The Sunday of Forgiveness

The Sunday, the day that precedes the beginning of the Great Lent is called the Sunday of Adam’s expulsion from heaven but it is also called the Sunday of forgiveness. The Holy Fathers gave this name to this Sunday for showing us that nobody can begin the Lent if he is not in peace with his fellow men.

God cannot be experienced by the one who is not in peace with his neighbor. Because He is Love and forgiveness. Thus only the one who forgives can commune with this divine love. And the more he forgives the more he communes with God.

There is an aspect we neglect very often when it comes to forgiveness.

If we hurt someone we think that’s enough to ask forgiveness only from God for that misdeed. But God asks us for more. He wants us to go and ask for forgiveness from those we hurt by our words and deeds and to forgive all those who ask this from us. He calls us to this because he wants us to be loved by our fellow men.

It is not easy to renounce at the contempt for the others and show forgiveness but it is even harder to give up on the ostensible superiority and as for forgiveness. Who accomplished these requirements prepared his heart to receive Christ.

The tradition of the liturgical practice of forgiveness

On this Sunday there is a special holy service which unfortunately is missing from many churches, being rather found in monasteries.

At this service the priests are dressed in bright clothes but after the Vespers these clothes would not be used anymore during the Lent.

In parishes after the Vespers the priests with epitrachelion and the holy cross in the hand bow before the believers asking for forgiveness. The believers bow before the priests and they ask for forgiveness too then they kiss the cross and the right hand of the priest. Afterwards they embrace asking for forgiveness from one another. In the meanwhile the choir sings the canon of the Holy Easter.

In the Holy Mountain after the Vespers they enter the refectory in a procession and they eat for the last time cheese and eggs, these not being consumed anymore during the whole Great Lent.

During supper it is read a word about Adam’s expulsion from heaven or a word of advice for fasting. At the end of the supper the monks sing the cannon of the akathist, the troparions of the church’s patron ending with the kontakion of the akathist. After the prayers of thankfulness it is left one candle lit for being read the Small Compline. At its end the community kneels down and the abbot reads a prayer of absolution. The abbot wearing the epitrachelion and having the Gospel in the right hand stops at the door for asking for forgiveness from the other brothers. The monks make a bow, kiss the Gospel and his right hand then they make bows to each other asking for forgiveness and they wish to each other A good fasting. After they had given forgiveness to each other the candles are blown out and everyone goes to his cell.

Let us take heed without cease during this Great Lent at the words of the Saviour:

` For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.` (Matthew 6, 14-15).

May you have a joyful Lent!

Adrian Cocoșila


About God the Son (VIII)

163. If the being of the Father and the Son is one and the persons are two how can we avoid dividing what is one between them and avoid mixing what is different between them?

Evem the previous words from the Creed about the birth of the Son from the Father showed us not only the equality between the Father and the Son but also what is different as the words `of one essence with the Father` shows us what is common for them. Distinct are their so-called personal attributes that the Father and Son cannot change between themselves.

The personal attribute of the Father is that of being a Father, of begetting the Son or of giving existence to the Son by birth, while He has existence from his own.

The personal attribute of the Son is that of being a Son, of being begotten by the Father or of receiving his existence from the Father by birth.

Both the Father and the Son keep their personal attributes. The Father doesn’t give His personal attribute to the Son. If He had given His personal attribute of Father or begetter to the Son the Father and the Son would have been confounded they wouldn’t have been two different hypostases: The Father is unconceived, the Father is begotten and one and the same face cannot be in the same time begotten and not begotten., says the Orthodox Creed.

But having a common being the Father and the Son have all the attributes f the being, namely of the divinity. What is divine belongs not only to the Father but also to the Son. The Father and the Son have in common: the eternity, the omnipotence, the will, the kindness, the holiness and the glory. `We believe in a unique being, in a unique divinity, in a unique power, in a unique will, in a unique activity, in a unique spring, in a unique reign, in a unique kingdom known in three perfect hypostases.

164. Is it possible for the mind to understand the unity of the divine being and the distinction of the persons?

The unity after being and the distinction of the three persons of God is the most incomprehensible mystery of Christianity.

The Holy Trinity was compared with the mind, the thought and the will of the man that are distinct and in the same time each one of them contains the whole being of the man. But the comparison is not satisfying: the mind, the thought and the will are not three hypostases only parts of a single one.

More appropriate would be the comparison with three human persons who by love unite their thoughts, wills and feelings so much that these become common and they seem to have a single soul without stopping to some distinct persons. On the contrary, by this fact each one of them feels richer and happier that is not closed in his loneliness but is loved by the others and loves the others, being with those in a close bond and containing one another somehow. But the men never reach such a love or unity like that existing between the divine persons. But in God there is from eternity a perfect love and a perfect unity. This resemblance without being satisfying gives us the possibility to understand that the mystery of the Holy Trinity is the mystery of the perfect love.

165. What means `by Whom all things were made` ?

These words mean that everything the Father does the Son does as well thus He created the world through His Son, settle it in the Son and takes care of it through the Son.

Then by these words it is shown once again that the Son is `of the same essence with the Father before all ages.` Because the Father made everything through the Son because He is not separated of the Son, being contained in one another, after essence and work. From the Father comes any work and the Son accomplishes it.

Even the creation of the world. And if everything was made through the Son this means that the Son existed even before everything was made, before the time related to the created world was made. Thus the Son is from eternity, He is not created.

