THE SUNDAY MESSENGER
July 19, 2020
Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord
The Light Who Illuminates Us
The transfiguration of Christ (his changing of appearance in a radiant, glorified manner) is considered a “theophany” in which Jesus is revealed as divine, as God himself, the second person of the Holy Trinity (see also the baptism of Christ: Matthew 3:13-17). St. Peter, not knowing what to say, suggested that they build three tabernacles, or dwellings (associating the event with the Festival of Booths, during which tabernacles or “booths” served as symbols of God’s dwelling), but the voice of God interrupts Peter saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” The dwelling (տաղաւար) of God is the person of Jesus Christ, and everything that preceded the incarnation of Jesus – the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah) – points to and is fulfilled by him. Our eighth-century Church Father, Stepanos Siwnetsi, affirms this in his Gospel commentary: “The Gospel and the law and the prophets were united and became one.” When Moses and Elijah disappear, the disciples saw no one but Jesus.
John, who witnessed the transfiguration along with Peter and James, writes in the first chapter of his Gospel,
The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. (vv. 9, 14)
Once again, Jesus is the dwelling of God, the true light, the light who illuminates us. We, as his disciples, as his Church, are to be transfigured, changed to appear like Christ by sharing in his divine life which comes through the sacraments of the Church (Baptism, Holy Communion), by living a life of repentance and holiness (II Corinthians 3:18), by becoming a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11).
John also writes in his first epistle (1:5-7), imaginably reflecting on that unforgettable, divine moment on the mountain that day, something which should remind us to remain in communion (fellowship) with Jesus, what could easily be one of the many messages of the Feast of Transfiguration:
God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
The Transfiguration of Christ is a glimpse of the life we have, here and now, when we enjoy true fellowship with him. The life of the Church is about communion, it’s about being enlightened, that is, knowing God. To be a disciple is to share the transfigured, divine life of Christ, to be changed by it and to radiate it to the world. As a parish community, as individuals, are we walking in the light? Would we describe our community as being ever transfigured, or like Peter, do we interrupt the glory of God with our own flawed understanding of what God is trying to do in our midst? Are we truly listening to Jesus as the Father instructed us on that mountaintop? As a community, we are called to be in communion with God and with one another, but that kind of fellowship is not synonymous with coffee hour or social events. Rather, it is the actual participation in the transfiguration of Jesus Christ. In other words, we don’t just remember the Transfiguration in our minds, we don’t just read about it in the pages of the New Testament. When we celebrate this wonderful feast, we mystically participate in the event of the Transfiguration itself. God becomes what we are so that we might become what he is, as St. Athanasius so notably put. We feebly offer our time, our very lives with all of its flaws, bruises, hurts, and fears, and in exchange he offers us the eternity of his Transfiguration, his Այլակերպութիւն.
TODAY’S BIBLE READINGS:
1 John 1: 1-7 (page 214) New Testament
Matthew 16: 13-17:13 (pages 16-17) New Testament – (Please follow the Armenian Reading in your Bible)
Zechariah 14:16-21 (page 929) Old Testament
“LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night….” (Nehemiah 1:5-6).
Prayers are requested for Ethel Terzian, Taron Poghosyan, Alice Charles, Armen & Theodora Mirakian.
CALLING ALL GRADUATES
The next issue of the LOOYS will feature information about our graduates and we are hoping that you will submit your own details so that you can be included. Write-up should include: full name, parents’ names, name of institution, grade level or degree achieved, activity involvement, and future plans (further education/ work). Please include a picture (in high resolution color), if possible. Everything should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by a FINAL deadline of August 9, 2020