Saint Maximus the Confessor…

…judges Francis’ idea that Christ was stained by sin

  • God became perfect man, taking on everything that belongs to human nature except sin, and indeed sin is not part of human nature created by God

He [the Word] becomes an infant […]. He reveals as much of Himself as He knows the recipient can accept; He does not diminish the manifestation of His own greatness out of lack of generosity but estimates the receptive capacity of those who desire to see Him. In this way the divine Logos is eternally made manifest m different modes of participation, and yet remains eternally invisible to all in virtue of the surpassing nature of His hidden activity. That is why the apostle, when wisely considering the power of this hidden activity, says, ‘Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and throughout the ages’ (Heb 13:8); for he sees the hidden activity as something which is always new and never becomes outmoded through being embraced by the intellect. […] Christ our God is born and becomes man by adding to Himself flesh endowed with an intellective soul. He who from non-being brings created things into being is Himself born supranaturally of a Virgin who does not thereby lose her virginity. For just as He Himself became man without changing His nature or altering His power, so He makes her who bore Him a Mother while keeping her a Virgin. In this way He reveals one miracle through another miracle, at the same time concealing the one with the other. This is because in Himself, according to His essence. God always remains a mystery. He expresses His natural hiddenness in such a way that He makes it the more hidden through the revelation. Similarly, in the case of the Virgin who bore Him, He made her a Mother in such a way that by conceiving Him the bonds of her virginity became even more in- dissoluble. […] As man I deliberately transgressed the divine commandment, when the devil, enticing me with the hope of divinity (cf. Gen. 3:5), dragged me down from my natural stability into the realm of sensual pleasure; and he was proud to have thus brought death into existence, for he delights in the corruption of human nature. Because of this, God became perfect man, taking on everything that belongs to human nature except sin (cf. Heb. 4:15); and indeed sin is not part of human nature. In this way, by enticing the insatiable serpent with the bait of the flesh, He provoked him to open his mouth and swallow it. This flesh proved poison to him, destroying him utterly by the power of the Divinity within it; but to human nature it proved a remedy restoring it to its original grace by that same power of the Divinity within it. For just as the devil poured out his venom of sin on the tree of knowledge and corrupted human nature once it had tasted it, so when he wished to devour the flesh of the Master he was himself destroyed by the power of the Divinity within it. […] How did He who is wholly God by nature become wholly man by nature, not renouncing either nature in any way at all, neither the divine, through which He is God, nor ours, through which He became man? Faith alone can embrace these mysteries, for it is faith that makes real for us things beyond intellect and reason (cf. Heb. 11:1). Because Adam disobeyed, human nature has come to be generated through sensual pleasure; banishing such pleasure from human nature, the Lord had nothing to do with engendering by means of seed. Because the woman transgressed the commandment, the generation of human nature begins in pain (cf. Gen. 3:16); expelling this from human nature through His birth, the Lord did not allow her who bore Him to lose her virginity. He did this in order to expel from human nature both pleasure deliberately sought and the resulting unsought pain, becoming the destroyer of those things which He did not create. Through this He also mystically taught us to embark of our own accord on another way of life, one perhaps begun in pain and labor but nevertheless ending in divine pleasure and everlasting gladness. That is why He who made man became a man and was born as a man, so that He might save man and, by healing our passions through His passion, might Himself supra-naturally destroy the passions that were destroying us, in His compassion renewing us in the spirit through His privations in the flesh. (Saint Maximus the Confessor. In: The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. 2, pg.166–168)

…judges Francis’ idea on human suffering

  • By union with the Word, the human nature of Jesus knew and showed forth in itself everything that pertains to God

The Son of God knew all things; and this of himself, who had clothed himself in the human condition; not by his nature, but rather as united to the Word […].The human nature of God’s Son, not by itself but by its union with the Word, knew and showed forth in itself everything that pertains to God. (Saint Maximus the Confessor. Quaestiones et dubia, no. 66: PG 90, 840)