August 12, 2023

Homilies on the Symbol of Faith (The Nicene Creed) - The Future Age (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

On the Symbol of Faith (The Nicene Creed)
The Future Age
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
In the twelfth article of the Symbol of Faith, which is also the last article, we confess our faith in the future age. We confess: "And the life of the age to come, Amen," that is, we expect the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come. In other words, we confess that we await the day when our bodies will be resurrected, we will see Christ, the judgment of people will take place and the future life will begin.

It is magnificent to recite in the Symbol of Faith our faith in the future life while we are still alive. When we believe this consciously, then in reality we transcend the present life, we transcend death, we have absolute certainty in Christ, we desire to meet Him and we want to participate in eternal life in the glory of God.

These show that the Church is not of the present age, it is not a philanthropic institution, it is not a social organization and a Philosophical School, but it is the Body of Christ, which prepares man for the life to come, and at the same time gives him a foretaste of the glory of the Kingdom of God.

Belief in the future age reveals that human life is not exhausted in this life. It also reveals that the human soul does not disappear after leaving the body, with physical death. Man was created by God to be immortal. Of course, this immortality is by grace and not by nature, since only God is immortal by nature, while the human soul is immortal by grace. Also, this shows that in the future age the human body will also participate, so the view of philosophy that the body is the prison of the soul is not valid. Nor is it true that, when the soul leaves the body, it apparently returns to the world of ideas, and the body disappears.

The future life has two ways of participation. It is the life of sharing in the Light of God, which the righteous will enjoy, and it is the life of sharing in the fire of God. This is a crucial issue, which the Fathers of the Church develope, as we saw in the analysis of another article of the Symbol of Faith.

We see this in Christ's teaching about the coming judgment. As Christ said, He will come at His Second Coming, all the nations will be gathered before Him, they will be separated from each other, everyone will see Him and talk with Him, but the righteous will live in eternal life, while the sinners will be condemned. "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Matt. 25:46).

This teaching is presented in a wonderful way by the Orthodox iconography of the Second Coming of Christ. In this iconography, Christ is on the throne, from which comes the Light that illuminates the righteous, and this is Paradise, and from the throne of God itself comes the river of fire, in which are the unrepentant sinners, which is hell.

However, the life to come is eternal, which means it will never end. God will dominate this life, while people will live eternally according to the state they lived in during their biological life. If they lived by keeping the commandments of Christ or by repentance, then they will live eternally in the uncreated Light of God, but if, however, they lived with the passions and with the darkening of the nous and did not acquire a spiritual eye, then they will live eternally in the fire, which is uncreated. This means that the few years we will live in this world will determine our eternal future. Therefore, the Church is a spiritual healing center, so that we can acquire a spiritual eye, transform the blameworthy passions into blameless ones, the gnomic will into a natural will and acquire selfless love.

With this article ends the Symbol of Faith. From what we have seen in the analysis of all the articles, it can be seen what the Church's belief is about God, the incarnation of the Son and Word of God, the Church, Baptism, the resurrection of the dead and eternal life. This text of the Symbol of Faith is the summary of all the Ecumenical Synods, so we must recite it often, say it with absolute faith and adapt our lives to its wonderful content.

Unfortunately, all modern social life directs our attention to another "belief" with opposite articles and opposite content, which refers to syncretism and intrasecularism.

We must orient our lives to this teaching of the Church and let it become our constant confession.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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