Monday, November 18, 2013

The Importance of the Incarnation

One of the many criticisms directed against the Orthodox Faith and her adherents is that it places way too much emphasis on the Incarnation of the Lord when it should be more or exclusively centered upon the Lord's Cross and Crucifixion.  I find it fascinating then that those who make such criticisms even bother to celebrate the Christmas season since its focus is on the Lord's appearance in the flesh.   The other problem is that those who make such criticisms are stuck in an "either...or" mentality.  Pascha and Christmas embrace one another in the Orthodox faith.  One cannot be without the other.

The Scriptures and the hymnography of the Church are replete with many examples of how Christ is consubstantial with His creation, namely, us humans.  Although many of the early battles over orthodox doctrine centered upon whether Christ was consubstantial with the Father, Christ's consubstantiality with His creation was not and cannot be simply forgotten.  It is the very foundation for our salvation, which is more than simply a declaration of forgiveness, but is an ontological reality in which we are made, by grace, one with the one who created us.

With this "both...and" approach instead of the "either...or", as we begin the long march towards Bethlehem let us also have our sights set on Calvary. 

Jesus lay as an infant int he cavern in the reign of Caesar Augustus that He might lay in the tomb under Pontius Pilate.  He was hounded by Herod that He might be caught by Caiphas.  He was buried in baptism that He might descend into death by the Cross.  He was worshiped by wise men that the whole of creation might adore Him in His triumph over death.  The Pascha of His cross was prepared by the Pascha of His Coming. The Pascha of His Resurrection was begun by the Pascha of His Incarnation.  The Pascha of His Glorification was foretold by the Pascha of His Baptism.--Fr. Thomas  Hopko, The Winter Pascha, p. 11

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