to lead forth this people: and thou dost not let me know whom thou wilt send with me, especially whereas thou hast said: I know thee by name, and thou hast found favour in my sight. 13 If therefore I have found favour in thy sight, show me thy face, that I may know thee, and may find grace before thy eyes: look upon thy people this nation. 14 And the Lord said: My face shall go before thee, and I will give thee rest. 15 And Moses said: If thou thyself dost not go before, bring us not out of this place. 16 For how shall we be able to know, I and thy people, that we have found grace in thy sight, unless thou walk with us, that we may be glorified by all people that dwell upon the earth? 17 And the Lord said to Moses: This word also, which thou hast spoken, will I do: for thou hast found grace before me, and thee I have known by name. 18 And he said: Shew me thy glory. 19 He answered: I will shew thee all good, and I will proclaim in the name of the Lord before thee: and I will have mercy on whom I will, and I will be merciful to whom it shall please me. 20 And again he said: Thou canst not see my face: for man shall not see me and live. 21 And again he said: Behold there is a place with me, and thou shalt stand upon the rock. 22 And when my glory shall pass, I will set thee in a hole of the rock, and protect thee with my right hand, till I pass: 23 And I will take away my hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face thou canst not see. 4 Then he cut out two tables of stone, such as had been before: and rising very early he went up into the mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, carrying with him the tables. 5 And when the Lord was come down in a cloud, Moses stood with him, calling upon the name of the Lord. 6 And when he passed before him, he said: O the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, patient and of much compassion, and true, 8 And Moses making haste, bowed down prostrate unto the earth, and adoring,

1 Kings 19:3-9, 11-13, 15-16 3 Then Elias was afraid, and rising up he went whithersoever he had a mind: and he came to Bersabee of Juda, and left his servant there, 4 And he went forward, one day's journey into the desert. And when he was there, and sat under a juniper tree, he requested for his soul that he might die, and said: It is enough for me, Lord, take away my soul: for I am no better than my fathers. 5 And he cast himself down, end slept in the shadow of the juniper tree: and behold an angel of the Lord touched him, and said to him: Arise and eat. 6 He looked, and behold there was at his head a hearth cake, and a vessel of water: and he ate and drank, and he fell asleep again. 7 And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said to him: Arise, eat: for thou hast yet a great way to go. 8 And he arose, and ate, and drank, and walked in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights, unto the mount of God, Horeb. 9 And when he was come thither, he abode in a cave: and behold the word of the Lord came unto him, and he said to him: What dost thou here, Elias? 11 And he said to him: Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord: and behold the Lord passeth, and a great and strong wind before the Lord over throwing the mountains, and breaking the rocks in pieces: the Lord is not in the wind, and after the wind an earthquake: the Lord is not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire: the Lord is not in the fire, and after the fire a whistling of a gentle air. 13 And when Elias heard it, he covered his face with his mantle, and coming forth stood in the entering in of the cave, and behold a voice unto him, saying: What dost thou here, Elias? And he answered: 15 And the Lord said to him: Go, and return on thy way through the desert to Damascus: and when thou art come thither, thou shalt anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And thou shalt anoint Jehu the son of Namsi to be king over Israel: and Eliseus the son of Saphat, of Abelmeula, thou shalt anoint to be prophet in thy room.


If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/feasts-of-the-savior-transfiguration_2012-08-18+exegesis-of-vespers-readings+typology-and-moral-teaching.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/feasts-of-the-savior-transfiguration_2012-08-18+exegesis-of-vespers-readings+typology-and-moral-teaching.mp3


RSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homiliesRSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homilies:http://feeds.feedburner.com/OrthodoxChristianSermonsOnTheGospelsEpistlesAndOtherTopics

Archive of Audio and text homilies:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

Share

Illumined With Effulgence Of The Virtues. To Be In The Presence Of God

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Transfiguration Icon.

LISTEN NOW

Old for the new but still new for the old since we are in the post-festival period of the Transfiguration, this short homily highlights something we must keep in mind every day.

Synopsis: The most important aspect of the Transfiguration of our Lord on Mount Tabor is that it is a harbinger of things to come. The apostles were not ready to be in the presence of the divine uncreated light of God, and yet in the end we all will be in His presence. What must we do to become ready? The aposticha for the forefeast teaches us: "Illumined with the effulgence of the virtues, let us proceed to the holy mountain, that we may behold the divine Transfiguration of the Lord." (Vespers Aposticha, August 5, Forefeast of the Transfiguration). Let us look at what happened to the apostles and why and what we must do as the aposticha teaches.

