02 May 2011
On the Transfiguration of our Lord
Eugene Rose Lay Sermon Aug. 1965
by St. Ephraem the Syrian.
"And after six days Jesus taketh unto Him Peter, James, and John, his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart, and He was transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His garments became white as snow.
The men whom Christ had said would not taste death until they should see the form and the foreshadowing of His Coming are these three Apostles, whom having taken with Him He brought to a mountain, and showed them in what manner He was to come on the last day: in the glory of His Divinity, and in the body of His Humanity.
He led them up to the mountain that He might also reveal to them Who this Son is, and Whose Son is He. For when He asked them: “Whom do men say that the Son of man is?” they said to Him: “Some Elias, some other Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” And so He led them up into a high mountain, and showed them that He was not Elias, but the God of Elias; nor was He Jeremiah, but He that had sanctified Jeremiah in his mother’s womb; nor one of the prophets, but the Lord of the prophets, and He that had sent them.
And He showed them also that He was the creator of heaven and earth, and the Lord of the living and the dead; for He spoke to the heavens, and they sent down Elias; He made a sign to the earth, and raised Moses to life again.
He took the Apostles up into a high mountain apart, that He might also show them the glory of His Divinity, and that He might declare Himself the Redeemer of Israel, as He had been foretold by the Prophets, and so that they would not be scandalized in Him in the passion He had taken upon Himself and which for our sakes He was about to suffer in His human nature. For they knew Him as the son of Mary, and as a man sharing their daily life in the world. On the mountain He revealed to them that He was the Son of God, and Himself God.
He took them therefore up to the mountain that He might show them His Kingdom before they witnessed His suffering and death, and His glory became His ignominy; so that when He was made a prisoner and condemned by the Jews, they might understand that He was not crucified by them because of His own powerlessness, but because it had pleased Him of His goodness to suffer, for the salvation of the world.
He brought them up to the mountain that He might also show them, before His Resurrection, the glory of His Divinity, so that when He had risen from the dead they might then know that He had not received this glory as the reward of His labor, but that He had it from all eternity, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
The disciples upon the mountain beheld two suns: one, to which they were accustomed, shining in the sky; and Another, to which they were unaccustomed, which shone for them alone - the face of Jesus before them. And His garments appeared to them white as light: for the glory of His Divinity poured forth from His whole body, and all His members radiated light.
And there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with Him:
And this was the manner of their speech with Him: they gave thanks to Him that their own words had been fulfilled, and together with them the words of all the Prophets. They adored Him for the salvation He had wrought in the world for mankind, and because He had in truth fulfilled the mystery which they had themselves foretold. The Prophets therefore were filled with joy, and the Apostles likewise, in their ascent of the mountain. The Prophets rejoiced because they had seen His Humanity, which they had not known. And the Apostles rejoiced because they had seen the glory of His Divinity, which they had not known.