Monday, April 21, 2014

Day without night

I saw that there was no temple in the City since the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb were themselves the Temple, and the City did not need the sun or the moon for light, since it was lit by the radiant glory of God and the Lamb was a lighted torch for it. The pagan nations will live by its light and the kings of the earth will bring it their treasures. The gates of it will never be shut by day, and there will be no night there…
Revelation 21:22-25 Jerusalem Bible

The whole of the message of Christ is contained and taught in two yearly feasts: Christmas, the nativity of Christ, at the time of the winter solstice, and Easter, Pascha, the resurrection of Christ, at the time of the spring equinox. This isn’t the Church taking over two pagan religious festivals and converting them into Christian ones. This is Nature itself pointing to the truths of faith and existence given a place within the New Creation, demonstrating that there is only Christ, who is in all, and in whom all ‘live and move and have their being’ (cf. Acts 17:28).

The world wants to localize these holidays, wants to contain them within calendar dates, wants to milk us for money as ants stroke and milk their aphids for nectar, giving us short respites between ‘holidays’, between milkings, so we can sufficiently recover. It doesn’t matter to the world whether the holidays are real or not. We tend to blame commercialism for spoiling the holidays, especially Christmas but to a lesser extent Easter, but it’s not their fault. ‘It’s not against human enemies that we struggle, but against fallen spiritual powers’ (cf. Ephesians 6:12).

So, they make Christmas end with a splash of presents and crumpled, glittering wrapping paper on the afternoon of December 25th, and they’d just as soon like to see Easter disappear under mountains of discarded candy boxes and deflowered Easter lilies: all very valuable and costly in the days leading up to the holiday, and suddenly transformed by studied consumption into garbage before sundown of the Lord’s Passover. Just as there is no mention of the birth of the God-Man during official Christmas, there is no mention of His resurrection during official Easter.

For the disciples of Jesus Christ whom He has ‘set free like birds from the fowler’s net’ (cf. Psalm 124), the great and holy Pascha does not disappear after the day of Resurrection, nor does the God-Man’s taking birth from the Theotokos retreat into mere myth and folklore after the day of Incarnation: These holidays are not days that inhabit one number on the world calendar. They are not days at all, as we experience them, but entrances into the Divine Nature, into the life eternal, the life of the Holy Triad, which begins in time but proves to contain even time itself.

In Christ’s birth, God becomes Man, not once, but forever, taking human nature up into the Divine Nature, divinizing the whole Tree that Man is, Himself one of us, by hanging on that Tree as its first fruit.

In Christ’s resurrection, Man becomes God, not once, but forever, reopening to us the gates of Paradise, a Serpent raised on a stake, inviting us to partake of the Fruit of the tree of life, renewing all creation.

In Christ’s birth, the two greatest commandments, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself’ (Luke 10:27) become One commandment: to love your neighbor is to love God, thus brotherly love is theological.

In Christ’s resurrection, His entire life as Man becomes the pattern of our life, and only by following Him, by doing what we see Him doing, ‘Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill’ (Matthew 5:17), can we fulfill the One commandment, becoming by grace what He is by nature.

Tradition mandates twelve days to celebrate the birth of Christ, and after the day of His resurrection an entire week is gathered up into a single liturgical day, and a total of forty calendar days will hear the greeting ‘Christ is risen! He is truly risen!’ But after celebration, life must go on. We still must live our day to day lives. Tomorrow, I must return to the office and deal with what I find there, pretending to be ‘only human’ when I know by the testimony of His rising from the dead, that Christ is with me, even as He stands in the Presence of His Father, for He says ‘where I am, there will My servant be also’
(John 12:26).

In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus: His state was divine, yet He did not cling to His equality with God but emptied Himself to assume the conditions of a slave, and became as all men are; and being as all men are, He was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. But God raised Him high and gave Him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:5-11 Jerusalem Bible

This, beloved brethren, is the Day of Resurrection,
the Day without night,
the Life without death,
and the Love without end.

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