More homilies on the Transfiguration are HERE


If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/feasts-of-the-savior-transfiguration_2011-08-17+illumined-with-effulgence-of-the-virtues+to-be-in-the-presence-of-god+_,vespers-aposticha-for-the-prefestival-of-transfiguration.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/feasts-of-the-savior-transfiguration_2011-08-17+illumined-with-effulgence-of-the-virtues+to-be-in-the-presence-of-god+_,vespers-aposticha-for-the-prefestival-of-transfiguration.mp3


RSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homiliesRSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homilies:http://feeds.feedburner.com/OrthodoxChristianSermonsOnTheGospelsEpistlesAndOtherTopics

Archive of Audio and text homilies:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

Share

Old Testament Appearances Of Jesus Christ. Exegesis of the Parables For Transfiguration Vespers

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Transfiguration Icon.

LISTEN NOW

Synopsis:Old for the new, but still new for the old since we are in the midst of the after-feast for transfiguration, the Parables at Transfiguration Vespers are important to understand. Similar events to the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ occurred in the Old Testament. Three selections from the Old Testament are read during the Vespers, involving Moses twice and also the Prophet Elijah. These parables are briefly explained.

More homilies on the Transfiguration are HERE

Exodus 24:12-1812 And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. 13 And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God. 14 And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them. 15 And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount. 16 And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17 And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. 18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.

Exodus 33:11-23; 34:4-6, 8 11 And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle. 12 And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. 13 Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. 14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. 15 And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. 16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. 17 And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. 18 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. 19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. 20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. 21 And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: 22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: 23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen. 4 And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone. 5 And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 8 And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.

1 Kings 19:3-9, 11-13, 15-16 3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. 5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. 6 And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. 7 And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. 8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God. 9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? 11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? 15 And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.

 


If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/feasts-of-the-savior-transfiguration_2011-08-18+old-testament-appearances-of-jesus-christ+parables-for-transfiguration-vespers.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/feasts-of-the-savior-transfiguration_2011-08-18+old-testament-appearances-of-jesus-christ+parables-for-transfiguration-vespers.mp3


RSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homiliesRSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homilies:http://feeds.feedburner.com/OrthodoxChristianSermonsOnTheGospelsEpistlesAndOtherTopics

Archive of Audio and text homilies:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

Share

Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ (and of us). Aug 6/19. Homilies, exegesis, questions and answers

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

 

The Transfiguration of the Savior

 

 

 

An American Orthodox Christian priest and blogger who worships according the the church calendar is faced with a predicament. I tend to write topically, according to the church year. For the fixed feasts, by the time the majority of the Orthodox world arrives at the feast, the majority of English speaking Orthodox are well past it, due to the difference between the (old) church calendar and the civil calendar. The purpose of this blog and website in general is to teach and secondarily cause more people to know about us, and perhaps walk through our door. My nature is talk about something just before it happens, but perhaps I can mend my ways a bit. There is a lot of stuff about the Transfiguration on our site. Here are some links.


Transfiguration Human nature in the Midst of the Divine Luke 9:28-36.

We say today, brothers and sisters, that humanity can meet Divinity; Humanity can see Divinity; Humanity can be part of Divinity.

In the Old Testament Moses, saw the back parts of God; he was hidden in the cleft of a rock; he didn’t see that much [1]. But now, face to face, man is with God. Jesus Christ showing He is fully God, shining as the light.

Did you notice something in this historic and prophetic event? Moses and Elias, were conversing with Him, speaking of His decease: That was for the disciples to remember so that they would overwhelmed by the upcoming passion of our Lord….


Questions and answers about the Scripture read on the Transfiguration.

All ten questions are at http://www.orthodox.net/questions/transfiguration-scripture_1.html

This Scripture is very important to understand well.

Here are questions 1-3, all about the important verse: "And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray." (LUKE 9:28)

http://orthodox.net/redeemingthetime/2010/08/05/scripture-read-on-transfiguration-10-questions-1-3/


Questions 4-7 are here:

http://orthodox.net/redeemingthetime/2010/08/05/scripture-read-on-transfiguration-10-questions-4-7/

They cover the verses:

" And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. " (Luke 9:29)

"And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: {31} Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. " (Luke 9:20-31)


Questions 8-10 are here: http://orthodox.net/redeemingthetime/2010/08/06/scripture-read-on-transfiguration-10-questions-8-10/

They discuss:

How did Jesus' Transfiguration prepare the apostles for His subsequent crucifixion?

