• on October 30, 2018

Beyond All Ages, Times and Places

In this disposable age there is an obsession for labelling everything ‘new.’ The word ‘new’ has become synonymous with the words ‘different’, ‘better’ and ‘improved.’ But the meaning given to the word ‘new’ equally and correspondingly devalues what is ‘old’. Old is rendered redundant because its commercial opportunity has been exhausted.

‘New’ is the driving force behind fashion which is forever changing so that people remain dissatisfied with what they have.

It is important to remember however, that what the marketplace appears to be dictating merely mirrors the ‘wants’ and ‘wishes’ of the people all be it with strong elements of persuasion and manipulation. We contribute to the madness that is out there because of the values we uphold. Human nature is known for its weaknesses and these are exploited to the limit for monetary gain.

A characteristic of ‘new’ is the strong held view that we must have it ‘now’. An integral part of having what is ‘new’ is the mentality of having it ‘now’. The belief that we should have things now encourages impulsive behaviour which is closely related to greed.

People wish each other a ‘Happy New Year’ but it is not that the year that brings forth happiness or sorrow, because time is neutral and has no such accented value. It is rather how we use time and respond to the events of the natural world that brings about the ‘fortunes of time.’ If we put our trust in God we allow our heart, soul and mind to enter into the timeless and immaterial world. We must contemplate our life seriously by examining our relationship with Christ otherwise we will remain ignorant of what has been prepared for us and our life will remain vain responding to empty sayings,false promises and hopes.

“Ages, times and places” wrote St Maximos the Confessor – 7th Century 580-662 (Philok.Vol 2, pp.127-8) “belong to the category of relationship, and consequently no object necessarily associated with these things can be other than relative. But God transcends the category of relationship; for nothing else whatever is necessarily associated with Him. Therefore if the inheritance of the saints is God Himself, he who is found worthy of this grace will be beyond all ages, times and places: He will have God Himself as his place, in accordance with the text:

‘Be to me a God who is a defender and a fortified place of my salvation’
(Ps. 71:3)

‘New’ for the Orthodox Christian is to discard one’s former nature and to put on Christ’s nature. The real and lasting notion of what is ‘new’ can only be understood and found in Christ. Those who put their trust in Christ will never grow old and their fortunes will always be joyous and blessed knowing that he was victorious in defeating our death and to be joined to His eternal Life is our goal and that all things endured in this life therefore has great purpose. We have therefore been freed by Christ from all that is bleak and depressive and that lies in darkness. We therefore are invited to come into the Light which is beyond all ages, places and times.

In the ‘new age’ to come all things will be perfectly in place so that there will be perfect harmony and stillness. The thought of stillness may initially disturb us because we associate it with death. But perfect stillness is a noble spiritual goal which few attain. In this perfect stillness is found true balance and harmony – where everything is in place. Movement is related to the temporal world and is a consequence of its imperfection. St Maximos the Confessor wrote: “The world is a finite place and possess but limited stability. Time is circumscribed movement. It follows that the movement of living things within time is subject to change. When nature passes beyond place and time, actively and inwardly – that is, when it passes beyond those things which always accompany created being, namely, a limited state of stability and limited movement – it is united directly with providence, and finds in providence a principle which is by nature simple, stable, without limitation and thus completely without movement.

Fr Emmanuel Stamatiou

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