Today we remember the great saint Gregory Palalmas who correctly taught that we can actively know God through His Son Jesus Christ and in actions of the Holy Spirit. This is how we become “partakers of the Divine Nature” (2 Pet 1.4).
St. Gregory explained that the Essence of God is utterly unknowable and incomprehensible, while at the same time, the actions, operations, or Energies of God, which are also uncreated and fully divine (such as the Divine Light), are communicated to people by divine grace and are open to human knowledge and experience. “In Him was life and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:5) In John 8:12, Christ proclaims “I am the light of the world”, bringing the Divine Light to mankind. The Tabor Light, also called the Uncreated Light, was revealed to the three apostles present at the Transfiguration.
Saint Gregory goes on to say: “Life of the soul is union with God, as life of the body is union with the soul. As the soul was separated from God and died in consequence of the violation of the commandment, so by obedience to the commandment it is again united to God and is quickened. This is why the Lord says in the Gospel of John, 'The words I speak to you are spirit and life'” (Jn. 6:63).
We read in the gospel of Saint Mark this morning the story of the paralytic who was determined to be at the feet of Jesus and in His Divine Light. He overcame obstacles being carried by four and because of the press of the crowd, found another way. He didn’t give up! He was greatly overwhelmed with life and his limitations, but with everything he had, he pressed on!
In this world of sin and brokenness it takes a great effort to illuminate our soul with the Divine Light. Saint Gregory gives us these instructions as we press on: “If you put something fragrant on to burning coals, you motivate those who approach to come back again and to stay near, but if instead you put on something with an unpleasant, oppressive smell, you repel them and drive them away. It is the same with the mind. If your attention is occupied with what is holy, you make yourself worthy of being visited by God, since this is the sweet savour which God catches scent of. On the other hand, if you nurture evil, foul and earthly thoughts within you, you remove yourself from God's supervision and unfortunately make yourself worthy of His aversion. Even when your body does nothing, sin can be active in your mind. When your soul inwardly repulses the evil one's attack by means of prayer, attention, remembrance of death, godly sorrow and mourning the body, too, takes its share of holiness, having acquired freedom from evil actions. This is what the Lord meant by saying that someone who cleans the outside of the cup has not cleansed it inside, but clean the inside and the whole cup will be clean” (St. Gregory Palamas)
Time passes ever so quickly. We are so blessed that during the Lenten season we have so many opportunities to repulse the evil one’s attacks with the beautiful cleansing repentant services filled with Divine Light. Take a vacation from the world and its distractions and center yourselves Eastward on the cross of life. And as Blessed St. Gregory encourages us:”we are not without hope of salvation, nor is it at all the right time for us to despair. All our life is a season of repentance, for God 'desires not the death of the sinner', as it is written, 'but that the wicked turn from his way and live' (cf. Ez. 33:11 LXX). For, if there were no hope of turning back, why would death not have followed immediately on disobedience, and why would we not be deprived of life as soon as we sin? For where there is hope of turning back, there is no room for despair.” (Gregory Palamas) Press on!