The Call

Armodoxy for Today: The Call

Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ, Part 3

At the Transfiguration event, recorded by the three synoptic gospels, (Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8, Luke 9:28–36), two figures appear next to the Transfigured Christ. Moses and Elijah are characters from the Old Testament. Within Jewish history Moses is the Law giver and therefore the symbol of the Law, while Elijah was among the major prophets and therefore comes to symbolize the prophetic tradition in this story. They were not contemporaries of Jesus, but had died several centuries earlier. Their appearance in the narrative is accented by the words from Heaven, “This is My beloved Son. Listen to Him!” Between the Laws and the Prophets stands Jesus Christ radiating the Divine Light to the World. “Listen to Him,” is the direction for humanity.

The Patron saint of the Armenian Church, St. Gregory the Illuminator, added one more dimension to this story so that it would appeal to the people of his congregation. After Gregory converted the Armenian King Dirtad and subsequently the nation of Armenia to Christianity, he replaced many of the pagan holidays with Christian holidays. The celebration known Vartavar, dedicated to the pagan goddess Asdghik, was a water festival. The feast of Transfiguration was assigned to this day. The water component was kept as a reminder of our personal rebirth through the font of Baptism. Hence, the Divine Call was broadened to include Asdghik. She and her followers now heard the message: “Listen to Him.”

We all have mottos, teachers, gurus, philosophies, and perhaps even gods and goddesses who point us in directions of spiritual growth. Some may follow these teaching more fervently than others. Others, may pull up a saying from a calendar or a talk show and connect to the message. The Transfiguration story points to the perennial call. Jesus Christ is shinning the Divine Light. It is the Light that is not measured by lumens but by warmth and factors beyond our understanding. In that Light in which darkness is dissipated, and purity abounds. Traditions – whether the Law, the Prophets, philosophies, teachers, and the lot, are all subjected to the One message that Jesus Christ professed: Love! There’s no escape. And so, we are instructed: Listen to Him!

We pray a prayer adapted from the Armenian Divine Liturgy, God of truth and mercy, we thank you, who have exalted our nature, condemned as we were, above that of the blessed patriarchs; for you were called God to them, whereas in compassion you have been pleased to be named Father to us. Make the grace of so new and precious a naming of yourself shine forth and grant us to open our mouths with a cry of bold voice, to call upon you, O heavenly Father. Amen.

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