The Rev. Dr. Han van den Blink
St. Paul’s Church, Troy
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your Name give glory;
because of your love and because of your faithfulness.
continuation of January 7th post
Yes, St. Palamas agreed, it is true that we can never understand and certainly never experience the essence of God, that is to say to experience who God is in God’s own being, for it is not given to finite human beings to participate in the Infinite. But it is possible to experience and participate in the energies or activities of God.
With the early Church Fathers St. Palamas knew that manifestations of love, mercy, hope, grace, faithfulness, forgiveness, hospitality and compassion are emanations, energies or activities of God, because Jesus has shown us that God is like that.
When people, therefore, show such characteristics in their relationship with others, then these qualities are more than their own personality traits, they are living evidence of God’s actual presence, of his energies in their lives.
To wrap my mind around this manner of thinking about the way in which we can experience the presence of God, it has helped me to compare the difference between the essence and energies of God to the essence and energies of the sun, that star at the center of our solar system.
We obviously cannot participate directly in the essence of the sun for we would be incinerated before we even got close to its nuclear fires. But, and this is the great miracle, we are able to experience the energies of the sun, its rays, its light and its warmth, the light and warmth without which life on earth would not be possible.
The point of this analogy is to stress that, just as its life-giving warmth and light are an integral part of the sun, in a similar way God’s energies are an integral part of the One beyond naming whom we call God. These energies of God manifest themselves as little epiphanies in our lives, both in good times and bad.