On another hand, the words:  `by whom everything was made` realize the transition to the third article of the Creed that speaks about the incarnation of the Son for the salvation of the men.

166. How do the words `by whom everything was made`realize the transition to the third article that speak about the incarnation of the Son of God for the salvation f the world?

If the Father made everything through His Son then even the salvation of the world he had to achieve by the Son.

Thus if in the Son was everything settled then the Son had to come and gather everything in Himself, in His Love since their bonds with Him had become loose and they were disunited by sin.

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians I, 16-19 and 20).

Created in His image, the man was created to be a son of God himself as Christ is the Son of the Father. And when the face of the man became unclean, He came to restore it, taking a human body and becoming a closer model for men.

167. What is the third article of the Creed?

The third article of the Creed is: ` Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man.` `

168. What does this article teach us in its entirety?

The second article raised our sight from earth to heaven telling us that Jesus Christ, who lived with the men on earth is the Only Begotten Son of God, before all ages. The third article take our sight back to earth to accompany this unique and eternal Son of God in His deed of incarnation as a man for our salvation.

169. We have found from the answers at the previous questions why the Son of God became man, to save our souls. Now let’s see closely what can we understand by the words that the Son of God became man? The Son of God didn’t He change Himself by this?

The Son of God became a man for real without ceasing to be God. Remaining an unchanged God, He became a real man. After His incarnation He is in the same time the Son of God and the Son of Man. Thus Jesus Christ is true God and true man. The Son of God accepts to become and be called Son of Man not changing what He was because He is unchanged but becoming what He hadn’t been before since He loves men.

Our Holy Church interpreted this teaching saying that Jesus Christ is a person and a hypostasis in two natures: the divine nature and the human nature. The Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, took beside His divine nature that He has since eternity the human nature from Virgin Mary becoming hypostasis of the human nature, or man. The two natures united in the person or the hypostasis of Jesus Christ in an inseparable way but without changing or blending in one.

170. Do we have any comparison for this mystery?

We find a resemblance in man. But it is not a perfect resemblance because the man is a person with a single nature. But his nature consists of soul and body as Jesus Christ has a divine and a human nature. The soul and the body are not separated and the unique person of man is not divided in two because of these.

The person of man lives in every moment through both and acts through both. When he looks at something, this is achived both by the power of the soul and of the sight. However the soul and the body did not blend or changed themselves so that the soul ceased to be soul or the body to be body.

With Christ is the same. His two natures are united in His unique person in an inseparable and undivided way but without any amalgamation or change.

In the same way are united in an inseparable and undivided way but without amalgamation and change the wills of the two natures. Thus Jesus Christ lived and acted through both natures in an inseparable and unaltered way. When He healed the eye of the blind He touched his eye by His human nature and healed by His divinity. There was a single divine human act accomplished through two natures, by divine and human work, in an inseparable but also unmixed way, because although they lived and worked together the divine nature and work did not turn into human. It was not the human nature that healed and not the divine nature that moved His hand to the eye of the blind.

Jesus Christ being a person in two natures, wills and acts, is one who wills and acts but by two wills and acts. The Same One starves (by His human nature) and multiplies the bread (by His divine nature) The Same One has no place where to bend His head (by His human nature) and He is everywhere even in the bosom of the Father (by His divine nature).

About God the Son (VII)

the Son begotten from Him has always been with the Father. Since God could not be called Father without Son. And if He existed without Son, He wouldn’t be a Father. And if He had become afterwards a Father and He could change from not being a Father to being one, this would be worse than any blasphemy.`

The Father and the Son are two persons equal in divinity and glory, but one is the Father and the other is the Son, always having  for each other the love that exists between father and Son: one always being a fatherly love and the other always being filial love.

158. Can we understand this birth before ages ?

This birth before ages of the Son from the Father is a mystery that cannot be comprehended by the mind of men or angels.

`The Father has begotten Him in a way that cannot be conceived by the man but only as the Father knows. Not only the skies don’t understand the birth of the Son but the whole angelic creatures. Not even the Holy Ghost has spoken in the Gospels about the birth of the Son from the Father.

So why then do you search those that were not written in the Scriptures by the Holy Ghost? When you hear that God has begotten do not fall into fleshly thoughts or imagine a corruptible birth. `God is spirit.` (John, IV, 24) and the birth is spiritual.

The birth of the Son from the Father resembled the birth of the thought in mind. They said that as the birth of the thought in mind is spiritual, the birth of the Son from the Father is spiritual too. When there is a mind there are thoughts and there is no mind without thoughts. In the same way if the Father exists the Son exists too and there is no Father without the Son. But even this is an imperfect resemblance.

159. What means `light of light`?

This is for assuring us that the Son who has been begotten is entirely as the Father from whom he was born. The Creed says that in the same way the light that is lit doesn’t distinguish itself from the light from which is taken, the being of the Son doesn’t distinguish Himself from the being of the Father.

Everything the first light owns gives to the second one, except for its attribute as a giver and of the other one of receiver. The comparison with the light is very appropriate for God Who is uncreated Light. Light is what’s best, what’s the most elevate, while darkness is a lack, a harm, is nothingness, is the evil.

`God is light, and in him is no darkness at all`, says apostle John (I John I, 5), and Jesus says : `I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.` (John VIII, 12).

