Dorotheos of Gaza on an Easter Hymn by St Gregory Nazianzinos – 29 May 2014
But how did they offer themselves up? By not living for themselves, but by placing themselves in servitude to God’s commandments and putting away their own will for the sake of the command and love of God and their neighbour. As Saint Peter says, ‘Behold we have given up everything and followed you.’ What did he give up? He had no possessions, riches or gold or silver, he only had his net and that was threadbare, according to Saint John Chrysostom. But, as the latter also said, he did give up all his own aspirations, all desire of having the things of this world, and it is clear that had he had riches or power, he would have despised them and taken up his cross to follow Christ according to the saying, ‘I live, yet no longer I, but now Christ lives in me.’ This is how the saints offered themselves up, putting themselves to death, as we were saying, in regard to all their passionate desires and doing their own will and living solely for Christ and his commandments.
170. So then, let us also
Offer ourselves as first-fruits,
as Saint Gregory teaches . But it’s us he’s referring to when he says,
God’s most precious possession
Of all visible creatures, human beings are, indeed, the most precious. All other things the Creator brought into being by His fiat alone, saying, ‘Let it be’- and there it was; ‘Let the earth bring forth’ and it did; ‘Let the waters bring forth’ and so on. But He fashioned and adorned human beings with His own hands; and He established all the rest of creation for the service and comfort of those people whom He set up as rulers and allowed them to enjoy all the delights of paradise. And what is even more astonishing: when people fell from there through their own fault, God called them back again through the blood of His only-begotten Son, so that of all the visible creatures we should be the most precious. And not only the most precious, but also ‘the most familiar’.
Because He said, ‘Let us make people in our own image and likeness’, and again, ‘God created people in His own image and likeness and breathed into them the breath of life’. Our Lord, having made a home for Himself among us, took on the human form, human flesh, and the human mind. Put simply, He became human in everything except sin, becoming our familiar Friend and making us, as it were, His own. This was beautifully and appositely expressed by Saint Gregory when he said that we’re God’s most precious and most familiar possession.
171. Then he adds, even more clearly,
‘Let us restore the image to the ‘in the image’. [i.e. to the original state in which God made it].
How can we do that? Let’s learn from the Apostle who says, ‘Let us purify ourselves from all defilement both of flesh and of spirit’. Let us make clean and clear the image as we received it. Let us scour from it the filth of sin, so that it may appear in all its beauty through the virtues. It was for this beauty that David prayed, saying ‘Lord, by your will, give power to my beauty’. Let us, therefore, purify our own image. God wants this from us, since He gave it ‘without spot or wrinkle, or anything of the sort’.[Τo Be Continued]