April 28

As the new-born child is the image of the full-grown man, so the soul is in a certain sense the image of God who created it. The child, on growing up, begins gradually to recognize its father, and when it reaches maturity, they dispose things mutually and equally, father with son and son with father, and the father’s wealth is disclosed to the son. Something similar should have happened to the soul. Before the fall, the soul was to have progressed and so to have attained full manhood (Ephesians 4:13). But through the fall it was plunged into a sea of forgetfulness, into an abyss of delusion, and dwelt within the gates of hell. As if separated from God by a great distance, it could not draw near to its Creator and recognize Him properly.

But first through the prophets God called it back, and drew it to knowledge of Himself. Finally, through His own advent on earth, He dispelled the forgetfulness, the delusion; then, breaking through the gates of hell, He entered the deluded soul, giving Himself to it as a model. By means of this model the soul can grow to maturity and attain the perfection of the Spirit. It is therefore for our sakes that the Logos of God is by divine permission tempted by the devil, and then endures vilifications, mockeries, beatings at the hands of savage men, and finally death on the cross, showing us, as we said, what attitude we must take up towards those who vilify and mock us and bring us to our death.

Thus we become as though deaf and dumb before them, not opening our mouth, so that clearly perceiving the subtlety and energy of evil, and as though nailed to the cross, we may call loudly to Him who can deliver us from death (Hebrews 5:7) and cleanse us from our secret faults (Psalm 19:12); for ‘if they do not have dominion over me, then I shall be faultless’ (Psalm 19:13). When we are faultless we find Him ‘who has brought all things into subjection’ (Psalm 8:6), and we reign and enjoy repose with Christ. Overpowered through the fall by material and unclean thoughts, the soul became as though witless. As a result, no small effort is needed for it to rise out of materiality and to grasp the subtlety of evil, so that it can commingle with unoriginate Intellect.

~St Makarios of Egypt (paraphrased by St Symeon Metaphrastis)

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