160. What means `true God of true God`?

The equality between the Father and the Son is reinforced by the words: `true God of true God`, so that nobody could think that the Son is not God in the true meaning or that He would be a lesser God, as it was the situation at the pagans, who attributed different grades to their gods. `True God of true God` aims to say in the same time that the Son did not receive less divinity nor the Father lessened His Own by begetting His Son.

`The Father by begetting the Son did not change Himself. He begot wisdom (I Cor. I, 24), yet He did not become unwise. He begot Power (I Cor. 1, 24) yet He did not weaken. He begot God yet He did not lose divinity. He did not lose a thing diminishing Himself or changing Himself, nor did the begotten One miss a thing. Flawless is the One Who begot and flawless is the Begotten One.`

161. What means `begotten, not made `?

Although it was said before that Jesus Christ is the One Begotten Son of God and therefore he distinguishes Himself of all those who might be called sons of God. The fathers who composed the Creed wanted to say that Jesus Christ is not a created son like the others, but He is the only One begotten from the Father. He is not a created being, not even the first and the highest of all creation as Arie said, He could not belong to creatures, so He is God.

162. What means `of one essence with the Father` ?

To express even more explicitly that the Son is not a created being, that He is truly begotten from the Father, in the Creed were included these words. The thing a man does is not from his being, but the son who is begotten from him is from his being. The same thing is with God: the whole world is the act of His will and of His work (energy). But the Son is from His being. Saint John Damascene says: `The birth is the act by which is taken out from the being of the one who begets the one who is begotten with the same essence as his. But the creation is an external deed, in which what is created does not come from the being of the One who creates but it is something different of him.`

And saint John Damascene says that if the Son is from the Being of the Father, He is the masterpiece of His essence. He must be begotten before times because what belongs to the being of the divinity is eternal, so that the divine essence would not be changed.

Being from the being of the Father, the Son has the same essence as Him, He is of the same essence with the Father. 

Being of the same essence does not mean only that the Son was begotten from the being of the Father or that he has the same being like the Father, but much more than this: that the Son’s being is inseparable of the Father’s.

The being of the father does not repeat itself begetting the Son, to have the same being twice, as it happens at men, but the Father gives His Son by birth His own being, this without being repeated.

The father and the Son are two persons with the same being in common. Between the Father and the Son there is a perfect union as a being, but they are still distint as persons.

“I and the Father are one` says the Saviour. (John X, 30). One shows the being. `I and the Father` show the persons, which are two. In the same way it is shown that the being of the Father and of the Son are one and their persons are two, by the following words of the Saviour: `

`Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me`  (John XIV, 11); or : `Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.`  (John XIV, 9).

Saint John Damascene explains these words very clearly: ` the hypostases are united not in the meaning that they mingle but that they contain one anther. Each one of them lives in the other one without blending and fusing. They are not separated or divided, as the heresy of Aries sustains. For saying all in a word, divinity is undivided in the divided ones, just like in three suns containing one another would be a single light in an inner interpenetration.`

About God the Son (VI)

152. Is there any relatedness of meanings between the names of Jesus and that of Christ ? But between them and that of Lord?

If we look well we see that by these three ministrations of hierarch, prophet and emperor contained by the name of Christ, Jesus saves the world by His sacrifice, teaches it to assume its salvation and leads it to this salvations. Thus if the name of Jesus shows us how and with what power He has done and does this work. Both names say the same thing from two opposite sides: Jesus Christ is our Saviour. And that is why He is Lord for our souls. If we don’t receive Him as Lord, then He is no Saviour for us.

153. When did the Son of God receive the name of Jesus Christ ?

The Son of God received both names, of Jesus and of Christ, when He made Himself man. So Jesus Christ is the incarnated Son of God.

Before His incarnation He was not called Jesus Christ. He became our Saviour when He incarnated Himself taking our body and sacrificing it for us. Only by His incarnation He became our hierarch who purified us of our sins, prophet who announced us by human speech the will of the Father and guide to salvation (Christ). If Christ means Anointed, this name shows our Saviour as man who receives the anointment, not as God who gives it. Saint Cyril of Alexandria says : `Some say that the name of Christ belongs only to the Word born from God the Father who is perceived and exists in a particular way. But we were not taught to say this, but to say instead that in the moment when the Word incarnated was called Christ. He is named Christ because He was anointed with the oil of joy (Ps. XCIV, 9), meaning with the spirit coming from God the Father.

154. So when we say Jesus Christ we don’t begin from the Son of God before incarnation but from the One after that?

Yes, of course and in the same way the second article of the Creed does not begin the avouchment from the Son of God before incarnation, meaning from a Son thought with the mind, but from Jesus Christ, Who lived on earth for real, in a distinct period of time, was born from Virgin Mary, lived among people, was crucified, resurrected and ascended to heaven. This Jesus Christ revealed Himself to the hearts by everything He said and did, as Son of God.  This Jesus Christ is confessed by the Church in the Creed first that He is the only Lord and then everything follows at article II, first of all that He is the One born Son of God.

155. What means the words: The One born Son of God?

Jesus Christ Who lived on earth is the Unique Son f God. Although He lived on earth as a real man, He is in the same time the Son of God. This is how He revealed Himself: first to the Apostles by the Holy Spirit and they confess through Peter: `You are Christ, the Son of the living God.` (Matthew XVI, 16). And Jesus confirms the truth of this confession: `Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.`

 (Matthew XVI, 17). Many times the Holy Scripture calls the men sons of God too, but it calls them in this way wither because they are created by Him or because they are born again to a new life by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

`You are the children of the Lord your God` (Deuteronomy XIV, 1) Moses tells the Jews referring more at the meaning of sons by creation.

