St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church
Transfiguration: The Anti-Eclipse

Matt 17:1-9

Every day we wake up to the rising of the sun and its light fills our waking hours allowing us to perceive the whole world and to achieve many things.  We are accustomed to live in the bright light of the sun and even when it is absent we try to maintain the illusion of its light with candles, electric lights and other similar things.  The light of the sun enables us to do many things: we can grow food, we can build, we can read and write, we can study things and invent things – the light of the sun makes everything possible.

But what happens when the sun is hidden, when we can no longer perceive its light?  In the dark of night, the true nature of the world is hidden.  Things which are beautiful and friendly appear plain or sometimes even fearful.  The dangers which are clear during the day are hidden in the dark and may even appear appealing, luring us into peril.  In an attempt to dispel the darkness, men create little oases of light in their homes or in public gathering places.  There people gather to escape the darkness and find comfort in the presence of friends and family.

Tomorrow there will be an amazing event, a solar eclipse.  The light of the sun will be blocked and in the middle of the day there will be darkness.  In former times such an event was experienced with fear, as though it were the harbinger of a great evil or even a sign of the destruction of the world.  Man has learned that the cause of this darkness is simply the shadow of the passing moon.  Where there was once irrational fear, man has provided some light by the application of his God-given reason.  But still this unusual moment of darkness in the middle of the day brings a unreasoning fascination and even a moment of doubt and anxiety that the light may not return (or that when it does return something will have changed.)

While tomorrow marks the eclipse and a moment of darkness in the midst of the day, yesterday marked a more marvelous event.  Instead of a moment of darkness in the middle of the day, yesterday we recall the moment when the light shone irresistibly in the middle of the night dispelling the darkness with a brightness greater even than the noonday sun.  This event is the Transfiguration of the Lord.  The world, which was created to exist in the Divine Light of God’s presence, was cut off from that light by the introduction of sin – like a moon which blocks the light of the sun – and the world was caught in its shadow.  But unlike the eclipse, which soon passes, this shadow of sin remained, blocking the Divine Light from enlightening the world and so the world was trapped in darkness.

The Light of the Trinity, however, cannot be shut out forever and so it began to seep into the darkness.  With the incarnation, the birth of the God/man Jesus Christ, the light began to dawn and gradually it grew brighter.  With the baptism of Christ it was even more distinct, but it did not yet fully penetrate the darkness.  On the feast of the Transfiguration, however, the light broke through and it shone with its full intensity in the midst of the darkness.  It is as if the light of the sun cut a hole through the middle of the moon and began to shine through even at the height of the eclipse – a bright spot in the middle of a dark shadow.  In the Transfiguration, the light of Christ broke through cloak of sin and there, in the person of the God/man Jesus Christ it shone as a beacon to the whole world.  Instead of the shadow blocking out the light of the sun, the Transfiguration is a spot of light dispelling the shadow of sin – the opposite of the eclipse, a kind of “anti-eclipse” if you will.

Therefore, wherever you find yourself tomorrow, when the light of the sun dims remember that it is only due to the shadow of the moon and that it will pass.  It is certainly an event to remember, an evidence of the glory of God and his beauty revealed in the phenomena of the universe.  Do not forget, however, that we have seen something greater than the eclipse – we have seen the anti-eclipse, the light which is more powerful than the darkness which cannot be held back and which dispels the darkness.  This light is the light of Christ which illumines and enlightens the world and it is the light which shines in our hearts and which illumines the soul which is trapped in darkness.  This is the light which surrounds us, which permeates us, which shines from within us and irradiates us.  This is the Divine Light of grace which fills us from the heart outward and which transfigures us and transforms us into the likeness of Christ.

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