Participation in the Incarnation
Friday, September 14, 2018
Rise up in splendor! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. —Isaiah 60:1
George Maloney (1924–2005), a Catholic priest in the Russian Byzantine Rite with a doctorate in Eastern Christian spirituality, and I used to be on the same speaking circuit back in the 1970s, and he first led me to trust Eastern Christianity much more. Today I share insights Maloney gleaned on Jesus and the Incarnation:
In Eastern Christian spirituality, there has always been a special accent on the gentleness and humility of the Word made flesh as He comes to serve us in order to reflect the infinite love of the Father. He serves us not in power but in the weakness of a suffering servant on the cross. This is the kenotic spirituality of the Eastern mystics who (in Saint Paul’s words, “He emptied himself,” Philippians 2:7) strove to live a life of non-violence and of gentle and humble service in imitation of the suffering servant. . . .
We can learn from the [Eastern Fathers] . . . who found, through constant repetition of the name of Jesus, the means to remain constantly in His healing presence. . . . In deep prayer we learn to surrender to [Jesus’] love and peace. . . . Our potential for being expands into a realized consciousness. We feel in the depths of our being a transformation taking place. Power to love, to be toward God, ourselves and others, in a healthy way, opens up slowly like a lotus flower. . . .
The Eastern Fathers have always stressed in line with the vision of Saint Paul especially, that if we are in Christ we participate in His paschal victory over sin and death. . . . [The Spirit] effects the likeness of Jesus Christ within us . . . [drawing] out the potentiality locked within us, as in a seed, to become transfigured into the very Body of the Risen Lord, Jesus. . . . Resurrection is already ours; we have entered into a sharing already, an anticipation, of the future resurrection as we die daily to our own selfishness and rise to let the power of Jesus’ resurrection . . . direct our lives in greater self-sacrificing love toward our neighbors. . . .
We Christians have been called by Christ to see Him everywhere as the Light of God’s loving presence. We have been . . . made in His image and likeness, to grasp boldly the Sun in all its brightness, so that we may image His light fully to the world. We become the creative power of God as [God’s] word tumbles forth from the lips of the Almighty. That word, spoken in the flowers, the trees, birds, animals, the beauties of each new season, the sun, moon, stars, the mountains, lakes, oceans, goes forth and “shall not return empty” (Isaiah 55:11). . . . Nothing exists or moves toward perfection except by God’s creative power immanently present in all things. “In [God] we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
George Maloney, The Returning Sun: Hope for a Broken World (Contemplative Ministries: 1982), 6, 11-15. I recommend any of George Maloney’s books, although some are unfortunately out of print.