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John I, 12-13). Here it is talked about the sons of God by adoption. About them it is said even that they are born from God.

Jesus Christ is not the Son of God in any of the meanings from above. He is not son among sons. He is not son as any creature, nor son by grace or by adoption. He is Son by nature, He is the only Son of God by nature, having no brothers. That is way the Creed says The One Born. Jesus Christ calls Himself One Born.

`For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.` (John III, 16).

About God the Son (V)

149. What means the name of Jesus given to the Saviour ?

The name of Jesus means God the Saviour. Jesus means Saviour in Hebrew and this name suits Him perfectly because He is the Saviour of the world indeed. And it is perfect because it was not given by men but by the angel at the command of the heavenly Father, Who knew beforehand what wok His Son was to accomplish in the world.

`an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[a] because he will save his people from their sins.` (Matthew I, 20-21).

In the Old Testament Jesus Navi,  the successor of Moses who led the people of Israel towards the Holy Land saving them from the wandering through the desert. But he was only a foreshadow of Jesus Christ Who saved the peoples from their wandering through sins and leading them towards the Kingdom of Heaven. He is not any savior, He is the Saviour in the full meaning of the word.

150. What means the name of Christ?

Christ means anointed. At the Jews anointed were the priests, the prophets and the emperors who were anointed with holy oil which symbolized the gift of the Holy Spirit. But they were only images of the true Annointed One, they received only partially the power of the Holy Spirit, as an aid for their ministration. But Christ receives the Holy Spirit Himself. Christ is not God bearer, but incarnated God. He is not anointed as a prophet by divine energy but by the presence of the plenitude of anointment. Saint John Chrysostom says: `All the grace was effused over that temple. Since the Father did not give the spirit sparingly but gave it fully to this temple. We have only a little, a drop from that grace. So Christ is the Anointed in the full meaning of the word, not one of the many anointed ones. He is the highest high priest, emperor and prophet and the spring of all the hierarchs, spiritual leaders and prophets. As we see the name of Christ suits Him perfectly because it was not given by men but by the angel who said to the shepherds: `But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.` (Luke II, 10-11).

Jesus says about Himself that He was anointed by the Holy Spirit as i twas prophesied about Him by Isaiah, the prophet:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. 🙁 Isaiah 61,1)

 The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me  to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners  and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
(Luke IV, 18).

151. Christ by the anointment He has from the Holy Spirit is the true high priest, prophet and emperor. Are these ministrations of Christ mentioned in the Holy Scripture and what is their meaning?

The Holy Scripture tells us in many places that Christ received by Anointment from the Holy Spirit the ministration of high priest, prophet and emperor. Saint Paul says that He was the greatest high priest and brought the complete sacrifice, His own body.

By this He cleansed the men of their sins not only prefigured that purification, as the priests of the Old Testament did when they sacrificed animals.

Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. (Hebrews VII, 26-27).

He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining[a] eternal redemption. (Hebrews IX, 12).

He was the highest prophet bringing the fullest teaching about God, like One Who hadn’t received it from the outside but from His own endless plenitude. That is why nobody can add anything to His teaching. It can only be better understood in the Church. In this meaning He is the last of the prophets who completed the divine revelation.

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. (Deuteronomy XVIII, 15). His disciples call Him `teacher` and Jesus says about Himself : `I am the Truth` (John  XIV, 6), `I am the Light of the World` (John VIII, 12), or `In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth.` (John XVIII, 37).

And His royal dignity is prophesied by archangel Gabriel to Virgin Mary :

`The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.`(Luke I, 32, 53).

Jesus Himself says that He is a king but His Kingdom is a spiritual one, with spiritual arms and laws, not resembling those from this world. `My Kingdom is not from this world.`(John XVIII, 36), He answered to Pilate from Pontus. Jesus is the meek king we talked about when we explained the word `Lord`. He is the king lamb that sacrificed Himself for the sin of the world. (Apocalypse V) As King Jesus founded His Church, gave its laws and leads it mystically by His servants to whom He gives His grace and at the end of times He will judge the live and the dead.

About God the Son (IV)

143. How were the men elevated to this faith in One God Who has a Son ?

The Jewish people was raised carefully in the faith in One God so that through them to engrain in time this faith to the other peoples. Gradually in order not to put in danger the faith in One God the Jewish people was taught by the prophets that the One God has a Son Who would come to save the world and a Holy Spirit.

In the Genesis God speaks to the other divine persons: 

`Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.` (Genesis I, 26-27) too show that the three persons form a single divine being. God’s apparition at Mamre’s oak in the form of three travelers (Genesis 18, 2) has the same meaning. David knows afterwards explicitly that Gd has a Son when he sees God the Father saying to the Lord (to God the Son):

The Lord says to my lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies  a footstool for your feet.”(Psalm 110, 1-2), or when he hears God the Father saying to God the Son: You are my son;  today I have become your father.Ask me,  and I will make the nations your inheritance,  the ends of the earth your possession. (Psalm II, 5-6).