"But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: " (vs. 32)

"And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen. " (Luke 9:36)


 

 

Here are lots more Questions and Answers about the Feast of the Transfiguration.

What is most important about the Transfiguration? This is a very important feast – we must understand it. Perhaps you would like to share your feelings in the comments.

Share

Questions about scripture read on the Transfiguration

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Source: http://www.orthodox.net/questions/transfiguration-scripture_1.html

Tonight: Aug 5/18 2008 Monday 6:30 PM – VIGIL for the Transfiguration

Tomorrow, Aug 6/19 Tuesday 9 AM – DIVINE LITURGY.

I will hear confession after vigil and before Liturgy.

 

QUESTION 1

“And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.” (LUKE 9:28)What sayings?


 ANSWER 1

Jesus had just finished discoursing with the Apostles about His upcoming passion, and had finished with the enigmatic words:“Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. “ (Matthew 17:28)Jesus’ Transfiguration was the fulfillment of this prophecy. “Some those standing here” would soon see Jesus as He really is, and will be, in His kingdom.


 QUESTION 2

” And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.” (Luke 9:28)Why did Jesus take these three of His disciples?


 ANSWER 2

“Wherefore doth He take with Him these only? Because these were superior to the rest. And Peter indeed showed his superiority by exceedingly loving Him; but John by being exceedingly loved of Him; and James again by his answer which he answered with his brother, saying, “We are able to drink the cup; nor yet by his answer only, but also by his works; both by the rest of them, and by fulfilling, what he said. For so earnest was he, and grievous to the Jews, that Herod himself supposed that he had bestowed herein a very great favor on the Jews, I mean in slaying him.” (St John Chrysostom, Homily LVI on Matthew)


 QUESTION 3

“And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.” (LUKE 9:28)What were the practical considerations and spiritual meaning of Jesus ascending a mountain to pray?


 ANSWER 3

Jesus wanted to be alone with his three chosen disciples, in a remote place, so that no other person would see His Transfiguration. The top of a mountain was a safe place to go.A mountain has symbolized the elevation of our thoughts to spiritual things. It is also a remote place, away from worldly cares. We must ascend in our prayers and our way of life.“He brings them unto a high mountain, showing that unless a man is raised on high, he does not become worthy of such divine visions.” (Blessed Theophylact, commentary on Matthew 17)


 QUESTION 4

” And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. “ (Luke 9:29)What made His raiment white and glistering? What occurrence in the OT proves it is possible for our “countenance to be altered”?


 ANSWER 4

Jesus Christ was illuminated by the “uncreated light”, or energies of God, which proceeded from Himself.Moses’ face was also bright after he saw the “back parts” of God. When he descended the mountain, no one among the Israelites could bear to look upon his face. He had encountered the uncreated light, and even as a mortal, was changed.“And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. {13} Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. {14} And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. {15} And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. {16} For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. {17} And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. {18} And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory. {19} And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. {20} And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. {21} And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: {22} And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: {23} And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.{34:1} And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest. {2} And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. {3} And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount. {4} And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone. {5} And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. {6} And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, {7} Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin …{28} And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. {29} And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. {30} And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him. {31} And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them. {32} And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai. {33} And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. “ (Exodus 33:12-23,34:1-7,28-33)


 QUESTION 5

“And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: {31} Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. “ (Luke 9:20-31)Moses and Elias conversation about events after their death proves and important truth about the dead, which a good part of those who profess to be Christians seem to not be aware of. What?


 ANSWER 5

God is the God of the living, not the dead. The dead in Christ are still aware and can pray to God, and know of things in the material world. We ask their intercessions precisely because they can hear us, and their intercessions on our behalf are bold.


 QUESTION 6

“And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: {31} Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. “ (Luke 9:20-31)Why did Moses and Elias appear? What does each represent?


