July 29, 2023

Homilies on the Symbol of Faith (The Nicene Creed) - The Incarnation of the Son and Word of God (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

On the Symbol of Faith (The Nicene Creed)
The Incarnation of the Son and Word of God
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
In the Symbol of Faith, after the first two articles, three more articles follow, which refer to the incarnation of the Son and Word of God, His Passion, His Cross, His Resurrection, His Ascension to Heaven and the Enthronement at the right hand of the Father.

We confess:

"Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; and He rose on the third day, according to the Scriptures. And He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father."

In a few sentences the whole mystery of the incarnation of the Son and Word of God was recorded, what is otherwise characterized as the mystery of the divine Economy, which indicates how God planned for the salvation of the human race.

This, of course, implies the fall of Adam and Eve, who by disobeying God's will moved away from God and lost communion with Him. Thus, the Son and Word of God became human in order to unite man with God, to share in His glory. As the Word of God is the prototype of the creation of man, so again He had to become the prototype of His new creation.

First of all, it must be clarified, what is the descent of Christ to earth and then what does Christ's ascent to the heavens and His establishment at the right hand of God the Father mean.

The descent of Christ to earth means that He took on an earthly body, the body of Adam who was formed from the earth. His descent into Hades means that the soul of Christ together with His divinity entered the state of death. His resurrection and ascension to the heavens means the loss of the blameless passions. And the seating at the right hand of the Father signifies the entrance of human nature into the glory of the Father. This is a great mystery, which the Fathers of the Church analyze thoroughly, as much as is possible within the limits of human reality.

Then, the incarnation of the Son and Word of God is the reception of the whole human nature, that is, the body, the soul, with reason and the mind, and its union with the divine nature in the presence of the Word. In other words, the divine and the human nature were united in the Son and Word of God, without the two natures undergoing alteration and confusion, and without ever being divided or separated. The Evangelist John writes this wonderfully: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

Christ throughout His life revealed His glory through His human nature. Each nature - divine and human - acted with the unity of the other nature. That is, when Christ learned that Lazarus had died, then the human nature wept, without being separated from the divine nature. And when Christ went to the tomb, His divine nature, His divinity, resurrected Lazarus, without being separated from human nature. Both natures were united in His hypostasis. Thus, Christ raised Lazarus.

The incarnation of the Son and Word of God took place with the Holy Spirit and by the Virgin Mary. It is another conception that is unique in the history of mankind, that is why, according to Saint John of Damascus, Christ is "the only thing new under the sun." The Panagia was a Virgin, in the Holy of Holies she had reached deification, and conceived Christ by the Holy Spirit. And this was done for our salvation, to heal us and bring us back to God.

Christ assumed an extremely pure nature, but a suffering and mortal one, in order to defeat the devil, sin and death in His body. The First-formed were led astray by the devil, sinned and died. Christ with His incarnation hid His divinity as a hook under His body and thus deceived the devil, defeating sin and death.

This means that the Passion, the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ foreshadowed Christ's victory over the devil, sin and death, and this was done for the salvation of man. Thus, our salvation is not something abstract, but the healing of man, his return to God.

And while these are great theological events, at the same time they are also historical, they happened during the time when Pontius Pilate was the Roman ruler in Palestine. The theology of our salvation was made in history, and history and the world are transformed by theology. Also, all these saving events happened "according to the scriptures," that is, they were prophesied by the Prophets and are written in the books of the Old Testament.

The mystery of the incarnation of the Son and Word of God is a mystery of God's love and it is a mystery of our salvation. We chant this on all the Despotic feasts, from the Nativity of Christ to His Ascension into heaven. There is no salvation outside of Christ.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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