06 - Already the Resurrection, Oct 10, 2010

Galatians 1:11-19

Luke 7:11-16

Beloved faithful, the Good News of the Gospel reveals to you the glory of your calling in Jesus Christ. Baptized into Christ, you have been put to death at the spiritual core of your being; except that, at the spiritual core of your being you were already dead, as St Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians: “You were dead in your trespasses and your sins; you were walking (or living) in them according to the life (aion) of this world.” If, then, in your baptism into Christ you have been put to death at the spiritual core of your being when you were already dead there, then it is your spiritual death that has been put to death in the mystery of Christ. And if in your spiritual core, your spiritual death has been put to death in Christ, then in your spiritual core you have been made alive in Christ in a resurrection like His. That is to say, in your spiritual core, the Seed of Christ’s Holy Spirit has been sown – the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. There is now in your spiritual core the spiritual Seed of Christ’s Resurrection. This Seed carries a Life that is not the biological life of human sexuality, nor some intellectual life of the mind, nor the psychic life of the soul. It is a different life altogether. It is not of the flesh, nor the will, the desire, or the blood of man. It is of God’s Holy Spirit. Glory to Jesus Christ – it is the very uncreated and immortal Life of the Holy Trinity that has been sown in you body and soul through your Holy Baptism!

When you were baptized, you were united to Him who is Life and whose Life is the Light that shines in the darkness of the world, illumining the world in the knowledge of God. This Light of Christ is not the light of the sun and moon. It is Christ Himself, the Son of God who is of one essence with the Father, Light of Light, true God of true God.

When your spiritual death was put to death at the core of your being in Holy Baptism, and when you were raised up into the likeness of Christ’s Holy Resurrection, you were raised up into the uncreated Life of God that is not of this world. The Word of God became flesh and filled His human flesh with His uncreated Light so that it glowed with the uncreated Life of the Holy Spirit. The Robe of Light with which you were clothed in your baptism is an icon of Christ’s deified humanity that you “put on” in your baptism, to show that at your spiritual core you were refashioned in the image and likeness of God, the image and likeness that are the very Person of Christ Himself. Your spiritual death having been put to death in your union with Christ, you were raised up to newness of life in Christ. That newness of life is the Life of the Holy Trinity, with which you were sealed in your Holy Chrismation by the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

Because this uncreated Life of God whose Seed is now in you is not of the world, it cannot be grasped in a worldly way. You cannot see or understand it in a worldly way. You most certainly cannot produce or manufacture or manipulate it whether by your mind, your sentimental feelings, or your body. You can only receive it in the spirit of repentance, in faith and in love. The spirit of repentance is a hunger and thirst for righteousness, i.e., for the uncreated life and light of God. The spirit of repentance is an ardent longing to know the Wisdom of God and no longer the wisdom of one’s own opinions or the wisdom of man. If this spirit of repentance is absent, we will never see this vision of the Gospel because we will not be able to receive it. Our heart will be stony and hard and will repel the Seed of Christ’s Holy Spirit; because the Spirit is given only to those who want it. In hardness of heart, we become deluded. We easily mistake the wisdom of our own opinion for the Wisdom of God; we take our sentimental feelings or some emotional rush for the Holy Spirit. In this self-righteous mistake borne of our spiritual pride, we will be buried even more deeply in spiritual darkness and death – even as the uncreated Light of Christ is shining all around us in the mystery of His Holy Church.

This morning’s Gospel is actually a set-up for the inquiry of St JnBapt asking if Jesus is the Messiah, or if he should be looking for another. John the Baptist was in prison. His disciples reported to him in prison all the things that Jesus was doing, including this miracle of rising the widow’s only son from the dead. According to St John Chrysostom, St John asks if Jesus is the Messiah, the One who is to come not for himself but for the sake of his disciples. Jesus answers them not by words but by deeds. In that very hour, says St Luke, Jesus healed many from sickness and disease, He cast out evil spirits and He gave sight to the blind. In doing this, Jesus was showing the disciples of St John that He was indeed the Messiah, because He was doing all the things that the prophets said the Messiah would do.

But, there’s more to it than that. Jesus is the Messiah who is to come because He is the Son of God for whose sake the world was made. The world was made in Christ and it was made for Christ. The sin of man, which plunged the world into the darkness of death and corruption, did not cancel the purpose for which God made the world in the beginning. He made the world so that His Son, the Word of God, could become flesh, and to give to man the joy of becoming a partaker of the divine nature.

According to the liturgical movement of “Church time”, we are now moving from the birth of the Theotokos to the birth of Christ, Christmas. In the birth of the Theotokos, the Light of the mystery of the world that was hidden in God from before the foundation of the world has dawned. It has dawned in the birth of the Theotokos because she is the one who was foreordained from before the foundation of the world to be the Mother of God. Her birth means that the Lord’s coming in the flesh and the Day of the world’s perfection has come; for she is the one through whom the Uncreated and Timeless One, Christ, the Word of God, would unite Himself to His Creation in space-time and become flesh and dwell among us and so fulfill the purpose of the world’s creation, the meaning of our existence: to unite Himself to us that we might unite ourselves to God through His Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord, that we might become partakers of the divine nature and live in God as communicants of life eternal.

At this time in the liturgical Church year, Christ is not yet born; He is not yet manifest. But, He is even so among us in the womb of the Blessed Theotokos. Even though Christmas is weeks away, already the joy of His resurrection is dawning for us, even as He is looking to the agony of His Cross. For, the raising of the widow’s son looks very much like an icon of Christ’s Holy Pascha, when Christ, the only Son of the Virgin Mother submits in obedience to the will of the Father even to the point of death on the Cross, and is raised in glory in the Life of the Holy Spirit and in the Joy of finding Adam and Eve in hell, and raising them with Himself in His Holy Resurrection.

And this is the joy that is set before us as we take up our cross here at the beginning of the Church’s liturgical year and begin making our way to Christmas and then to Holy Pascha. As we unite ourselves to Christ in taking up our cross and walking the way of the Church, we are even now beginning to partake of the divine nature. We are even now granted to taste the joy of Christ’s Holy Resurrection, even as we suffer the agony of our cross.

In that joy, we move through the liturgical year of the Church celebrating the moments of our salvation, the moments of our deliverance from the darkness of sin and death and corruption, in the Feasts of the Church. Each of those feasts is a mystical gate that opens onto the spiritual reality of the Gospel that the Church preaches and teaches. As we prepare ourselves through prayer and fasting and practicing Christ’s Holy commandments to participate in the joy of each of the feasts, we are cultivating that Seed of the Spirit whose uncreated Life and Light were sown in our souls and bodies at our baptism like a seed in the field. In this way, we prepare ourselves for the moment of our own death, which becomes in our union with Christ our own pascha, the completion, the perfection of the death of our death, and our passing over in the resurrection of Christ from this world into the Kingdom of Heaven. This is how our whole worldly life can be transfigured into a daily participation in the uncreated Life of God, and our drawing near to the Holy Eucharist of the Church in the fear of God, with faith and in love, becomes truly for us already a mystical partaking of the divine nature in the joy and in the love of Christ our Lord and Savior, to the glory of God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Amen. Glory to Jesus Christ! Most Holy Theotokos, save us!