For the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.
God is light, and in him there is no darkness. He is the light which lights the world – the uncreated light. The light, we are told, is sweet, and it is a pleasant thing for the eyes to behold the sun, and the Lord himself tells us that if we walk in the day, we shall not stumble because we see the light of the world: in His light we see light. That uncreated light is the light in whose presence we have to avert our eyes, as did Saints John, Peter and James – the pure goodness, the pure beauty, the fullness of the truth. They fall away even at the reflected light in the transfigured Jesus. The Apostles were granted a sight of what awaits all those who will be reborn in Christ – our sinful bodies will be conformed to his glorious body – and death shall have no dominion. In the face of even the reflection of God, the Apostles cannot stand – like Isaiah they could have said:
Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The Lord of hosts.
This is why we need Christ, this is why we need to be transformed by His saving Grace, for we, too, are men (and women) of unclean lips, and if we were judged according to our merits, then none should escape the lake of fire. On Mount Tabor, as at the baptism in the Jordan, the Father bears witness to the Son. Moses and Elijah bear witness to the Law and the Prophets, but all of those give way to the Word Himself, the Living Word who was present at the beginning, was incarnate of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit, who was made man, was crucified and died, who descended into hell and who rose again on the third day so that we should not die but inherit eternal life. We are not sinless, but we have the means of redemption to hand in the Lord; we are made righteous by His sacrifice. We deceive ourselves if we say we are without sin, and we cannot have fellowship with the darkness if we have fellowship with Him. Fellowship with Him is fellowship with those who also confess Him, and it is to be saved by His blood. But to confess Him, and then not be obedient to Him, is to make liars of our confession, and in His mercy, He will forgive us if we confess our sins and try again.
How do we know these things are true? St John tells us:
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Here he bears witness to what he saw on Mt Tabor – the memory of that Grace and Truth remained with him to the end of his long life, and it was in that light that he walked – and his Gospel, like his epistles, are full of the light – he had seen what is given to few to see – no wonder it had such an effect. We see the witness of Peter in the second epistle which bears his name. Writing just before his death, and knowing that men questioned the sources of his teaching, he, like John, had recourse to what he had seen on Mt Tabor:
16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
Even though they had walked and talked with the Resurrected Christ, it was that memory of what we call the Transfiguration to which both Apostles referred as confirmation of the prophetic words they spoke. These words, this testimony, is, for us, our light which shines in the dark places until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.