Something clicked at last

I forget where I read it today, but someone quoted Hebrews 2.14-15:

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.

Suddenly, I understood that italic section above, verse 15. I don’t know why I didn’t grasp it before, as it seems so obvious (and probably is to everyone else!). It really was something of a revelation to me. Here’s what came to mind.

We often live our lives doing all kinds of strange things, sinful things most of them, because we are afraid of death, trying to get in as much “life” as possible. These sinful practices are a kind of bondage in themselves, which is something repeatedly emphasized throughout the writings of the Church Fathers. Ironically, this grasping at life so-called is really only grasping at death, which is the wages of sin, as we’re told elsewhere. Not only does the poor person, inspired in these things by the evil one, think he’s avoiding a kind of death through non-indulgence of some compulsion or other while actually piling on more and more death, but also all this, without the intervention of repentance, keeps that person from the necessary preparation for an eternity of life in joy in the presence of God.

The author of Hebrews, whoever that was, had a deep understanding of what we now call psychology. The therapy anonymously prescribed is redemption and sanctification, resulting in the transfer of the prisoner from the dank, reeking dungeons of the evil one to the wards, peaceful and sunlit, of the hospital where all patients are healed: the Church, the Body of Christ.

Save us all, O Lord our Physician!

7 Replies to “Something clicked at last”

  1. Bravo! May the somethings that click continue. It is not so much what we grasp as by whom we are grasped and the power through his death that frees us from the things – even our special knowledge – that seem to grasp us in order to limit us. They have hands and handle not…

    Thanks for sharing the theobabble

  2. Kevin- Thanks a lot for this one; a salient reminder as we prepare for the Lenten season and the Lord’s redeeming sacrifice, esp. for those of us who voluntarily and often without a thought of repentance, ‘heap up treasures for ourselves upon the earth’, often forgetting that where our treasure is, there shall our heart also be, both now and for eternity (gasp!) I recall BTW that Fr. John Romanides of Blessed memory, in ‘The Ancestral Sin’ had much to say pertaining to this very insight (the sin-death dialectic hinging upon a mindless sort of ‘lust for life’ inspired by the fear of death) though I cannot at present say where exactly. May we, through Jesus Christ, make some effort during this season towards freedom from ‘the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life’ through which, as you rightly ascertain, we are bound to death and grasp instead for Him, the Pearl of Great Price!

    1. Yes, it was just in time, wasn’t it, Symeon? I’ll look through Fr Romanides things online and see if I can find more on it. I’m sure it will prove enlightening with respect to some other phrases that I’ve had difficulty grasping before, particularly in some of Paul’s letters, regarding the “law of sin and death” and how this is a reference to what we discuss above, not, heaven forfend, the Divinely-spoken words at Mount Sinai, as some fools have suggested in the past.

      It’s good to hear from you again!

  3. Kevin-

    This interpretation of the Law (Covenant) between God and His people as tantamount to ‘the law of sin and death’ is utterly new to me, and I am guessing is of relatively recent vintage in Protestant thought? (if one diregards Marcionism, etc.)…
    Also- it occured to me upon further reflection that a parallel motif to some of your insights (or shall we just say, more sensible interpretation) re: ‘the law of sin and death’ runs through Pascal’s ‘Pensées’- particularly standing behind his central concern with ‘distraction’ it seems. Perhaps I have just created another rabbit trail, but in any event I think there is a fair amount of evidence to support this reading throughout the history of Christendom- east and west. In XC, Symeon.

  4. Thank you for that new “rabbit trail” (a delightful image!), Symeon.

    Yes, it was in some Protestant source that I read that odd interpretation. I found it offensive and disposed of the book some time ago, and don’t recall the title. I think it may have been a populist commentary of some sort. I’m not sure if that’s a widespread interpretation or not.

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