Thursday, August 6, 2020

"Lord, It Is Good For Us To Be Here"

August 6: The Transfiguration.

Here is a selection from a sermon of the great twentieth century Russian Orthodox priest and theologian Father Alexander Schmemann. This exhortation, drawn from the richness of the Russian spiritual tradition, draws on the mystical depth of the Gospel that shines as the 'hidden light' of East and West.

"Jesus knows that in the hour of his ultimate sacrifice, ultimate self-giving, everyone will flee in fear and forsake him. But right now — so that afterwards, when everything is finished, the world would still have some evidence of where He is inviting people to come, what He is offering us as a gift, as life, as the fullness of meaning and joy — now, therefore, hidden from the world and from the people, He reveals to three of his own disciples that glory, that light, that victorious celebration to which man is called from eternity.

"The divine light, permeating the entire world. The divine light, transfiguring man. The divine light in which everything acquires its ultimate and eternal meaning. 'It is good for us to be here,' cried the apostle Peter seeing this light and this glory. And from that time, Christianity, the Church, faith is one continuous, joyful repetition of this 'it is good for us to be here.' But faith is also a plea for the everlasting light, a thirst for this illumination and transfiguration. This light continues to shine, through the darkness and evil, through the drab grayness and dull routine of this world, like a ray of sun piercing through the clouds. It is recognized by the soul, it comforts the heart, it makes us feel alive, and it transfigures us from within.

"'Lord! It is good for us to be here!' If only these words might become ours, if only they might become our soul’s answer to the gift of divine light, if only our prayer might become the prayer for transfiguration, for the victory of light! 'Let your everlasting light shine also upon us sinners!'"