In this video, Archbishop Christophoros of Jordan reflects on the divine purpose of humanity as created in the image and likeness of God. Let us explore the profound meaning behind our existence — to become saints and children of the Heavenly Kingdom. Through the redemptive sacrifice and resurrection of Christ, death was conquered, and immortality was restored. The gospel echoes the timeless truth that our earthly existence is but a transient exile. The temporal world is not our own; our true home is the Kingdom of God. Let us discover the significance of our earthly existence as an exile, as we long for and seek to rekindle our fellowship with God and live in harmony with His divine plan. This is a sermon recorded in November 14th, 2021 by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese – Amman – Jordan, 5th Sunday of Luke -The Parable of the Rich Man and the Beggar Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).
English translation by Waad Rabahie
Video source (watch the full video here): Greek Orthodox Archdiocese – Amman – Jordan
My children, God created us in His image and likeness, so that we become saints. What does it mean that we are created in the image and likeness of God?
It means that God created us to be the children of the Heavenly Kingdom, but we were expelled from Paradise because of disobedience, and that’s why we read in the Old Testament that God appointed an angel at the door of Eden after Adam was expelled from Paradise.
And He made him sit opposite Paradise. And on the door there was a cherubim holding a sword. And this flaming sword symbolizes death. Death was introduced to man after his expulsion from Paradise. God didn’t create men to die. He created him to live forever and be immortal. We were created to be immortal. And that’s why we see this primitiveness exist in humans from old times. That’s why all human civilizations tried in many ways to reach immortality, but through Christ’s resurrection, we gained immortality back. Because Christ through His death and resurrection conquered death and gave us eternal life.
But let’s go back to Paradise from which Adam was expelled. Why did Adam sit opposite Paradise? The Church Fathers say that he was opposite Paradise so that he will always remember that he’s exiled (estranged). Today’s gospel reminds us of this fact. The rich man wasn’t in torment because he was rich, nor the beggar Lazarus was comforted because he was poor, but because he forgot that he is in exile while on earth.
Today the Church reminds us all that we are in exile. This land is not ours. Our land is the Kingdom. We are here in exile. That’s why God let Adam in front of Paradise, so that he remembers and we too remember that we are in exile. We are in front of Paradise, and in front of the Church. That’s why there’s a church in every city, so that we always look at the church and at the paradise. And long for paradise, long for the church and repent for our estrangement from Christ, because through sin we walked away from Christ. We became distant from God. We mourn for being distant from God.
So we are in exile, longing for paradise, and grieving for losing the fellowship with God. That’s why when we come to the bosom of the Church, we come back to this fellowship.
That’s why Paradise has two parts, two sections. One part is earthly and the other is in eternal life. We start living Paradise from here, it begins from here. If we live it here through grace, the Spirit, repentance, and the life of the Church, through keeping the Commandments and teachings of the Bible, through the life of fellowship within the Church, through love towards people and being humble.
We live Paradise from here, being peaceful and joyful even if we are in hardships. Christ gives His peace and joy while in hardships, when we are suffering and in pain. That’s why He always says to us: “Be of good cheer, I’m with you”. We should never forget that we are in exile. God gave us the creation, the nature, to comfort and console us for losing Paradise. But we should be careful not to worship the created over the Creator. We worshiped the creation over the Creator. Unfortunately, we cling to the things God gave us to comfort us and we worshipped them, we became materialist, and our hearts became hard and full of hatred.
Our God gave us the senses and the world, so that through the world we can be comforted, i.e. through our eyes we see the world and get comforted, but through the eyes of the soul we see the Creator who is behind the creation and glorify Him. He gave us the sense of hearing, so that we hear each other and the carols and prayers of the Church, to hear His divine voice calling us.
So with our senses we should go beyond to the imperceptible and the incomprehensible.