“Purified in Theosis”
Sunday, February 11, 2018
The Sixth and Last Sunday after Epiphany
2Kings 2: 1 – 11
Psalm 50: 1 – 6
2 Corinthians 4: 3 – 6
Mark 9: 2 - 9
Bishop Ariel Cornelio P. Santos
I was looking for a definition of transfiguration and the one that I came across says that it is a momentary divine radiance. I thought, “That is not very accurate as far as Jesus and God is concerned," because God’s radiance is not momentary. In the Gloria Patri, we say, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.” God is always glorious, and He always has that radiance. It is not His glory that is momentary, but the disciples’ vision of it that is momentary.
Our perspectives, our sensitivity are fickle and temporary, but God’s glory never changes. He doesn’t change; He is always glorious. He is One God in glory everlasting, 24/7, not occasional. It was never a time that He was without glory. Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory, but we don’t always see His glory because our perspectives change. John 1 said, “They beheld Jesus’ glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” We used to think that the earth was flat, until we learned better and now, we know that the earth is round. We used to think that that sun rises and goes down; but it is not the sun that moves but us. It is stationary; it is us that move. We say, “God is good all the time,” but our sensitivity to that goodness is not all the time. For example, when a person is promoted, he says, “I am so blessed. God is good all the time.” However, when he is demoted or loses a business, he forgets that God is good all the time. Our sensitivity to the goodness of God changes, but His goodness never ever changes.
Jesus’ glory, goodness and radiance have always been in the poor and the needy. We not noticing it do not alter the fact that He is with them and He is in them. In the Transfiguration, the disciples were given momentary vision of God’s glory in Jesus Christ. They were given eyes to see in what has always been there. It never leaves and never changes. The glory of Jesus was in His incarnation, in His baptism, in the miracle at Cana, in healing of people, in His teachings, in His transfiguration, in the cross, and in our daily life.
The problem is we don’t see it. How can God’s glory be in an infant born in a manger? It is hard to see; it is easier to see the glory of God in a baby born in a huge palace. It is easy to see the glory in a Messiah who is not crucified, but who conquers nations especially Caesar and the Romans. It is astonishing to hear Jesus’ teaching, healing, and blessing to those who receive it right, to those who behold it right, but not to the proud, the dull of hearing, and those without faith.
God’s goodness is not dependent on our fickleness. In the Old Testament, Elijah said to Elisha, “I want a double portion of your anointing,” and Elisha said, “If you see, if your eyes are open, then, it shall be done for you; but if not, you will not receive it.” Sometimes, our eyes are shut because the gods of this world blinds us from seeing the glory of the gospel of Christ, as St. Paul says.
We sing “Behold the Christ, radiance of the glory of God.” We also sing, “See His glory.” Behold the Christ, the hope of glory. When we are facing challenges in life, we need hope, and we need to behold the Christ because He is the hope. When we forget Him during our troubled time, then, the more we lose hope. Never close our eyes and lose the vision to see the glory of Christ. I pray that we see more and more of His glory, 24/7, and be strengthened for good works.
The Old Testament is the shadow of things to come. Jesus was the real thing. I would liken the Law and the prophets to the moon and stars in the sky at night. There is some light that we get from them, but when the morning dawns, they give way to the sun with its real radiance and they fade to the background. It is the sun that is seen which gives light to the world. The Old Testament is a veil, a shadow, but that veil is removed in Christ. He is our Yes, our Amen, our certainty; He is the truth.
In the Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah were pointing to Jesus and after a while, they disappeared, and only Jesus was left there. Moses and Elijah pointed to the real, true Word of God, Jesus. Hebrews 10:1 says, “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.” Only Jesus can make things perfect, but He does not do this instantly, but gradually. It is a process.
Our theme for today is “Purified in Theosis.” Theosis is a transformative process whose aim is likeness to or union with God. It is also called divinization, deification, and sanctification. It is a process of being likened to God. St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” We are being transformed perfectly into the image of God.
1 Corinthians 13:12 in the NASB says, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” The Living Bible says, “In the same way, we can see and understand only a little about God now, as if we were peering at his reflection in a poor mirror; but someday we are going to see him in his completeness, face-to-face. Now all that I know is hazy and blurred, but then I will see everything clearly, just as clearly as God sees into my heart right now.” The Voice translation says, “For now, we can only see a dim and blurry picture of things, as when we stare into polished metal. I realize that everything I know is only part of the big picture. But one day, when Jesus arrives, we will see clearly, face-to-face.”
This is theosis. It is a process, and this is why our vision/mission is to know God and to make Him known. It won’t happen overnight. It is a transformative process, and we yield ourselves so that He can work in us and transform us into His self-same image. Our Collect for today says, “...grant that we beholding by faith the light of His countenance, may be strengthened to bear cross (mission) and be changed into likeness from glory to glory…” The purpose of our vision, the purpose of us seeing His glory is to increasingly be like Jesus Christ. We sing during Epiphany, “Manifest on mountain height, shining in resplendent light, where disciples filled with awe thy transfigured glory saw. When from there thou leddest them steadfast to Jerusalem,” The purpose is Jesus giving us an example. The purpose of disciples being granted vision to His glory is so that they can be strengthened to bear their crosses, to do good works, and to follow Jesus. Jesus was setting an example to them because His coming down was not foreign to Him. He did it in the incarnation. He left the heavens, leaving His glory and became man to carry His cross.
This is the example of our King, and we have to have this same attitude for this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.