My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
IN ANTICIPATION OF THE EXALTATION OF THE PRECIOUS CROSS (Part II)
On the Precious and Life-Giving Cross
By Saint Gregory Palamas
The Cross of Christ was mysteriously proclaimed in advance and foreshadowing from generations of old and no one was ever reconciled with God except by the power of the Cross. After our First Parents transgressed against God through the tree in Paradise, sin came to life, but we died, submitting, even before physical death, to the death of the soul, its separation from God. After the transgression we lived in sin and according to the flesh. Sin "is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Romans 8:7-8).
As the holy Apostle says, "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh" (Galatians 5:17). God, however, is Spirit, absolute Goodness and Virtue, and our own spirit is after His image and likeness, although sin has made it good for nothing. So how could anyone at all be spiritually renewed and reconciled with God, unless sin and life according to the flesh had been abolished? The Cross of Christ is this abolition of sin. One of our God-bearing Fathers was asked by an unbeliever if he really believed in Christ crucified. "Yes", he replied, "I believe in Him Who crucified sin." God Himself has borne witness that there were many who were His friends before and after the law when the Cross had not yet been revealed. David, the king, and prophet, says, as if there were definitely friends of God in his day, "How precious also are Thy friends unto me, O God!" (Psalm 139:17 LXX). I shall now show you, if you listen attentively for the love of God, how it was that people were called friends of God before the Cross.
Although the man of sin, the son of lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 2:3), by which I mean the Antichrist, has not yet come, the theologian whom Christ loved says, "Even now, Beloved, there is antichrist" (1 John 2:18). In the same way, the Cross existed in the time of our ancestors, even before it was accomplished. The great Paul teaches us absolutely clearly that Antichrist is among us, even though he has not yet come, saying, "His mystery doth already work in you" (2 Thessalonians 2:7). In exactly the same way Christ's Cross was among our forefathers before it came into being because its mystery was working in them.
Leaving aside Abel, Seth, Enos, Noah, and all those up until Noah who was pleasing to God, and their contemporaries, I shall begin with Abraham, who was called the father of man nations, the Jew's father after the flesh and ours by faith. As I am to start with this spiritual father of ours, his good beginning and God's initial call to him, what were the first words God spoke to him? "Get thee out of thy country, and form they kindred, unto a land that I will show thee" (Genesis 12:1). This utterance certainly bears within it the mystery of the Cross, for it is exactly what Paul says when he glories in the Cross: "The world is crucified unto me" (Galatians 6:14). When someone had fled his home country of the world without turning back, for him his country according to the flesh and the world have been put to death and ceased to exist, and this is the Cross...
The first mystery of the Cross is a flight from the world, and parting from our relatives according to the flesh, if they are a hindrance to piety and devout life, and training our body, which Paul tells us is of some value (1 Timothy 4:8). In these ways, the world and sin are crucified to us, once we have fled them. According to the second mystery of the Cross, however, we are crucified to the world and the passions, once they have fled from us. It is not, of course, possible for them to leave us completely and not be at work in our thoughts unless we attain to the contemplation of God. When, through action, we approach contemplation and cultivate and cleanse our inner man, searching for the Divine treasure which we ourselves have hidden, and considering the Kingdom of God within us, then it is that we crucify ourselves to the world and the passions. Through meditation of this, a certain warmth is born in our heart, which cleanses away evil thoughts like flies, instills spiritual peace and consolation in our soul, and bestows sanctification on our body.
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God