Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Very Path of Glory

Dear Parish Faithful,

Here is another excerpt from the remarkable essay, “Redemption,” from the great Orthodox theologian, Fr. Georges Florovsky (+1979), as we prepare again to stand at the foot of the Cross as we move through Great and Holy Week:

Whatever may be our interpretation of the Agony in the Garden, one point is perfectly clear. Christ was not a passive victim, but the Conqueror, even in His uttermost humiliation. He knew that this humiliation was no mere endurance or obedience, but the very path of Glory and of the ultimate victory.

Nor does the idea of Divine justice alone, justitia vindicativa, reveal the ultimate meaning of the sacrifice of the Cross. The mystery of the Cross cannot be adequately presented in terms of the transaction, the requital, or the ransom. If the value of the death of Christ was infinitely enhanced by His Divine Personality, the same also applies to the whole of His life. All His deeds have an infinite value and significance as the deeds of the Incarnate Word of God. And they cover indeed superabundantly both all misdeeds and sinful shortcomings of the fallen human race.

Finally, there could hardly be any retributive justice in the Passion and death of the Lord, which might possibly have been in the death of a mere man, graciously supported by the Divine help because of his faithfulness and endurance. This death was the suffering of the Incarnate Son of God Himself, the suffering of unstained human nature already deified by its assumption into the hypostasis (i.e. Person) of the Word.

Nor is this to be explained by the idea of a substitutional satisfaction, the satisfactio vicaria of the scholastics. Not because substitution is not possible. Christ did indeed take upon himself the sin of the world. But because God does not seek the sufferings of anyone, He grieves over them. How could the penal death of the Incarnate, most pure and undefiled, be the abolition of sin, if death itself is the wages of sin, and if death exists only in the sinful world? Does Justice really restrain Love and Mercy, and was the crucifixion needed to disclose the pardoning love of God, otherwise precluded from manifesting itself by the restraint of vindicatory justice? If there was any restraint at all, it was rather a restraint of love.

From Vol. Three of The Collected Works of Fr. Georges Florovsky, p. 101-102.

Also, a recent meditation of mine has been posted on the site Orthodoxy Today. If you have yet to read it, and as it concerns the Cross, you may want to take a look at it in this Holy Week leading up to the Cross. ~ Fr. Steven

One Must Stand by the Cross with Sober Vigilance

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