 ANSWER 6

Moses represented the law and Elijah the prophets. Both the law and the prophets spoke of and pointed to Christ, and were in complete agreement with Him, as their conversation on Mount Tabor shows. Their presence, together with the apostles also underscored that God is the God of the “living and the dead”.”Transfigured on the high mountain, / the Savior, having with Him His Elias-eminent disciples,/ shone forth most wondrously, / showing them forth as illumined by the loftiness of the virtues / and as ones vouchsafed divine glory. / Moses and Elijah, who spake with Christ, / showed that He hath authority over the living and the dead, / and that He is the God Who of old spake through the law and the prophets. / Of Him was the voice of the Father heard saying from the cloud of light: / “Him do ye obey, / Who through the Cross made hell captive // and granteth life everlasting to the dead!” (Lord I have cried, Tone 4)“Moses the God-beholder and Elijah of the fiery chariot, / who traversed the heavens without being consumed,/ beholding Thee, O Christ, in the cloud at Thy Transfiguration, / bore witness to Thee / as the Creator and Fulfiller of the law and the prophets. / With them vouchsafe Thine enlightenment also unto us, O Master, // that we may hymn Thee forever.” (Sticheron for “Now and Ever”, Aposticha)The Vespral OT readings provide further mystical illumination concerning the presence of Moses and Elijah. The former asked to see God face to face, and the latter heard Him in the “still small voice”. Both intimately experienced the energies of God. Their experiences were a harbinger of things to come.


 QUESTION 7

“And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: {31} Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. “ (Luke 9:20-31)Why did Moses and Elias speak of Jesus’ upcoming passion? It would not be out of order to make an educated guess.


 ANSWER 7

The Apostles were pious Jews, and also weak men who needed to be told by Jesus over and over about His upcoming passion. It was very difficult for them to believe that such a terrible thing would happen. As pious Jews, they believed in the scriptures, and revered Moses and Elias and reliable witnesses of the truth. Their prophesying about Jesus’ upcoming passion must have had an effect on them, and helped prepare them for the eventual event. It also showed Jesus was in agreement with the law and the prophets.“… Since many were thinking that Jesus, in seeming to put aside the Sabbath and transgress the law, was opposed to God, the Lord on the mountain appears with the prophets, one of whom was the lawgiver, and the other a Zealot. Such prophets as these would not have conversed with one who seemed to abolish the law, if what He said did not please them” (Blessed Theophylact, Commentary on Mark 9


 QUESTION 8

How did Jesus’ Transfiguration prepare the apostles for His subsequent crucifixion?


 ANSWER 8

Much of the meaning of a particular event is revealed in the holy services, especially Vespers and Matins. This is why it is absolutely necessary for a Christian to zealously attend the Vigil service. The services, and the commentaries of the holy fathers, which have entered into the mind of the church, explain that the apostles were prepared for the crucifixion by witnessing the Transfiguration, and the “splendor of the resurrection” that it prefigured. They would soon be subjected to terrible temptations and fears, and our Savior wanted to put the knowledge of His divinity indelibly in their minds, to help them in the terrible days of his trial and death.Kontakion of the Feast, Tone 7On the mountain wast Thou transfigured, / and Thy disciples beheld Thy glory as far as they could bear it, O Christ God; / that when they would see Thee crucified, / they would comprehend that Thy suffering was voluntary, / and proclaim to the world that Thou art of a truth // the Effulgence of the Father.Before Thy crucifixion, O Lord, / the mountain emulated the heavens, / and the cloud spread itself out like a tabernacle / when Thou wast transfigured and borne witness to by the Father. / There were Peter, James and John, / for they were to be with Thee also at the time of Thy betrayal, / that, beholding Thy wonders, / they might not be afraid of Thy sufferings, / which do Thou vouchsafe that we may venerate in peace, // for the sake of Thy great mercy. ( First Sticheron of the Feast for Lord I have cried, Tone 4)Taking the disciples up upon the lofty mountain / before Thy crucifixion, O Lord, / Thou wast transfigured before them, / illumining them with effulgence of power, / desiring both in Thy love for mankind and in Thine authority / to show them the splendor of the resurrection, / which do thou vouchsafe unto us in peace, // in that Thou art merciful and lovest man-kind. (Third Sticheron of the Feast for Lord I have cried, Tone 4)


 QUESTION 9

“But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: “ (vs. 32)Why were they heavy with sleep?


 ANSWER 9

“Then to show that he was holden with great fear, both he and the rest, he saith, “They were heavy with sleep, and when they were awake they saw His glory;”25 meaning by deep sleep here, the deep stupor engendered in them by that vision. For as eyes are darkened by an excessive splendor, so at that time also did they feel. For it was not, I suppose, night, but day; and the exceeding greatness of the light weighed down the infirmity of their eyes.” (St John Chrysostom)


 QUESTION 10

“And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen. “ (Luke 9:36)Why did the Apostles tell nobody about this startling event?


