“The abandonment of the Son and of every soul in death, is always already surpassed by the sheer abandon with which the Father begets and breathes forth his being”

The saving exchange that occurs for us in the incarnate Word is perfectly expressed for Cyril [of Alexandria] in John 20:17, when the risen Christ says, “I am going to my Father and your Father; to my God and your God,” for here we see how the Son’s Father by nature has become our Father by grace, precisely because our God by nature has become his God through condescension. Indeed, for Cyril, whenever Christ calls upon his Father as “my God,” he does so on our behalf and in our place: especially in the cry of dereliction from the cross. And this is our salvation: for when the infinite outpouring of the Father in the Son, and the joy of the Spirit, enters our reality, the apatheia of God’s eternally dynamic and replete life of love consumes every pathos in its ardor; even the ultimate extreme of the kenosis of the Son in time–crucifixion–is embraced within and overcome by the everlasting kenosis of the divine life. Because divine apatheia is the infinite interval of the going forth of the Son from the Father in the light of the Spirit, every interval of estrangement we fabricate between ourselves and God–sin, ignorance, death itself–is always already exceeded in him: God has always gone infinitely further in his own being as the God of self-outpouring charity than we can venture in our attempts to escape him, and our own most abysmal sin is as nothing to the abyss of divine love. And as the Word possesses this Trinitarian impassibility in his eternal nature, and so as God cannot suffer, as a man he can suffer all things, bear any wound–indeed, bear it more fully and any other could–as an act of saving love: as Easter. And while God’s everlasting outpouring, which is for him a life of infinite joy, in assuming the intervals of our estrangement from God, appears for us now under the form of tragic pain and loss, the joy is the original and ultimate truth of who he is, is boundless, and cannot be interrupted–and so conquers all our sorrow, our abandonment of God, and the abandonment of the Son and of every soul in death, is always already surpassed by the sheer abandon with which the Father begets and breathes forth his being. And the terrible distance of Christ’s cry of human dereliction, despair, an utter godforsaken­ness–‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’–is enfolded within and overcome by the ever greater distance and always indissoluble unity of God’s triune love: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

David Bentley Hart

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