V. Rev. Fr. Barouyr Shernezian
When the main Liturgy is completed, the celebrant, along with the acolytes and the censing deacon, descends from the Holy Altar. He stands in the middle of the Tas (priest seating section), and proclaims:
“You are the perfection of the law and of the prophets, O Christ God our Savior, who did fulfill all your economies willed by the Father. Fill us also with your Holy Spirit.”
These words should make us feel Jesus standing before us. This point in the liturgy draws us to the Transfiguration, with Jesus glorified in shining garments between Moses and Elijah. Moses represents the Law, while Elijah represents God’s prophecies. By standing between the two, therefore, Christ reveals Himself as the perfection of the Law and the promised fulfillment of the prophecy. You should feel comforted that the Law and unfulfilled prophecies hold no more control over you.
The Gospel story shows us how the Apostles felt to experience Christ’s Transfiguration. Peter the Apostle said, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He wanted to stay there! Let’s dig deeper and see why the Transfiguration moved St. Peter so much that he did not want to leave the place where he witnessed it.
Through the Holy Bible, we learn that the greatest burden of human history is sin. God did not create the sin, but rather man allowed sin to be part of our nature. This manifested itself in Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God’s commandment. Moreover, sin’s final result is death. Before Christ’s Resurrection, man would die with sin eternally on his soul. However, God granted the Law through Moses. The Law gave humanity a path to righteousness. However, due to the heaviness of the Law, man was not able to fully comply.
Along with the Law, God made promises through the prophets. Their prophecies encouraged man to live a spiritual life, keep the Law, and have hope for eternal life. Unfortunately, man did not succeed to keep the Law, even with God’s promises. As you can imagine, it was difficult for man to unburden himself of sin and be rewarded with God’s immediate presence. Carrying the burden of the Law was truly unbearable. Furthermore, it was a disappointment to know that you must suffer in this life.
Our Lord Jesus Christ was incarnated to fulfill to the prophets and ease the burden of the Law. He became our everything to give us a new life. He died on the Holy Cross, so that sin, the Law, and even death can no longer condemn us to death. We no longer have to carry the debt of sin or the burden of the Law, if we receive Christ as a permanent remedy to our fallen nature. However, we must share this Gift by loving others and living a faithful life. Christ is ready to be our everything, if we let Him live in our lives through our words, thoughts and actions.
Therefore, when we hear the celebrant proclaim in the Tas that Christ is the fulfillment and perfection of the Law and the prophets, he is declaring that Christ has paid our debts and has given us a new life. If the Law had power over human life Jesus came to protect us from it. In other words, the One who made the rules of life became human in the person of Jesus Christ to protect us from those rules.
Naturally, Jesus’ dedication, devotion and sacrifice bring peace and comfort to our hearts. It feels like a heavy weight is lifted. And it is, because Christ carries your burden for you. We can say with St. Peter, “Lord, it is good for us to be here,” in Your church, on Mount Tabor, because you comfort us. Christ gives us new life, perfected through Christ. Can we feel St. Peter’s words? Who would want to descend from a mountain, where the Lord stands giving us His peace? Can we feel His transfiguration within us?
The celebrant’s words also remind us that Jesus’ salvific plan has come to its fulfillment. We have received the Holy Communion. Christ has entered into our bodies and made us complete, by forgiving our sins and restoring our relationship with Him. He has entered our hearts and made us new, transfiguring us with Him. Our Holy Church celebrates Transfiguration not only on the fourteenth Sunday after the feast day of the Resurrection, but with every celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Christ reminds us again that He did it all for us.