Sunset - Larnaca

Sunset - Larnaca

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Christ and Man

'If you wish to know how great man is, don't turn your eyes to the thrones of the kings or the palaces of the great men, look up to the throne of God and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Glory.'
 - St John Chrysostom

For an Atheist, the concrete man is raw material, however this raw material is always in the process of becoming , known as evolution. In other words it is as raw material that man exists, but he is to be set up against a certain number of visions; following what he should become, and what he wants to achieve. Man is always something ahead of us, a goal which we move towards and attempt to fulfil. Whether you are a biologist, or a theologian ( or both ) the end of man will always be improvement, transformation, and looking to the future. Humanity is forever changing and reshaping, ultimately to achieve a goal, and a purpose. 

Christianity sets man as the final value, but not simply idealistically or abstractly. Christ is the fulfilment, the purpose and the goal. He is what we are called to become. When we say that Christ is indeed fully man, we affirm that to be united with God does not take away, or change the nature of mankind; but we fulfil our purpose and human nature. This is where man is revealed in his full potential and possibility. Man becomes truly human, only when united with God infinitely and inseparably, so that the fullness of the Godhead will abide in the flesh. 'I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh..' (Acts 2:17) 

Are we, as sinners, incapable of achieving this goal of unity with God?

The Church makes it very clear that our vocation is to become partakers of the divine nature ( the Church is the place where the Holy Spirit has taken abode, dwelling in each of us - 1 Cor 3:16 ), united in one life with Christ. By participation, grace and loving communion with Christ we become sons of the Father through grace. We are of course all sinners, and unworthy of this communion (Rom 3:23), however Saint Irenaeus of Lyon highlights that we are simply immature, and unable to eat the solid bread of immortality. The Lord came down on earth in a way we are able to see and understand - we would not have been able to withstand God's presence in all His glory. 'For this reason, the one who was the perfect bread of the Father offered himself to us as milk for children.' Our Lord and Saviour, in this way, re-builds the broken bridge between divinity and humanity, giving us the opportunity through this milk, of being able to partake of the bread of immortality. (1 Cor 3:2) Through spiritual growth, we can pass through this stage of immaturity and reach the true goal of man - theosis, complete unity with the Source of Life and Love. Christ makes this a reality, and this goal of mankind possible and attainable. 

Sources : 'God and Man', Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
                ' Against Heresies - Book IV, Chapter 38 ' ,  St Irenaeus of Lyon

2 comments:

  1. Where does it mention that this milk is the Divine Body and Blood of Christ? Could you reference that?

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    1. Thank you for your comment Alexandru. I think you have misunderstood the analogy - the presence of God is condensed ( referred to as milk ) as we are not prepared for the 'solid food ' :
      'I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it' ( 1 Cor 3:2)
      St Irenaeus therefore highlights that it is only through Christ, the 'God-man' , that we are able to eventually eat the solid food, and withstand God's presence.

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