In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Today we celebrate the memory of the holy Fathers of the 7th ecumenical council. It was gathered against the heresy of iconoclasts, which emerged in the 8th century. Supported by several Byzantine emperors, this heresy lasted for about a century and troubled the Church deeply. The iconoclasts denied the veneration of icons and of all holy images, on the grounds that images were banned in the Law of Moses. They considered veneration of icons to be similar to pagan idolatry.
God is invisible and incomprehensible in His divine nature, but God incarnate Jesus Christ is perfect God and perfect Man. In His humanity He was visible and His human features could be portrayed. The apostles for 3 years shared daily life with Him, as St John the Evangelist says: “That which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and our hands have handled, of the Word of life. For the Life was manifested: and we have seen and do bear witness and declare unto you the Life eternal, which was with the Father and hath appeared to us.”(1 John 1).
Incomprehensible and Almighty God appeared to the world as a Man humble and meek, so that meekness was His most distinguishing feature. As He says Himself: “Take up my yoke upon you, and learn from me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: And you shall find rest to your souls (Mat.11, 29). As the Gospel mentions, His eyes were always looking down, and He only rarely raised them up.
There is no reason why the icons of Christ, of the Mother of God and the saints couldn’t be admitted, and as we know, from the time of the apostles they did exist in the Church. The iconoclasts, rejecting holy images, indirectly put under doubt the incarnation of the Son of God Jesus Christ.
We, all the Christians, are summoned to be the living images of our Lord Jesus Christ. But as it sometimes happens that a portrait doesn’t look like its prototype, the same happens to us. We being Christ’s image do not really resemble Him, as we don’t have His distinguishing features: meekness and humility.
St Paul teaches us: “Put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him Who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew… barbarian nor Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” (Col. 3)
Bishop Andrei (Erastov)