Reflection for the Thirty-first Day of the Great Fast of Lent
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) With this opening salvo begins the entire Gospel of Saint John and also our Gospel reading for Pascha. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Image of the Father. In the Creed we sing of Him: “Light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in essence with the Father, through Whom all things were made.”
In the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil, the priest prays: “Although He is the reflection of Your glory and the express Image of Your person, sustaining all things by His powerful word, He did not deem equality with You, God and Father, something to be grasped…” Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Image of the Father.
On the First Wednesday we read in Genesis:
“Then God said: ‘Let Us make man in Our Image, according to Our Likeness’ …So God made man; in the Image of God He made him; male and female He made them.” (Genesis 1:26-27)
In the Divine Liturgy, the priest prays: “You created us in Your own Image and Likeness and adorned us with all Your gifts, giving wisdom and understanding to those who ask…”
We are created in the Image and Likeness of God. This is the true foundation for any faith in God. As the old (but true) Baltimore Catechism says: “Why did God make me? God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.”
This is also the foundation for keeping the Great Fast - to renew the Image and Likeness in us if in any way we have lost it. We are reminded that the coming of Jesus Christ into the world was for the sake of our salvation.
In the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil, the priest continues the prayer: “In becoming incarnate from the Holy Virgin, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, conforming Himself to the lowliness of our body, that He might conform us to the Image of His glory.”
I think that we need to be constantly reminded of this and I think the Church at prayer attempts to keep this thought foremost in our minds. We once again turn to the wisdom of the early Church Fathers who said, “God became man so that man might become God.” We know that we cannot become God by nature - our first parents learned that in the Garden. By God’s grace we are created and now re-created to share in His glory and His life. When we look at ourselves and at each other do we see God? Whom do we take after in thought, word, and deed?