"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
C. S. Lewis

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Redeemed By Divine love




St. Isaac the Syrian Speaking on the Incarnation

G
od the Lord surrendered His own Son to death on the cross for the fervent love of creation.... Yet this was not because He could not redeem us in another way, but so that His surpassing love, manifested hereby, might be a teacher unto us. And by the death of His Only-begotten Son He made us near to Himself. Yea, if He had had anything more precious, He would have given it to us, so that by it our race might be His own. Because of His great love for us it was His pleasure not to do violence to our freedom, although He is able to do so, but He chose that we should draw near to Him by the love of our understanding. For the sake of His love for us and obedience to His Father, Christ joyfully took upon Himself insult and sorrow.... In like manner, when the saints become perfect, they all attain to this perfection, and by the superabundant outpouring of their love and compassion on all men, they resemble God.

The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian, D. Miller, trans (Boston, Mass, 1984) 77.

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If zeal had been appropriate for putting humanity right, why did God the Word clothe Himself in the body, using gentleness and humility in order to bring the world back to His Father? And why was He stretched out on the cross for the sake of sinners, handing over His sacred body to suffering on behalf of the world? I myself say that God did all of this for no other reason than to make known to the world the love that He has, His aim being that we, as a result of our greater love arising from an awareness of this, might be captivated by His love when He provided the occasion of this manifestation of the Kingdom of Heaven’s mighty power—which consists in love—by means of the death of His Son.”

Saint Isaac the Syrian, Gnostic Chapters IV, 78.

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[The Incarnation and death on the Cross of the Savior happened] “not to redeem us from sins, or for any other reason, but solely in order that the world might become aware of the love which God has for His creation. Had all this astounding affair taken place solely for the purpose of forgiveness of sin, it would have been sufficient to redeem us by some other means.... What wisdom is God’s! And how filled with life! Now you can understand and realize why the coming of our Lord took place with all the events that followed it, even to the extent of His telling the purpose quite clearly out of His own holy mouth: ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son’—referring to the Incarnation and the renewal He brought about.”

Saint Isaac the Syrian, Gnostic Chapters IV, 78.

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Therefore, it was the love of God, and not the necessity of redeeming humanity from sin, which was the sole reason for the Incarnation of the Word. God became man because he wanted human beings to turn to Him as their Father. 

Hilarion Alfeyev, The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian (Collegeville, Minnesota: Cistercian Publications, 2009) p. 53.

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“When the entire extent of creation had abandoned and forgotten God and had perfected themselves in every kind of wickedness, of His own will and without any supplication or request from elsewhere He came down to their abode and lived among them in their body just as one of them, and with a love exalted beyond knowledge or description by any created being, He begged them to turn back to Himself, showing them concerning the glorious establishment of the world to come, having intended before all worlds to introduce felicity such as this for creation: He informed them of its existence and forgave them all the sins which they had previously committed, and confirmed this good will by means of authoritative signs and wonders, and the revelation to them of His Mysteries; and finally He has stooped down so far that He is willing to be called ‘Father’ of sinful human nature, dust from the earth, despicable human beings, flesh and blood: can these things be performed without great love?”

Isaac of Nineveh (Isaac the Syrian): The Second Part, Chapters 4-41, Sebastian Brock, trans. (Louvain: Peeters, 1995) 40, 14.

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