2013/January 2014 - Vol. 71
Showers Us with Gifts
by Irenaeus, 130-200
God created Adam in the beginning, not because he needs the human race,
but so that he might have a recipient of his generosity.
Moreover, God commanded us to follow Christ, not because he has any
need of our service, but because he wants to give us salvation. To follow
the savior is to share in salvation, just as to follow the light is to
gain the light.
People who are in the light do not themselves provide the light but
are illuminated and made right by it; they do not contribute anything to
it but, by being illuminated, they receive the benefit of the light.
Similarly, to serve God does not mean giving him any gift, nor has God
any need of our service. On the contrary, it is he who gives to those who
serve him life, immortality, and eternal glory. He rewards those who serve
him without deriving any benefit himself from their service: he is rich,
he is perfect, he has not needs.
God requests human obedience so that his love and his pity may have
an opportunity of doing good to those who serve him diligently. The less
God has need of anything, the more human beings need to be united with
him. Consequently, a human being's true glory is to persevere in the service
from Against Heresies, 4,25]
Christ comes, God will be seen by men and women
by Irenaeus, 130-200
There is one God, who by his word and wisdom created all things and
set them in order. His word is our Lord Jesus Christ, who in this last
age became man among men to unite end and beginning, that is, man and God.
The prophets, receiving the gift of prophecy from this same Word, foretold
his coming in the flesh, which brought about the union and communion between
God and man ordained by the Father. From the beginning the word of God
prophesied that God would be seen by men and would live among them on earth;
he would speak with his own creation and be present to it, bringing it
salvation and being visible to it. He would free us from the hands of all
who hate us, that is, from the universal spirit of sin, and enable us to
serve him in holiness and justice all our days. Man was to receive the
Spirit of God and so to attain to the glory of the Father.
The prophets foretold that God would be seen by men. As the Lord himself
says: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God. In
his greatness and inexpressible glory no one can see God and live, for
the Father is beyond our comprehension. But in his love and generosity
and omnipotence he allows even this to those who love him, that is, even
to see God, as the prophets foretold. For what is impossible to men is
possible to God.
By his own powers man cannot see God; yet God will be seen by men because
he wills it. He will be seen by those he chooses, at the time he chooses,
and in the way he chooses, for God can do all things. He was seen of old
through the Spirit in prophecy; he is seen through the Son by our adoption
as his children, and he will be seen in the kingdom of heaven in his own
being as the Father. The Spirit prepares man to receive the Son of God,
the Son leads him to the Father, and the Father, freeing him from change
and decay, bestows the eternal life that comes to everyone from seeing
As those who see light are in the light sharing its brilliance, so those
who see God are in God sharing his glory, and that glory gives them life.
To see God is to share in life.
from Against Heresies].