December 26, 2016

The Divine Kenosis

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

The incarnation of Christ is said to even by a kenosis ("self-emptying"). Astonishing are the words of the Apostle Paul: "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he emptied himself, by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross" (Philem. 2:6-8).

The kenosis of Christ is not that He was born poor, that He came from a poor family, that He lived as a refugee and was persecuted and suffered in His early life, that He faced the hatred of people, etc. Rather it is mainly because He assumed human nature, indeed with its mortality and sufferings. That the uncreated God received created human nature, and the created was united with the uncreated, this is what is called the kenosis and poverty of Christ.

Without the kenosis there could not be its fulfillment - the deification of humanity. Also, the divine kenosis shows us exactly what is love. Love is a kenosis, a sacrifice, an offering. This is why the more someone is brightened and divinized the more self-emptying they are, and vice versa.

From The Feasts of the Lord. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.