Thursday, August 6, 2015

Homily on the Transfiguration of Christ by Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes

The Transfiguration of Christ (source)
Obedience to the Will of God
“And behold, a voice from the cloud said: This is my beloved son, in whom I am well-pleased. Listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5)
Our religion, my beloved, is the only true one in the world. As a diamond among the gravel, so is our religion among all the religions of the world. And it is the only true one, because our holy Church was not founded by a man like all of us, but by one who was God and man. God-man. Our Lord Jesus Christ is God. This is cried out by the angels, archangels, the Prophets, and myriads of people. This is cried out by them countless wonders that He worked, that He works and that He will continue to work unto the close of the age. One of the greatest wonders is that which we celebrate today: the Transfiguration.
Let us look with a few words at this wonder and what it teaches us.
When Christ was born from the Panagia, He appeared in the world like a common man, like the poorest man. Al of us have a small house, but he did not have even a roof. He did not have a place to stay. When someone wished to follow Him, Christ told him: “Birds and foxes have their nests, but the son of man has no where to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20, Luke 9:58) He did not wear rich clothing, He did not have money in His pocket, He walked on foot from village to village to preach the Gospel. Seeing this, therefore, people couldn't imagine that below this humble appearance was hid the divine grandeur, was hidden the Godhead.
Do you know what Christ did? Something like that which was done by a king of Russia many years ago, during the time of the Tsars. He within the palace wore a crown on his head, was adorned with the robe and swords and was renowned, and when he went out, everyone venerated him. He understood however, that all of this was a formality and was hiding hypocrisy. And what did he do? One night, he removed his crown, his swords, and his beautiful clothing, and dressed in the clothes of a beggar, taking a wooden staff, and barefoot, he began to go among his subjects. Everyone threw him out. They even set their dogs on him to get him. No one could imagine that below these rags was hidden the emperor of all of Russia. Only one hut outside of Moscow received him...And something similar our Christ did. He did not appear on earth as the king of the Angels and Archangels, with the amazing grandeur of His Godhead. He appeared as a poor, common man, and because of this, few people believed in Him.
But today, this holy day, Christ showed that He is God. How did He show it? With the wonder that He worked. The Transfiguration is a wonder different from all of the others. Christ worked wonders in creation: on the sea, on the dry land, with the trees, with many of His creation, but this wonder He worked on his very self. Meaning?
He took His three disciples, Peter, James and John, and ascended a high mountain, which exists to this day, and on this holy day, the Patriarch of the Romans, of the Greeks, ascends, and there is always the Divine Liturgy in honor and memory of the event. While Christ was on Tabor with His three disciples, in an instant, what happened? His humble face, which did not differ from the face of any other person, shown like the sun, as if the sun descended to the earth, and His poor clothes, which were woven by the loom of the Panagia, became white as light. It was a magnificent sight! Next to Him, right and left, appeared two known personalities who spoke with Him: one was Moses, who had died two thousand years beforehand, and the other was Elias, whom God had taken into heaven, as we know. Peter said in astonishment: “Let us stay here, Lord, let us not descend anymore” (before this sight he forgot his wife, his children, his relatives) “if you wish, let us make three booths, one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elias” (for himself he wanted nothing, it was sufficient that he saw Christ) And while he was saying this, a cloud, a radiant cloud, covered them, and from this cloud he heard a voice say: “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well-pleased. Listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5) As soon as the three disciples heard these words, they fell with astonishment with their faces to the ground. Christ approached them and said: “Get up and do not be afraid.” When they got up, they only saw Christ. And as they were descending from Tabor, He gave them a commandment: “Don't tell anyone of that which you saw, until the son of man is raised from the dead.”
This is today's wonder. The faithless do not believe it; this is their right. We believe it.
Today, Christ, with the transfiguration of His person, shows that He is God.
All of this which we heard is instructive: Tabor, the cloud, Moses, Elias, Peter, James, John, all of these teach us. But above all, I want to bring your attention to one thing alone, to the voice which said: “listen to Him.”
Heaven commanded that we listen to Christ. He is our leader, and we must trust in Him, and whatever He says, we should do. This is the requirement of every Christian, whether he is a priest, a patriarch, or a layman. From the time that he is baptized in the baptismal font, and he is no longer an idolatrous heathen and an atheist, but a Christian—taking on the name that is above every name--, from that instant, He belongs to Christ. And as the student is obedient to the teacher, the soldier to the general, the patient to the physician, the sailor to the admiral, thus, we should be obedient to Christ.
And this gives birth to the question: are we obedient to Christ? Let each person put his hand to his heart and test himself. What does Christ seek?
Let us take one commandment. He tells us that there are six days on which to work, but Sunday, everyone should be in church. (Exodus 20:8-10, Deuteronomy 5:12-15) Do we do this? The few are the exception. In Prespa, in a small village called Oxya, near the lake, I went once. They rang the bell. Were their eighteen inhabitants? There were eighteen present [in church], not one was missing! Generally though, most people don't go to church.
Another commandment of Christ is to go to confession. If I asked you one by one, some of you would say that you have never gone to confession since you were born. There are few who confess, very few. Most remain unconfessed.
Christ tells us to study the Holy Scriptures. Do we do this? I am sure that you listen to the radio, you watch TV, you read the newspaper, but the Gospel? Nothing.
Our Christ says that spouses should be loving. Neither is this commandment kept. And in those old and blessed years, the word “divorce” was unknown. Now, the devil opened his factories and couples are divorcing. Foreign women, corrupt ones have come to us. Because money is being spent, and where money is being spent, there is corruption.
“Listen to Him”, is the commandment from heaven. But we close our ears with wax and do not wish to hear. The ears of others are peaked to listen to lies. The voice of Christ, which tells us the correct things, this we do not wish to listen to.
What will happen? Are you asking me? Christ doesn't need us, we need Him. Open the prophecies, what does Isaiah say? “If you desire, and hearken to me, you will eat of the good of the earth. If you do not hearken to me, you will be consumed by the sword.” (Isaiah 1:19-20)
And it is coming, a great trial is coming. Thunder, earthquakes, wars, “Armageddon” (Revelation 16:16) In one night, all of the cities will be emptied and all will flee to the mountains. Because all of us—priests, bishops, small, great—have fled from God, and do not listen to Him.
Blessed are those who are obedient to Christ.
This, my beloved, and may God, through the intercessions of the Most-holy Theotokos, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
+Bishop Avgoustinos
(homily delivered in the Holy Church of the Transfiguration of Christ, Ardassis, Eordaias, 8/6/76, translation of source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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