Epistle 2 Peter 1:10-19
Gospel Matthew 17:1-9

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be!

The Epistle reading assigned for this morning’s Feast is an incredibly important reading, especially for those of us who are trying to sort out what is means to be an Orthodox Christian, our purpose, our goal. In the reading, St. Peter says that the way the Apostles knew that the Words of Christ were not “cunningly devised fables” (v. 16), the proof he offers for his faith in Christ, was his experience of the glory and the majesty of God witnessed at the Transfiguration. He didn’t use logical arguments [thought St. Paul clearly says that human logic could lead one to Christ], he didn’t point to the Old Testament [although the Apostles do in some places]—St. Peter’s primary proof for the veracity of the word and person of Christ is his own experience of the glory of God in Christ, specifically on Mt. Tabor, at the Transfiguration. We see this throughout the Scriptures—Moses’ faith was from his meeting with God in the burning bush, and on Mt. Sinai, he met God, and his faith was sure; St. Paul regularly pointed to his own meeting with the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus (and there are plenty of other similar examples in the Scriptures). And this really is our tradition—our faith shouldn’t rest in philosophy or logic or need, and we don’t just have faith with no proof—we have the Apostolic witness, the recorded experiences of the Saints. And not just people from 2,000 years ago, but a faith that continues to be proven by the experience of the Saints of all ages, including today. Experiences that are repeated, and shared, and repeated, and shared, until now. Experiences of God that we also are called to share.

Fr. John Romanides writes, “The Church…proves the existence of God on the basis of experience. For the Church Fathers, perhaps the only argument that can demonstrate the existence of God is a fact, and not a proof governed by dialectics and logic. And what is fact? There exists a group of human beings called prophets, Apostles, and saints who have seen God. “ (Patristic Theology, p. 260). The point of our lives in Christ is not commandments, or dogmas, or services, but to be healed by and in Christ, to be made whole and complete as human beings. To see the person of Christ. The point is to see God, and to know. And in this healing, to share in “the everlasting reign of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (alternate translation of v. 11). For the “day star” to “arise in our hearts” (v. 19), St. Peter says. This is why its so essential for us to meet Christ, even if only one time. For us to personally experience the grandeur and the glory of the Risen Lord. So that become not just believers, not just followers, but participants, witnesses to the person Jesus Christ, truly bearers of the Faith. This is the “reason,” we can say, for the Transfiguration, so the Apostles would see Christ as He really was. As we sing in the kontakion for the Feast: “Thou wast Transfigured upon the mount, O Christ our God, revealing Thy glory to Thy disciples as much as they were able to bear, so that when they saw Thee crucified, they would know that it was voluntary, and would proclaim to the ends of the earth, that Thou art the light of the Father.” They saw that Christ was the light of the Father, then they could understand the crucifixion, the resurrection, and in retrospect, everything they had been through with Christ. But their understanding rested on a complete vision of the glory of Christ.

St. Peter gives his readers (and us) some pointers as to how to shape our lives, “do these things,” (v. 10) he says, in order to be prepared for our meeting with the Lord. These things lie in the few verses before our reading, but they are worth our hearing—“that…ye may be partakes of the Divine Nature…giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see…“ (2 Peter 1: 4-9).

May Christ our God, through the indwelling grace of the Holy Spirit, guide us all to that experience of the three Apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration—a meeting with our Saviour. Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!