John Chrysostom: There can be no mistake in attributing this work to Luke; and when I say, to Luke, I mean, to Christ Tuesday, Oct 18 2016 

Chrysostom3Feast of St Luke (October 18th).

The greater part, however, of this work [the Book of Acts] is occupied with the acts of Paul, who “laboured more abundantly than they all” (1 Cor. 15:10).

And the reason is, that the author of this Book, that is, the blessed Luke, was his companion: a man, whose high qualities, sufficiently visible in many other instances, are especially shown in his firm adherence to his Teacher, whom he constantly followed.

Thus at a time when all had forsaken him, one gone into Galatia, another into Dalmatia, hear what he says of this disciple: “Only Luke is with me” (2 Tim. 4:10). And giving the Corinthians a charge concerning him, he says, “Whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all the Churches” (2 Cor. 8:18).

Again, when he says, “He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve,” and, “according to the Gospel which ye received” (1 Cor. 15:5, 1), he means the Gospel of this Luke. So that there can be no mistake in attributing this work to him: and when I say, to him, I mean, to Christ.

And why then did he not relate everything, seeing he was with Paul to the end? We may answer, that what is here written, was sufficient for those who would attend, and that the sacred writers ever addressed themselves to the matter of immediate importance, whatever it might be at the time. It was no object with them to be writers of books: in fact, there are many things which they have delivered by unwritten tradition.

Now while all that is contained in this Book is worthy of admiration, so is especially the way the Apostles have of coming down to the wants of their hearers: a condescension suggested by the Spirit who has so ordered it, that the subject on which they chiefly dwell is that which pertains to Christ as man.

For so it is, that while they discourse so much about Christ, they have spoken but little concerning His Godhead; it was mostly of the Manhood that they discoursed, and of the Passion, and the Resurrection, and the Ascension. For the thing required in the first instance was this, that it should be believed that He was risen, and ascended into heaven.

As then the point on which Christ himself most insisted was, to have it known that He was come from the Father, so is it this writer’s principal object to declare, that Christ was risen from the dead, and was received up into Heaven, and that He went to God, and came from God.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homilies on the Book of Acts, 1.

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John Chrysostom: Let us not be sad that we are mortal, but rather let us be grateful Sunday, Jun 26 2016 

Chrysostom3Not seven days have passed since we celebrated the holy feast of Pentecost and again we are overtaken by a chorus of martyrs, or better, serried ranks of martyrs, which are in no way lesser than the ranks of the angels seen by the Patriarch Jacob but equal to and of the same worth as them.

Because martyrs and angels differ only as regards the name, whereas in their works they’re united. Angels reside in the heavens, but so, too, do the martyrs. The former are eternal and immortal; the martyrs will become so.

But have the latter assumed a bodiless form? What does it matter? Because the martyrs, even though they have a body, are still immortal, or rather, before immortality, the death of Christ adorns their bodies even more greatly than immortality.

The sky, be it adorned with ever so many stars, is not so bright as the bodies of the martyrs, which are made beautiful by the blood of their wounds. So, because they died for Him, they are, in fact, superior and have been decorated before achieving immortality, since they were crowned from the moment death.

‘You have made them a little lower than the angels, with glory and honour you have crowned them’, said David, regarding the nature of the whole of the human race. But when Christ came, He completed this small amount, because He condemned death by His own death.

That is not what I am saying though. What I mean is that this defect of death became an advantage. If they had not been mortal, they would not have become martyrs. So, had there been no death, there would not have been any crown. Had there been no death, there would not be martyrdom.

Had there been no death, Saint Paul would not have been able to say ‘I affirm by the pride in you that I have in Christ Jesus our Lord: I die every day’. Had there been no death and corruption, the same Apostle would not have been able to say, ‘Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions’.

