Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Christ as a Stranger

Many ask who was Jesus? What was Jesus? Man? God? Both? The answer to these questions can be found in the Bible, the life and the Tradition of the Church. Interestingly enough, we do find that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is also known as a Stranger. This has a poetic connotation, together with a philosophical and theological depth. Hymnologically, we see that the Church proclaims this belief through a hymn sing during Vespers of Great Friday, whereby we read:
‘Come, let us bless Joseph of eternal memory,
Who came by night to Pilate
And begged for the Life of all:
“Give me this Stranger,
Who from His youth has been received as a stranger in this world.
Give me this Stranger,
Who has no place to lay His head:
Give me this Stranger
Whom an evil disciple betrayed to death.
Give me this Stranger,
The refuge of the poor and weary.[1]

Professor Chrysostomos Stamoulis also expands on this theme of Jesus as a Stranger, interestingly explaining: ‘He was a stranger for His estranged kin, who hated and killed Him as if He were a stranger. A stranger for His own disciples, who denied, questioned and challenged His strange truth in a continuous journey to Emmaus. A stranger for His own mother, whose certainty of maternal intimacy the sword harmed and created breaks in the conviction of the complex offered revelation. A stranger for the whole of creation, His own creation, of which He healed the breaks and the imperfections. A stranger for life, but a stranger as well for death which He astonished and conquered once and forever.’[2]
Therefore, when we see a stranger around us, let us be inviting; let us accept him in our lives. Maybe this stranger will show us the right way. By having the stranger in my life, by having the unfamiliar, I inevitably come into dialogue with him in order to find the truth and also my self-knowledge. ‘The members of the Church, in order to be authentic, must follow Christ’s paradigm. They must be open to the unfamiliar, to the wholly different one.’[3]

[1] Triodion, Vespers of Great Friday. Also to be found in: Florin Toader Tomoioaga, ‘The Dialogue between Orthodox Theology and Culture: the Contemporary Paradigm of Professor Chrysostomos Stamoulis (Greece), Sobornost, 37:2, 2015,  p.56.
[2] Stamoulis, Chrysostomos, Eros and Death, p.338.
[3] Tomoioaga, 2015, p.64.

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