Friday, February 9, 2018

Patristic Wisdom: Looking Forward to the Transfiguration

Titian, “Transfiguration”
Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid.

And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves. Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead. (Mark 9:2–9)

He disclosed, it is said, a little of the Godhead. He manifested to them the God dwelling among them …. How did He shine? Tell me. Exceedingly. And how do you express this? He shone as the sun. As the sun, you say? Yes. Why the sun? Because I do not know any other luminary more brilliant. And He was white you say as snow? Why as snow? Because I do not know any other substance which is whiter. For that He did not really shine thus is proved by what follows: the disciples fell to the ground. If he had shone as the sun the disciples would not have fallen, for they saw the sun every day and did not fall. But inasmuch as he shone more brilliantly than the sun or snow, they, being unable to bear the splendor, fell to the earth.

John Chrysostom, Eutropius and the Vanity of Riches, Homily 2.10

The Lord who is beyond measure
measures out nourishment to all,
adapting to our eyes the sight of himself,
to our hearing his voice,
His blessing to our appetite,
His wisdom to our tongue.

Ephrem the Syrian
Hymns on Paradise 9.27

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