The Transfiguration: Man Fulfilling His Mission

“According to St. Maximus, man’s primary mission was to unite Paradise with the rest of the earth, and thereby to enable all other created beings to participate in the conditions of ParadiseThus Adam was to enable all other creatures to participate in the order, harmony and peace of which his own nature benefitted because of its union with God, and this included the incorruptibility and immortality he received.  But once Adam turned away from God, nature was no longer subject to him.  Following Adam’s sin, disorder established itself between the beings of creation as it did within man himself.”   (Jean-Claude Larchet, THE THEOLOGY OF ILLNESS)   This thinking is most interesting because it suggests that the earth itself was outside the boundary of Paradise and did not originally share in the blessed life of God’s Garden of Delight.  God gave humans the task of transfiguring and transforming the earth so that it too could participate in the conditions of Paradise once humanity had so transformed the earth.  Thus sin, the human fall, did not take Paradise away from the earth as it did for Adam and Eve, but rather it prevented the earth from becoming what God intended it to be because humanity had forsaken its role to connect earth to paradise and to garden the earth to transform it into paradise.  God apparently intended the humans to have the power to transform earth into paradise – He shared His creative power with the humans.  Humanity however rebelled against this role, and in rejecting God’s Lordship also lost the power to transfigure and transform the earth.  The earth remained un-transfigured and the humans powerless to transfigure it until the Word became flesh and Christ re-instituted the transfiguration of the world which God intended for humans to accomplish from the beginning. Christ came into the world to unite paradise to earth and earth to heaven.    “What is it, we ask, that links Paradise in the past (Genesis 1-2) with Paradise in the future (Revelation 21-22)?  There is but one answer: the Cross.  Without cross-bearing, there can be no cosmic transfiguration.”    (Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia)   Christ in the incarnation, by uniting creation to divinity, and by restoring the union of God with human nature, once again makes it possible for humans to transfigure the world.  Christ restores to humanity the very role and power God intended us to have from the beginning.   The Feast of the Transfiguration is the Feast celebrating not only God transfiguring the world, but God restoring to humans the power to transfigure the world.  Christ reveals not just God’s humble power, but how God had exalted humans from the beginning.

See also my blog:  Tablets of Stone: Do not Petrify the Word of God

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