Thursday, April 5, 2012

"The unassumed is unhealed."

A second glimpse is given us at the Crucifixion, when Christ cries out with a loud voice, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46). Once again, full weight should be given to these words. Here is the extreme point of Christ's desolation, when he feels abandoned not only by men but by God. We cannot begin to explain how it is possible for one who is himself the living God to lose awareness of the divine presence. But this at least is evident. In Christ's Passion there is no play-acting, nothing is done for outward show. Each word from the Cross means what it says. And if the cry "My God, my God..." is to signify anything at all, it must mean that at this moment Jesus is truly experiencing the spiritual death of separation from God. Not only does he shed his blood for us, but for our sakes he accepts even the loss of God.

"He descended into hell," (Apostles' Creed). Does this mean merely that Christ went to preach to the departed spirits during the interval between Great Friday evening and Easter morning (see 1 Pet. 3:19)? Surely it has also a deeper sense. Hell is a point not in space but in the soul. It is the place where God is not. (And yet God is everywhere!) If Christ truly "descended into hell", that means he descended into the depths of the absence of God. Totally, unreservedly, he identifies himself with all man's anguish and alienation. He assumed it into himself, and by assuming it he healed it. There was no other way he could heal it, except by making it his own.
- Metr Kallistos (Ware), The Orthodox Way

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