We must cooperate with the Physician of Our Souls
Although imprecise, we often use anthropomorphic language when speaking about God. Thus, we can say that God is like a mother whose sick child is in need of healing, and is not offended by the child’s sickness. Yet, given the truth that God loves His fallen creatures, we can also say that God IS offended by our deliberate turning from the holiness and communion with Him, that we were created for.
Our sickness is a clear sign of the presence of sin, and this sin grieves God. This same God does not merely offer an escape from the eternal bondage of death, but invites us to entrance into life in Christ here and now.
Perhaps we can say that God is scandalized with the state of our soul, like the doctor might be irritated upon hearing the news that his patient has not been taking his prescribed medication. Like the doctor, God has given us a prescription whereby the healing of the darkened nous can begin to take place. Yet our Orthodox Christianity does not hold to the notion that our guilt as sinful creatures translates as punishment for sin, but rather that confession and repentance are seen in therapeutic terms.
We are invited to be restored to His original intent, and reunited with God. In our fallen state, we are invited to be spiritually healed, not sentenced, for salvation is not merely an escape from punishment. God, although He can be anthropomorphically described as a judge, is in reality our physician, and the cure frees us from the eternal bondage of death, and gives us entrance to life in Christ in the here and now.
We are invited to share in God’s divinity, through the action of theosis, whereby we “become as gods”. This ancient teaching of the Church in no way implies we become gods, as the Mormons teach, for God is still God, and we are still His creatures. But it does mean that the Creator Who condescended to take on our humanity, shares His divinity with us.
Theosis is both the transformative process by which we “become as gods”, as well as the goal of that process. The goal is the attainment of union with God, and is brought about by the effects of the purification of mind and body. Theosis is the very purpose of human life, and is achievable only through a cooperation between humans’ activities and God’s uncreated energies (or operations).
With love in Christ,
Photo: The Trinity Lavra of Saint Sergius is located 70 km northeast of Moscow in Sergiev Posad. The Lavra is one of the most important monasteries in all of Russia, and one that I was able to visit in May of 2007.
Tuesday December 4, 2018 / November 21, 2018
28th Week after Pentecost. Tone two.
Nativity (St. Philip’s Fast). Fish Allowed
The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple.
Venerable Columbanus of Bobbio, abbot and founder of Luxeuil Abbey (Gaul) (615) (Celtic & British).
New Martyrs Priest Alexander Khotovitsky of New York (1937), and Priest Alexis Benemansky of Tver (1937).
Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Everlasting Hope”.
The Scripture Readings
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
The Song of Mary
46 And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
56 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.
The Earthly Sanctuary
9 Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; 3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
Limitations of the Earthly Service
6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance;
Mary and Martha Worship and Serve
38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Keeping the Word
27 And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!”
28 But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”