The feast of Athanasius reminds us of the struggle against the easy way out that human rationality so often provides us. It also reminds us of the whole point of it. If God had wished to merely restore Creation then *poof* it would be done. But that is not how the Father, with the Son and the Spirit Created. Athanasius reminds us that the freewill we exercised is integral to Creation. The *poof* God provided was the exercise of freewill. Jesus chose to take on the "form of a slave" in order to freely exercise the will of the Father. Death has meaning. Every aspect of Creation has meaning. Nothing is chance or accident. Emmanuel (God with us) would have no meaning without this action.
As for death, today is appropriate, for we laid to rest a loved one. The last line sums up the truth and reality of the action of God that Athanasius defends.
The Word of God, ...[o]ut of his loving-kindness for us he came to us, and we see this in the way he revealed himself openly to us. Taking pity on mankind’s weakness, and moved by our corruption, he could not stand aside and see death have the mastery over us; he did not want creation to perish and his Father’s work in fashioning man to be in vain. He therefore took to himself a body, no different from our own, for he did not wish simply to be in a body or only to be seen.
If he had wanted simply to be seen, he could indeed have taken another, and nobler, body. Instead, he took our body in its reality....
The immortal Son of God, united with all men by likeness of nature, thus fulfilled all justice in restoring mankind to immortality by the promise of the resurrection.
The corruption of death no longer holds any power over mankind, thanks to the Word, who has come to dwell among them through his one body.
-- From a discourse by Athanasius
Things to Think About