 ANSWER 10

Jesus ordered his three disciples to say nothing about His transfiguration:” And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.” (Matthew 17:9)The Lord told them to be quiet so that people would not be scandalized when they saw him on the cross. He saved this knowledge only for His three favorites, because He knew it would help them.

Share

Questions and Answers about the Feast of the Transfiguration Aug 6/19

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

from http://www.orthodox.net/questions/transfiguration_1.html

QUESTION 1

Tell the story of the transfiguration, paying attention to the point in Jesus’ ministry that it occurred. Which gospels report the Transfiguration?


 

ANSWER 1

 

The gospels very laconically report the Transfiguration. Jesus took Peter, James and John up to a high mountain, which was Mount Tabor. It was late, and the disciples were overcome with sleep. They awoke to see Him transfigured before them.

He did not change in form, remaining a man in all respects, but his face and garments shone with a light brighter than the sun. This is the “uncreated light”, which a man can only see when God reveals Himself to him, and this is only given to the pure of heart, save for some special circumstances, such as the one we are concerned with here. With Christ were Moses and Elias, who spoke with him “things concerning His decease”. Peter, in confusion offered to build three tabernacles for the two Saints and the Lord. After this, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice was heard from heaven, which said “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased, Hear ye Him”. After this, the cloud disappeared, and Christ appeared as He usually was. He strictly charged them to tell of the vision to nobody else, until He was risen from the dead, and they descended the mountain.

The Transfiguration is reported in Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-9 and Luke 9:28-36

 


 

QUESTION 2

What other event in our Lord’s life has obvious similarities to the Transfiguration? Explain


 

 

ANSWER 2

The church understands the Transfiguration to be a “theophany”, that is a revelation of the Holy Trinity, just as occurred also at the baptism of the Lord. The services are quite explicit about this.

“Dwelling bodily on earth, /
Christ, the Light from before the sun, /
Who before His crucifixion fulfilled all things of His awesome dispensation in godly manner, /
today
hath mystically shown forth on Mount Tabor the image of the Trinity; /
for, taking His three excellent disciples, Peter, James and John, /
He led them up to it together. /
And having hidden His guise of flesh for a little while,/
He was transfigured before them, /
revealing the majesty of His original beauty, though not completely. /
And while making it known to them, /
He also took pity upon them, lest they in anywise cease to live because of what they saw: /
yet were they able to grasp with their bodily eyes, holding fast. /
And Thou didst summon Moses and Elijah, the foremost of the prophets, /
who bore witness reliably concerning Thy divinity, /
and that it is the true effulgence of the essence of the Father, /
O Thou Who hast dominion over the living and the dead. /
Wherefore, the cloud enfolded them like a tabernacle,/
and the voice of the Father testified, /
speaking forth from the cloud like thunder, saying: /
“This is My beloved Son, /
Whom I begat incorruptibly from within Me before the morning star, /
and Whom I have sent to save /
those who are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, /
and who confess with faith that the one dominion of the Godhead is indivisible! /
Hear ye Him!” /
And do Thou Thyself, O Christ God Who lovest mankind, /
illumine us with the light of Thine unapproachable glory, /
and show us forth as worthy heirs of Thy kingdom which is without end, //
in that Thou art all good.

(Litya for the Feast, Tone 2)

“The pillar of fire plainly showed to Moses Christ transfigured, and the cloud pointed clearly to the grace of the Spirit that overshadowed Mount Tabor” (matins, second canon, Ode 6, 3rd troparion)

 


QUESTION 3

How did Jesus’ transfiguration prepare the apostles for his subsequent crucifixion?


 

 

 

 

ANSWER 3

Much of the meaning of a particular event is revealed in the holy services, especially Vespers and Matins. This is why it is absolutely necessary for a Christian to zealously attend the Vigil service. The services, and the commentaries of the holy fathers, which have entered into the mind of the church, explain that the apostles were prepared for the crucifixion by witnessing the Transfiguration, and the “splendor of the resurrection” that it prefigured. They would soon be subjected to terrible temptations and fears, and our Savior wanted to put the knowledge of His divinity indelibly in their minds, to help them in the terrible days of his trial and death.

Kontakion of the Feast, Tone 7

On the mountain wast Thou transfigured, /
and Thy disciples beheld Thy glory as far as they could bear it, O Christ God; /
that when they would see Thee crucified, /
they would comprehend that Thy suffering was voluntary, /
and proclaim to the world that Thou art of a truth //
the Effulgence of the Father.

