“This is My Beloved Son…” Feast of the Transfiguration

The Apostle St. Peter“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with Him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word made more sure. You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts (2 Pet. 1:16-19 RSVCE).”

Leo the Great: “For when the Father said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in Whom, I am well pleased; listen to Him,’ was it not clearly meant, ‘This is My Son’, Who is eternally from Me and with Me? ‘This is My Son’, not adopted, but true-born, not created from another source, but begotten of Me, nor made like Me from another nature, but born equal to Me of My nature (John 1:14). ‘This is My Son’, through Whom all things were made, and without Whom was nothing made (John 1:3). All things that I do He does in like manner, and whatever I perform, He performs with Me inseparably (John 5:19) and without difference: for the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son (John 14:11) and Our Unity is never divided. (John 10:30).

“Listen to Him, therefore, because He is the Truth and the Life (John 14:6), He is My Power and Wisdom (1 Cor. 1:24). ‘Listen to Him’, Who redeems the world by His blood (Eph. 1:7), Who binds the devil and carries off his captives (Matt. 12:28-29), Who destroys the bond of sin [and sets you free] (John 8:34-36). ‘Listen to Him’, Who opens the way to heaven, and by the… cross prepares for you the steps of ascent to the Kingdom.

“These things, dearly beloved, were said not only for those who heard them with their own ears, but in these three Apostles the whole Church has learned all that their eyes saw and their ears heard. Let all men’s faith be established according to the preaching of the most holy Gospel, and let no one be ashamed of Christ’s cross through which the world was redeemed.” (Leo the Great, 440-461 A.D., excerpts from Homily 51, On the Transfiguration – portions of a previous post)

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The Love of God Contrasted with the Love of the World

Leo the GreatSt. Leo the Great: “There are two loves from which all wishes proceed, and they are as different in quality as they are different in their sources. For the reasonable soul, which cannot exist without love, is the lover either of God or the world. In the love of God there is no excess, but in the love of the world all is hurtful. Therefore we must cling inseparably to eternal treasures, but things temporal we must use like passers-by, so that as sojourners hastening to return to our own land, all the good things of this world which meet us may be as aids on the way, not snares to detain us….

“As the world attracts us with its appearance and abundance and variety, it is not easy to turn away from it unless in the beauty of things visible the Creator rather than the creature is loved; for, when He says, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matt. 22:37),’ He wishes us in nothing to loosen ourselves from the bonds of His love. And when He links the love of our neighbor also to this command, He enjoins on us the imitation of His own goodness, that we should love what He loves and do what He does. For although ‘we are God’s fellow workers and God’s building (1 Cor. 3:9),’ and ‘neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth (1 Cor. 3:7),’ yet in all things He requires our ministry and service, and wishes us to be the stewards of His gifts, so that he who bears God’s image may do God’s will.

“For this reason, in the Lord’s prayer we say most devoutly, ‘Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10).’ For what else do we ask for in these words but that God may subdue those whom He has not yet subdued, and that as in heaven He makes the angels ministers of His will, so also on earth He may make men. And in seeking this we love God, and we also love our neighbor; and the love within us has but one Object, since we desire the bond-servant to serve and the Lord to have rule.” (Leo the Great, Sermon XC, ch. 3, Scripture: RSVCE)

The Transfiguration: The Voice of God the Father

                  The Transfiguration of  Jesus (Matt. 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-9, Luke 9:28-36)
“Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and brought them up to a high mountain by themselves…

Transfiguration of Jesus“While he [Peter] was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice from the cloud said, This is My Beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased; listen to Him. When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them and said, ‘Arise, and do not be afraid.’ And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one, except Jesus alone (Matt. 17:5-8).”

St. Leo the Great:  “…as a bright cloud overshadowed them, behold a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased, listen to Him (Matt. 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35).” The Father was indeed present in the Son, and in the Lord’s brightness, which He had tempered to the disciples’ sight; the Father’s Essence was not separated from the Only-begotten. As the effulgence of the Son’s body was displayed to their sight, so the Father’s voice from out of the cloud was heard by their ears. And when this Voice was heard, “the disciples fell upon their faces, and were sore afraid (Matt. 17:6, Luke 9:34),” trembling at the Majesty…. For when the Father said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in Whom, I am well pleased; listen to Him,’ was it not clearly meant, This is My Son, Who is eternally from Me and with Me (John 8:42)? This is My Son, not adopted but true-born, not created from another source but begotten of Me, nor made like Me from another nature, but born equal to Me of My nature (John 1:14). This is My Son, “through Whom all things were made, and without Whom was nothing made (John 1:3).” All things that I do He does in like manner, and whatever I perform, He performs with Me inseparably (John 5:19) and without difference: for the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son (John 14:11) and Our Unity is never divided. [John 10:30: “I and the Father are one“].