Due to the influence of the Jews who from their Babylonian slavery were scattered among all peoples and by the hidden guidance of the Word of God many philosophers from other cultures  propagated the idea of  One God and of His action in the world through His Word or Intellect especially upon the minds of the enlightened men. Thus before the coming of the Savior the world was in a strange condition because on one hand they believed in One Almighty and men loving God Who wanted to send someone from Himself for the salvation of the world and on the other they were in the greatest moral decadence and helplessness.

This condition made the people wait salvation from God and when the Savior came it helped them to be able to receive Him and His teaching about God

144. Was this preparation enough for mankind to receive Jesus Christ as God ?

No, it was not enough, all the Jews and most of the philosophers should have received Him.

At those mentioned were added as grounds of faith: 1) His teaching beyond comparison with any other; 2) His purest Life and 3) His miracles from these especially His Resurrection and Ascension.

But all these grounds are surpassed by the power with which He worked and has been working until today upon the souls that are opened to His Word renewing and engraining in them the steady belief that He is God. The faith in Christ comes first from the grace of God not from rationalizing the mentioned grounds. But those reasons prepared the mind of the man for receiving this grace. For us the Christians one of the strongest reasons which prepares our mind to receive the grace of faith and work together with it is the existence of Christianity for 2000 years, the fact that since then until today hundreds of billions of souls believed permanently in the divinity of Jesus.

145. What is the belief of our Church in the divinity of our Savior Jesus Christ?

Raspunsul mai amanuntit la aceasta intrebare il da articolul II al Simbolului Credintei, primul dintre cele sase articole(II-VII), care se ocupa cu persoana si lucrarea mantuitoare a Domnului Iisus Hristos. Caci acest articol cuprinde in forma cea mai scurta, dar si cea mai deplina, invatatura Bisericii despre Dumnezeirea lui Iisus Hristos.

146. What is this article?

This article is: `And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of light; true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made.`

147. What does this article teach us?

Two things. First that our Lord Jesus Christ Who saved us is the Son of God, equal in everything with God the Father, eternal like Him and One with Him in terms of essence and glory being distinguished Himself by the fact that He is Son and not Father, by the fact that His Father gives birth to Him and He is born from the being of the Father. Even Jesus said about Himself: ` And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.`

Secondly that Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World is the Creator of everything, His divinity being shown by this.

As the Father is the Creator of everything, and we were taught about this in the first article of the Creed, as is His Son, Creator of everything. The Father does everything but does this through His Son

`Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.` (John I,3)

Even time was created through Jesus Christ as the Apostle says : `and through whomalso he made the ages.` (Hebrews I, 2), and in another place he says: ` For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. ` (Colossians I, 16-17)

If in Hi mis everything settled this means that He supports everything and in in Him everything lives so He is a partaker in their providence preserving their life and taking care of them as He says it Himself: `In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working. (John V, 17).

148. What mean the first words from the second article of the Creed : `And in One Lord Jesus Christ `?

As we were taught by the first article to believe in God the Father so we are taught by the second one to believe in Jesus Christ, His Son. Without the faith in the Son we cannot know the Father. The Father does not exist without the Son. Who doesn’t believe that God has a Son doesn’t believe either that God is a Father and has in Himself paternal Love. That kind of God would be a loveless One, not a True One. `I am the door` (John X, 9) says Jesus: `No one comes to the Father except through me.`(John XIV, 6). Jesus Christ in whom we believe as we believe in the Father is One, because the Father has only One Son and we have only One Saviour. Only by this One we are saved and reach the Father because there is nly one way and only one door leading to the Father and He is that way and door.

He is the Lord reigning over our souls, He is the Lord and Master of our life Whom we serve (Colossians III, 24) and we dedicate gladly all our life to Him so we do not belong to ourselves anymore but to Him  (II Cor. X, 7) and we can say like Apostle Paul : `I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,who loved me and gave himself for me.` (Galatians II, 20) Because He gave us this life and saved us from death. And if we dedicate our life to Him we are the ones who benefit from this, because He furbishes us day by day making us be in His image (Romans VIII, 2.9)

Christ’s reign over souls is not a a harsh and coercive one but a gentle one. He reigns over us through Love and Truth: `Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.` (Matthew XI, 29-30).

This reign doesn’t mean that we don’t have the duty to work for our brothers. On the contrary we serve Jesus when we do good to the small and exhausted (Matthew XXIV, 40). This complete reign over our souls and over the whole world Jesus Christ won it as a man too because He humbled Himself as no one else and sacrificied His life for us. His name was raised then higher than any other name and all the knees must kneel down before Him receiving Him as the Lord.

Who, being in very nature God,  did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature  of a servant, being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—  even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place  and gave him the name that is above every name,that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,  in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,  to the glory of God the Father.(Philippians II, 6-11)

About God the Son (III)

138. What is the third reason of the incarnation?

This reason is seen in saint John Damascene’s words from above. The Son of God incarnated to unite our nature with His divine nature, making it His own nature, so that it would not move away of God, so that it would not work against Him, so that this temple would not ruin itself but be always filled and moved by God.

Otherwise it would have been possible that our nature once saved had been lost again. In the same time only in this way He could save human nature once and for always from corruption and death, uniting it with Himself, Who is the Spring of incorruptibility and immortality. By our nature now created in God we can all be recreated in Christ (Ephesians II, 10) Now we can be more at our ease meaning that if we want we can be in communion with the Son of God, because He is a man like us, not only God. And by the faith and love in communion with Him we find ourselves created in Him, together with His human nature.

