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Human Beings (Becoming Fully Human)

“The work of God is the fashioning of the human being…this work is announced in Genesis, completed on the Cross, and continued in ourselves as we take up the Cross.” (Fr. John Behr)


“When Christ said “It is finished” (Jn 19.30), He is not simply declaring that His earthly life has come to an end, but that rather the work of God is now “fulfilled” or “completed.” The divine economy, that is, the whole plan of creation and salvation, told from this perspective, culminates at this point. The work of God spoken of in Genesis, creating “the human being [anthrōpos] in our image and likeness” (Gen 1.26–27), is completed here: By himself undergoing the Passion as a man, Jesus Christ, as Son of God and Himself God, fashions us into the image and likeness of God, the image of God that he himself is (Col 1.15). That Christ is the first true human being, and that we ourselves only become fully human in his stature, is a point made by many Christian writers across the centuries…“the work of God is the fashioning of the human being [anthrōpos].” (St Irenaeus, Fr. John Behr)


“To be truly human is to be conformed to the image of Christ. And not just to the image of Christ, but Christ crucified. Anything less would make a mockery of our existence and a diminishment of the fullness to which we are called…The character of Christ, who is the Image according to which we are created, is such that human beings are more fully revealed to be what they are as they draw near to Him (or as He himself draws near to us).” (Father Stephen Freeman)


“There are many ways to view ourselves as human beings. All too often, we accept false definitions that we find appealing in light of our passions, weaknesses, and other forms of personal brokenness. When we do so, we set our sights too low, for the Savior became one of us in order to make us perfectly beautiful icons of His salvation. As He said to Nathanael in today’s gospel reading, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” To be truly human means nothing less than to participate personally in the fulfillment of that sublime calling…whatever Christ does or says is what a perfect human being united to God would do or say. He not only reveals God to us, but also humanity. Look at Christ and you are looking at what it means to be truly and genuinely human.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters, Fr. Stephen Kostoff)


“Man, according to the scriptures, is created “in the likeness of God” (Gen 1.26–27). To be like God, through the gift of God, is the essence of man’s being and life. In the scriptures it says that God breathed into man, the “breath [or spirit] of life” (Gen 2.7)…man cannot be truly human, truly himself, without the Spirit of God…“man is body, soul, and Holy Spirit.” This means that for man to fulfil himself as created in the image and likeness of God—that is, to be like Christ who is the perfect. divine, and uncreated Image of God—man must be the temple of God’s Spirit. If man is not the temple of God’s Spirit, then the only alternative is that he is the temple of the evil spirit. There is no middle way. Man is either in an unending process of life and growth in union with God by the Holy Spirit, or else he is an unending process of decomposition and death by returning to the dust of nothingness out of which he was formed, by the destructive power of the devil.” (St. Saint Irenaeus, Fr. Thomas Hopko) 


“ “It is finished” (Jn 19.30), He [Christ] is not simply declaring that His earthly life has come to an end, but that rather the work of God is now “fulfilled” or “completed.” The divine economy, that is, the whole plan of creation and salvation, told from this perspective, culminates at this point. The work of God spoken of in Genesis, creating “the human being [anthrōpos] in our image and likeness” (Gen 1.26–27), is completed here…By himself undergoing the Passion as a man, Jesus Christ, as Son of God and himself God, fashions us into the image and likeness of God, the image of God that he himself is (Col 1.15)…That Christ is the first true human being, and that we ourselves only become fully human in His stature, is a point made by many Christian writers across the centuries.” (Fr. John Behr)


“Christ has brought salvation to the world, not by giving us merely a religious or moral code of conduct, but by making us participants in His divine life by grace. By becoming fully human even as He remains fully divine, He has restored and fulfilled the basic human vocation to become like God in holiness. Only the God-Man could do that. If we are truly united with Him in faith, then His boundless love must become characteristic of our lives. Among other things, that means gaining the spiritual health to show our neighbors the same mercy we dare to hope for from the Savior. Doing that even for those we love most in life is difficult because our self-centeredness makes it hard to give anyone the same consideration we want for ourselves. The challenge of conveying Christ’s love to people we do not like for personal reasons or as members of groups we are inclined to hate or fear accordingly to conventional worldly standards may seem impossibly hard.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)


“Scripture and the Church Fathers challenge us to see virtue as the means of becoming more fully human, of realizing the true self that God created…Christian virtue enables us to plug back into our Life Source and thus to become more fully ourselves…no external suffering has the power to block us from becoming fully human as God intends…far from actually injuring a person, external affliction can assist her in the attainment of virtue (and thus human flourishing), as long as she remains receptive to the work of God in her life.” (Robin Phillips)


“Human beings matter greatly, and I think it is right that we confess ourselves to be the crown of God’s creation. Nevertheless, we do not exist apart from creation. St. Maximus called us the “microcosm” of creation (“the whole world in miniature”). But this is also to say that we cannot be truly human without at the same time being everything else. In the Creation story, human beings are created last of all, and that seems to be true even when science is the story-teller. To be truly and fully human, it is right that we know the story of the past (or some of them), and recognize that we are utterly indebted to them and that we exist only as the current temporary bearers of their lives and sacrifices.” (Father Stephen Freeman)


“Beauty is a gratuitous gift of the creator God; it finds its source and its purpose in God’s character…Do we need beauty in our lives? If we desire to be fully human, the answer is yes, absolutely. But we can now see, following the flow of thoughts so far, that even this question is ultimately utilitarian. We must shift from asking, What do we need? to What do we long for? The biblical vision for the flourishing of our lives, lived fully under God’s love, includes the beautiful. This is what we long for.” (Makoto Fujimura)


#FrJohnBehr #FrPhilipLeMasters #RobinPhillips #FatherStephenFreeman #MakotoFujimura #StIrenaeus #FrStephenKostoff #FrThomasHopko

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