Friday, March 19, 2010

Destroying the Image of God

икона 15 века, новгородская школа, Новгород, М...Image via Wikipedia

Why does the demon possessing the boy in the account read today from the Gospel according to St. Mark treat the boy as he does, throwing him onto the fire, and into the water? The answer is simple: he is trying to destroy the image of God in that young man.

One of the things that makes us different from the angels is that, unlike them, we are created in the image and after the likeness of God; and while we are created but a little lower than the angels, when the kingdom of God is established, we shall be closer to God than are they. Our Lord Jesus Christ never took on the form of an angel; but He did become incarnate, He did take on our form. As St, Athanasios the Great said, “He became like us in order that we might become like Him.” It is believed that this is why Lucifer, the Light-bearer, the greatest of the angelic order, rebelled against God, and led others to do the same: his pride would not allow him to accept that he one day would be subject to us. This is why the demons hate us; this is why they try to destroy us.

What was true for the boy in the Gospel account is true for every one of us: there are demons who would love to throw us into fire and into water to destroy us. They cannot overthrow God; so they seek to destroy His image in us; and if they cannot destroy us in this world, they seek to make us their victims in the world to come, to cause us to suffer the torments they, too, will suffer when the Kingdom comes in its fullness. If we do not want to share their fate, we need to do something: we need to remove ourselves from being influenced by them. We should take note, then, of what our Lord says when His disciples ask why they were unable to heal the boy. “This kind,” He says, “come out only by prayer and fasting.”

Each one of us has sins that we have learned to love; sins that we repeat, and against which we seem to be powerless. Like the father in the Gospel account, each of us, looking at our lives, can say, Lord, I believe; help me in my unbelief!” What is our help? Prayer and fasting. Every time we find ourselves repeating a sin, we should recognize the need to pray and to fast. Every time we find ourselves tempted to sin, we should pray and fast. Now that we are past the halfway point in Great Lent, with the celebration of Pascha coming ever nearer, we should pray and fast.

Brothers and sisters, let us give thanks to God Who has made us but a little lower than the angels. Let us give thanks to God that He has made us in His image and after His likeness. Let us give thanks to God for the love that led Him to become one with us, and that led Him to the Cross for our salvation, and has given us a way to climb on high with Him. Let us fast and pray and give thanks, to the glory of God and the salvation of our souls.

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