My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
MAN’S QUEST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS
"Μακάριοι οι πεινώντες και διψώντες τήν δικαιοσύνην,
ότι αυτοί χορτασθήσονται" (Ματθαίον 5:6).
Μακάριοι είναι εκείνοι, πού μέ σφοδρόν εσωτερικόν πόθον σάν
πεινασμένοι και διψασμένοι επιθυμούν τήν δικαιοσύνην και
τελειότητα, διότι αυτοί θά χορτασθούν δια πλήρος ικανοποιήσεως
τού πόθου των.
"Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they
shall be satisfied" (Matthew 5:6)
Blessed are they, who with a great inner desire is hungering
and thirsting for righteousness and perfection, for their desire shall
Man’s quest for righteousness never ceases. He continues seeking God’s righteousness throughout his earthly life. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ says clearly, " But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). This is the central theme of the Divine Teaching of our Lord. Saint Theophylact writes, "The Kingdom of God is the enjoyment of all that is good. This comes through righteousness. To him who seeks after spiritual things God in His generosity adds that which is needed for physical life."
The Christian must willingly pursue righteousness because this is what means to "hunger and thirst." We are assured by our Savior Jesus Christ that it is the righteous who shall be filled, even here in this earthly and transient life, because all that they possess cannot be taken away from them.
The Orthodox Christian believer cannot be satisfied with what he is now but continues growing and developing spiritually striving for theosis (deification) by the grace of the Holy Spirit. None of the spiritual growth and development is accomplished on his own but by His Divine Creator. The holy Apostle Paul writes, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18).
God the Holy Spirit bestows upon us "liberty" freeing us to have access to Him. Created in His image, we see His uncreated image, the Son "when one turns to the Lord." Saint Paul writes, "Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, THE VEIL IS TAKEN AWAY" (v.16). As we behold Him, we become what we were created to be. Almighty God is eternal, therefore, growing in His image and glory has no limits. We shall ever see God more clearly and ever be "transformed" into His likeness.
In his Letter to the Romans 3:23, Saint Paul writes: "… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." We believe that the ultimate purpose of man’s existence is to attain "the glory of God." The way to God is both perfect righteousness and eternal life. This can only be attained through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who alone lived in complete righteousness. He alone was resurrected to eternal life. Therefore, He alone is our way to God. No person, by virtue of his/her own ability, has the power to be righteous, has the capability to live up to the moral standards of a Righteous God but fall short of the glory of God.
The Orthodox Christian believer participates in the life of God. He or she knows God by uniting in divine activities that the Lord has taught His people i.e., the Mysteries (Sacraments). When the faithful receive the Holy Body and Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ they are united with Christ Himself. Saint Basil the Great writes, "… teach me to perfect holiness in Thy fear that we the clear witness of my conscience I may receive the portion of Thy Holy Things AND MAY BE UNITED WITH THY HOLY BODY AND BLOOD, and have Thee to dwell and remain in me, with the Father and Thy Holy Spirit…". Through grace man is transformed, renewed and saved.
Grace used theologically, is that which radiates frm the hidden essence or nature of God, SUCH AS GRACE, are not created, and allow the believer to enter into a personal relationship with God while preserving the unique character of God, Whose essence always remains hidden from humanity. Prophet Moses was permitted to see the glory of God, His ENERGIES, but was forbidden to gaze on the face of God, His HIDDEN ESSENCE. In Exodos 33:18 we read: "Then God said (to Moses), ‘I will pass before you in My glory, and I will proclaim My name, the Lord… But He said, ‘You CANNOT SEE MY FACE; FOR NO MAN CAN SEE MY FACE AND LIVE…". No person can see THE ESSENCE OF THE Father("My face"), either in this world or in the one to come (John 1:18). But the Son IS ONE IN ESSENCE WITH THE FATHER, AND THEREFORE FULLY SEES AND KNOWS THE FATHER’S ESSENCE.
THEOSIS (DEIFICATION) means we are to become more like God THROUGH HIS GRACE OR DIVINE ENERGIES. In creation, humans were made in the IMAGE and LIKENESS of God (Genesis 1:26) according to human nature. In other words, humanity by nature IS AN ICON OR IMAGE OF GOD: The Divine image is in all humanity. Through sin, however the image and likeness of God WAS MARRED, AND WE FELL. When the Son of God assumed our humanity in the womb of the Ever-Virgin Mary, the process of our being RENEWED IN GOD’S IMAGE AND LIKENESS BEGIN A RE-CREATION PROCESS, BEING RENEWED IN GOD’S IMAGE AND LIKENESS, WE BECOME AS THE HOLY APOSTLE PETER WRITES, "PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE" (2 Peter 1:4).
The Orthodox Christian nourished by the Holy Body and Precious Blood of Christ through the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist, the baptized believer partakes of the grace of God–His strength, His righteousness, His agape–and is enabled to serve Him and glorify Him. Thus we, being human, are being deified.
"Glory Be To GOD