The Presentation and the Crucifixion

The Presentation and the Crucifixion

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Metropolitan Anthony Bloom of Sourozh

 

(Extract from a sermon preached at the University Church of Great St Mary’s, Cambridge, on 19 May 1985)

And then, lastly, two events which I would like to bring together. The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and the Crucifixion. Every male child first-born of a woman was to be brought to the Temple as an offering. If we read back into the Old Testament about the institution of the act we discover that God commanded the Hebrews to bring the first-born male children of every family to the temple as a blood offering, as a ransom for the first-born of Egypt, who had to die that the Jews might go free. Every first-born male child was therefore brought and God had the right of death and of life upon him. Century after century God accepted a vicarious offering, turtle doves and sheep, and once only in the whole of history he accepted a human offering: his only begotten Son became man who had to die on the Cross to redeem mankind – so that the two events are really connected with one another. But the mother who brought this child knew that God had all power over him of life and death, and unhesitatingly, in humility and faithfulness, brought this child.

Later, when we see Calvary as described in the Gospel, we do not see a mother fainting or a mother protesting or a mother clamouring for mercy, as so many pictures have it. At the foot of the Cross we see the Mother of God wrapt in deep, tragic silence seeing the fulfillment of what had been begun when she brought her child to the Temple. She stood silent, at one with the divine and human will of her son: she was fulfilling the offering which she had begun thirty-three or so years before. At one with the will of God, at one with the will of her divine son, renouncing her own will, her own hopes, in an act of offering. This is something that very few of us will ever have to face in life, or at least I hope so; but it happens all the time in various parts of the world, and it has happened throughout history when one person has allowed another to give his or her life for a cause, for God or for men. Without a word of protest, sharing in the heroic offering. I would like to leave these images with you, however incomplete and imperfect they are. Look at them and ask yourselves. Where do I stand? What would I do, placed in the same circumstances? The Mother of God was the response of all creation to God’s love, but God’s love is sacrificial love. At the heart of the love of God there is the gift of self, the Cross. May God grant us to learn from this frail maiden her heroic simplicity and her wonderful wholeness. And let us learn from all the steps of her life, all the self-denial and the gift of self, all the beauty of her surpassing humility and its perfect obedience to the law of eternal life. Amen.

Source: pemptousia.com

 

 

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OCN has partnered with Pemptousia. A Contemporary post-modern man does not understand what man is.  Through its presence in the internet world, Pemptousia, with its spirit of respect for beauty that characterizes it, wishes to contribute to the presentation of a better meaning of life for man, to the search for the ontological dimension of man, and to the awareness of the unfathomable mystery of man who is always in Christ in the process of becoming, of man who is in the image of divine beauty. And the beauty of man springs from the beauty of the Triune God. In the end, “beauty will save the world”.

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Pemptousia Partnership

Pemptousia and OCN have entered a strategic partnership to bring Orthodoxy Worldwide. Greek philosophers from Ionia considered held that there were four elements or essences (ousies) in nature: earth, water, fire and air. Aristotle added ether to this foursome, which would make it the fifth (pempto) essence, pemptousia, or quintessence. The incarnation of God the Word found fertile ground in man’s proclivity to beauty, to goodness, to truth and to the eternal. Orthodoxy has not functioned as some religion or sect. It was not the movement of the human spirit towards God but the revelation of the true God, Jesus Christ, to man. A basic precept of Orthodoxy is that of the person ­– the personhood of God and of man. Orthodoxy is not a religious philosophy or way of thinking but revelation and life standing on the foundations of divine experience; it is the transcendence of the created and the intimacy of the Uncreated. Orthodox theology is drawn to genuine beauty; it is the theology of the One “fairer than the sons of men”. So in "Pemptousia", we just want to declare this "fifth essence", the divine beaut in our life. Please note, not all Pemptousia articles have bylines. If the author is known, he or she is listed in the article above.