Before Thy crucifixion, O Lord, /
the mountain emulated the heavens, /
and the cloud spread itself out like a tabernacle /
when Thou wast transfigured and borne witness to by the Father. /
There were Peter, James and John, /
for they were to be with Thee also at the time of Thy betrayal, /
that, beholding Thy wonders, /
they might not be afraid of Thy sufferings, /
which do Thou vouchsafe that we may venerate in peace, //
for the sake of Thy great mercy.

( First sticheron of the Feast for Lord I have cried, Tone 4)

Taking the disciples up upon the lofty mountain /
before Thy crucifixion, O Lord, /
Thou wast transfigured before them, /
illumining them with effulgence of power, /
desiring both in Thy love for mankind and in Thine authority /
to show them the splendor of the resurrection, /
which do thou vouchsafe unto us in peace, //
in that Thou art merciful and lovest man-kind.

(Third sticheron of the Feast for Lord I have cried, Tone 4)

 


 

QUESTION 4

Our Lord’s transfiguration contains a tacit but extremely important promise, upon which the whole of Orthodox ascetic theology is built. Comment on this. This emphasis is peculiar to Orthodoxy and is missing from the religions of the West. Speculate why.


 

ANSWER 4

 

The light that shone from Christ is the “uncreated light”. It is, as the fathers teach, the “uncreated energies” of God, which all worthy ones will partake of in the last day. God is absolutely transcendent, and unknowable, except as He chooses to reveal Himself. Through the God-man, Jesus Christ, He has made himself knowable, built in his energies only, and not his essence. “God is the Lord and hath appeared unto us, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord”. St. Basil the Great expresses the mind of the church on this matter: “We know God through His energies, and we cannot presume to approach His essence. Because His energies reach us, but His essence remains inaccessible”. The one who was an “eye witness of His majesty” (2 Peter 1: 16) knew well the implications of the transfiguration of the HUMAN flesh of the God-man:

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: {4} Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. “ (2 Pet 1:3-4)

The knowledge of this “partaking” of divine nature is ever present in the theology of the Orthodox church. God became man precisely to make our flesh capable of apprehending the divinity. No one can become God, but we have been promised that we will be “partakers of His divine nature”. All of our life is appointed towards this end.

St. Gregory Palamas teaches about this important reality quite often:
“So, when the saints contemplate this divine light within themselves, seeing it by the divinising communion of the Spirit, through the mysterious visitations of perfecting illuminations – then they behold the garment of their deification, their mind being glorified and filled by the grace of the Word, beautiful beyond measure in His splendor; just as the divinity of the Word on the mountain glorified with divine light the body conjoined to it. For `the glory which the Father gave Him,’ He Himself has given to those obedient to Him, as the Gospel says, and `He willed that they should be with Him and contemplate His glory..’” (St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads)

“David, the ancestor of God, foreseeing in the Spirit /
the coming of Thine only-begotten Son in the flesh unto men, /
summoneth creation from afar to gladness, /
and crieth out prophetically: /
“Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in Thy name!” /
For, having ascended that mountain with Thy disciples, O Savior, /
Thou wast transfigured, /
and didst cause the darkened nature of Adam to shine again, /
imparting to it the glory and splendor of Thy divinity. /
Wherefore, we cry unto Thee: //
O Lord, Creator of all things, glory be to Thee!”

(Great Vespers for the feast, Aposticha, Tone 1)

In the West, the idea of the transfiguration of human nature was not emphasized. Relatively early, it fell captive to a legalistic view of salvation. What a man believes, and who he submits to in the organization of the church (ie, the Pope of Rome) became more important than anything else, and the ascetical practices of Christianity, such as fasting was lost to a great degree. Their understanding of salvation was almost like a contract, whereas in the East it was always understood that the incarnation of the Son of God, and His revelation of the uncreated light, while in the flesh, to men in the flesh, implies that man can become holy and share in the energies of God We are not just “saved”, In the sense of not being punished, but we are made able to be partakers of divine nature.

 



QUESTION 5

What virulent relatively early heresy does the Transfiguration emphatically contradict? How?


 

 

 

ANSWER 5

The heresy of “Arianism” states that Jesus Christ is a created being, greater in glory and honor than all other creatures, but created nonetheless, and therefore inferior to God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. The uncreated light that came forth from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and the bright cloud, and voice of the Father in the cloud emphatically contradicts such blasphemous conjectures.

