σωτήρ, sōtēr, saviour, deliverer
In Hebrew, Jesus’ language, the word for salvation is jexûàh (just like the name of Jesus, Jexûà). The consonants of the root of this word jexû‘àh are J X ‘, and it is the same root as the Maltese word “wisa(għ)”, expanse. In Greek this word is translated as σωτηρία, sōtēría.
Salvation does not pertain exclusively to the soul, to the spiritual realm (as in the forgiveness of sins) but it encompasses everything which allows the human to be led out into the expanse, led out of the cramping of one’s ego into the expanse of one’s integrated personality, in order to discover one’s fullness as a person, thus reclaiming one’s unified self, body, spirit, psyche … so that God Himself can utter the words: all is very good (Gen 1, 31) as He regards humankind. An excellent representation of this idea is the caterpillar becoming a chrysalis and in time emerging as a beautiful, colourful butterfly, flying unshackled into the expanse whilst even perpetuating the life of flowers and fruit by contributing to the process of pollination.
Jesus Christ is your Saviour and mine. He is the σωτήρ, sōtēr, the Saviour or, more precisely, the deliverer, because He delivers us from what keeps us closed in within ourselves, because of sin and its consequences, and instead leads us into the expanse of being God’s children. “Today, in the town of Bethlehem, is born unto you a Saviour, who is Christ, the Lord” (Lk 2, 11); “You are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Mt 1, 21).
How many of the miracles that Jesus performed had an impact solely on the spiritual dimension of the person? The majority of the miracles were performed on the physical bodies of the people who were healed. Hence, in the miracle of the paralytic who was lowered down from the roof: ‘“But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” he said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.”’ (Mk 2, 10-12) The physical healing becomes a sign of the spiritual healing. Together, the physical with the spiritual healing, have become a sign of a holistic salvation.
The Son became a man and died on the cross for you and for me, so that through His resurrection we are given the possibility to reclaim our fullness as persons. Through His resurrection we give back our very selves to God who gazes at us and claims that all is very good.
Fr Paul Sciberras