Saturday, August 6, 2016


Everything about this day bespeaks transformation.

After attending the Divine Liturgy this morning and receiving into me the very pledge of the théosis promised in this solemn, high feast of Metamórphosis, I returned to earth to shop for my weekly groceries—in keeping with the Fast, soy milk and rice cereal for my breakfasts, fruit, especially grapes, and vegetarian entrées for my lunches at work—these are the comestibles of Lent, but that’s all they are. The real Fast, the great Fast, is kept invisibly within, and tangibly without, ‘Eat anything! anything you like! just not the flesh of the brethren!’

But the feast, as always hidden from the world—God is so shy! He doesn’t want to frighten us into submission—the feast was celebrated by a congregation of two or three dozen people in all, including the priests and cantors, out of a community of eight hundred families. Yes, hidden from the world, but hidden also from ourselves. The grape harvest was in, too, and how fitting, as the holy day of Christ’s transfiguration on Mount Tabor was anciently appointed as the day of blessing of the grape harvest—and so I blessed and ate grapes for my lunch!

Metamórphosis, transformation, or as the normal English translation of the name of this feast day, Transfiguration. These words all have something to do with the change of shape or form, but what we are celebrating in this event is not that kind of change. True, the three disciples, Peter, James and John, saw Jesus standing, talking to the prophet Elijah and the lawgiver Moses, and His face was as bright as the sun, and His garments whiter than any bleach could make them, but their experience was not just visual, it wasn’t something only taken in by their eyes.

They heard a Voice, ‘This is My Son, the Beloved, hear Him!’ issuing from the depths of a bright cloud, words which down the ages every false prophet and religion-monger has taken to himself, claiming to be somehow what Jesus is, but always failing, miserably. No one has ever had these words spoken about him, but Jesus, son of Joseph, Messiah of Israel, who was proclaimed by His resurrection from the dead, the God-Man. The Voice could have spoken these words of Jesus as His body hung on the Cross, shamefully mutilated and despised, but it did not.

Instead, in the dead of night, the darkest night, on a mountain top, a very high mountain, in the presence of only three mere humans, and two human souls suspended in the loving memory of the Father, two souls whom He brought into His active memory to show them His Son, rewarding them for their labors and suffering. We do not know what Jesus was saying to them. We do not know why He chose that day and hour to reveal to the dead and the living the One who was the Life of both, but that is what the Father did, and not without the Holy Spirit.

Here we have the second ikon in the New Testament record of the revelation of the Divine Nature as Holy Triad, the first being at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. There too the Voice spoke. There too the Spirit Holy descended and stayed on Him. Now, for a second time, for the second and last time, the Divine Nature reveals Himself, Father speaking His word of command, Son revealing to man the very face of the Father in all glory, Spirit enfolding and brightening not just the Father and Son, but the dead and the living as well, welcoming man into God Himself.

There is another ikon of the Divine Nature as Holy Triad, and it’s the one most people think of when they remember the Holy Trinity. It is the three Angels seated at table, usually with Abram and Sarai in the background, serving them. This ikon is yet a premonition of the Reality that would unfold in the events marking the beginnings and endings of the earthly ministry of the Messiah of Israel, an ikon shadowy as it were, obscure and full of mystery, questions not answers. The ikons of Theophany and Metamorphosis, the Baptism and the Transfiguration, not so.

Not shadowy, obscure, but full of light. Both feasts are associated with the Light of Christ—Theophany is called ‘Tón Photón’ or ‘[Feast] of the Lights’—and here we have the feast in which Christ is revealed as not only the Light but the Source of all Light, the Metamórphosis, the transformation, matter transmuted into energy, which is what it always was, is, and will be. Even human science itself may one day catch up to this Truth, which much of theology has fruitlessly busied itself speculating about rather than experiencing. What Truth are we talking about? No, not what, but Who.

Once again, the Divine Nature breaks in upon our private conversations, both inner and outer, to reveal Himself as not what, but Who, as One, yet Three, as Divine, yet Human, and opens a door of welcome into Himself not as things but as persons, welcoming human beings to become what He created them to be, partakers of the Divine Nature, not cosmic dust, co-workers with Him in the garden universe, co-redeemers with Him of all of nature, which waits with longing and expectation for the revelation of the sons of God, for Metamórphosis, the restoration of Creation.

Now, let’s go and finish blessing the grapes…
Originally posted August 6, 2011

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