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Christ and Abba Mena

Vision, Knowledge and Unity – Part II

            I strongly recommend that you read the first paragraph of my last post published in June before you read this. Now we turn to the theme of knowledge and unity. I must begin with clarifying that in Christianity, knowledge is almost exclusively experiential and intimate. After the fall, Scripture says that Adam “knew his wife and she bore a son.” This indicates the close association between knowledge and intimacy among married individuals. This intimate knowledge leads to full bodily unity in which partners are as vulnerable as they could be having no shame despite their nakedness.

Such intimate knowledge is to be contrasted with the knowledge gained from the tree of good and evil in Genesis 3. Adam and Eve did not know things the way God did but remained be limited and began to function in their fallen state in terms of abstractions and dichotomies (i.e. good and evil). Human knowledge became useless as humans ceased to have the will to act upon it. Ps. Macarius the Great compares human knowledge after the fall to a thief continuing to commit crimes despite knowing that he can be put to death for his crimes (Macarius the Great, Homily XII). Due to the fact, humans ceased to know God, they lost the ability to be united with Him. The image they possessed has been tarnished with their pride so much that the Holy Spirit abandoned them. The Liturgy of Gregory the theologian identifies the state of separation between God and man in terms of a “middle wall/barrier.” Divine providence persisted through visitations of the Spirit to kings and prophets who led the people of God throughout the Old Testament. The Word becoming flesh broke this barrier. The same liturgy of Gregory the theologian says,

“You became for us a Mediator with the Father. And the middle wall of division, You have broken down; And the old enmity you have abolished. You reconciled the earthly with the heavenly and made the two into one, and You completed the dispensation in the flesh. And You ascended to the heavens bodily, while You filled all with Your divinity.”

Knowledge in the incarnation meant His mediation and our participation. It entailed Him becoming one of us that we may be filled by His presence (i.e. divinity). This makes Christ’s following statements more understandable: “This is eternal life that they may know You [i.e. the Father] and Jesus Christ whom you sent,” and “Abide in me and I in you.” To know Him is to be united with Him and abide in Him. In order for Him to experience what we experience, He put on our humanity, condition and identity. For us to reciprocate this experience, we ought to put on His divinity and identity.

            If you truly strive to know a concept, try and experience it so long as it is safe to do so. Do you desire to know a person? put yourself in their shoes. Do you desire to know God? Follow His ways and converse with Him in prayer. There is no real knowledge apart from experience. No one knows God through reading books. Do you want to know the human condition? Get out of your room (or any equivalent bubble) and drive to the closest large city and observe people and the way they treat one another and label one another. This will help you collect invaluable information as to how you should think and behave.

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