So, yet another love story unfolded and I was moved to tears. However, alongside, a whole lot of many other emotions emerged. From some kind of affiliation, to anger, to disgust. This left me completely exhausted in my own world once again.
We are suppose to know about death, to know death. Our belief is all about dying to self, dying. Loving God, following Jesus, serving others-these are all about willingness to die to self so that we can put others before us, submission to Jesus, we decrease and God increases. Jesus had to let death happen to him in order for the promise of resurrected life to be fulfilled. Death has to happen so that there is a hope of life after death. And, so because God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, to become man. For our sake, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and buried. He descended into hell. On the third day, He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father, in fulfillment of the Scriptures. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end. Death has its sting on us. Without this Hope, we literally live to die-body, mind and soul. Even with this Hope, it is so easy for us to miss the point. There is only so much we can do to work out the realities of life and death and only if we can search beyond this reality that can we taste and see life beyond death.
St. Athanasius, the great champion of the Faith, especially on the subject of the Incarnation that the Church has ever known and in his lifetime earned the characteristic title of “Father of Orthodoxy”, by which he has been distinguished ever since. He was born in Alexandria in about the year 296, became the bishop of Alexandria in 328.
Extracted two quotations from the writings of Athanasius as follows:
In the likeness of God
We were made “in the likeness of God.” But in course of time that image has become obscured, like a face on a very old portrait, dimmed with dust and dirt.
When a portrait is spoiled, the only way to renew it is for the Subject to come back to the studio and sit for the artist all over again. That is why Christ came–to make it possible for the divine image in man to be recreated. We were made in God’s likeness; we are remade in the likeness of his Son.
To bring about this re-creation, Christ still comes to men and lives among them. In a special way He comes to his Church, His “body”, to show us what the “image of God” is really like.
What a responsibility the Church has, to be Christ’s “body”, showing Him to those who are unwilling or unable to see him in providence, or in creation! Through the Word of God lived out in the Body of Christ they can come to the Father, and themselves be made again “in the likeness of God.”
IF… it is by the sign of the cross and by faith in Christ, that death is trampled underfoot, it is clear that it is Christ Himself and none other who is the Archvictor over death and has robbed it of its power. Death used to be strong and terrible, but now, since the sojourn of the Savior and the death and resurrection of His body, it is despised; and obviously it is by Christ who was mounted on the cross that it has been destroyed and vanquished finally.
Light out of darkness
When the sun rises after the night and the whole world is lit up by it, nobody doubts that it is the sun which has thus shed its light everywhere and driven away the dark. Equally clear is it, since this utter scorning and trampling down of death has ensued upon the Savior’s manifestation in the body and His death on the cross, that it is He Himself who brought death to nought and daily raises monuments to His victory in His own disciples. How can you think otherwise, when you see men naturally weak hastening to death, unafraid at the prospect of corruption, fearless of the descent into Hades, even indeed with eager soul provoking it, not shrinking from tortures, but preferring thus to rush on death for Christ’s sake, rather than to remain in this present life?
If you see with your own eyes men and women and children, even, thus welcoming death for the sake of Christ’s religion, how can you be so utterly silly and incredulous and maimed in your mind as not to realize that Christ, to whom these all bear witness, Himself gives the victory to each, making death completely powerless for those who hold His faith and bear the sign of the cross? No one in his senses doubts that a nake is dead when he sees it trampled underfoot, especially when he knows how savage it used to be; nor, if he sees boys making fun of a lion, does he doubt that the brute is either dead or completely bereft of strength. These things can be seen with our own eyes, and it is the same with the conquest of death. Doubt no longer, then, when you see death mocked and scorned by those who believe in Christ, that by Christ’s death was destroyed, and the corruption that goes with it resolved and brought to end.
Such was a revelation uncovered at such time it was that somehow is lost in how we are interpreting the Word of God and living out our faith in reality today.
Most of us thought we know resurrection, at least from afar, we claim to know. Jesus said He is the resurrection and life and whoever believes in Him, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Him shall never die.” (John 11:25) Do we really believe and are we living in this reality already? Are we supposed to experience resurrected life already while getting caught up with issues and challenges in life? I find myself asking these questions over and again, especially after each Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Such is the love of our Father to us. He gave life, allowed death upon His Son and raised Him up that death no longer is a stronghold for those who believe in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Life is not as pretty as I would love to have but I am blessed because of our Father’s love.
Psalm 34:8 (ESV)
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
(Featured image: Japan, Hakone; April 2016)
His beautiful & relentless love makes a soul relentlessly beautiful.