Saint Gregory Palamas on the Resurrection
Though man’s salvation was possible for God to accomplish by any means, the Son of God became flesh and was crucified for us because by this method, He was best able to communicate His divine message to our fallen nature. His message was and is that eternal life has been restored by the defeat of death.
In his sermon delivered on Holy and Great Saturday, St Gregory Palamas traces the history of man’s relationship with God in order to establish the significance of the Resurrection as the event that perfected and restored man’s communion with God. St Gregory explains that man chose to obey the devil in Eden, and in this act of defiance turned him out of the garden: “man was justly abandoned by God in the beginning, as he had first abandoned God”. Man brought death upon himself: both physical and eternal. However, Christ’s death and Resurrection defeated eternal death by ensuring eternal life.
Christ’s Resurrection made immortal the human race in order to invite it to participate in the true life which He preached. This gift enables us to imitate Him if we so choose. In addition to this gift, Christ set for us a pattern of life which provides the means to accept the gift of eternal life. This was of course his own way of life, which we find recounted in the Holy Gospels.
St Gregory tells us that if Christ “had not become incarnate, suffered in the flesh, risen and ascended for our sake, we should not have known God’s surpassing love for us”. This same love softened the hearts of so many Saints and Martyrs who sought to imitate Christ: “Now that we have been exalted without contributing anything, we stay humble, and as we regard with understanding the greatness of God’s promise and benevolence we grow in humility, from which comes salvation”.
May we also come to an understanding of God’s promise of life so that we may live the salvation which has been set for us.