Wednesday, December 31, 2008

And We Beheld His Glory: Postscript

For the Apostles to say, "We beheld His glory" is not problematic for most people. They either did or thought they did, so that's easy to understand. What gives people pause is when we, today, say the same thing: "We beheld His glory." What? Gimme a break; it's two thousand years later!

And yet, it is true. I don't have any words to explain how this can be. I don't think there are any. Oh, yes, countless books have been written, countless sermons preached, about the sacraments, which, provided all else is properly in place, are our major encounter with Him. But nothing can explain how this can be; that's why in Orthodoxy, we call the sacraments "the mysteries."

But what the Apostles set out to do is to pass down through all generations of us, their very own relationship with the Risen Lord, a relationship transcending time and place, a relationship of joint being, of mutual indwelling accomplished by a supernatural kind of love. (Yes, I call it supernatural when it is infinite, unconditional, and includes even your enemies!) It is a relationship, in short, of communion they seek to share with us. Listen to how St. John the Evangelist describes this objective of the Apostles:

That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have communion with us; and truly our communion is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. (I John 1:3)

And a practicing Orthodox Christian (at least) can testify that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the holy Apostles did not fail in this mission. We do, however imperfectly, still participate in that very same relationship, that communion, with one another and with the living Christ, that the Apostles had and still have. In scripture, in the mysteries, in fasting and other ascetical struggle (for the pure in heart shall see God), in prayer, in one another, in countless ways, we still encounter Him. We still behold His glory, day by day.

Hang out for a while in a well-functioning Orthodox parish, with an open mind and an open heart, and try living jointly with them the Christian life they share, and after a while or perhaps quite soon, gradually or suddenly, the Holy Spirit will disclose the risen Lord to you, too. You will find Him still very much here, not as a thought or concept or theology or philosophy or emotion or principle or memory, but as a living Person, the most wonderful human being ever, truly human yet truly God, all-glorious, and by that glory, able to transfigure you and me.

"Seek and ye shall find, knock, and it shall be opened to you."

Let ev'ry heart
prepare Him room.


DebD said...

you said You will find Him still very much here,

You're right, it can't be explained. Good words.