Incarnation

After sin

I’ve decided that, following on from my post, On Gluttony, I’ll try to write something for each of the seven deadly sins. But before I go on talking about sin, I thought it best to first say something about mercy.

In the event of committing a sin, I think the majority of us a) hide ourselves from God in shame, and then b) attempt to justify ourselves with excuses. Both of these are a denial of God’s mercy and a refusal to repent, and must be avoided like the plague. You can see both approaches in the account of Adam and Eve after the fall:

And when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in paradise at the afternoon air, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of paradise. And the Lord God called Adam, and said to him: Where art thou? And he said: I heard thy voice in paradise; and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself. And he said to him: And who hath told thee that thou wast naked, but that thou hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat? And Adam said: The woman, whom thou gavest me to be my companion, gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

Genesis 3:8-12 (DR)

Note that Adam was not hiding his sin, but his nakedness. We become afraid for God to see us as we are and so we hide ourselves from Him, avoiding His presence in our conscience, in silence, and in prayer. We hide ‘amidst the trees of paradise’, distracting ourselves with the various pleasures of creation. Then when He finally finds us, we hide again, this time behind excuses and the sins of others. We are afraid to let God see us naked, because we think He won’t like what He sees.

How can this fear which keeps us separated from God be overcome? I will tell you: He Himself overcomes our shame by getting naked first. At Jesus’s birth and upon the cross, in His incarnation and His death, He gives Himself to the world completely naked, withholding nothing, revealing the deepest depths of Himself. We can reveal ourselves to God, we can trust Him with ourselves, because He has given Himself entirely to us in perfect love, He has placed Himself into our hands. He has said, ‘I am yours’, or rather, ‘This is my body, which is given for you.

So if and when we next sin we must not hide, but without hesitation turn directly to God, ask for His mercy (I recommend saying an Act of Contrition), and trust Him to provide it. There is no use in hiding from God, attempting to justify or save or punish yourself. You will never escape God’s judgment except by surrendering yourself to His mercy. As St Therese of Lisieux wrote:

‘For those who love Him, and after each fault come to ask pardon by throwing themselves into His arms, Jesus trembles with joy.’

God bless you!

The Logos destroys the tyranny of the evil one

The Logos destroys the tyranny of the evil one, who dominates us through deceit, by triumphantly using as a weapon against him the flesh defeated in Adam. In this way he shows that what was once captured and made subject to death now captures the captor: by a natural death it destroys the captor’s life and becomes a poison to him, making him vomit up all those he was able to swallow because he had the power of death. But to humankind it becomes life, like leaven in the dough impelling the whole of nature to rise like dough in the resurrection of life (cf 1 Cor. 5:6-7). It was to confer this life that the Logos who was God became man – a truly unheard of thing – and willingly accepted the death of the flesh.

-St Maximus the Confessor (On the Lord’s Prayer)

Happy Easter! CHRIST IS RISEN!

Merry Christmas! (sorry it’s late)

Sorry for the recent radio silence. There’s no particular reason for it.

I just thought I’d deliver the yearly reminder that on Christmas day, approximately 2,019 years ago, God was born amongst us as a teeny tiny baby. Almighty God hid Himself in the Blessed Virgin’s womb. The Lord God of Hosts was wrapped in swaddling bands. The creator of the universe was nestled up in Joseph’s arms.

It’s true that this post has missed the big day, but the magi are running later still! The divine babe is still newborn, and hasn’t even received His name yet.

We shouldn’t shy away from the absurdity of the Incarnation. Who in their right mind would ever worship a newborn (or even, unborn) baby as the omnipotent creator of all? What kind of God would genuinely become a human, with all of our weakness and suffering and vulnerability? The God who is love would.

Love unites the lover to the beloved. Love condescends. Love is vulnerable. Love is weak. Love is small. Love is dependent. Love is almighty.

God is not a philanthropist, trying to better everyone’s lives from the outside: He is the lover of us, and desires to give Himself to us entirely. He loves us!

Can you imagine if we loved Him like He loves us? Can you imagine how differently we would live? Can you imagine how happy we would be?

May the Christchild bless you!

Mary and the humility of God

Mary honoured and obeyed Jesus, her son, as her God; Jesus honoured and obeyed Mary, His creature, as His mother. In this we can see Mary’s perfect humility, and Jesus’s humility beyond perfection. Mary is as humble as humanly possible, but Jesus is as humble as only God can ever be. Mary is by grace immaculate, sinless, perfect; Jesus is by nature divine, the transcendent source and truth of all perfections.

Still today, in heaven, Mary honours and obeys Jesus, and Jesus honours and obeys Mary. Jesus is still fully human, and the fourth commandment still binds Him in heaven [though not as something external to Himself]. Their reciprocal love, honour and obedience will continue for eternity.

Why should Jesus honour Mary? Why should we honour our mothers? Because without them we would not exist. We owe absolutely everything to our mothers. Absolutely everything.

But how can I suggest that Jesus owes His existence to Mary, His own creature? How can He receive existence from one who receives existence from Him? How can a creature precede its Creator? How can the eternal Word of God depend on a temporal being? But if we deny this, we deny that she is His mother, and in doing so deny that He is truly a human. So how can I say this?

We must realise that the Word was always, eternally, Jesus. God does not suffer change. The eternal Word of God was already Jesus, son of God and son of Mary, before Jesus was conceived in Mary. Before Jesus was born in time, the eternal Word is the Jesus born in time. The gospel says, “And the Word was made flesh”, and while this was an event in time and a change in flesh, it was not an event in eternity or a change in God. The Word was eternally flesh, although that flesh was not always made.

The Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, is the son of Mary, conceived in her in time. Without Mary there is no Jesus. In this way, in being His mother in time, Mary exists from eternity within her Son. But this existence from eternity within the Word is the reason and source of Mary’s creation, and so she exists because of Jesus even more than He does because of her. Mary exists for Jesus.

Still, by God’s grace and humility, Mary is Jesus’s mother. By God’s grace and humility, she is owed honour by God Himself. By God’s grace and humility, she gave life to Life Himself.

Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.

God bless you!

Standing in a waterfall, looking up

He is a waterfall.

He empties Himself every moment,

and is superabundantly full.

He is high up above,

and He is drilling to the depths.

He is always in motion,

always a gift.

He falls down,

and He bursts out.

He is the living water.

Who are we?

We are standing in the waterfall

looking up

and losing ourselves,

drowned under the current.