On 19 August we celebrate a major feast day in the life of the Church called the Holy Transfiguration. On this day, we remember the events related to Christ's ascent on Mount Tabor shortly before His martyrdom. He went up in the company of three of His Disciples, and it was a long and tiring journey. He met the Prophets Moses and Elijah, one of whom had died long before, and the other was taken to the Kingdom of Heaven while he was still alive. We recall the voice of God descending from above: “This is my son! Listen to Him” and His transformation into the divine light.
The Transfiguration of Christ is celebrated as one of the great feasts of the Christian church because of the important lessons that it conveys to people of all times from ancient to modern. First, it reveals to all beyond any doubt the true nature of Jesus Christ as the son of God and God Himself, not just a prophet or a worldly king, as many believed. Moreover, His appearance before the prophets and three of his disciples – dead as well as living - came as a powerful and convincing message: the Kingdom of God is real; it is within our reach as long as we aspire to God’s holiness and glory, and follow His calling to transform ourselves.
As we prepare to celebrate the liturgy at our churches, we recall the words of Apostle Peter which he said on Mount Tabor: “It is good for us to be here!” We use these words as we greet one another, as we experience the Divine at Church, God's Kingdom of Heaven on earth. The Feast of the Holy Transfiguration is a powerful reminder to us that with God we are complete, whole, and fully human as we were intended to be.
Today we also conduct the blessing of the fruit. It is an opportunity for us to thank God for the year’s harvest, and more importantly, to share our joy with our loved ones who are not at church today. We do so with the simple offering of some blessed fruit and through living holy lives. We welcome this occasion to extend our greetings to all on this holy and fruitful of thanksgiving, and to say to one another “it is good for us to be here because our Lord is here.”
On February 15th, the Orthodox will celebrate one of the most joyful feasts of the entire liturgical year - the Meeting (Presentation) of our Lord. This ancient celebration gives a lot of hope and light and inspires us to keep going.