That is why saint apostle Paul says that as in the Son of God were all created and set from the beginning when they were made now even more when He took our human nature, He places us who want that within Himself more profoundly. So He urges us: `o then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,  rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.`

Saint Cyrill of Alexandria presents the third reason as follows: `How could the man from the earth who had fallen into death return to incorruptibility? It was needed that the mortal body commune with the living power of God. And the life giving power of God the Father is the Word the One Born.

139. If only the Son of God made me could save the world of sin and death why didn’t He made Himself man sooner ? Why God let so much time to pass from the fall of Adam until the sending of His Son?

It was necessary a preparation of men to receive the Savior when He was to come. Because it was not enough to come the Savior and die for men. They had to receive Him with faith. Otherwise their salvation could not have been accomplished. They needed to be prepared to be able to believe that Jesus Christ is the incarnated Son of God and only through Him they could save their souls.

140. How was made this preparation?

In two ways: first by increasing the evil and in the same time by enhancing the belief of the people  that they could not save their souls by their own powers and secondly by emphasizing the prophecies from God that He was to send them a Savior and this Savior was His Son.

God prepared in a way the pagan peoples and in another one the Jewish people. He prepared the pagans by means of nature and He prepared the Jews by means of something supernatural and more explicit so that by the teaching given to them to benefit the pagans as well.

141. How were prepared the pagans and the Jews by the increase of the evil  and of their belief that they could not save their souls by their own powers?

The pagans and the Jews were prepared first by being left to increase their sins. If God had saved men immediately after their fall maybe they could not have realized all the misfortunes brought by sin. And the men would have believed they could get rid of evil by their own powers and they didn’t need God.

It was necessary to let passing thousands of years so that men would have tasted the poison of evil and get disgusted of it and in the same time see that all their attempts to get rid of the evil were in vain.

In this way the pagan peoples fell in the worst delusions worshiping animals and stones and sacrificing human lives. The Jews even if they were guided by God closely deviated towards evil. And when the evil increased God gave them the Law on Mount Sinai (Exodus chapter XX) to show them clearly how they were supposed to live. But because of the sin lying within themlseves instead of listening to the Law they stubbornly disobeyed it. Thus the Law became cause for the increase of sin. `

For the disobeyance of the commandments was brought the Law, says saint apostle Paul (Galatians III, 19) and he says too: `For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment,deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.

 (Romans VII, 11), The Law was good and holy but it became cause of death for man.

Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. (Romans VII, 13). When the sin increased the man realized that he could not save his soul by any law even if it was from God. The law could not help him because by it God showed him what was good but did not give His help to fulfill that only left the man limited to his own powers.

God did not give His help because the man wouldn’t have received it because he still trusted in his own powers. For this reason God left him in his pride of being sure he could save his soul alone and that he could fulfill the commandments of the Law alone. But the more clearly was shown the height of goodness by the Law the more aware became the man that he was far away of that and the more sinful he felt. This thing was seen by the Jewish by means of the Law written on the tables of the law and the pagan by means of the Law written in his heart with the aid of the conscience. `I see the good ones – says a pagan poet – I admit them but I always do what is wrong.` And thus by the Law on one side the sin increased and on the other one the man became more aware of his helplessness in saving his soul of sin and instead of believing in his powers, he became more confident that God Himself, by His power, namely by His grace, could save him. Here is why saint apostle Paul says: `(for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.` (Jews VII, 19)

142. How did God prepare the men for the news they were to receive that He was to come to save them Himself ?

The first promise God gave to men that He was to send them a Saviour was made after the fall. It was their first comfort in the misfortune that affected them. God tells the snake that someone born from the woman will smash its head: `And I will put enmity between you and the woman,  and between your offspring and hers;he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel`

But God gave new and clearer prophecies about the Savior that was to come through the prophets of the Old Testament, because in their time the wickedness had grown among people. That is why the prophets cried and suffered saying: Who shall give salvation from Sion ? (Psalm XIII, 6) or they prayed: `Part your heavens, Lord, and come down;(Psalm 144, 6)

God showing mercy for this prayer said to men: `the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple”(Malachi III, 1), or: `Here I come to gather all the peoples and languages` (Isaiah LVI, 18).

And the Lord gave many signs for being recognized by men when He was to come. He would not come harshly but meekly, riding a foal of a donkey :

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. (Zechariah. IX, 9). He would come not for reigning like the kings of the earth but to save by His blood all those who were enslaved by sin : `

As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.(Zecharia IX, 11).

Prophet Isaiah prophesies in detail His humiliation, suffering and death for the sins of the others:

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.We all, like sheep, have gone astray,  each of us has turned to our own way;and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth;he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,  so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished  (Isaiah 53, 2- 8).

Even the time and the place of the Saviour’s arrival were prophesied by the prophets. Prophet Daniel prophesied : `From the emergence of the word to rebuild  Jerusalem` meaning from 457 until the sin will end and the transgressions will be erased (IX 24-25) will pass 70 weeks meaning 490 years time that was reached in the year 33 after Christ when the Saviour smashed the power of sin by His death on the Cross. And prophet Michaea prophesied that the Saviour would be born in Betlehem (Michaeia V,2) Then Isaiah the prophet prophesied that the Saviour would be born in a supernatural way from the Virgin

Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.  (meaning God is with us) (Isaiah VII, 15). And also that He would be born from the people of David `Once I

Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness—    and I will not lie to David—36 that his line will continue forever   and his throne endure before me like the sun; it will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky.” (Psalm 89, 35-36). All these prophesies would help the faith of men by the fact that they were fulfilled in Christ. But the men in order to be able to receive Jesus Christ as God had to be taken out of their stray faith in idols and elevated to the faith in a singleAlmighty and loving God but Who has a Son that is not separated of His being.