 


 

QUESTION 6

When is the Transfiguration celebrated? Where are the texts of the services found? What services are celebrated? Explain the differences in the services for the feast if it falls on a weekday vs. a Sunday


 

 

 

 

 

ANSWER 6

 The feast of the Transfiguration of the Savior is celebrated on Aug 6, and is the last feast of the Lord in the year, which begins on September 1st.

The service is found in the “Festal Menaion”. This book contains the service texts and rubrics (instructions) for 9 of the “twelve great feasts of the Lord and the Theotokos”. These commemorations all occur on the same date every year, and are not dependent on when Pascha occurs, which is always on a Sunday, but a different date, each year. The “movable” feasts of the Lord are, preeminently, Pascha, and also Palm Sunday, Ascension, and Pentecost. All these services are found in the Pentecostarion, with the exception of Palm Sunday, which is found in the Lenten Triodion.

The services in the Festal Menaion, in “chronological” (according to their celebration) order, are 1. The Nativity of the Theotokos (8 Sept)
2. The Universal Exaltation of Precious and Life-giving Cross (14 Sept)
3. The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary into the Temple (21 Nov)
4. The Nativity of Christ (25 Dec)
5. Holy Theophany (the baptism of the Lord) (6 Jan)
6. The Meeting of the Savior (2 Feb)
7. The Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary (25 Mar)
8. The Transfiguration (6 Aug)
9. The Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary (15 Aug)

The Service for Transfiguration, like all great feasts of the Lord, totally supplants the normal Sunday or daily services, and is served the same way, regardless of what day it falls on.

The Eve of the feast, a vigil, consisting of Great Vespers, Litya, matins and the first hour, is served. In the morning, the Divine Liturgy is served, with special festal antiphons. After the liturgy, grapes are blessed, with a prayer given in the texts for the feast.

This feast should never be compressed into the “fast food” mentality inherent in the so-called “Vespral Divine liturgy” which is a recent innovation, along with so many other innovations which cater to convenience, and making things “easier”. The theology present in the holy services is so important that excluding the hymns of matins, or the greater part of vespers, in order to make the feast a 1 day celebration, so “more people can come” and people can “have communion” (without the preparation and teaching that is inherent in the Holy services that precede Divine Liturgy) since most cannot or will not come to church the morning on a weekday, is extremely misguided. There is no “Vespral Divine Liturgy” prescribed in any typicon for any of the great feasts, as this service is ALWAYS served as part of the “lead in” to a feast, and at that, only four times a year (The day before the Nativity of the Savior and Theophany, and Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday) .

 


 

QUESTION 7

What is the fasting typicon on the Transfiguration?


 

 


ANSWER 7


The Transfiguration of the Lord occurs during the fast for the Dormition of the Theotokos. On this day, fish may be eaten, as well as wine and olive oil, all of which are not eaten on strict fast days, but all meat, cheese and eggs (all animal products) are not eaten.

 


 

QUESTION 8

Why were Moses and Elijah present on Mount Tabor?


 

 

 

 


ANSWER 8

 

Moses represented the law, and Elijah the prophets. Both the law and the prophets spoke of and pointed to Christ, and were in complete agreement with Him, as their conversation on Mount Tabor shows. Their presence, together with the apostles also underscored that God is the God of the “living and the dead”.

“Transfigured on the high mountain, /
the Savior, having with Him His pre-eminent disciples,/
shone forth most wondrously, /
showing them forth as illumined by the loftiness of the virtues /
and as ones vouchsafed divine glory. /
Moses and Elijah, who spake with Christ, /
showed that He hath authority over the living and the dead, /
and that He is the God Who of old spake through the law and the prophets. /
Of Him was the voice of the Father heard saying from the cloud of light: /
“Him do ye obey, /
Who through the Cross made hell captive //
and granteth life everlasting to the dead!”

(Lord I have cried, Tone 4)

“Moses the God-beholder and Elijah of the fiery chariot, /
who traversed the heavens without being consumed,/
beholding Thee, O Christ, in the cloud at Thy transfiguration, /
bore witness to Thee /
as the Creator and Fulfiller of the law and the prophets. /
With them vouchsafe Thine enlightenment also unto us, O Master, //
that we may hymn Thee forever.”

(Sticheron for “Now and Ever”, Aposticha)

The Vespral OT readings provide further mystical illumination concerning the presence of Moses and Elijah. The former asked to see God face to face, and the latter heard Him in the “still small voice”. Both intimately experienced the energies of God. Their experiences were a harbinger of things to come.

