Lord, It Is Good for Us To Be Here

Lord, It Is Good for Us To Be Here

“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother and led them up a high mountain apart. And He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as light.” (Matt. 17 1-2).

Take a moment and try to imagine what the Transfiguration of Christ might have been like through the eyes of the apostles. Picture yourself standing in the shadow of Mount Tabor, knowing what a long haul it will be to the top. Now try to imagine all the little things that might make the journey uncomfortable along the way: hours spent in the heat of the day, blistered feet, aches, hunger, thirst, and all the brambles. How many times have we felt that we were also standing at the foot of a mountain (whether it be a personal goal/desire, a spiritual journey, or emotional suffering) knowing what a difficult journey it will be to ascend it? Often we might find ourselves standing there frozen and wondering where on earth we will find the strength to journey to the top. When that wonder hits us, we can find ourselves believing we can do it completely alone through sheer will-power, or we can stop to ask God for the grace necessary to meet the task ahead.

It had to have been a long and grueling trip to the top of Mount Tabor, but sooner or later Jesus and the apostles reached the pinnacle. On the top of Mount Tabor the apostles beheld the Transfigured Christ. Peter declared, “Lord it is good for us to be here…” Despite the long and difficult journey, the apostles were in such awe and admiration of Christ’s Transfiguration that they wished to remain there upon the mountain forever rather than make the journey back down. However, remaining on the mount was not to take place. What did take place was yet another transformation – a transformation within their own hearts. After leaving Mount Tabor, they would carry the joy of that encounter as they made their return journey back into the world. That joy allowed them to find Christ within their hearts and gave them strength to push on. St. Anastasius Sinaita has this to say in his sermon on the Transfiguration:

“It is indeed good to be here, as you have said, Peter. It is good to be with Jesus and to remain here forever. What greater happiness or higher honor could we have than to be with God, to be made like him and to live in his light? Therefore, since each of us possesses God in his heart and is being transformed into his divine image, we also should cry out with joy: It is good for us to be here – here where all things shine with divine radiance, where there is joy and gladness and exultation; where there is nothing in our hearts but peace, serenity, and stillness; where God is seen. For here, in our hearts, Christ takes up his abode together with the Father, saying as he enters: “Today salvation has come to this house.” With Christ, our hearts receive all the wealth of his eternal blessings, and there where they are stored up for us in him, we see reflected as in a mirror both the first fruits and the whole of the world to come.”

Like the apostles, we too are called to struggle up our own mountains. While the mountains in each of our lives might vary, we each have a shared purpose in our journey – finding Christ within our heart. Once we find Christ in our heart through the struggles we have undertaken, we must hold Him there within ourselves and allow Him to transform our lives as we continue to spread the gospel and grow closer to Him in faith. We will find purpose in our life by choosing to see our trials as an opportunity to grow closer Him on our path towards theosis. The feast of the Transfiguration has much to teach us. No matter the reasons we have to lose heart in the face of adversity, we will find even more cause to press on with faith in Jesus Christ.

Magdalena Hudson

Magdalena Hudson

Publications Student Leader

Magdalena is a nursing student at Lakeshore Technical College. In her free time she loves to read, draw, listen to music, be outdoors, and spend quality time with loved ones. She enjoys all the comforts of home, as well as a good adventure now and then. If you would like to contribute to the blog, please reach out to Magdalena at publicationsstudent@ocf.net!

The Light Will Not Be Overcome!

The Light Will Not Be Overcome!

As September has officially come to a close, and October has started, I have been looking back at our blog contributions. I was very moved at the sight of blog posts written by other students who also wanted to serve the Orthodox Christian Fellowship. Throughout September we focused on the OCF theme, John 1:5, “And the light shines in the darkness, and then darkness did not overcome it.” After spending a month reflecting on our theme, and reading other student’s reflections I found the Epistle reading on the last Sunday of September to be a perfect compliment to our work so far this year. This past Sunday we heard the Epistle of St. Paul in 2 Corinthians. Paul writes, “Brethren, it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ…So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we too believe, and so we speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:6-15).” It is fitting for Paul to write this, if we remember the story of his conversion to Christianity he is a physical example of Christ’s light overcoming darkness. 

