God, in Christ, became man.
01 October 2012
Today's texts teach one theme: the theme of theosis. In our Epistle we hear, “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” And the Lord Jesus says, “Love your enemies...and you will become sons of the Most High.”
What is theosis? Quite simply, that we become sons and daughters of God: that what he is by nature, we become by grace. Or, as St. Athanasius says, “God became man, so that we might become god.”
God, in Christ, became man.
He who was eternally begotten of a Father without mother,
was begotten in time of a mother without father.
He whom the heavens cannot contain,
was held within the womb of a woman.
He who nourishes all creation,
was fed on milk.
He did not come because we were worthy,
but because we were dead, in trespasses and sin,
held by Satan in bondage to sin.
He did not come because we sought him, or wanted him;
he came because he is good and loves mankind,
because he saw his work falling into decay,
and willed to raise us to life,
to forgive our sins,
and restore his image and likeness in us.
He won us for himself, by active, patient love,
by taking our guilt and sin on himself,
and by pouring out his holy, divine life into death.
He rose from the dead, trampling down death by death,
and to those in the tombs bestowing life.
He ascended into heaven, that he might fill all things;
he poured out the promise of the Spirit from the Father
upon his waiting Church.
Now the Holy Spirit works in the Church, bringing us through the Son to the Father.
The Holy Spirit indwells us, and so we are God's holy Temple.
He births us in holy Baptism, he anoints us with holy Chrism, he makes the bread and wine to be Christ's own flesh and blood so that we might receive Christ,
and with Christ, forgiveness; and with Christ, eternal life.
Let us not forget how great a price was paid for us, beloved;
let us not forget to what end it was paid.
Christ did not suffer to make us happy, to give us our “best life now.”
He did not die to give us an excuse to wallow in sin and self.
He did not rise to give us this life, extended out forever.
He suffered to give meaning and purpose to our suffering;
He died so that we might die to sin;
He rose to give us his own divine, indestructible life.
It's through much suffering that we enter the Kingdom of God;
it's through dying to sin that we are free to serve others;
it's through sharing his own indestructible life that we truly know God.
This is an election season, beloved; in a little over a month we will choose who will govern our nation and state. But every day, and every moment, we hold a little election. Shall we let the idols around us, come to live in God's temple? May it never be!
Rather, if we are the Temple of God, and we are, then let us give ourselves over to worship. (That's what temples are for, after all.) Let us be constant in prayer, in Scripture, in giving thanks to God.
If we are the sons of God, and we are, then let us live as sons of God. Let us seek Christ in the least of his brothers and sisters: the poor, the sick, and the ones whom nobody loves. Let us love our enemies and do good; let us lend, expecting nothing in return. Let us learn to become merciful, even as our God is merciful: for that, beloved, is the way of theosis...that is the way to the Kingdom, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.