The Holy Theophany

But when the Word of God became Man, He received the Spirit from the Father as one of us, (not receiving it for Himself individually, for He was the Giver of the Spirit); but that He Who knew no sin, might, by receiving It as Man, preserve It to our nature, and might again implant in us the grace which had left us. For this reason, I deem, it was that the holy Baptist profitably added, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from Heaven, and It remained upon Him.’ For It had fled from us by reason of sin, but He Who knew no sin, became as one of us, that the Spirit might be accustomed to abide in us, having no occasion of departure or withdrawal in Him.” St. Cyril of Alexandria on John 1:32-33.

St. Cyril is making this comment in his commentary on John pointing out that this is Christ accomplishing a reversal of the movement of the Holy Spirit Who had departed from among humanity in Genesis 6 on account of our desire to live a life divorced of God,

Man then is a rational creature, but composite, of soul that is and of this perishable and earthly flesh. And when it had been made by God, and was brought into being, not possessing incorruption and imperishableness as part of their nature (for these things appertain essentially to God Alone), it was sealed with the Spirit of Life, by participation with the Divinity gaining the good that is above nature (for He breathed, it says, into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul). But when he was being punished for his transgressions, then rightly hearing Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return, he was bared of the grace; the breath of life, that is the Spirit of Him Who says I am the Life, departed from the earthy body and the creature falls into death.” St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John Book 1. Commentary on John 1:14.

One must remember that this, even if spoken of as punishment is humanity’s will choice to live apart from Him Who is Life (more posts in the future on this). Thus it is a self-inflicted wound. The departure from Life can only mean death as we are shown in the parable of the prodigal son. The prodigal son, wishing his father be as though dead to him, requests his inheritance and leaves home only to find an empty shell of a ‘life’. The Scriptures teach this clearly. Take for example the Wisdom of Solomon:

For God did not make death, neither does He have pleasure over the destruction of the living. For He created all things that they might exist, and the generations of the world so they might be preserved; for there was no poison of death in them, nor was the reign of Hades on the earth. For righteousness does not die. But the ungodly summoned death by their words and works; although they thought death would be a friend, they were dissolved. For they made a covenant with death, since they were deserving to share it in common.” The Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-16.

The whole economy of Christ is to effect our union and living with Him. In Christ’s baptism, He brings us into a new relationship to the Spirit as the Spirit abides upon Him and remains, ‘having no occasion of departure’ in Christ.

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