Metropolitan John Zizioulas on Emptying Oneself for God & Neighbour

Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon

We cannot be the “image of God” unless we are incorporated in the original and only authentic image of the Father, which is the Son of God incarnate. This implies the following for our subject: (a) Communion with the other requires the experience of the Cross. Unless we sacrifice our own will and subject it to the will of the other, repeating in ourselves what our Lord did in Gethsemane in relation to the will of his Father, we cannot reflect properly in history the communion and otherness that we see in the triune God. Since the Son of God moved to meet the other, his creation, by emptying himself through the kenosis of the Incarnation, the ‘kenotic’ way is the only one that befits the Christian in his or her communion with the other – be it God or one’s ‘neighbour’.

(b) In this ‘kenotic’ approach to the other, communion is not determined in any way by the qualities that he or she might or might not possess. In accepting the sinner, Christ applied to communion the Trinitarian model, as we described it above: the other is not to be identified by his or her qualities, but by the sheer fact that he or she is, and is himself or herself. We cannot discriminate between those who are and those who are not ‘worthy’ of our acceptance. This is what the Christological model of communion with the other requires.

* This excerpt is from “Communion and Otherness: Further Studies in Personhood and the Church” by Met. John Zizioulas


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