About God the Son (II)

135. But the Son of Man could not have saved the world from a distance, without making Himself in the likeness of men?

God in His wisdom considered that it was not good t save the men from afar. There are many reasons for this and the main ones are three:

136. What is the first one of these reasons?

The first reason is that justice required if a man had broken the law of obedience of God, another man had to suffer fulfilling this law by obedience and paying with His innocent life the disobedience of the others:  ` For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. ` (Romans V, 19).

In other words the reconciliation between God and man had to be made by God’s action and by man’s deed as well. Saint Gregory of Nyssa says: `After death had entered the world by the disobedience of a man, it was expelled by the obedience of another. Here is why He made Himself obedient till death: to heal in this way the sin of disobedience and to destroy by His Resurrection the death that entered the world by disobedience.

That is why the Son of God made Himself man to work in the name of men, but His deed, as one that was done by a Man Who was also God, had to have a price to overcome the sins of all mankind. `The One who died for us – says saint Cyril of Jerusalem – was not of a low price. He was not a mute sheep, He was not an ordinary man, He was nto an angel, but God made man. The trespass of sin was not as big as the righteousness of the One killed because of us. We did not sin as much as it valued the righteousness of the One who put His soul for us.

Making Himself a man and keeping his human nature pure and fulfilling with it the law of obedience of God and expiating with the blood shed on the cross the disobedience of men He saved the mankind from damnation and reconciliated us with God. ` For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!` (Romans, 5:10) `All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. (II Corinthians 5:18)

Our nature that bore within itself the ugliness of disobedience and was within those who were the enemies of God has become now the pure nature of His Beloved Son.

Looking at His Son with love God looked with love at our own nature that was appropriated by Him. Loving His Son Who became obedient till death, God loved in the same time the man. He did not see anymore our nature as the one that disobeyed the law and was condemned to die but as the nature that expiated the disobedience of the law and became worthy to commune life. And God’s love for our nature appropriated by His Son was to touch all those who had this nature and clung to His Son by faith. That is why saint Apostle paul says that in the Son of God `we have the expiation and the forgiveness of our sins by His blood` and `that through Him He condescended to reconcile everything with Himself, making peace by the blood from His Cross. Or more clearly:

And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. (Colossians I, 14, 20, 21-22).

God by loving us now in Jesus Christ makes us partakers of His kindness communed by Jesus Christ as His Son, considering us as His Sons as well : `

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans VIII, 17).

137. But what is the second reason of the incarnation ?

The second reason why the Son of God incarnated Himself as man was to show us that His Love for us is so great that He doesn’t stay far away from us but makes Himself man, adopts our nature and comes towards us to speak with us on our language and to teach us directly, not through others, like in the Old Testament. He wanted to conquer our hearts by His Love and give us a visible example of the way a man should be to please God. And He did not make Himself a man only for a while but for eternity, remaining in touch with us and showing us how much he values and loves men. Saint John Damascene says that `the Savior came to partake our nature, to teach us by His parables the path to virtue, to free us of corruption by communion with Life, making Himself the beginning of our life.`

About God the Son (I)

130. What are the articles from the Creed referring at God the Son?

The articles from the Creed about God the Son are articles II – VII?

131. What do these article teach us ?

They speak to us about the greatest and most miraculous deed of God’s love towards us. They tell us that The One who saved us is God’s Son and He accomplished this salvation by His incarnation as man and by His death on the Cross. God showed us great love when He created the world and the mankind this being mentioned in the first article from the Creed. But the greatest prrof of the endless love He has for us he showed it when He sent His Son into the world as a man and gave Him to death on the Cross for us the men and for our salvation.

The Son of God Who came into the world tells us about this too: `For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.` (John III, 16).

And saint Athanasios says : `Having compassion for our stock and being moved by our weakness and being touched by our corrupted nature and not bearing the deterioration caused by death to us in order to impede the destruction of what He had done and for not being in vain the work of the Father He took human body like ours and gave his wn body to death.

132. Was it necessary this incarnation for mankind?

It was necessary. We saw that by Adam’s disobedience the sin and death affected all the men. The sin caused an enmity (Romans V,10) between them and God being all of them sons of anger (Ephesians II, 5, Romans V,9)because they had become wicked and their power to do good was weakened. Instead of doing the good wanted by God and asked by their conscience they did the evil all the time. For this reason their conscience rebuked them without cease. And this was a sign that God was discontent. And God showed His discontent by the punishments He brought upon men. Because He could not let their sin unpunished (Romans V, 18) The sins committed by men caused to them worries, diseases and hardships and generated envy, hate, quarrel and wars among people.

Above all God punished the sin with death (Romans V,12) so that wickedness could not be eternal.

They all died and by death they went to eternal death meaning to the endless torments. But this was a too much painful situation and could not be endured by the love of God. It was needed a salvation from this.

