Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Glory of the Earthly Body in the Union with the Eternal Godhead

First, an excerpt from John Chrysostom's "Homily on Christmas Morning":

Let that handiwork be forever glorified, which became the cloak of its own Creator. For as in the first creation of flesh, man could not be made before the clay had come into His hand, so neither could this corruptible body be glorified, until it had first become the garment of its Maker.

Chrysostom speaks here of the flesh of man, which the Eternal Son took up in His Incarnation. The Golden Mouthed preacher's words hearken to other words more famously sung on Christmas:

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the Incarnate Deity! Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel.

For all of the splendors of Eden, there remained one gift that God withheld from His stewards: their King. "For as in the first creation of flesh, man could not be made before the clay had come into His hand, so neither could this corruptible body be glorified, until it had first become the garment of its Maker."

The purity in the Garden was innocence whereas the purity of Heaven is glorification. In the Garden was the giddy and light joys of youth. In Heaven is the sober and weighty joys of maturity. In the Garden was the early plucked, sweet wine that cheers the senses with its first splash. In Heaven is the drought-tested, robust wine that satisfies only as its complexity unravels in reflection.

The Divine Author of Creation set forth so beautiful a beginning that it is difficult to imagine anything more glorious, yet in the strange, uncanny Incarnation He foreshadows to His people something of the greater glory that awaits. Society with the Son of God, Jesus Christ the Incarnate Son, was full of the wonder, joy, and potency that full humanity is destined to become--first in His birth, intermediately in His death, and finally in His resurrection and ascension we see the fullness of man unfurled from the frail immaturity, to the euchatastrophic conquest, and unto full maturity in glorified splendor. The great chiasm of history displays an exalted Adam who becomes lowly Israel who gives way to lowly Jesus who becomes the exalted Christ. And just as in one man all Fell, so in one Man all are raised--the Church, the Bride, the Body is being incorporated even now as God gathers broken vessels of clay and gives them new life, piecing them into the Incarnate Son.

There are many things to despise in the body, even as there are many delights our bodies afford to us. But we who in this age exalt the glories of the body into a grotesque anti-image of the Son of Man, Christians would do well to remember that our bodies were never what they will be, nor can the pleasures of Eden or the foretastes of the present Age comprehend what our bodies will be in their completed union with the Eternal Godhead: Father, Spirit, Son.

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

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