Seeing God, the Beautiful and the Good

St Gregory Palamas describes the blessedness of angels as their being united to “the unoriginate and unending illuminations of the Beautiful and Good’, for ‘God Himself and naught else is light for eternal beings’.”  Angels as bodiless powers, don’t rely on eyes to see.  They are spirit beings and perceive God through their unique participation in the divine.  God is invisible and can’t be seen by physical eyes, but can be perceived and experienced by angels in angelic ways. The light which angels “see”, according to Palamas, is not physical light, but none other than God.

Palamas goes on to say that humans as physical beings having sensory powers need light in order to see.

“‘What the sun is for sensory beings, God is for noetic beings.”

(THE PHILOKALIA, Kindle Location 48015-48019)

We need light, which is part of God’s creation in order to see.  The sun in many ways is symbolic of God to us.  In terms of light, the sun is to us what God is to the angels.

“Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.”  (Matthew 17:1-2)

It was the middle of the day when this happened.  This was not a night vision, but rather while the sun was shining, Jesus Himself shone like the sun, opening the eyes of the three disciples to an angelic vision.  For now they were seeing with the light of God, which until then only the angels had seen.


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