MEDITATION OF THE DAY
“The Kingdom is among you”
The Fathers never gave a specific definition of the Church. They understood the words of the Lord that the Kingdom is here as referring to his Person encountered in his actions. This activity of the Son of God is, in fact, continually carried out by the presence of the sanctifying Spirit whom the Father sent to us when Christ withdrew his physical presence. Consequently, for Byzantine tradition, the Church is life and the source of life. It is the plenitude of spiritual life in the risen Christ. As the stem is grafted to the branch and the two lives become one, so the baptized person is grafted onto Christ by the Holy Spirit, and the two become one Body and one Life….
The reality and essence of life in the Church is the conversation of peace and love in which God and man are involved. This conversation began from all eternity in the Trinity. It was made manifest in Paradise where God came in the cool of the evening (Gn 3:8) to converse with Adam and Eve. It came to its fullness in the Incarnation of the Word of God, and it will continue through space and time to the end of the world through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit, through the imparting of the life of the risen Christ through his mysteries, the sacraments, will gather up all the baptized to make them one Body.
The Church is founded both on the economy of the Son of God who became Man, died, rose and lives, and on that of the Holy Spirit who sustains his presence in those who are united to Christ. The sacraments are the creation of the living Christ, not simply because he established them in the past, but because he is now living and acting in them, and because in them man can encounter him in a personal relationship; then, through Christ, man encounters the Father. The Church is, therefore, the coming of the Eternal into time, God’s theophany, and the manifestation of his life and love.
Archbishop Joseph M. Raya
Archbishop Raya († 2005) was a Melkite Greek Catholic archbishop, theologian, and author. [From The Face of God: Essays in Byzantine Spirituality. © 1976, Joseph M. Raya. Published by Dimension Books, Inc., Denville, NJ. All rights reserved.]