August 5, 2020
Ss. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church
Jackson Heights, NY
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity!” Especially tonight here in Jackson Heights, this is being demonstrated by the hosting of the Transfiguration Parish of Corona by the Saints Constantine and Helen Parish. This is a manifestation of love, of brotherhood, and of real philoxenia.
We have gathered to celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ, which happened on Mount Tabor in the presence of His Disciples: Peter, Iakovos and John. The Three Gospels that record this miraculous event agree on most of the details, but they also differ. And in their difference we learn a valuable lesson, not about how to read the Scriptures literally, but how to understand their meaning.
My beloved Christians, on the Mountain Tabor, in the green and lush country of Galilee, our Lord Jesus Christ is revealed in the fullness of Divinity and Humanity. And His Humanity glows with Divine Light of God, such that the Disciples cannot even look upon him. This is our calling as well, to be vessels of God’s light in the world, for He said to us: “You are the Light of the world!”
Our issue is, do we perceive ourselves as being capable of shining that light. We are often so overcome by our inadequacies and incapacities that we miss the opportunity to be that light for the world.
Listen, for a moment, to a wonderful conversation that occurred over 150 years ago between the great Saint Seraphim of Sarov and a young man who had come to him for counsel. The man records the conversation in his own words. He said to the Saint:
“I do not understand how I can be certain that I am in the Spirit of God. How can I discern for myself His true manifestation in me?”
Father Seraphim replied: “I have already told you, that it is very simple and I have related in detail how people come to be in the Spirit of God and how we can recognize His presence in us. So what do you want, my son?”
“I want to understand it well,” I said.
Then Father Seraphim took me very firmly by the shoulders and said: “We are both in the Spirit of God now, my son. Why don't you look at me?”
I replied: “I cannot look, Father, because your eyes are flashing like lightning. Your face has become brighter than the sun, and my eyes ache with pain.”
Father Seraphim said: “Don't be alarmed! Now you yourself have become as bright as I am. You are now in the fullness of the Spirit of God yourself; otherwise you would not be able to see me as I am.”
So it was that Seraphim of Sarov was transfigured in this young man’s presence, and the young man was transfigured as well. The Uncreated Light of God was manifest in them, through the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the operation of the Holy Spirit.
It may never happen in our lives that this light comes forth from our bodies, as it did on Mount Tabor from the Lord and with Saint Seraphim and his disciple. But we all bear that very same light within our hearts, within our souls, and within our minds.
If you wish to see it, show love to those who do not merit it. Show forgiveness to those who do not want it. Show compassion on those who suffer and are in need. Believe me, your life will light up with joy, with peace, with a happiness of heart that no one can ever take away. This is the foretaste of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Light, and the Kingdom of Love.
Through the intercessions of the Holy Theotokos, whose Holy Dormition we prepare to embrace, and through Saint Seraphim of Sarov and all the Saints, may we be counted worthy to enter into this Kingdom now in this life, and when we pass on to eternal life. Amen.