These weeks of the Pre-Lenten and Lenten season have given us the images of an array of individual puzzle pieces: Desire and Faith; Humility and Repentance; Judgment, and Forgiveness; Icons and the Kat’oikon Ecclesia; Theosis and Hesychasm; The Cross; The Ladder of Divine Ascent; and finally Metanoia. These are all vivid pieces that constitute our Orthodox Christian Identity, the theme of the puzzle. The puzzle pieces have been placed in their proper positions. A total image appears, the Icon of the Resurrection; but is it visible to us? If not, we need to incorporate these puzzle pieces in our lives for the final image to become clearer. We have to ask ourselves a number of questions:
- Do we love Jesus; really love Jesus Christ?
- Do we appreciate Him?
- Do we live for the things for which He stands?
- Do we live a consecrated Orthodox Christian Life?
- Are we faithful to His Church with our attendance?
- Are we doing our best for Him?
- Do we tell others what He has done for us and what He can do it for them?
- Do we put Christ first in every relationship: home, school, business, and social life?
If we don’t do these things the final image is not visible to us.
According to St. Athanasios, Christ, “the perfect image of the Father” came to publicly destroy death. In His incorruption and immortality, He brings mankind to incorruption through the Resurrection. St. Cyril of Alexandria saw Christ as “the divine man from heaven who purchases humanity’s life by His death” and transforms us in His image by His resurrection. St. Paul advises in his Epistle to the Colossians, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting…put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created Him.” (Col. 3:1, 10)
Christ lived and set an example for us in His life. He died for our sins. Are we aware of this? He arose and lives. He is coming someday and we are to meet Him and give an account of our lives to Him. Are we ready for that day? On that day He will be the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He will have all power on Heaven and on earth. Are we ready to meet such a God? If not we must repent of our sins, put our faith in Him, follow Him and live our life at its best for Him.
“This is the Day of Resurrection. Let us offer to God a sacrifice – which is ourselves. Let us, as His most precious acquisition, give to the Image (God), that which was created in His image. Let us acknowledge our worth. Let us revere the Archetype. Let us come to understand the power of the mystery and who it is for whom Christ died.”, (St. Gregory of Nazianzus On the Holy Pasch, Sermon 2).
The Church invites us to participate in the events of Holy Week, which are very real for us as Orthodox Christians. Holy Week is not a week to merely commemorate, observe or symbolize. It is a challenge to experience that which Christ experienced, to participate in His sufferings, Death and Burial, and be victorious with Him in the Resurrection. This requires a spirited and conscious attempt by us to share in the love of God for spiritual growth of our Orthodox Christian Identity. We are called upon to take up our Cross and follow Christ in a very real way, enduring all that Christ endured so that we may be renewed in His Resurrectional image and triumphant with Him.
A Blessed Holy Week and Resurrection to us all!