Monday, December 16, 2013

Meditations on the Winter Pascha - Christ Comes to Restore the Image

I mentioned in my first post in this series the idea that "God became human so that we humans might become divine".* This chapter talks about that and about what it means to be made in the image of God.

To be made in the image and likeness of God is to be both a spiritual and material being. 

It is to be able to know and to do good, to be able to act and to care. 

It is, in a word,... to be able to be by God's grace and good will absolutely everything that God Himself is by nature. 

We were created to be like our Creator. When I stop to think about that, it is really mind-blowing. And it is very, very humbling because I can see how very much I am not like Him. My own self gets in the way and I often almost always fail to love as He loves; I put myself before others. Fr. Hopko says essentially the same thing:

The cause of all sadness and sorrow is that human beings have failed to be - and therefore endlessly to become - what God has made them to be. In the ultimate sense, they have failed to love. 

When I put my self first, I cannot really lay down my life for those around me. I allow the image of God in me to be distorted and twisted. If Christ had not come, I would have no choice but to continue moving further into darkness, away from the Light. I would have to pay the price of my failure to love.

But - Glory to God! He did come. And His coming makes it possible for the image to be restored.

This is the message of Christmas. There is a new Adam. There is a restored image of God. It is the restored image of the Image Himself, God's Son and Word, Jesus Christ. 

In Him all people can complete themselves as creatures made to be by God's grace all that God Himself is by nature. In Him all people can be human

You partook of human flesh, O Christ,
Offspring of the seed of Abraham.
You came to give grace upon grace,
Restoring Your image
And freeing us from corruption.
For the Father has sent You, the only-begotten Son,
As atonement for the world.**

*I have been informed that it was St. Athanasius who said this.

**From Compline of the third day of the prefeast of the Nativity, December 22.

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