WHAT “CURSE”?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Your Nativity, O Virgin, / Has proclaimed joy to the whole universe! / The Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, / Has shone from You, O Theotokos! / Having annulled the curse (καὶ λύσας τὴν κατάραν, и разрушив клятву), / He bestowed a blessing. / By destroying death, He has granted us eternal Life.” (Byzantine Troparion-Hymn of the Nativity of the Theotokos)

What is meant here by the unpleasant word, “curse” (κατάρα, клятва)? It refers to our human state of affairs before the stepping into our shoes of God’s Only-Begotten Son. Now, according to Merriam-Webster, a “curse” is: “misfortune or evil that comes as if in response to imprecation (a malediction) or as retribution.“

But the above-quoted hymn gives me a simpler explanation of our “curse,“ by juxtaposing it to “blessing“ (ev-logia, a good word): Our “curse,“ simply put, was the the absence of “blessing,“ the Good Word. When The Word became flesh, He “bestowed“ Himself, inserted His divine presence, into our blessing-less situation, “becoming,“ as St. Paul points out, “a curse for us“ (Gal 3: 13), willingly humbling Himself “to death--even death on a cross” (Phil 2: 8). And then He brought us out of all that, – He overcame all that, because “it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him” (Acts 2: 24), on the Source of Life. No person, and no thing, including the Law, could accomplish that, for humanity. That’s why we were all “cursed,” or “absent of blessing,” under the Law (cf. Gal 3).

Today, when those of us on the Older Calendar celebrate the Nativity of His Mother, the Most-Blessed Virgin, I thank God for blessing Her parents, and all of us, with Her birth. It made possible all-of-the-above, and makes my life not, on any day, “absent of blessing,” in Her quiet, loving presence. “True Theotokos, we magnify You!”

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