Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Self-Abatement of the Son of God

God, Who loves us more than we love ourselves, is prepared to do and give us anything. God, having prepared a blessed existence in the Heavens, and is leading us there by mysterious ways unknown in this life, came to us as a humble servant. The Lord came to correct the fall of Adam, brought about by his collusion with the devil. "By" Correcting this, God destroys this connection and offers His Kingdom. While still in the pre-eternal Council of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God expressed His willingness to save humanity: "Behold I come to do Your will Lord…" (Psalm 39).

The beginning of the self-sacrifice self-abatement of the Son of God is evidenced in the Incarnation. He wanted to hide the glory of His divinity under the mantle of humanity. Remaining under this mantle could have been glorious, but it was not what the Lord wanted. He wanted to lead a life of the most humble existence. Humankind cannot endure the occurrence of God. Nature itself cannot sustain the presence of God. Therefore, because of His great love of humankind, God extended the heavens like a veil of divinity, so that we would not perish. Just as God conceals Himself by the heavens that act as a veil, so the Son of God, having come to earth, hid His divinity under a mantle of human flesh, so that seeing God, we would remain living…

The Lord was born in ‘a manger’ and grew up in poverty and toil. He lived in deprivation, not knowing where to find a place to rest. Thus He humbled Himself willingly, choosing this kind of life, with all its uncertainties. He showed no resistance to whatever had come His way, but accepted everything as it came. As God, He was in control over all, and Himself could control the direction of His life, but He renounced His power, humbly accepting everything that happened to Him and was submissive to this. Only once did He interrupt this practice with the words "I am" as if to show He was impregnable to the approaching evil. But this was momentary, and only to show that He gave Himself willingly into the hands of His enemies. This was predetermined in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. The Lord Himself called it obedience to the will of His Heavenly Father.

The Lord did not resist when death came, a degrading and fearful death at that. Submission to such a death is the utmost self-abasement. Death came like a clear realization of evil designs and volition of His adversaries. He knew all this beforehand in every detail, but did not resist anything and He willingly went to His death, a death contrived by envy and lies. His submission was not to people’s malice, but to God’s determination, worshipped in the Holy Trinity and expressed in the will of the Heavenly Father. The eminence that He attained as the Son, was proportionate to the depth of His self-humbling. Because He is omnipotent and unequalled, so in honoring the Father, He surpassed all, and not by coercion, but of His own free will. For humbling Himself so, even to death on the cross, God the Father so exalted Him that it would be impossible to surpass. He is exalted, not as God, but as Man.

This means that the human nature of Jesus Christ was introduced into the glory and power of the Divine Nature. Having humbled Himself, He not only did not forfeit what He had as God, but continued to exercise it as Man, showing us extreme humility and immeasurable love. "The Lord became Man with the purpose of having the opportunity to be in communion with humankind. His human body served as the instrument for this communion. The infinite and inaccessible God, by His goodness, having taken on human flesh, derogated Himself in unapproachable glory. He did this so that it would be possible for Him to unify with His visible creatures, and through this, the creatures in turn, could become partakers of the life of the divinity of God." … St. Macarius of Egypt. The most perfect self-revelation of God to humanity is revealed in Christ, accessible to the consciousness and is very close, dear and comprehensible to the human heart. "He is the true God and eternal life" (1John 5:20), Christ is "the image of the invisible God" (Col 1:15) so full and complete that "whoever has seen Him, has seen the Father" (John 16:9). Also complete and perfect is the Revelation in Christ of the divine Truth and the Father’s will for His people. The Savior had told the people "all that He heard from His Father" (John 15:15). He is "the Way, the Truth and the Life," and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

For us to be Christ-like is not a external duty, or the performance of a coercive demand and it does not consist of external repetitions of His actions and deeds. Before us is a free, living example of a religious and moral life in Christ, with the power of love for Him, as our Ideal, Redeemer and Savior. Without Christ, and outside communion with Him, we cannot do anything truly good (John 15:3). To love Christ, we are called to travel the inescapable path of self-denial. Through self-denial we inevitably come to terms with all adversity, sorrows, illnesses and misfortunes. And not only do we come to terms with these, but wholeheartedly and with gratitude, incessantly call upon the sweetest name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. With the name of Christ Jesus, spiritual beauty, joy and calmness enter our soul. In Him is God’s Kingdom.

Let us not forget that we must incessantly turn to our Savior for guidance, support and help. He is the sole Teacher and Life Source. His influence extends to us, not only through learning but also through His meek and humble Being. The branch can only be fruitful, because of the vine from which it, itself, feeds. Human beings searching for spiritual fruits must live in Christ and be in constant communion with Him.

Archpriest Nikolai Deputatov

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