Sunday, 14 January 2018 12:00

Life of the Soul Featured

UNION WITH GOD, HEALING AND THE RESURRECTION

"Life of the soul" said St Gregory Palamas (14th Century) is union with God, "as life of the body is union with the soul." When the body is separated from the soul it ceases to live. In the same way the soul that is separated from God experiences death. This spiritual death is the true everlasting death as life of the soul through union with God is true and authentic everlasting life. "The words that I speak to you are spirit" said the Lord (John 7:63) "and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe".

THE FIRST INVITATION

Our experience and invitation of union with God occurs through the Church at Sacrament of Baptism. The Sacrament of Baptism unites us to the Body of Christ. As we are joined to Christ we become members of the same Body the Head of which is Christ. "For by one Spirit we were all baptised into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and have all been made to drink into one Spirit". (l Corinth. 12:11)
As our own body is made of many different members serving different purposes they nevertheless function as a whole. The different members of the body cannot disown the body which they draw life from and serve according to their respective and appointed functions. "Now you are the body of Christ" said St Paul (1 Corinth. 12:27) and members individually. As members of the same body, Christians have an obligation to love one another and all of God’s creation.

Whilst Baptism unites us to Christ and the life of Christ, we must also understand that we must first experience death. "Do you not know" said St Paul (Romans 6:3-9) "that as many of us as were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, and just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him."

THE SECOND INVITATION

Having been joined to the Body of Christ we are obliged to keep His Commandments of Love. We must therefore live according His will otherwise we face spiritual death. Our defiance of God’s Commandments separates our soul from Him whereas obedience to His Law unites us to Christ who is the source of all life. "I am the way the truth and the life" said Our Lord. (John 14:6) Sin is the defiance of God and His will by our disobedience. We are obliged to repent and separate ourselves from sin through the Sacrament of Confession which acts as a second renewable Baptism. Christ promised us the forgiveness of sins which is available to us through the Sacrament of Confession. Confession cleanses us of sin so that we might be ever ready to receive Him. This then is God’s second and renewable invitation to us to be cleansed of sin and be united to Him whilst we still enjoy the gift of earthly life.

THE THIRD INVITATION

Having been joined to Christ and we ask for the forgiveness of our sins, we further prepare ourselves through prayer and fasting to receive Him through the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Christ offers Himself for us so that He might live in us and so that we might live in Him. We draw our life from Him.

THE HEALING OF OUR SOUL

The invitation to be joined with Christ involves the healing of our soul. The work of the Church through the Spiritual Father is essentially to do with the healing of our wounded souls.
Christ said to the Pharisees "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: Desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."
Without repentance it is impossible for the soul to be healed.
Without repentance it is impossible to understand the significance of Christ’s sacrifice for us.
Without repentance we retain our ‘old garment’ and discard the ‘new garment’ given to us at our Baptism.

CHRIST’S DEATH AND RESURRECTION IS OUR SALVATION

Christ suffered and died on the Cross for us. He did this that those who believe in Him may not perish, but have life everlasting. The sting of death is no more, death has been annihilated for those who have placed all their hope in the Resurrected Christ.
"The more one struggles against sin and attains the ownership of the gifts of the Resurrected Christ", says Nicholaos Vassiliadis (The Mystery of Death pp 196) "the more is one strengthened in his conviction that ‘The Lord has risen indeed’ Lk (24:34) and that death has been put to death, that only with the power of the Resurrected Christ can one defeat the devil, sin and death. Therefore, there is no greater misfortune than to doubt the glorious Resurrection of our life-giving Lord. St Paul said to the Corinthians (1 Corinth. 15:14) "If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty." "And if Christ is not risen, you are still in your sins."

 

Fr Emmanuel Stamatiou

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