When my family was received into Orthodoxy I was given Gregory Palamas, Metropolitan of Thessaloniki as my patron saint. And for the longest time I could not understand how my parents passed up Gregory the Great, or Gregory the Theologian, sure fire greats. I would ask them at least once a year (generally on the second Sunday of Lent) why was this Greek Bishop from the 13th century my patron saint? The answer I always got was that He was a pious bishop who spoke for what the Church believed.
It took me awhile, but it did sink in. Not necessarily what St. Gregory Palamas did, rather what the Church believed. That real faith was not an intellectual exercise only experienced in rational analytical thought.
The whole gist of St. Gregory’s life and work (and thus its absolute importance) was to preserve the truth that although fallen, humanity has the tools and the ability to experience God in the flesh, and not some created facsimile of Him. To really become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4)
As we continue our Lenten journey we are given this Sunday to remind us that our work of fasting, praying, doing good works enables us to enter the mercy, and glory of the Lord. That as we move towards God, He moves towards us, not with symbols or created elements, but with His real and life creating energies. Our Theosis in Him.
It’s in this that we can truly “be like him, for we shall see him as he is “(1 Jn. 3:2).
By the prayers of St. Gregory Palamas, may our hearts be moved to this.