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Man the Member

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What is Man? Among other things, he is a member, and that is one of his biggest challenges. Consider how much joy we gain from loving others and from being loved. In our present ruined state it often seems like the joy is relief that somebody actually accepts and respects us.

Think, for example, of how many churches say, “Come just as you are,” as though our world is populated by people who worry that they won’t be accepted as they are. Which, of course, is true. There is a world full of people who worry about that. It is also true that most of us would not freely accept many others if they were, shall we say, unleashed.

But we are members whether or not we are fallen. It is human to be a member. As Christians we are “members one of another.” We are members of other communities too and the work of business and technology to undo our delight in and dependence on communities cannot change our nature.

But how great will that membership be when all things are restored, especially us! I came across this somewhat speculative passage this morning and I admit that it jolted me awake:

If now, after we transgressed the commandment and were condemned to die, people have multiplied so much, just imagine how many of them there would have been if all who have been born from the creation of the world had not died? And what a life they would have lived, being immortal and incorrupt, strangers to sin, sorrows, and cares and serious needs?! And how, having advanced in the keeping of the commandments and in the good ordering of the dispositions of the heart, in time they would have ascended to the most perfect glory and, having been changed, would have drawn near to God, and the soul of each would have become as it were light–shining by reason of the illuminations which would have been poured out upon it from the Godhead! And this sensual and crudely material body would have become as it were immaterial and spiritual, above every organ of sense; and the joy and rejoicing with which we would then have been filled from contact one with another in truth would have been unutterable and beyond the thought of man.

St. Symeon the New Theologian,
Quoted in Genesis, Creation, and Early Man by Fr. Seraphim Rose

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