Therefore let us not be sad that we are mortal, but rather let us be grateful, since the arena of martyrdom has been opened to us by death and, by corruption, we have been given the chance of winning the prize. From now on, we have a reason to strive.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Encomium on All Saints @ Pemptousia [slightly adapted].

John Chrysostom: “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk” Friday, May 20 2016 

Chrysostom3On John 5:6-8.

Great is the profit of the divine Scriptures, and all-sufficient is the aid which comes from them.

And Paul declared this when he said, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written aforetime for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” ( Rom. 15:4, 1 Cor. 10:11).

For the divine oracles are a treasury of all manner of medicines, so that whether it be needful to quench pride, to lull desire to sleep, to tread under foot the love of money, to despise pain, to inspire confidence, to gain patience, from them one may find abundant resource.

For what man of those who struggle with long poverty or who are nailed to a grievous disease, will not, when he reads the passage before us, receive much comfort?

Since this man who had been paralytic for thirty and eight years, and who saw each year others delivered, and himself bound by his disease, not even so fell back and despaired, though in truth not merely despondency for the past, but also hopelessness for the future, was sufficient to overwhelm him.

Hear now what he says, and learn the greatness of his tragedy. For when Christ had said, “Wilt thou be made whole?” “Yea, Lord,” he says, “but I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool.” What can be more pitiable than these words? What more sad than these circumstances?

Do you see a heart crushed through long sickness? Do you see all violence subdued? He uttered no blasphemous word, nor such as we hear the many use in reverses, he cursed not his day, he was not angry at the question, nor did he say, “Are You come to make a mock and a jest of us, that You ask whether I desire to be made whole?”

But he replied gently, and with great mildness, “Yea, Lord”; yet he knew not who it was that asked him, nor that He would heal him, but still he mildly relates all the circumstances and asks nothing further, as though he were speaking to a physician, and desired merely to tell the story of his sufferings.

Perhaps he hoped that Christ might be so far useful to him as to put him into the water, and desired to attract Him by these words. What then does Jesus say? “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk”

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homilies on St John’s Gospel, 37 (on John 5:6-8); [slightly adapted].

John Chrysostom: The body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness Wednesday, Mar 30 2016 

Chrysostom3And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness (Romans 8:10).

Anyone who has the Spirit not only is called Christ’s, but even has Christ Himself.

For it cannot but be that where the Spirit is, there Christ is also.

For wheresoever one Person of the Trinity is, there the whole Trinity is present.

For It is undivided in Itself, and has a most entire Oneness.

What then, it may be said, will happen, if Christ be in us?

The body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

You see the great evils that come of not having the Holy Spirit; death, enmity against God, inability to satisfy His laws, not being Christ’s as we should be, the want of His indwelling.

Consider now also what great blessings come of having the Spirit: being Christ’s, having Christ himself, vying with the angels (for this is what mortifying the flesh is), and living an immortal life, holding henceforward the earnests of the Resurrection, running with ease the race of virtue.

For he does not say so little as that the body is henceforward inactive for sin, but that it is even dead, so magnifying the ease of the race. For such a one without troubles and labours gains the crown.

Then afterward for this reason he adds also, “[dead] to sin”, that you may see that it is the viciousness, not the essence of the body, that He has abolished at once.

For if the latter had been done, many things even of a kind to be beneficial to the soul would have been abolished also. This however is not what he says, but while it is yet alive and abiding, he contends, it is dead.

For this is the sign of our having the Son, of the Spirit being in us, that our bodies should be in no respect different from those that lie on the bier with respect to the working of sin.

But be not affrighted at hearing of mortifying. For in it you have what is really life, with no death to succeed it: and such is that of the Spirit.

It yields not to death any more, but wears out death and consumes it, and that which it receives, it keeps it immortal.

And this is why after saying the body is dead, he does not say, but the Spirit “lives”, but, “is life”, to point out that He (the Spirit) had the power of giving this to others also.

