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Eckardtesian Thought: I think, therefore I write . . .
4/8/2023 0 Comments
Good Friday 2023
Behold the man! Here is the image of God in all his glory. For in the image of God man was created. Man was created to look like God, to be the reflection of God. Not only in his appearance, but also in his kindness and mercy and love. The creation of Adam in the image of God is a declaration that Adam looks like God. But God is a spirit; and when he created man, he had no form at all. So how is it that Adam looked like God? Behold, this was prophetic: man was created in the form which God himself would take in the fulness of time. As the Apostle says, Christ being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God. Christ is the form of God. The incarnation means that God and man are become one Person in Jesus. And in all of history up until this time we were created in such a way that we had in himself an image to which to look at, a reflection, of God: this is how God will look when he becomes incarnate, in the fulness of time.
But the image of God meant more than this: for man was created to reflect not only the appearance of God, how God would look when he became flesh, but also how God is in himself: kind, merciful, and loving. Adam was made to be more than the beasts, in that he would know love, selfless, giving love: that he would fully love his bride and be dedicated to this love. The image of God means appearance and form, and in this form also is a selflessness, a complete dedication to the other.
But man fell. And instead of loving the other, he began to love himself, and be dedicated to himself, and be selfish and idolatrous.
So man turned from his loving God, and soon became a murderer. Adam’s oldest son murdered the younger. See how soon is man become a murderer. And so when man fell he became utterly selfish, instead of being selfless as he was created to be.
What a miserable lot we have become! Out of the heart of man proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these things come from within, and defile the man, as Jesus said. Even when we love, we find our love mingled with selfishness. We hope to gain something for ourselves when we love someone, and we only love someone who is lovable. Jesus declares that we should love our enemies, but we find hatred of them near at hand. He said we should forgive them, but we would so easily grab them by the throat, and say, pay what you owe me! And we forget what we ourselves owe our Creator. We hate when we should love. How we have fallen! And how the image of God has become marred and twisted and ruined in us.
But God’s image remains in himself, and he is love. He is merciful. This is his essence, to be selfless and giving.
And so he has come to us in the flesh, not only to be united with mankind, but to love mankind, and to give himself utterly for us who are so miserable. God is love; God loves mankind still, even after man’s fall. His love is without bounds; it is an infinite love. Nothing can dissuade him from loving the world, and giving himself for the world, even unto death, the death of the cross. God so loved the world! In this way he loved the world, utterly, completely, giving himself for us and holding nothing back from us that he has not given us. God is utterly selfless.
And so the man Pilate here presents to the jeering crowd, this bleeding, bruised man, with image so marred that we hid as it were our faces from him, this man whose blood streams down his cheeks, with black-and-blue eyes swollen to the point of closing, this man scarcely recognizable as the One who just a few days earlier had ridden into town on an ass, amid glad cries of Hosanna!, this man already near the point of dying: Pilate presents him now on Gabbatha, his stage of pavement, for all the crowds to see; Pilate presents him with his own fetid version of mockery, as if to say with scorn, see your king now, O ye Jews! What a joke, what a sad joke! Aha! Aha! Behold the man!
But here is the height of irony. It is in truth a thing of beauty! Behold the man! See the extent of his love! See how utterly dedicated to you he truly is, O man! See to what lengths he agreed to go, willingly! See how deep is his love for you! Behold the man! For God showed his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
He is the Second Adam, in all his glory: displaying love, selfless, giving love: and he fully loves his bride and is dedicated to this love.
And thus, while on the cross, he leaves his mother, and is joined to his bride. He says to his mother, Woman, behold thy son, and to the beloved disciple, Behold thy mother. See, he leaves his mother, and so is joined to his holy Bride, the Church.
And this marriage is complete when he dies, and they pierce his holy side, and out comes blood and water. As it is written, The Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
But this time not a rib, token of a mortal world, but blood and water, in which are life. And so a bride is made by Baptism and most especially the Holy Supper. The blood that poured out from the side of Christ is poured into the chalice, and to his Bride Christ declares, Take, drink! And so the Bride becomes one flesh with the Bridegroom, with whom he rejoices in her salvation: Flesh of my flesh!
O Bride of Christ, his dear beloved, join thyself to him now! Behold, thou art fair, his love; behold, thou art fair; thou art all fair, his love; there is no spot in thee. This is how he sees you. This is what he has done for you, this is what he had made you. So now, dear Bride, love him in return. Let the image of God infect your soul, and teach you to love him as you have been loved. And let there be a restoration of what once was, and now by his love has begun to become what it was meant to be in the beginning. Put away all strife, and hatred, and selfish desire from your heart. And love him, with the same everlasting love that you see in him. Behold the man! And let his love for you, his love that you can see so clearly here, let this love melt also your heart. Love your Bridegroom. Enter into his gates with praise, and learn of him, for he is meek and lowly in heart. Behold the man! And love the man, and all mankind, in him. Sermon for Good Friday.
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