By Protopresbyter Dr Georgios Lekkas, Orthodox Archdiocese of Belgium
God humbled Himself in the person of the Child Jesus, so that man would only be able to receive Him by humbling his own intellect. The human intellect grew proud and forfeited Paradise, and so, in order to win it back, the intellect must be humbled, because of God’s unfathomable humbling of Himself, when He came meekly into the world as a baby child.
Therefore, if person is to open himself to God, he should first humbly accept the openness of the Infinite God, who did not hesitate to become an infant in the person of the Child Jesus, that He might deliver man from the state of closedness in which he finds himself.
When a being opens himself, he becomes what he was not previously. So God opens Himself and becomes what He was not before – not only a human being, but an infant, the humblest of all. Likewise, when a person opens himself he becomes what he was not before: infinite God by divine grace, since God the Father gives the Holy Spirit to those above all who believe in the Divinity of the humble Jesus.
The act of believing in the Divinity of the humble Jesus and the effort to keep His commandments seem to engage man’s deeper nature, which is indeed not the physical self, nor even the psychosomatic self, but the spiritual self, the one that is truly created ‘in the image’ of the Creator.
By the same token, rejection of God prevents a person from gaining knowledge of his spiritual self and remaining open to the Humble Spirit of God, who abases Himself in order to work the salvation of the whole human being.
In contrast with our psychosomatic self, our spiritual self is infinitesimal in size but infinite in potential, for it is pre-eminently the self where the Triune God may come and dwell. Its size thus seems inversely proportional to the teleological existence of the spirit.
Depending on whether he looks through the eye of his somatic, psychosomatic, or spiritual self, a man not only perceives reality differently, but actually perceives a different reality. In fact, the self that prevails is probably the one that ultimately determines the ontological value of each person.
We can assume that at the resurrection of the righteous, their spiritual selves, which are ‘in the image’ of the Creator, will prevail over their psychosomatic natures, whereas when an unrighteous person is resurrected, his spiritual self will be painfully crushed beneath the excessive swelling of his psychosomatic self.
What, after all, is inspiration – in both art and prayer – if it is not the ability to see, briefly or for a long while, with the eyes of the spiritual self, when we lend it to the Lord? Inspiration thus reveals the existence of a different and clearer order of things, it challenges the hitherto dominant order of the psychosomatic self, and is thus a precondition for the complete overthrow of its monolithic structure.
There is nothing that the Thrice-holy Lord refrains from doing, in His desire to engage our deepest nature, which is our spiritual self, and to make us realise that it is out of Divine Humility that the Sublime Lord seeks to win even the least of us. In order to break the vicious cycle of our own self-sufficiency, there is nothing He will not permit, from the greatest agony – including even the breaking of His own heart – to the greatest joy.
He does not hesitate to give gifts of spiritual perfection even to infants, when He foresees that through these gifts they will be able to arrive at true repentance and cry out: ‘You are a God of humility, and I am a person filled with pride. Deliver me from this. I cannot bear it any longer!’
The paradox is that even though the Lord is so near, we continue to suffer, out of ignorance of that nearness.
Protopresbyter Dr Georgios Lekkas is a priest of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Belgium. He studied Law, Philosophy and Theology at the University of Athens. He has a PhD in Greek Studies from the Sorbonne (Paris IV) and was a postdoctoral researcher at the French National Research Agency. He taught Greek philosophy in Greek Higher Education between 2005-2017. His latest poetry collection, PROSECHOS ANAGENNISI (IMMINENT REBIRTH) was recently published by To Koinon ton Oraion Technon (Athens, 2021, pp.79).