Archimandrite Justin Popović: Are You Living Worthy of the Mystery?

Feast of Jeremiah the Prophet

Justin_Popovic_Square.jpgTHE WHOLE mystery of the Christian faith is found in the Church; the whole mystery of the Church is in the God-Man; the whole mystery of the God-Man lies in the fact that God became flesh and brought His entire Godhead, with all His divine values and perfection, with all the mysteries of God, into that flesh. The entire Gospel of the Theanthropos [God-Man], the Lord Christ, is condensed into a few words, into this Good News: “Great is the mystery of true religion: God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3.16). A tiny human body contained God with all His innumerable infinities, yet God remained God and flesh remained flesh in one Person, the Person of the Theanthropos, Christ: perfect God and perfect man: the perfect God-Man. This is not a single mystery, but all the mysteries of heaven and earth brought together in the mystery of the God-Man, the mystery of the Church, His theanthropic Body. The body of God the Logos, the incarnation of God, His becoming human, is the fundamental reality. The entire life of the theanthropic Body of Church through which we know “how to live in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth” (1 Tim. 3.15) lies in this truth.

“God was manifest in the flesh. In this”, says Saint John Chrysostom proclaiming the Savior’s Gospel, “is the whole dispensation of our salvation. This is indeed a great mystery . . . Let us note that the holy Apostle always calls the dispensation of our salvation a mystery. Justifiably so, as it is not known to all men, nor was it revealed even to the angels. It is revealed through the Church and is a great mystery indeed, for God became man and man became God . . . Let us therefore live worthy of this mystery” (Homily 11 on 1 Tim.).

The most that God could have given to man, He gave by becoming man and remaining eternally as the Theanthropos in all worlds, visible and invisible. The tiny human being has been entirely filled by God who is infinite. This makes the Theanthropos the most wondrous being in all human worlds. Saint John Damascene rightly asserts, for all worlds and all times, that the Theanthropos is “the only new thing under the sun” (On the Orthodox Faith, 3.1). I would add: and always new, with a newness that does not age either in time or in eternity. In the God-Man and with the God-Man, man himself has become a new being under the sun, a being divinely important, divinely precious, divinely eternal, divinely complex. The mystery of God has been inextricably united with the mystery of man and has become two mysteries in one, the greatest mystery of all worlds. And so the Church came into being: the Theanthropos is the Church. The Second man, becoming the God-Man, abides in our earthly world and in all worlds as the God-Man, the Church. By the incarnation of God the Logos, man is magnified by the Divine Majesty into an especially godlike being because the Second Person of the Holy Trinity became his Head, the eternal Head of the theanthropic Body of the Church. God the Father, by the Holy Spirit, gave the Lord Christ, the Theanthropos, “above all to be the Head of the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1. 17-23).

—Archimandrite Justin Popović, The Orthodox Church and Ecumenism

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