H/T: Notes on Arab Orthodoxy (here)
Metropolitan Ephrem Kyriakos
“And God saw that it was good.” Man was created free for the sake of love. He is the link between the Creator and creation. His feet are on the earth and his thought is directed toward heaven. He is body and spirit, manifest and hidden.
Saint Irenaeus says, “God created man so that He could offer him wondrous gifts.” Creation is an act of love from one side, for the sake of communion, exchange, and affection. This initiative invites acceptance or rejection.
Man was created, then, in order to participate in divine love. Contemporary civilization refuses communion with God because it uses creation without reference to the Creator, which causes contemporary man to reject the other.
Rejecting immortality causes man to search for his happiness through earthly possessions. His sin is that he is mistaken about the goal: this is the source of human tragedy.
When man opens his heart to God, the uncreated divine energies grip him from within and change his being without altering his nature, like iron heated in fire, becoming red-hot and glowing: an image of divinization. Man accepts communion with God without becoming a god by nature.
The Christian East always looked to creation for contemplation and giving praise.
The Christian West preferred to consume it. This is a summary of the history of science.
The West, starting in the second millennium, directed itself towards technological activity that caused it to long for “the created rather instead of the Creator.”
“How great are your works, O Lord. In wisdom You made them all.”
From the start, man possesses not only bodily eyes but also spiritual eyes that help him to understand the meanings of the symbols in God’s creation.
All this does not negate the importance of matter, the material of nature, but it causes us to look at it from a different perspective and to deal with it from this perspective.
God is always present in all creation. “Everywhere present and filling all things.” Contemporary scientists have learned, through the examination of particles, that all things are connected to each other.
Man is a microcosm. He is a bridge between earth and heaven, a message of love. Love alone leads to freedom. If man is united, he is able to unite creation, since he leads creation to its creator. He does this through his giving thanks for the blessings he enjoys. With humility he recognizes the Creator’s generous giving.
If a person enjoys this giving thanks and this humility, he comes to be in the image of Christ, the priest of creation, offering everything to God, including the natural environment. In return, God gives him joy and holiness: “Your own of Your own, we offer to you on behalf of all and for all.”