In the Acts of the Apostles we read about a man named Saul who persecuted Christians, in fact it was on his way to persecute the Christians in Damascus that he was given, “a wake up call” so to speak. We read in Acts 9 that a bright light shone forth from the heavens and God said to Saul, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”. Through that bright light Saul found himself blind and journeyed to Damascus without eating or drinking. He was found by St. Annanias who was recently celebrated (the 1st of October), (we honestly couldn’t have planned this better if we tried) and Annanais helped Saul receive his sight again. It is said in Acts 9:18 that “immediately things like scales fell from his eyes”. Saul was then baptized and his name became Paul, who is one of the most widely recognized church fathers, in fact in the icon of Saints Peter and Paul we see them holding a church together. In my opinion this was a huge breakthrough in seeing that God can create light from the darkness. In all actuality it was the light of Christ that took Saul’s sight to show him where to find the truth. The fact of the matter is, Saul found the truth without seeing! What faith! I don’t know if I would have been able to have faith like that. Yet, a man who had once killed people for declaring a man as the Christ, was now himself proclaiming that Jesus is the Messiah. The man who once hunted the people who followed Christ became the one who was being hunted. 

The man who was once blinded by the light is now writing to the people of Corinth that, Christ is the light who overcomes the darkness. Let’s go back to what he wrote. “Brethren, it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” So basically, the Light, aka God, through us is shining His light to give us more light so we can glorify God. That’s a lot of light. Okay what’s next, “So death is at work in us, but life in you.” Our Earthly bodies will one day fail, we are going to die, but with Christ’s light we will have eternal life. If Christ lives in us, we will never die, so while our Earthly bodies will, our spirit will not. So, through Christ’s not only will I be illumined, but I will live in life everlasting with God. How cool is that?! I mean, think about it. If I were hearing this I would definitely say, “sign me up!” It is like that flashlight infomercial I gave in an earlier blog (read it here https://www.ocf.net/turning-on-the-light/) I wrote about how we have flashlight that guides us in our lives. 

So, the other part of the epistle I will leave to your interpretation, but think about this: Paul’s conversion was that of light, when Jesus was baptized the heavens opened and the heavens house the sun which produces light, and on the feast of the Transfiguration we hear that when Moses came down from Mount Tabor his face was still glowing and shining because it had been in the presence of Christ’s light, and we even see that his face was too bright for some of the people with him! It all comes back to light. Imagine your face glowing because you were in such deep communion with God that His light shone so brightly that it hurt other people’s eyes. I think our goal should be to achieve that, but not just because it’s amazing, but because Christ causes the light to shine in the darkness. What if you are a beacon that guides people to Christ with your light? That sounds to me like the best job ever! So the point I’m trying to make is that even in the darkness Christ’s light will shine, whether it be through you, me, or it blinds someone because they didn’t listen to anyone else. Paul went from killing Christians and persecuting the church to being the one depicted in icons as holding up the church! Someone who made it their life’s mission to destroy the church, became one of the biggest protectors of the faith! If God’s light can shine so brightly that it brings the biggest persecutor to the faith, then maybe even a little bit of that light in us will cause us to bring multitudes as Sts Peter and Paul did. Christ’s light will never be overcome by the darkness. Don’t forget that. He has illumined us all with His divine grace. The Light of lights, the True God, and the giver of light, may He intercede for us as we go through college, a time with lots of darkness that needs to be overcome. 

Evyenia Pyle

Evyenia Pyle

Publications Student Leader

Hi, I am Evyenia Pyle, and I am the publications student this year! I am in my second year of college studying speech and hearing sciences! I play 12 instruments as of right now, and in my free time I play with my dog. I am really excited about this opportunity. Never hesitate to reach out with questions, comments, or if you are interested in writing a blog! publicationsstudent@ocf.net