 


 

QUESTION 9


Comment on how the dual nature of Christ was revealed on Mount Tabor, and the implications for our nature.


 

 

 

ANSWER 9

When Christ was transfigured on Mount Tabor, He remained a man. His human flesh shown with the uncreated light, and His divinity and humanity was readily apparent at the same time. This is a promise for those who love Him, and follow his commandments. Our flesh has been made capable of apprehending the divine energies.

Revealing the human form /
of Thy second and awesome coming with Thy glory, O Savior, /
Thou wast transfigured on Mount Tabor. /
Elijah and Moses conversed with Thee, /
and Thy three disciples were summoned to behold Thy glory, O Master, /
and marveled at Thy radiance. //
O Thou Who then shone forth Thy light upon them, illumine our souls!

( Matins, First sessional Hymn, Tone 4)

 


 

QUESTION 10

Comment on the implications of the Transfiguration, and the theology of St. Gregory Palamas.


 

 

 

ANSWER 10

St. Gregory Palamas (1296-1359), was an Athonite ascetic who became Archbishop of Thessalonica. The second Sunday of Great Lent is dedicated to him.

St. Gregory successfully fought against a prevailing heresy of his day which denied the possibility of ever experiencing or knowing God – in a way surpassing the knowledge of the mind. Adherents of this heresy claimed that in this life one could only know about God.

St. Gregory made a distinction between the divine essence of God, which remains inaccessible to men, and the divine energies, such as the light of transfiguration on Mt. Tabor, which are uncreated but accessible to human vision. [also manifested in the countenance of the Prophet Moses after descending the mountain, and by Saint Seraphim during his conversation with Motovilov, etc...] From his own mystical experience, St. Gregory defended the possibility of attaining true union with God, which is, in fact, the aim of all Christian endeavor: “The kingdom of God lies within” (Luke 17:21). This is the essence of the teaching called hesychasm which advocates the constant repetition of the Jesus Prayer and quieting of both soul and body in order that the prayer might act to warm the heart with unceasing remembrance and burning love for God.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

In the very Name of Jesus a great and graceful power is present. Many holy and righteous people advise repeating the Jesus Prayer (also known as the Prayer of the Heart) as frequently as possible. The Hesychasts, who practiced the Jesus Prayer unceasingly, were defended by St. Gregory Palamas in two Councils that met in Constantinople in 1341 and 1347.

St. Gregory Palamas upheld a doctrine of man which allowed for the use of bodily exercises in prayer. He also argued, against the heretic Barlaam, that it was possible for man to experience God’s energies as Uncreated Light – identical with the Divine and Uncreated Light of Tabor which the three disciples saw surrounding Jesus at His Transfiguration.

St. Gregory said, “If in the age to come the body will share with the soul in unspeakable blessings, it is certain that it must share in them, so far as possible, even now.” Indeed, even in this present life some saints have experienced the first-fruits of this visible and bodily glorification. Saint Seraphim of Sarov is perhaps the best known, but by no means the only instance of this.

“When God is said to have made man according to His image, the word man means neither the soul by itself nor the body by itself, but the two together.” The fact that man has a body, Gregory said, makes him not lower but higher than the bodiless angels. The Orthodox belief is that the body is sanctified and transfigured together with the soul. This is the reason we have such an immense reverence for the relics of saints.

To overcome the passions which enslave us, we need to transform our hearts which are darkened by sin. The Church gives us what we need to perform this task. During the Great Fast we follow the Church’s lenten prescription. This prepares us to receive the spiritual instruction offered each week.

St. Gregory Palamas, shows us clearly by his whole life that the Christian life, Orthodox life, always begins in our heart, and only then expresses itself externally in feats of asceticism. St. Gregory helps us to understand the importance of prayer. Prayer is what we need more than anything – true, fervent, real prayer – heartfelt prayer.

The triumph of Orthodoxy always starts in a person’s heart, and only afterwards is it expressed externally. True, sometimes there are cases when the external attracts the heart, as if waking it up. But for this to happen, there must be something in the heart which makes such an awakening possible. God demands our heart. To serve God without heart, Orthodoxy without heart, this is the same as a man without heart.

Thanks to Fr Mark Gilstrap. All of the preceding is from a post written by him, to the Orthodox “Indiana” mailing list, on 16 Mar 1995. The text has been slightly rearranged.

Share