Then again to brace up his hearer, he tells him the cause of the Life, and the proof of it. Now this is righteousness; for where there is no sin, death is not to be seen either; but where death is not to be seen, life is indissoluble.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homilies on St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, 13 (on Romans 8:10); [slightly adapted].

John Chrysostom: If the Cross has its foundation in love and is our glory, we must not say we mourn because of the Cross Wednesday, Mar 9 2016 

Chrysostom3Why do we fast for forty days?

Formerly many believers approached the sacraments without any particular preparation, especially at the time when Christ first gave them to us.

But when the fathers realized the harm that could result from such neglect, they took counsel together and decreed that a period of forty days of fasting be set aside, during which the people would meet to pray and listen to the word of God.

During this Lenten season each of the faithful would undergo a thorough purification by means of prayer, almsgiving, fasting, watching, repentant tears, confession, and every other remedial measure.

Then when they had done all in their power to cleanse their consciences, they could approach the sacraments.

[…] So, when someone asks you why you fast, you should not answer: because of the Passover, or because of the Cross.

Neither of these is the reason for our fasting. We fast because of our sins, since we are preparing to approach the sacred mysteries.

Moreover, the Christian Passover is a time for neither fasting nor mourning, but for great joy, since the Cross destroyed sin and made expiation for the whole world.

It reconciled ancient enmities and opened the gates of heaven. It made friends of those who had been filled with hatred, restoring them to the citizenship of heaven.

Through the Cross our human nature has been set at the right hand of the throne of God, and we have been granted countless good things besides.

Therefore we must not give way to mourning or sadness; we must rejoice greatly instead over all these blessings.

Listen to the exultant words of Saint Paul: God forbid that I should boast of anything but the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. And elsewhere he writes: God shows his own love for us because when we were still sinners Christ died for our sake.

Saint John’s message is the same. God loved the world so much, he declares, and then, passing over every other manifestation of God’s love, he comes at once to the crucifixion.

God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, that is, he gave him up to be crucified, so that those who believed in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

If, then, the Cross has its foundation in love and is our glory, we must not say we mourn because of the Cross. Far from it. What we have to mourn over is our own sinfulness, and that is why we fast.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Oratio 3 Adversus Iudaeos (PG 48, 867-868); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Ash Wednesday, Year 2.

John Chrysostom: “For I through the Law died unto the Law” Thursday, Feb 18 2016 

Chrysostom3“For I through the Law died unto the Law” (Gal. 2:19).

This may be viewed in two ways; it is either the law of grace of which he speaks.

For he is wont to call this a law, as in the words, “For the law of the Spirit of life made me free.” (Rom. 8:2).

Or it is the old Law, of which he says, that by the Law itself he has become dead to the Law.

That is to say, the Law itself has taught me no longer to obey itself, and therefore if I do so, I shall be transgressing even its teaching.

How, in what way has it so taught? Moses says, speaking of Christ, “The Lord God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him shall ye hearken” (Deut. 18:15).

Therefore they who do not obey Him, transgress the Law.

Again, the expression, “I through the Law died unto the Law,” may be understood in another sense.

The Law commands all its precepts to be performed, and punishes the transgressor; therefore we are all dead to it, for no man has fulfilled it.

Here observe how guardedly he assails it; he says not, “the Law is dead to me,” but, “I am dead to the Law.”

The meaning of this is, that, as it is impossible for a dead corpse to obey the commands of the Law, so also is it for me who have perished by its curse, for by its word am I slain.

Let it not therefore lay commands on the dead, dead by its own act, dead not in body only, but in soul, which has involved the death of the body.

This he shows in what follows: “That I might live unto God, I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:19-20).

Having said, “I am dead,” lest it should be objected how “then dost thou live?” he adds the cause of his living, and shows that when alive the Law slew him, but that when dead Christ through death restored him to life.

He shows the wonder to be twofold; that by Christ both the dead was begotten into life, and that this happened by means of death.

