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On the Transfiguration

On the Transfiguration
From a homily by Saint Gregory Palamas
(Hom. XXXV:PG151,437)

Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain where they were alone. There before them he was transfigured; his face shone like the sun.

Now is the favorable time; this is the day of salvation, God's new and eternal day, which is not measured by hours, which does not get longer of shorter, which is not interrupted by night, since it is the day of the Sun of Righteousness with whom there is no alteration nor shadow of change. Through this day, by the Father's decree and the Holy Spirit's cooperation, he benevolently shed his radiance on us and led us out of darkness into his wonderful light; and since he is the Sun that knows no setting, he will continue to shine upon us for ever.

But because he is the Sun of Righteousness and of truth, he will not shine upon or be clearly recognized by those who admire falsehood or who are unrighteous in the way they address God or in their actions. He shows himself, however, to those who act righteously and love the truth and believe in him, and he gladdens them with his splendor. As Scripture says; Light dawns for the righteous, and joy for the upright. And so, prophesying, the Psalmist also sings to God: Tabor and Hermon will rejoice in your Name, foretelling the joy which the transfiguration on the mountain would one day bring to those who witnessed it.

Now Isaiah says: Loosen every unjust bond, untie the knots of forced transactions, tear up every unjust contract. Then what will happen? Your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your health rapidly return; your righteousness shall go before you and the glory of God shall cover you. Moreover, if you put and end to the yoke of oppression, the pointing finger and the complaining word and generously give bread to the hungry and relief to the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night be as bright as midday. For this Sun makes all those it shines upon into other suns; The righteous shall shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

Let us have done with the works of darkness, then and practice the works of light, in order not only to live decently as we should on such a day, but also to become children of the day. And come, let us go up the mountain where Christ became resplendent to see what took place there; or rather, when we have become children of the day and are worthy of such a day, at the appropriate time the Word of God will himself lead us up. But now I exhort you to make every effort to raise the eye of your mind toward the light of the gospel message, so that you may in the meantime be transformed by the renewal of your minds and, by drawing the divine radiance down upon yourselves from heaven, come to share in the glory of the Lord whose face shone like the sun today on the mountain.


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