Listen to Him, therefore, unhesitatingly, in Whom I am well pleased, and by Whose preaching I am manifested, by Whose humiliation I am glorified; because He is “the Truth and the Life (John 14:6),” He is My “Power and Wisdom (1 Cor. 1:24).” Listen to Him, Whom the mysteries of the Law have foretold [represented by Moses], Whom the mouths of prophets have sung [represented by Elijah]. Listen to Him, Who redeems the world by His blood (Eph. 1:7), Who binds the devil and carries off his captives (Matt. 12:28-29), Who destroys the bond of sin and the compact of the transgression (John 8:34-36, Rom. 5:15-18). Listen to Him, Who opens the way to heaven, and by the… cross prepares for you the steps of ascent to the Kingdom. Why do you tremble at being redeemed? Why do you fear to be healed of your wounds? Let that happen which Christ wills and I will. Cast away all fleshly fear and arm yourselves with faithful constancy; for it is unworthy that you should fear in the Savior’s Passion what, by His good gift, you shall not have to fear even at your own end.

“These things, dearly-beloved, were said not only for those who heard them with their own ears, but in these three Apostles the whole Church has learned all that their eyes saw and their ears heard. Let all men’s faith be established according to the preaching of the most holy Gospel, and let no one be ashamed of Christ’s cross through which the world was redeemed. Let no one fear to suffer for righteousness’ sake, or doubt of the fulfilment of the promises…since all the weakness of our humanity was assumed by Him, in Whom, if we abide in the acknowledgment and love of Him, we conquer as He conquered and receive what he promised. Whether to the performance of His commands or to the endurance of adversities, the Father’s Voice should always be sounding in our ears, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; listen to Him” Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.” (Pope St. Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome 440-461 A.D., excerpts of Homily 51, given on the Saturday before the 2nd Sunday in Lent – On the Transfiguration.)

+ St. Leo the Great, Pray for us. +

The Unconquered Master of Christian Warfare

Temptations of Jesus, Jesus Conquers Satan“…the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Begone, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve’ (Matt. 4:8-10, Deut. 6:13).”

St. Leo the Great:  “Dearly-beloved, as we approach the beginning of Lent, which is a time for the more careful serving of the Lord… let us prepare our souls for fighting with temptations, and understand that the more zealous we are for our salvation, the more determined must be the assaults of our opponents. But “stronger is He that is in us than He that is against us (1 John 4:4),” and we are powerful through Him in Whose strength we rely (Eph. 6:10): because it was for this that the Lord allowed Himself to be tempted by the tempter, that we might be taught by His example as well as fortified by His aid. For He conquered the adversary, as you have heard (Matt. 4:1-11), by quotations from the Scripture, not by actual strength, that by this very thing He might do greater honor to man, and inflict a greater punishment on the adversary by conquering the enemy of the human race not now as God but as Man. Therefore, He fought that we too might fight thereafter: He conquered that we too might likewise conquer. For there are no works of power, dearly-beloved, without the trials of temptations, there is no faith without proof, no contest without a foe, no victory without conflict. This life of ours is in the midst of snares, in the midst of battles; if we do not wish to be deceived, we must watch: if we want to overcome, we must fight. And therefore the most wise Solomon says, “My son, in approaching the service of God prepare thy soul for temptation (Sirach 2:1).” For he, being a man full of the wisdom of God, and knowing that the pursuit of religion involves laborious struggles, foreseeing too the danger of the fight, forewarned the intending combatant; for fear that if the tempter came upon him in his ignorance, he might find him unready and wound him unawares.

“So, dearly-beloved, let us, who instructed in Divine learning come wittingly to the present contest and strife, hear the Apostle when he says, “for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this dark world, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly things (Eph. 6:12),” and let us not forget that these our enemies feel that all we strive to do for our salvation is done against them all, and that by the very fact of our seeking after some good thing we are challenging our foes. For this is an old-standing quarrel between us and them fostered by the devil’s ill-will, so that they are tortured by our being justified, because they have fallen from those good things to which we, God helping us, are advancing. If, therefore, we are raised, they are prostrated: if we are strengthened, they are weakened. Our cures are their blows, because they are wounded by the cure of our wounds. “Stand, therefore,” dearly-beloved, as the Apostle says, “having girded your mind in truth, and your feet shod in the preparation of the gospel of peace, in all things taking the shield of faith in which you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the evil one, and put on the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Eph. 6:14-17).” See, dearly-beloved, with what mighty weapons, with what impregnable defenses we are armed by our Leader, who is famous for His many triumphs, the unconquered Master of the Christian warfare.” (St. Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome 440-461 A.D., excerpt of Sermon 39, On Lent)

+ St. Leo the Great, pray for us +