The Transfiguration of our Lord and Savior
By St Gregory Palamas
The Prophet Isaiah foretold in respect of the Gospel that “the Lord will give a concise word on the earth.” (Isaiah 10:23) A concise word is an utterance containing an abundance of meaning in a few phrases. So let us look again at the Gospel passage, which we examined earlier, and add what we left out, that we may take our fill of the incorruptible meaning stored up in it, and all receive divine inspiration.
“At that time Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and brought them up into a high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun.” [Matthew 17:1-2; see also Mark 9:2-3] “Behold, now is the acceptable time,” brethren, “now is the day of salvation” [2 Corinthians 6:2; see also Isaiah 49:8] a divine, new and eternal day, not measured in hours, never lengthening or shortening, uninterrupted by night. For us it is the day of the Sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:2) with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow nor turning. (James 1:17) That Sun, since the day when, by the good pleasure of the Father and the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, He lovingly shone upon us and led us “out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9) continues without setting to shine upon us for ever.
As the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2) and truth, He does not consent to give light to, or be known perfectly by, those who cultivate lying and either extol injustice or demonstrate it in their deeds. But He shines upon those who act righteously and love truth, is believed by them, and delights them with His rays. Therefore the Scripture says, “Light has dawned for the righteous, and its companion, gladness” (Psalm 97:11) And the Psalmist and Prophet also sings to God, “Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in Thy name” (Psalm 89:12) foretelling the joy that those who later saw that illumination would experience. Isaiah tells us “to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free” (Isaiah 58:6) What then? “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy health as shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness shall go before thee, and the glory of the Lord shall compass thee” (Isaiah 58:8 ) Again he says, “If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke and the stretching forth of the hand, and murmuring speech, and if thou give bread to the hungry from thy heart, and satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall thy light rise in darkness, and thy darkness shall be as noonday” (Isaiah 58:9-10) For that Sun makes other suns of those upon whom it brightly shines. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” (Matthew 13:43)
Let us cast off, brethren, the works of darkness, and let us perform the works of light, that we may not only walk honestly, as in the day (Romans 13:12-13) but also become children of the day. (1 Thessalonians 5:5) And come, let us go up the mountain where Christ shone forth, that we may see what happened there. Or rather, if we become children worthy of that day, the Word of God Himself will take us up when the time comes. Now, I beseech you, strive to lift up the eyes of your understanding towards the light of the Gospel message, that you may be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2) and having acquired the divine brightness from above, be conformed to the likeness of the glory of the Lord (Romans 8:29) Whose face shone like the sun today on the mountain.
From a sermon by Saint Gregory Palamas