Hebrews 11.33 – 12.2

Matthew 10.32 – 33, 37 – 38, 19.27 – 30

Having beheld the resurrection of Christ, His Ascension, and the joy of Pentecost, we have seen the true theological vision of the world and of human nature and destiny. In the Church, in the risen and glorified Body of Christ, we have seen the True Light, we have found the true Faith, we have received the heavenly Spirit. We need to engrave this vision in our mind and heart so that it is this vision and not the godless visions of the world that are guiding us ‘into Galilee,’ into our everyday life. With this vision before us, we keep to the path of the New Exodus seen by the prophets. This is the Path blazed through hell by the LORD Jesus Christ, the ‘pioneer of our salvation.’ It is this ascending Path of the LORD’s Ascension that guides us through Galilee and through the desert of this life to the ‘outlet of the sea’—to our death ‘in the flesh’ and out into the deep beyond all things, out into the Kingdom of Heaven.  

In the Church, we see where this Path would take us. For Christ Himself is the Path; and He is now seated at the Right Hand of the Father where He was before. But now He sits at the Father’s Right Hand in the garment of our human nature, which He deified and suffused with the uncreated Light of His divine nature in the mystery of His Incarnation, His death and burial and Holy Resurrection.

The WORD of God incarnate, the LORD Jesus Christ, is the New Adam come forth into the world from the Virgin Mary Theotokos, the New Eve, His Living Temple. In the radiant beauty of the New Eve and the New Adam, we see Man as he was when God created him, male and female, in His own Image and Likeness. We see Man, male and female, as the LORD’s Holy Temple filled with the Glory of God. And in Christ’s Ascension, we see Man’s true destiny. He was made for immortality in the image of God’s own eternity. (Wisd 2.23) In the Incarnation, we see the Son of God putting on our human nature as His garment; and in Pentecost, which is the mystery of Holy Baptism, we see the children of flesh and blood putting on Christ, clothing themselves in the Robe of Light, the ‘wedding garment,’ the new wineskin of the LORD’s divinity so that they are now able to receive the LORD’s New Wine, the Living Waters of His Holy Spirit.

Again, this gives us occasion to ponder the mystery of ‘Woman,’ a most critical issue today because of the malice of the serpent and his lackeys who seek to devour her, and with her, the man and the family. We are describing our nature and destiny revealed in the Church. We were created by God to be His beloved Bride, to become bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh. That could not happen without the Woman, for it is from Her that God was able to become bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh in His Incarnation of the Virgin and the Holy Spirit. And so, towards this purpose, we see God crowning His creation in the beginning by ‘building’ the woman from Adam’s rib; and we see the sweep of Israel’s history crowned in the birth of the Virgin, by whom God became bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh. Then, we see the ‘crowning’ of the LORD’s Incarnation when the Church—His Heavenly Bride—comes forth as blood and water, as New Wine, as ‘Living Water,’ from His rib on the Cross (Jn 19.34); and this is crowned by Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit comes down from Heaven like the prophets’ Snow-melt River coming down from Heaven, like the Blood and Water coming down to the earth from the LORD’s rib high and lifted up on the Cross. Resting on the disciples in the form of fiery tongues, the mirror image of the Spirit resting on the LORD Jesus in the Jordan, the Spirit fills to overflowing the disciples with the LORD’s New Wine, His Living Waters, and the Church, the risen and glorified Body of Christ, is conceived in them. Now they come forth from the Upper Room and, like the Mighty Snow-Melt River of the prophets, they go forth into all the world, raising children of flesh and blood from the dead in Holy Baptism, regenerating them as children of God. Without the Woman, then, without the Holy Virgin Mary, the Son of God could not have become bone of our bones, flesh of our flesh, and we could not realize the ‘logos’ of our nature and destiny as partakers of the divine nature (2 Pt 1.4), bone of God’s bones and flesh of God’s flesh.

Through the Woman, the Virgin Mary Theotokos, God became flesh, and in the flesh He received from Her, He was made able to give Himself up, voluntarily, on the Cross and to destroy our death from inside our core. He cleansed our heart of all ‘perverse [crooked--scholioi] thoughts,’ malice, deceit, and unrighteousness. In the flesh He received from the Woman, He ascended in Glory and cleansed our body of all sin, death and corruption. He enlightened our darkened soul. (Wisd 1.1-5) Now, in Christ Jesus, the New Adam, the Holy Spirit no longer flees our human nature. He rests on it, He overshadows it with His Glory, He fills it and makes it radiant with the fresh fragrance of eternal life, He sanctifies it, He deifies it. In Christ, the New Adam, our human nature is now divine; it is suffused with the uncreated Light of God like the bush that burned and was not consumed (Ex 3.4), like a sponge suffused with ‘Living Water.’ Having become the nature of God the WORD, our nature is filled with God and has become all Fire, all Light. In the human nature of Christ, the incarnate God, the True Light shines, the Light the darkness cannot extinguish, the Light in which is the Life of men, the Holy Spirit, and which death cannot destroy for in our human body, the LORD God, Jesus Christ, has destroyed death by His death and given life to those in the tombs.

Now, from the Father’s Right Hand, the LORD Jesus Christ sends down His Holy Spirit upon all those who receive Him. And those who receive Him become children of God, born not of blood nor the will or desire of the flesh, nor the will or desire of the male, but of the Holy Spirit. And in the Holy Spirit, we are given the strength to take up our cross and to follow the LORD Jesus into Galilee, into our everyday life, on the Path that ascends to heaven and brings us into the ‘Land of our inheritance,’ the Kingdom of Heaven.

Having received such a gift, if we choose to love the biological life of our earthly family, how are we ‘worthy’ of Christ? The ‘living waters’ of our earthly family come from the dust and return to the dust. In those waters, our desire for every good thing is never filled. But, the Living Waters of the Church, the Body of Christ, are the Holy Spirit. They conceive in our heart the Seed of Christ and we are born anew as children of God; and in the Holy Spirit we may become theotokoi, mothers of God.

In the Church, our city is not here; it’s there. Our inheritance is not some ancestral property handed down to us. It is the Land, which is Christ Himself, seated at the Father’s Right Hand. Our ‘nation’ is not of the world, whose earth is filled with the bones of dead ancestors. Our nation is the Kingdom of Heaven filled with the saints. There are no cemeteries there. For the grave of the Church is the Baptismal Font, filled with the Living Waters of Christ’s Holy Spirit. All who die in the Living Waters of the Church, the Body of Christ, are united to the LORD seated at the Father’s Right Hand in the likeness of His death and resurrection. In the Church, there is nothing to separate us from the love of God. For the Church is the mystery of Christ, the union of God and Man in the Woman, the Virgin ‘Mother of us all’ (Gal 4.26), in whom God became bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh so that we, through Her, become bone of God’s bones, flesh of His flesh in the Image of Christ, in whom we came to be (Col 1.15).

If we live in this Icon drawn in our minds by the brush of the Church’s Scriptures, prayers, hymns, doctrines, writings of the holy fathers, and lives of the saints, this Icon will live in us; and we will live and move and have our being in Light and Life, justice and mercy. For this Icon of the Church is Christ Himself. In this Icon, we find the True Faith; we see the True Light; we receive the Heavenly Spirit, the Life of Christ that is the Light of men. In that Light, we see who we are and why we are: we are children of God, raised from death to life in order to live in the Grace of Our LORD Jesus Christ, the Love of God the Father and the Communion of the Holy Spirit. Amen!