St. Hilary concludes his Homily on the First Psalm:
God certainly was not ignorant of the faith of Abraham, which He had already reckoned to him for righteousness when he believed about the birth of Isaac: but now because he had given a signal instance of his fear in offering his son, he is at last known, approved, rendered worthy of being not unknown. It is in this way then that God both knows and knows not—Adam the sinner is not known, and Abraham the faithful is known, is worthy, that is, of being known by God Who surely knows all things. The way of the righteous, therefore, who are not to be judged is known by God: and this is why sinners, who are to be judged, are set far from their counsel; while the ungodly shall not rise again to judgment, because their way has perished, and they have already been judged by Him Who said: ‘The Father judgeth no man, but hath given all judgment unto the Son’ (John 5:22), our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is blessed for ever and ever. Amen.
St. Hilary’s use of the verb to know in terms of Abraham demonstrates that he is playing with various forms of the word and that this translation has been forced to strictly use the verb as to know in order to have it make any sense in English. God knew of Abraham prior to the incident in Genesis 22. God had made promises to Abraham. Having been the recipient of a promise, however, does not make one righteous. All we need do is look upon the history of the Hebrews to see how often God’s chosen people failed at being a righteous people. God knew (recognized) Abraham’s righteousness when the angel had to stay Abraham’s hand.
St. Hilary’s choice for examples here is interesting. Adam as the sinner recalls his role within creation — to tend and expand the garden. Abraham as the righteous is willing to sacrifice his son for the sake of the nations. Our Lord, God and Savior is both the Last Adam — He who fulfills Adam’s original purpose — and is the Son who is sacrificed for the salvation of the nations.
For those of us who are sinners and are on the path to having to face the judgement seat, the reality that Christ is the Last Adam, the Sacrificial Lamb and the Judge offers some amount of hope. It clearly demonstrates that it is not God’s intention to doom His creation to destruction, but rather that we be fulfilled in Him and that He is willing to go to the extreme of the humiliation and death of the Cross for each and every one of us, who (to continue to play with the verb to know) He knew of as God when He marched to Golgotha. If this were a worldly court of Law, Christ would have to recuse Himself because of a conflict of interest.
Indeed, Christ has given us every tool that we need in order to come out of the darkness and seek the path of righteousness. Everything that the Church offers — prayer, fasting, almsgiving, worship, sacrament, liturgy, the cloud of witnesses and (especially) His Body and His Blood — are ways for us to strive for the recognition by God as righteous. As indicated by the huge number of saints revealed to us, this recognition is far from impossible. Indeed, the miracles worked through the saints reveal that it is possible even while we still walk this earth in our fallen form.
However, as St. Hilary has striven to prove, it all comes down to us and our free will. This is a path that we must choose. As the Feast of the Nativity quickly approaches, we have an opportunity to step onto this path by putting away the pressures of the world to make this Great Feast about us, the presents we give, how many presents we receive and how awesome our feast day table is. Instead, let us all focus upon the meal that God has laid out upon His table and the great pains that He went through in order to give it to us.
Let us approach in awe as God, the Creator of all things, is held in the arms of a Virgin Girl named Mary; that through the reordering of all things she is His mother the Theotokos; and that when we approach and partake of this Great Feast set upon God’s Table — His Body and His Blood — that we, too, can not only be embraced by the Virgin Maid as the Body of Christ, but by the Father as His children. Amen.