He here means the immortal life, for this is the meaning of the words, “That I might live unto God I am crucified with Christ.”

How, it is asked, can a man now living and breathing have been crucified? That Christ hath been crucified is manifest, but how can you have been crucified, and yet live? He explains it thus: “Yet I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me.”

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Commentary on St Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, (on Galatians 2:19-20); slightly adapted).

John Chrysostom: The Conversion of St Paul Monday, Jan 25 2016 

Chrysostom3On Acts 9:1-19.

“Saul, Saul,” says He, “why persecutest thou me?”

And He tells him nothing: does not say believe, nor anything whatever of the kind.

He expostulates with him, all but saying, What wrong, great or small, hast thou suffered from Me, that thou doest these things?

“And he said, Who art Thou Lord?” (v. 5), thus in the first place confessing himself His servant.

“And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest”; think not thy warring is with men.

And they which were with him heard the voice of Paul, but saw no person to whom he answered—for the Lord suffered them to be hearers of what was less important….

“But arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do” (v. 6)….

He does not immediately add all, but first softens his mind…. He gives him good hopes, and intimates that he shall recover his sight also.

“… And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus” (v. 7-8)—the spoils of the devil, “his goods” (Matt. 13:29), as from some city, yea, some metropolis which has been taken.

And the wonder of it is, the enemies and foes themselves brought him in, in the sight of all!

[…] What could equal this? To compensate the discouragement in the matter of Stephen, here is encouragement, in the bringing in of Paul: though that sadness had its consolation in the fact of Stephen’s making such an end, yet it also received this further consolation….

But why did this take place not at the very first, but after these things? That it might be shown that Christ was indeed risen.

This furious assailant of Christ, the man who would not believe in His death and resurrection, the persecutor of His disciples, how should this man have become a believer, had not the power of His resurrection been great indeed?

[…] Why then not immediately after His resurrection? That his hostility might be more clearly shown as open war.

The man who is so frantic as even to shed blood and cast men into prisons, all at once believes!

It was not enough that he had never been in Christ’s company: the believers must be warred upon by him with vehement hostility: he left to none the possibility of going beyond him in fury: none of them all could be so violent.

But when he was blinded, then he saw the proofs of His sovereignty and loving kindness:

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homily 19 on the Acts of the Apostles.

John Chrysostom: For whom was Christ baptised and by which baptism? Tuesday, Jan 5 2016 

Chrysostom3For whom was Christ baptised and by which baptism?

Neither the former—the Jewish, nor the last—ours.

Whence has He need for remission of sins? How is this possible for Him, Who does not have any sins?

He committed no sin—it says in the Scriptures—nor was there deceit found in His mouth (1 Pet 2:22); and further, Who of you convicteth Me of sin? (Jn 8:46).

His flesh was privy to the Holy Spirit…. If His flesh was privy to the Holy Spirit, and He was not subject to sins, then for whom was He baptised?

[…] By which baptism indeed was He baptised? Not the Jewish, nor ours, nor John’s…. He was baptised not by reason of sin and not having need of the gift of the Spirit; therefore, as we have demonstrated, this baptism was alien to the one and to the other….

He came to Jordan not for the forgiveness of sins and not for receiving the gifts of the Spirit…. For whom was He baptised, if this was done not for repentance, nor for the remission of sins, nor for receiving the gifts of the Spirit?

[…] What reason for this baptism did John declare? That Christ should become known to the people, as Paul also mentions: John therefore baptised with the baptism of repentance, so that through him they should believe on Him that cometh (Acts 19:4); this was the consequence of the baptism.

If John had gone to the home of each and, standing at the door, had spoken out for Christ and said: He is the Son of God, such a testimony would have been suspicious, and this deed would have been extremely perplexing.

So too, if he in advocating Christ had gone into the synagogues and witnessed to Him, this testimony of his might be suspiciously fabricated.

