On August 19, on the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, we had a nice liturgical celebration. St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. Following the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily in English:
“Today we celebrate great feast of Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ. That celebrated event took place before the three chosen Apostles. Our Lord showed them His divine glory, He made them see His true face, the face of the Son of God. When we reflect upon this holy and awesome event, we usually emphasize the divine nature of the Lord and that we, the followers of Christ, are invited to acquire His divine nature, to become like Him through pious and godly life.”
“Speaking of that, we may point out an aspect of this feast which is often overlooked: Mt Tabor itself, the place where the Transfiguration occurred. This Mt Tabor is for us a figure of perfection. Like the Disciples, in order for us to see the Transfiguration or to hope to be transfigured ourselves, we will first have to climb, to be lifted up from our present condition. Otherwise any transfiguration or change for the better in our lives is impossible. Last Sunday we were talking about an image of Christ helping us to climb that spiritual mountain of our perfection, and today it is easy to recall this.”
“Now it is interesting that pilgrims who have been blessed to go to Mt Tabor and their photographs show us that Mt Tabor is not a mountain at all. It is rather a long, sloping hill with many obstacles, rocks and boulders, in the path of those who ascend it. And our transfiguration or salvation is like Mt Tabor. Even if we try really hard, we are not guaranteed salvation through a fast and swift climb today. Salvation takes the whole life. It is a long climb up a long slope, which is why the Lord gives most of us so long to live. Salvation is a long struggle which requires determination and perseverance, patient long-suffering.”
“Our spiritual progress is not sudden and dramatic. And there are many obstacles in our path in our daily struggle. To pick up our prayer books in the morning and again in the evening is a struggle and there are always obstacles on our path. We have meals to prepare, traffic to beat, phones to pick up. Religious life means that we have to make little sacrifices all the time, to overcome little obstacles. There are prayers to say, fasts to be kept, donations to be made and confessions or Communions to be prepared. And if we are more active in our parish, then there also cleaning of the church to be done, flowers to be bought, a service to be prepared for the choir.”
“As we come now towards the end of the Church’s Year (and the Church Year ends in September), we may well ask ourselves what little sacrifices we have made since this feast last year. How far have we ascended up our own Mt. Tabor? How have we changed over this last year? What have we done to lead a better life since then? How have we improved? What have we given God that we did not give Him before? It is this that people usually call progress. But as I like to say quoting our fabulous Saint, Holy Hieromartyr Hilarion Troitsky: we Christians need not progress but Transfiguration; for progress is a movement forward, but we need to move up, to heaven. Thus we may ask: what way am I a better Orthodox Christian than a year ago?”
“Dear brothers and sisters! We are called to struggle daily, whatever the rocks or boulders are on our way, whether they are pride or selfishness, lust or discouragement, envy or judging of others, we have to struggle to ascend our personal Mt. Tabor, we have to fight for our personal transfiguration. If we do not do this, then the Church will move away from us. For we can both go up and go down a slope. We can be transfigured by the love of God or we can be disfigured by the love of sin. And like transfiguration, regress is not sudden and dramatic, it is a slope, as we say, a slippery slope.”
“May the Lord Jesus Christ who transfigured upon the mountain help us and number us among His closest Disciples to see His heavenly and everlasting glory!”
Before the rite of the Holy Communion the choir prayerfully sang festal hymns of Transfiguration.
Following the Ambo prayer the Rector performed traditional Blessing of fruits.
After the dismissal of the Liturgy Fr. Igor preached a short sermon in Russian and congratulated the parishioners on the occasion of the holy day.