My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
OUR PLACE IN THE WORLD AND THE HOPE OF THE WORLD
By Father Anthony Alevizopoulos
Ph.D. of Theology, Ph.D. of Philosophy
The entire world is God’s creation and therefore it is BY NATURE GOOD; evil does not have an ontological existence. Natural evil IS THE RESULT OF DISCORD WHICH WAS CREATED AFTER MAN’S FALL; even death is a means of educating man IN ORDER TO LEAD HIM BACK IN COMMUNION WITH GOD. Moral evil, sin (amartia), does not have its cause in man’s nature, BUT IN MAN’S DISPOSITION.
Through man’s fall, all of nature was dragged into servitude to corruption. God, however, in the Person of the Incarnate Logos/Word entered into the reality of the world and renewed it. By His death, Resurrection, and Ascension, He led man, whom He had assumed, TO THE LIFE OF INCORRUPTION AND IMMORTALITY, AND He EXALTED HIM TO THE HEIGHT OF THE GLORY OF GOD THE Father.
This glory, which during the Second Coming of our Lord shall become our possession, is prefigured in the life of the Church, and especially in the life of the Saints. The bodies of the Saints, the sacred relics, are surrounded by the sanctifying grace of God and become A SOURCE OF DIVINE BLESSINGS AND MIRACLES (IV Kings 13:21; Wisdom of Sirach 18:14). The grace, honor, and glory which God grants to the holy relics of the Saints CONSTITUTE A FORETASTE AND PREDEPICTION OF MAN’S TRANSFIGURATION AND THAT OF ALL CREATION. The same grace surrounds the Saints even during this life and can be discerned in some AS WARTHM, IN OTHERS AS LIGHT, OR THROUGH VARIOUS MIRACULOUS ENERGIES, WHICH ARE BLESSINGS FOR MAN. EVEN MATERIAL OBJECTS IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH BEAR GOD’S GRACE.
The PRESENCE OF GOD’S GRACE and GLORY in man and in the material creation PREFIGURES THE LIBERATION OF ALL OF CREATION FROM SERVITUDE TO CORRUPTION AND GUARANTEES THE CERTAINTY OF OUR HOPE IN LIFE AND INCORRUPTION. The world’s SANCTIFICATION was also wrought in the Jordan River during our Lord’s Baptism. The hymn of our Church on the day of Epiphany and the prayers of the Great Sanctification of the Waters reveal THE NEW REALITY OF THE WORLD: "TODAY the earth and the sea share in the world’s joy and the world is filled with gladness", states the prayer of Saint Sophronios of Jerusalem.
Christ hallowed the waters of the Jordan, the banks of the river, and all creation: "You, O Lord, being baptized in the Jordan did sanctify its waters"; "having hallowed the waters of the Jordan You did crush the power of sin"; "TODAY creation is enlightened; TODAY all things rejoice, the heavenly together with the earthly", states the hymnology of our Church.
Through the participation of the material creation in the Divine worship of the Church and in the praise and doxology of God, the hope of INCORRUPTION IS EXPRESSED. In the Divine Liturgy, all of creation is taken on and BECOMES A NEW CREATION IN CHRIST. IT IS THE BREAD AND WINE THAT BECOMES THE Body and Blood of Christ, the candles, the icons, the Holy Cross; and ALL THE MATERIAL OBJECTS PARTICIPATE IN SOME WAY IN TEH Divine Liturgy. The WATER, THE OIL, THE INCENSE, THE PALMS, THE FLOWERS, AND EVEN THE NEW HARVEST OF THE CROPS OF THE EARTH ARE BLESSED, AND THE WHOLE WORLD REGAINS THAT WHICH IT LOST THROUGH MAN’S FALL: INTERNAL UNITY, THE CORRECT RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, WHICH IS AN EUCHARISTIC RELATIONSHIP, A RELATIONSHIP OF OFFERING IN WHICH ALL THINGS ARE REFERRED UP AND OFFERED TO GOD, WHO BECOMES ONCE AGAIN THE CENTER OF THE WORLD.
The UNITY of the entire creation which offers up "WITH ONE MOUTH" DOXOLOGY TO THE Triune God is expressed at the end of the prayer for the Great Blessing of the Waters: "…THAT WITH THE ELEMENTS, AND MEN, AND ANGELS AND WITH ALL THINGS VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE THEY MAY MAGNIFY THY MOST HOLY NAME, TOGETHER WITH THE Father, and the Holy Spirit, now ane ever and unto ages of ages. Amen." Man THUS FORESAKES HIS AUTONOMY AND HIS EGOTISTIC USE OF GOD’S CREATION; HE ONCE AGAIN FINDS HIS CORRECT PLACE IN THE WORLD AND HIS "ROYAL" AND "PRIESTLY" MINISTRY (Genesis 1:28; 2:15).
The Christian DOES NOT REJECT THE WORLD, NOR DOES HE CONSIDER IT TO BE NEGATIVE. He is NOT called to abandon the world, but TO SERVE OR LITURGIZE IN IT. Christ wants His faithful to be in the world; to be "THE SALT OF THE EARTH" and "THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD" (Matthew 5:13-14). If our world is "TASTELESS AND UNSALTED" AND IN DARKNESS, IF IT FOLLOWS A PROCESS OF DISINTEGRATION, THEN THIS MEANS THAT CHRISTIANS DO NOT SERVE "AS THE SALT OF THE EARTH" AND THE "LIGHT OF THE WORLD". WE MUST NOT THEN LOOK FOR THE CAUSE OF THE WORLD’S MISFORTUNE IN OTHERS.
This place that the Christians hold in the world implies RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE PRESERVATION AND THE SANCTIFICATION OF GOD’S CREATION, A TASK WHICH STEMS FROM THE SERVICE WHICH GOD INTRUSTED TO MAN IN PARADISE ("…to cultivate and preserve", Genesis 2:15). A Christian CANNOT BE INDIFFERENT TO THE WORLD’ PROBLEMS; HE MUST LABOR TO BRING THE WORLD ONCE AGAIN BACK TO ITS DOXOLOGICAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. THIS MEANS THAT THE USE OF THE WORLD CANNOT HAVE AS ITS CENTER THE SATISFACTION OF MAN’S EGO AND THE "NEEDS" THAT MAN CONSTANTLY CREATES.
The TRUE BELIEVER does not attribute absolute and exclusive value to the needs of this life nor to man’s abilities. He does not intervene in God’s creation in an autonomous way, independent of God’s will, and egocentrically; he feels THAT HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR CREATION. He does not seek knowledge and use of God’s creation "UNCONDITIONALLY". The faithful do not use the powers of the world in a manner not blessed by God and contrary to the balance and harmony in the creation and to the unity of God’s world.
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
+ + +
With agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry)
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George