Daily Meditations

Embracing Our Whole Self

We must embrace our material self, together with our soul

By Abbot Tryphon, December 13, 2019 

Unlike angels, who are entirely spiritual beings, God has made each of us as creatures dwelling in a material world. To be whole, we must worship God both in body and soul. This teaching is central to our Christian faith and is an affirmation of the sacramental nature of this material world. Because of this truth, icons have played a central role in Christian history, for they proclaim Jesus Christ’s physical reality as God Incarnate.

Our Lord told his disciples that “he who has seen me has seen the Father”, yet icons depicting the Holy Virgin show the Christ Child with bare feet, reminding us that he (God) walked the earth among us. The Logos, through Whom all that is was brought into existence, condescended to take on our flesh and walk among us. God joined His divinity to our humanity, that we might become gods.

The Lord Jesus Christ was born, lived, died and rose from the dead in this material world. He broke bread with disciples, ate fish with his friends, and invited His disciple Thomas to feel the wound in his side, following His resurrection from the dead. Additionally, most of the miracles Christ performed were in the nature of the physical realm.

At the Last Judgment the Lord’s words, “I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you gave me shelter, I was sick and you cared for me, I was in prison and you came to visit me”, will echo in our minds. In fact, it is through our care for others that we will be judged. We can even say that it is in our demonstrated love for others that we show forth our own personal love for God, for the Lord asked the question, “How can you love God Whom you have not seen, when you do not love your neighbor?”

Because of the Incarnation, our prayers must not be allowed to be centered in the head. Our use of icons while praying, allows us to behold the beauty of God’s creation, and brings our whole nature, both body and soul, into this material world where we were born. This physical nature of prayer is what connects us to our true self, composed of both body and soul. This is where God reaches down to embrace us. Cutting off the physical world, with our eyes closed, does not bring us closer to God.

The icons are wonderful aides in helping us communion with God because they serve as bridges to Christ and links with the Holy Virgin and the saints. They are by no means necessary, for sitting on the top of a mountain, or walking on the seashore, eyes open, allows you to behold the beauty of God’s creation, and His love for us as His children. The beauty of an icon and the glory of God’s creation can all be windows for us into eternity.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

~Abbot Tryphon, The Morning Offering, https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/morningoffering/2019/12/embracing-our-whole-self/


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