But when all the people thronged out from all the cities to Jordan and remained on the banks of the river, and when He Himself came to be baptised and received the testimony of the Father by a voice from above and by the coming-upon of the Spirit in the form of a dove, then the testimony of John about Him was made beyond all questioning.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Discourse on the Day of the Baptism of Christ @ Pravoslavie [slightly adapted].

John Chrysostom: Behold a new and wondrous mystery Friday, Dec 25 2015 

Chrysostom3Behold a new and wondrous mystery.

My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn.

The Angels sing. The Archangels blend their voice in harmony.

The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise. The Seraphim exalt His glory.

All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven.

He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.

Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side, the Sun of justice.

And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed; He had the power; He descended; He redeemed; all things yielded in obedience to God.

This day He Who is, is Born; and He Who is, becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His.

Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became He God from man; but being the Word He became flesh, His nature, because of impassibility, remaining unchanged.

And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor Archangels, nor Thrones, nor Dominations, nor Powers, nor Principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.

Since this heavenly birth cannot be described, neither does His coming amongst us in these days permit of too curious scrutiny.

Though I know that a Virgin this day gave birth, and I believe that God was begotten before all time, yet the manner of this generation I have learned to venerate in silence and I accept that this is not to be probed too curiously with wordy speech.

[…] What shall I say to you; what shall I tell you? I behold a Mother who has brought forth; I see a Child come to this light by birth. The manner of His conception I cannot comprehend.

Nature here rested, while the Will of God labored. O ineffable grace! The Only Begotten, Who is before all ages, Who cannot be touched or be perceived, Who is simple, without body, has now put on my body, that is visible and liable to corruption.

For what reason? That coming amongst us he may teach us, and teaching, lead us by the hand to the things that men cannot see.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Nativity Sermon @ Pravoslavie.

John Chrysostom: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” Monday, Dec 14 2015 

Chrysostom3Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice….

The Lord is at hand. In nothing be anxious;

but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God (Philippians 4:4-6).

“Blessed are they that mourn” and “woe unto them that laugh” (Matt. 5:4; Luke 6:25), says Christ.

How then does Paul say “rejoice in the Lord always”?

“Woe to them that laugh,” said Christ, the laughter of this world which arises from the things which are present.

He blessed also those that mourn, not simply for the loss of relatives, but those who are pricked at heart, who mourn their own faults, and take count of their own sins, or even those of others.

This joy is not contrary to that grief, but from that grief it too is born. For he who grieves for his own faults, and confesses them, rejoices. Moreover, it is possible to grieve for our own sins, and yet to rejoice in Christ.

Because…they were afflicted by their sufferings – “for to you it is given not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” (Philip. 1:29) – therefore does he say “rejoice in the Lord.”

For this can but mean: “if you exhibit such a life that you may rejoice”. Or “when your communion with God is not hindered, rejoice”. Or else the word “in” may stand for “with” – as if he had said “with the Lord.”

“Always; again I will say, Rejoice.” These are the words of one who brings comfort; as, for example, he who is in God rejoices always. Although he be afflicted, whatever he may suffer, such a man always rejoices.

Hear what Luke says, that “they returned from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be scourged for His name” (Acts 5:41).

If scourging and bonds, which seem to be the most grievous of all things, bring forth joy, what else will be able to produce grief in us?

[…] Behold another consolation, a medicine which heals grief, and distress, and all that is painful. And what is this? Prayer, thanksgiving in all things.

And so He wills that our prayers should not simply be requests, but thanksgivings too for what we have. For how should he ask for future things, who is not thankful for the past? “But in everything by prayer and supplication.”

Wherefore we ought to give thanks for all things, even for those which seem to be grievous, for this is the part of the truly thankful man. In the other case the nature of the things demands it; but this springs from a grateful soul, and one earnestly affected toward God.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homilies on St Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, 14, 4 (on Philippians 4:4-6); slightly adapted).

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