The Prelate’s Sermon (July 11, 2021)
Today, according to the Armenian Church Calendar, we celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Evangelist Saint Matthew (16:13-17:13) narrates a supernatural scene, when Jesus was transformed on Mount Tabor in the presence of His three Disciples: Peter, James, and John. The law-giver Moses and the great prophet Elijah appear next to Him, and Peter exclaims, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings, one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”. Thereafter, the Disciples hear a voice from heaven, saying: ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am pleased; listen to Him” (Mt 17:1-9).
Throughout our Lord’s earthly ministry, the Disciples were stunned by the multivariant miracles performed by their Master. Saint Bartholomew (known also as Nathanael) had confessed Jesus as the Son of God as soon as he met Him (Jn 1:49). Prior to the Transfiguration, Saint Peter had confessed: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16). Yet the awesome experience of the Transfiguration was totally unique. Therefore, let us share a glimpse of the Disciples’ experience on this feast-day and galvanize our faith with this Divine blessing.
- By witnessing the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ, the three Apostles beheld His Divine glory. The Transfiguration is a miracle by itself, and Jesus, through His Disciples, provides believers of all ages with the taste of the blissful status of those who will follow Him. It is not in vain that Saint Paul firmly had stated: “what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor 2:9). It is true that as long as we are in this earthly vessel, we might not fully comprehend the depth and beauty of the Mystery revealed to us in Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, as human beings embellished with rationality, in our daily lives, whenever we taste anything, be it joy, sorrow, food, drink, etc., by using our judgement we may discern its nature. Likewise as the children of God, being adorned with rational and spiritual gifts, with the three Apostles through their witnessing the Transfiguration, we can have the taste of the glory of joyfulness when we will be in the presence of the Source of all beauty and joy.
- Beside the heavenly Father’s testimony, that “this is my beloved Son to whom I am pleased,” the appearance of the two historical figures, Moses and Elijah, who present the Law and the Prophets, is very significant. Jesus Himself, on several occasions, referred to the crucial value of the Law and the Prophets as the perfecting of divine life (cf. Mt 5:17; 7:12; 22:40; Lk 16:16; 24:45; Jn 1:45). Therefore, these two outstanding figures of the Old Testament who appeared next to our Lord and before the Apostles, gave their testimony of Jesus’ identity which solemnly was announced for the second time by the heavenly Father from the Heaven (the first time was at the Baptism in the Jordan and used the same phrase “This is my beloved Son”). Jesus stated that all the Laws and Prophets hang on two actions: loving the Lord God with all your heart and mind and soul, and loving your neighbor as you love yourself (Mt 22:37-39). Likewise these two prophets silently testified that the core of the Law and the Prophets is the love of the incarnate Love of God Jesus Christ, to whom we should listen.
- The humble request of Saint Peter who was enraptured by the sight of the Transfigured One, that “Lord, it is good for us to be here” is the cry of those whose heart is enkindled with the love of Christ. This is a true experience for all those who enjoy the presence of their beloved ones, for they know how passionately they look forward to spending timeless companionship with them.
Therefore, having our earthly appreciation of the Apostles’ celestial experience enjoying the presence of the eternal Loved One, let us diligently live a godly life to be worthy of celebrating joy with the source of Joy, to Whom is befitting Glory, Dominion and Honor. Amen.