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†ďYou have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.Ē

Colossians 3:9, 10

 

Father Matta El-Meskeen (Matthew the Poor)

 

 

THIS IS A CLEAR REFERENCE to what occurs in holy baptism through the Holy Spirit. It concerns here the old man with his works, meaning life before knowing Jesus Christ when man acted in the world unconsciously and without fear of Godís retribution, as if there existed no judgment. A matter pursued by many people nowadays without being ashamed or considering that they are challenging God and the Church.

It is well known that manís actions are counted, and one day he will give an account of himself about them.1 The work of missionaries, pastors and servants of the word who are sent by the Holy Spirit confirmed by the grace of God, is consequently to return many from the unfruitful works of darkness to the light of the knowledge of Christ, who is able to save till the end if they obey the truth and present their remorse and repentance to God.

In holy baptism after the believer, who is obedient to the truth, is baptized he emerges endorsed by the Holy Spirit to pursue works of salvation and return to the way of truth. This is the new man who is renewed through the Spirit of God ďfor good works, which God prepared beforehand that we (His elect) should walk in them.Ē2

The removal of the old man and putting on the new man is a spiritual illustration for what really happens and is hidden when the appointed angel embraces the new man to guide him and make known to him the way of truth and of salvation if he is obedient and conscious of his salvation. The new man who is a disciple to the spirit of truth enlightens his mind with knowledge to rise with this knowledge from one degree to another in behavior that leads to eternal life.

The new manís mind also advances in the consciousness of truth and revelation of the knowledge of God to gain enlightenment that protects him from the world with its passions and pride, spiritually taking hold of his hand, and advancing with him step by step in knowledge leading to eternal life, which the Spirit of God offers to the mentally renewed man. It hands over to him the living word of God in the gospel, to uncover the secrets of God within it and be divinely and consciously filled with them. He thus becomes close to God aided by angels on the way of truth so as not to fall. Nay aided through Godís Holy Spirit to rise on the way to salvation from glory to glory led by the light of truth to every thing pure and holy.3

When the new man gives himself up to the guidance of the Spirit of God, nothing in the world tempts him to return to the old. Thus the new man renewed through knowledge according to the light of truth and the revelation of the glory of Christ prepared for His chosen, becomes qualified to enter the fellowship of the saints in the light and is ready for the inheritance of the Only Son in glory, due to Christís entitlement and the merit of the work of grace, God providing him an entrance abundantly into His everlasting kingdom.

We thus see that to carry out baptism according to the form of the immersion and anointment with oil, contains in its purport and Divine revelation the steps for the transfer of manís life from the old to the new, preparing the soul to accept the fellowship of Christ through participation in the Holy Eucharist. Holy Baptism is thus a practical operation to explain the mystery of the new man and the mystery of everlasting life.

July 3, 2005

 

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On Epiphany

The Holy Spirit rests in the New Man

ďAnd the Spirit of God shall rest upon himĒ (Is 11:2 LXX). The Holy Spirit had been previously dispensed to Adam, the first fruits of our race. But he was lax in keeping the commandment which was given him, and made light of what he was ordered [not to do] and so fell into sin. The Spirit then did not find rest among humankind. ďAll have turned aside, together they have gone wrong; no one does good, not even oneĒ (Rom 3:12). The Word, the only Son of God, became man, but without ceasing to be God. When he became like us, while being infallible against drifting into sins, the Holy Spirit found rest in the nature of humankind: first in him as the second First fruits of our race, and then in us, dwelling in the souls of believers, pleased to remain in them. So does John the Divine witness, in some place, that he saw the Spirit alighting pleasantly from heaven upon Christ. Therefore, just as we had become partakers with the first fruits of our race (Adam) in the evils that befell him, so shall we become partakers with Christ, the second First fruits of our race, in the goods that befell him through [divine] economy.

St Cyril the Great. On Isaiah 11:2

1 Cf Rom 14:10-12.

2 Eph 2:10.

3 Cf 2 Cor 3:18.

 

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