This was the first question posed by humankind to God (Genesis 4:9). The question stems from a pathological fear of the other. So one can clearly infer that our fall led to our individualization (isolated self) for we lost our personhood i.e. the ability to be in communion. We were incapacitated to reflect the image and likeness of God whom we know not in proper nouns but only in terms of relationship i.e. Father, Son and Spirit. Our God is not an impersonal force but very specifically a communion of three persons – essentially unified yet hypostatically distinct.
It was not until the kenotic self-revelation of Christ on the Cross that we understood what it is to be an image of God for Christ is the image of God (Col 1:15). Therefore Cross is where we are de-individualized and personalized; to be precise it is in Christ and on the Cross where we become a human being.
An individual cannot reflect the image of God. It’s only persons – relative beings – who collectively reflect the image of God i.e. Christ. Thus St. Gregory of Nyssa remarks; “It is the whole of human nature, extending from the beginning to the end of history that constitutes the one image of Him who is.”
Yes, all of us are indeed our brother’s keeper for salvation is not individual but a collective phenomenon. Alexei Khomiakov, a Russian Orthodox theologian beautifully puts it; “If anyone falls, he falls alone. But no one is saved alone.” This is why we gather together in the Church because no one can be saved alone.
Dayroyo Fr. Basil
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