133. Couldn’t the men give this to themselves alone?

No, they couldn’t. Because although they suffered cause of the evil that reigned over them they couldn’t get rid of it, their nature was weakened by sin, they were enslaved by sin. This tormenting condition is described by saint Paul as follows:

`For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

No man could save the others from sin because all of them were enslaved by sin (Romans VII, 23) and n one could get rid from this enslavement. They couldn’t do this not even all together. Here is what saint Athanasius says: `Cause after they were all of them hurt in their souls and troubled by the demonic deceit and the futility of all the idols how was it possible fr the man to make the souls and minds of the men change? Somebody may say that the entire world could do this. But if the world had been able of this  would not have happened so many evils. Cause the world existed and the men persisted in such great wickedness.

134. No angel could have saved them ? Was it necessary to come the Son of God in person?

No angel could save them. First because God had to participate at the reconciliation with Him. Secondly because the men had to be saved from death as well. And death could not be removed by anything else but by the eternal life that is found only in God. Only God could give life to the first men. Only He could give it back. Saint Athanasius says: `It was not possible through the angels because they are not images of God. That is why the Word of God came into the world as a person, as One that is the image of the Father so that He could renew the man created in the image of God.

The one who withdraws from the world must deplete himself of everything. How he should take care of these worldly acquisitions. For those living in a community to own something means a sure perdition

1. of saint Barsanuphius

A monk asked an elder: `My relatives owe me a small amount of money I want to give it to the poor. But those people don’t want to give it back to me. What to do? The elder answered: `If you don’t cut your fleshly thought and you won’t show a bit of shamelessness after God towards your relatives, you will fall into the sin of desiring to be liked by men.

2. From Patericon

A brother who had withdrawn from the world, had given his possessions to the poor and kept only a little for himself went to abba Antonius asking to become a monk. And the elder hearing that he had kept a little for himself told him: `If you want to become a monk go to the next village and buy some meat. Take off your clothes, put the meat around your body and come like this till here.`

That brother did exactly at he was told. And while returning naked and wearing the meat around his body the dogs and the birds of prey lacerated it trying to snatch the meat. After he returned to the elder and showed him his lacerated body, abba Antonius said: `This is the way are torn to pieces in their struggle with the demons those who withdraw from the world but still want to keep some money for themselves.`


     Abba Isidore:  The terrible and shameful addiction to money doesn’t know saturation and pushes the soul into the worst of sins. That is why we should chase it away from the start. Because if it controls us becomes uncontrollable.


`A man who wanted to withdraw from the world went to a great elder and told him : `I want to become a monk.` The elder told him: `If you want it go and give up on everything then come and sit in your cell.`

This man went and gave everything he had but he kept for himself one hundred golden coins and then came to the elder. The elder told him: `You cannot become a monk.` The man said: `But I can.` Then the elder told him: Go and sit in your cell.` So he went and sat down. But as he was sitting there he had a thought that said: `The door is old and must be changed.`    

The elder told him: `You haven’t given up on the world yet. Go and do it then come and sit here.`   The brother went and gave 90 coins from the money he had. Returning he said: `I gave up on the world.` And as the elder told him to go and sit in the cell he did this and he got another thought: `The roof is old and must be mended.` The elder told him: `Go and give up on the world.` So he went and gave the ten golden coins he still had then went back to the elder and said: `I gave up on the world.` Afterwards he went to sit in his cell and his thoughts told him: `Everything here is old, the place is desert and the lion comes to eat you.` He went to the elder and confessed his thoughts. `The elder told him: `Answer to your thoughts this: I wait to see everything coming against me, the lion to eat me to be freed faster. Say this to your thoughts, go and sit in your cell, pray without cease to God not being afraid and not worrying about anything.` The brother did this and he found his peace.


A young man wanted to withdraw from the world. He left the city many times to go to a monastery but his thoughts made him go back bringing him worries for things that seemed necessary. He was very rich. One day as he had left the city he was again overwhelmed by his thoughts that darkened his mind and urged him to go back for certain affairs apparently necessary. Feeling the war set against him and the burden of his thoughts he took off the clothes he was wearing and threw them. Then he ran naked as he was to one of the monasteries. God revealed to an elder to whom the young man was coming: `Get up and welcome my servant.` The man got up and welcomed him. And when he found out what had happened he marveled. He received the young man and gave him the schema immediately.    Since them when other brothers came to the elder to ask him about their thoughts if they asked about other things he answered them. But if they asked about the withdrawal from the world he sent them to that man saying: `Ask the brother.`


There was a monk who was sick and he was taken by the abbot of a monastery who took care of him as if he hadn’t had the necessary ones. He told the the monks who were under his guidance: Ler us try to give rest to the helpless one.` But the sick man had a vessel full of gold and he had hidden it in a hollow under the straw bed where he was lying. After some time he died without confessing the truth about the gold. While they buried him abba told the brothers: `Take this bedding out of here. The monks took it and found the hidden gold. They took brought it and brought it to abba. And this one seeing the gold and finding out how it had been found said: Because the man didn’t confess about this during his life not even on his death bed and put all his hopes in that I won’t touch it. Take it as it is and bury it near him. While returning from the burial they saw a fire coming from the skies and hitting the grave and it burnt for many days till it consumed the stones, the dust and everything was in the tomb. And all those who saw this got afraid and marveled.      


Excerpt from EVERGHETINOS – first edition 2007  Holy Monastery Vatoped vol. I, Theme 17 – Metropolis Press, Athens, Greece, 2007.