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31. The Transfiguration of the Lord.

In order to strengthen the faith of His disciples when they would see His suffering, Jesus Christ took three disciples, Peter, James and John, and led them up on a high mountain to pray. According to ancient Church Tradition, it was the beautiful Mount Tabor covered with luxurious growth from the foot to the summit.

As the Saviour was praying, the disciples slept from fatigue. When they woke up, they saw Jesus Christ transfigured before them. His face shone like the, sun and His garments became white as snow and glistened as light. There, two prophets, Moses and Elijah, in heavenly glory appeared with Him, and they were talking with Jesus about the suffering and death which He would have to endure in Jerusalem. Extraordinary joy filled the hearts of the disciples during this time. Peter exclaimed, "Lord, it is well that we are here. If you wish, I will make three booths here: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah," not understanding what He was saying. Suddenly, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and they heard the voice of God the Father saying, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him!"

When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces. Jesus Christ came to them, touched them, and said, "Rise, and have no fear." When the disciples lifted up their eyes, they saw Jesus Christ as He usually appeared.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus Christ commanded them to tell no one about the vision until He was raised from the dead.

The Holy Orthodox Church celebrates the glorious Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ, on August 6th (August 19 NS). This day is one of the major feast days. By His Transfiguration, the Saviour has showed us how people become in the future life, in the Kingdom of Heaven, if they follow Godís Law and how the entire earthly world would be transfigured. The Lord also reminds us that we can be transfigured even now if we lead a truly Christian life.

On the Feast of Transfiguration, after the Liturgy, fruit is brought to the church to be blessed for eating: grapes and, in general, fruit from orchards such as apples, pears, and plums in order to ask the Lordís blessing on the fruits of the harvest.

Note: See the Gospels of Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36.

Troparion of the Feast.

Thou wast transfigured on the mountain, O Christ our God, showing to Thy disciples Thy glory as each one could endure; shine forth Thou on us, who are sinners all, Thy light ever-unending through the prayers of the Theotokos. O Light-giver, glory to Thee.

Kontakion of the Feast.

On the mount Thou was transfigured, and Thy disciples, as much as they could bear, beheld Thy glory, O Christ our God; so that, when they would see Thee crucified, they would know Thy passion to be willing and would preach to the world that Thou, in truth, are the Effulgence of the Father.

The Most Important Teaching: Love for God and Neighbour.

More than once people did ask Jesus Christ which was His most important teaching in order to inherit eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Some asked because they wanted to know and others did to find a reason to accuse Him.

Thus one day, a Jewish lawyer (a man who studied the Law of God) wishing to put Jesus Christ to the test asked Him, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"

Jesus Christ said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments rest all the law and the prophets."

This means everything that the Law of God teaches about which the prophets spoke is contained entirely in these two major laws. That is, all the commandments of the law and its teachings speak to us about love. If we had within ourselves such love, then all the remaining laws could be abolished, for they are all subdivisions of the law about love. Thus, for example, if we love our neighbour, then we would not be able to offend him or cheat him, much less kill him, or envy him; and, in general, we would not wish him any kind of evil. On the contrary, we would pity him, care for him, and be ready to sacrifice everything for him. Therefore, Jesus Christ said, "There are no other commandments greater than these" (Mark 12:31).

The lawyer said to Him, "You are right, Teacher! You have truly said that to love God with all oneís being and to love oneís neighbour as oneself is much more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."

When Jesus Christ saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."

Note: See the Gospels of Matthew 22:35-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-28.

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