Today, November 14, is the Feast of St. Gregory Palamas, monk, archbishop, and eminent theologian. He dedicated most of his active life to theological argument focused on one central truth: The living God is accessible to personal experience because he shared his own life with humanity. He taught that humanity’s true knowledge of God comes about through the transfiguration of humanity by the Spirit of God.
In his incomparable love for men, the Son of God did not merely unite his divine Hypostasis to our nature, clothing himself with a living body and an intelligent soul, “to appear on earth and live with men” (Baruch 3:38), but O incomparable and magnificent miracle! he unites himself also to human hypostases, joining himself to each of the faithful by communion in his holy Body. For he becomes one body with us (Ephesians 3:6) making us a temple of the whole Godhead – for in the very Body of Christ “the whole fullness of the Godhead dwells corporeally” (Colossians 3:9). How then would he not illuminate those who share worthily in the divine radiance of his Body within us, shining upon their soul as he once shone on the bodies of the apostles on Tabor? For as this Body, the source of the light of grace, was at that time not yet united to our body, it shone exteriorly on those who came near it worthily, transmitting light to the soul through the eyes of sense. But today, since it is united to us and dwells within us, it illumines the soul interiorly.
– The Triads I, 3 §38.
Since the incarnation our bodies have become temples in which the Holy Spirit dwells. God is not exterior to us but is now found within us. The light of transfiguration which the apostles beheld by exterior, physical, vision on Mount Tabor is now within ourselves. By assuming the fullness of humanity the Second Person of the Trinity became in his Body the source of our deification. St. Gregory says, “Christ has become our brother, having shared flesh and blood like ours, and so having become like us.” There is a sacramental link between our body and the deified flesh of Christ. Our participation in the deified humanity of Christ through the Holy Eucharist in the form of bread and wine, body and blood, reveals and affirms this link. So it is now, as Father John Meyendorff says, “within our body, grafted on to the body of Christ by baptism and the Eucharist, that the divine light shines.” (John Meyendorff, A Study of Gregory Palamas, p. 152).
Kontakion for the Feast of St. Gregory Palamas
“With one accord, we praise you as the sacred and divine vessel of wisdom and clear trumpet of theology, O our righteous Father Gregory of divine speech. As a mind that stands now before the Primal Mind, do you ever guide aright and lead our mind to Him, that we all may cry: Hail, O herald of grace divine.”