This is the 35th blog in this series which began with Adam & Sin, Paradise and Fasting. The previous blog is The Expulsion of Adam in the Writings of St. Symeon the New Theologian (B).
For St. Symeon (d. 1022AD) the very thing humans uniquely are capable of doing is loving God. Love is only possible if you have free will and can choose. If we reacted to God in love only because God made us that way, than we would not really be loving God because we had no choice but to love Him. However, as creatures with free will we decide how to act towards God, we don’t just react to Him. God put us in Paradise and gave us opportunity to choose to love Him. If we chose love as our relationship with the Creator, we would grow ever closer to Him and ever more like Him. However, that is not the choice our first ancestors made. So Eve and Adam did not become more Godlike by choosing love, instead they lost their relationship with God through their self willfulness. By listening to the talking serpent they found choosing love of God to be more than they were willing to do; so they fell from love and became afraid of God.
“As holy Scripture says, God willed from the very beginning to make His own good ours as well. He bestowed free will on the first created couple, our ancestors, and through them on us. This was in order that, not from sorrow or necessity, but as moved by a favorable disposition they should follow His commandment and do it with joy. Thus they would be accounted as having acquired the virtues by their own efforts, in order to offer them up as their gift to the Master and so progressively be led up by them to the perfect image and likeness of God, and approach the Unapproachable without suffering bodily death or the danger of being consumed by His fire, and one by one, generation upon generation, draw near to Him. But since the first couple submitted first to the will of the enemy and became transgressors of God’s commandment, they not only fell away from the greater hope, which is to say, from entering into the Light itself which neither fades nor has an evening, but were changed as well into corruption and death. They fell into lightless darkness and, becoming slaves to the prince of the dark and ruled over by him, they entered through sin into the darkness of death. Later we, too, who were born of them stepped to the will of this tyrant and were enslaved. This did not happen by compulsion, as is show clearly by those who lived before the Law and under the Law. . . . Then the Lord Who loves mankind… Who is able to do all things and is beneficent, undertook to accomplish this world through Himself. For the man whom He had made by His own invisible hands according to His image and likeness He willed to raise up again, not be means of another but by Himself, so that indeed He might the more greatly honor and glorify our race by His being likened to us in every respect and become our equal by taking on our human condition. O what unspeakable love for mankind! The goodness of it! That not only did He not punish us transgressors and sinners, but that He Himself accepted becoming such as we had become by reason of the Fall: corruptible man born of corruptible man, mortal born of a mortal, sin of him who had sinned, He Who is incorruptible and immortal and sinless. He appeared in the world only in His deified flesh, and not in His naked divinity. Why? Because He did not, as He says Himself in His Gospels, wish to judge the world but to save it.” (St. Symeon the New Theologian, ON THE MYSTICAL LIFE Vol 1, pp 143-145)
God, according to St. Symeon, continued loving humans despite our rebelliousness and abandonment of the way of love.
God so loved the world as to save it. God so loved humans that He became incarnate – God became human – precisely to let divine love reign in us.
He healed human nature of its brokenness by becoming exactly what we are, taking on Himself our sins and our sinful nature, in order to make us capable of loving again.