Thursday, December 24, 2015

Homily on the Nativity by St Gregory Palamas

For He who produced all earthly and heavenly things out of non-being, when He saw that His rational creatures were brought to nothing because of their desire for something greater (Genesis 3.5), bestowed upon them Himself, than whom nothing is greater, and to whom nothing is equal or comes near to being equal, and offered Himself to be partaken of by those who so wished, in order that from that time forward we might exercise our desire for something better without risk, although in the beginning we fell into the ultimate danger on that account (1 Corinthians 15.26), and in order that each of us, in desiring to become God, might not only be blameless, but also attain to our longing. In a mysterious way, He abolished the pretext for the original fall, which was the superiority and interiority observable in beings and the resulting envy and treachery, as also the disputes, both open and concealed, which this caused. Because the author of evil did not want to be lower than any of the angels, but to be equal in excellence to the Creator Himself, he was the first to suffer the terrible fall before anyone else. Smitten by envy, he deceitfully attacked Adam and dragged him down to the abyss of Hades by means of the same desire. By so doing, he made Adam’s fall difficult to reverse, and it required God’s extraordinary presence, which has now been accomplished, to restore him. His own fall, however, he rendered incurable once and for all, because he did not acquire his arrogance from anyone else, but became himself the principle of evil and the fulness of evil, and made himself available to anyone wishing to participate in evil.

Now since it was God’s good pleasure to annul the pretext for that pride which brought down His rational creatures, He makes everything like Himself; and because by nature He is equal to Himself and equal in honour, He makes the creation equal to itself by grace and equal in honour. And how was this done? The very Word of God from God emptied Himself in an indescribable way, came down from on high to the lowest state of man’s nature, and indissolubly linked it with Himself, and in humbling Himself and becoming poor like us, He raised on high the things below, or rather, He gathered both things into one, mingling humanity with divinity, and by so doing He taught everyone that humility is the road which leads upwards, setting forth today Himself as an example before men and holy angels alike.

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