Our Death to Death and Rising to Life

“We must therefore avoid love of glory, the sister and neighbour of arrogance, which is not far distant from its borders. Let us flee the illustrious honour of the present life as something unjust, and instead let us seek the holiness found in humility, yielding to each other as the blessed Paul admonished us: ‘Each one of you think this among yourselves which is also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking on the form of a slave, coming to be in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name (Phil 2.5-9).’ Do you see how the voluntary humility has a glorious end, and a measured attitude is shown to be the root of many good things for us? The Only Begotten, who was in the form of God the Father, humbled himself by becoming human for us. But even though he appeared in this life with the flesh, he did not remain humbled. He returned to his original honour and God-befitting glory even though he became human. One may think that this is how it is in our case as well. When we bring ourselves down from the vain glories of the present life and seek what is humble, then we will surely receive the glory from above in return, and we will ascend to being gods by grace and will be called children of God by our likeness to the true and natural son. And, to say something similar to the passage before us, let us refuse the highest earthly excellence, the mother of all honour, if it comes to us, since we keep our mind on heavenly things, and we live for things above rather than things on earth.” St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, Book 3, Chapter 4, On John 6.15.

In the celebration of the Resurrection let us emulate the life, death and rising of Christ. As we journey through this life we must encounter those things within us that must be put to death. It we voluntarily put these elements to death then we too can rise to newness in the life in Christ. St. Paul teaches us this,

“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6.4

This is liturgically lived out in our baptism. Of course, in Orthodoxy we know that the whole of our life is still yet a liturgical participation. In this sense, we are constantly living out our baptism and renewing it, although not re-entering the laver. May God grant us that we die daily to those things that are enslaving us and keeping us from the life united to God for which we were created.

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