Becoming Human. A Lenten journey.

Icon of the Sundays of Lent.Despite those elements that seem to legitimize the fleeting nature of humanity (and creation for that matter), making it something akin to a candle in the wind, Orthodox Christians have never been able to understand that the tragedies of sickness disease, weakness, want, and untimely death (sadly, characteristics of life), are what we are created for.

It is profoundly tragic to see life as a “One day it is here, and the other it has vanished as if it never existed” kind of storyline.

From the beginning, Christians have always held that humanity was created out of love to live in the Trinitarian life of endless love, to reign in peace and joy with its Creator, having received everything including the vocation to be divine according to the Lord’s likeness in which Adam and Eve were created.

The tragedy is that, in Adam and Eve, humans chose to take that life on their own terms, independent of their Creator and God, independent of the divine life shared with them out of love.

Instead of trusting the Lord, they feared Him, instead of offering thanksgiving, they cursed, instead of sharing, they coveted, instead of living in the eternity of a loving relationship, they and their heirs died.

The life given was that of bearing the likeness of God. Sorrowfully, the life chosen was the likeness of the lifeless soil humanity was formed from. No matter how rich and nutritious that soil might be, without seeds, water, light and cultivation, it can never grow, let alone bear fruit. It is only ever being about blown by the elements from one place and age to the next.

It is for this reason that the Lord acts to save humanity by assuming it. He did this not by occupying some shell or mask, but by totally empting Himself out of love, so that he would share everything in common with us, including death (Phil. 2:6-8).  And by His Resurrection on the third day, the Lord shares with us that victory over the tragedies that make life seem so trivial and futile.

This victory celebrated every Sunday, the foretaste of the Lord’s Resurrection (Pascha), a feast we now find ourselves in preparation to celebrate, is ultimately the restoration of humanity to what it was meant to be: a communion of life in life, of light in light, of truth in truth. This communion is eternal and fresh, offered without cost or measure out of love, to everyone and anyone.

This Lenten season requires labour and discipline in our lives, looking  beyond the temptation living life on our own terms, independent of God or neighbour, to the Lord who looks beyond our sin and errors to save us.

So we pray, that this fast be a time of accepting the work of the Holy Spirit, that seed of hope and life, the Lord working with us and in us. May we water this seed with the tears of our repentance and contrition and warm it with rays of good works, sacrifice, mercy and peace, offered to our neighbour as to the Lord. May this be a time in which we cultivate it with a life in the Church, offering constant thanksgiving and prayer, inspired by the scriptures and the saints who teach, admonish and intercede, so that we might truly become human, and “grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ” (Eph. 4:15), bearing the fruit of eternal life, according to the likeness we were created in.