Irenaeus of Lyons: The Word of God was made flesh by the dispensation of the Virgin, to abolish death and make man live Saturday, Jul 9 2016 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonHe fulfilled the promise made to Abraham, which God had promised him, to make his seed as the stars of heaven.

For this Christ did, who was born of the Virgin who was of Abraham’s seed, and constituted those who have faith in Him lights in the world, and by the same faith with Abraham justified the Gentiles.

[…] And He fulfilled the promise to David; for to him God had promised that of the fruit of his body He would raise up an eternal King, whose kingdom should have no end.

[…] Thus then He gloriously achieved our redemption, and fulfilled the promise of the fathers, and abolished the old disobedience.

The Son of God became Son of David and Son of Abraham; perfecting and summing up this in Himself, that He might make us to possess life.

The Word of God was made flesh by the dispensation of the Virgin, to abolish death and make man live. For we were imprisoned by sin, being born in sinfulness and living under death.

But God the Father was very merciful: He sent His creative Word, who in coming to deliver us came to the very place and spot in which we had lost life, and brake the bonds of our fetters.

And His light appeared and made the darkness of the prison disappear, and hallowed our birth and destroyed death, loosing those same fetters in which we were enchained.

And He manifested |the resurrection Himself becoming the first-begotten of the dead (Rev. 1:5), and in Himself raising up man that was fallen, lifting him up far above the heaven to the right hand of the glory of the Father: even as God promised by the prophet, saying: And I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen (Amos 9:2); that is, the flesh that was from David.

And this our Lord Jesus Christ truly fulfilled, when He gloriously achieved our redemption, that He might truly raise us up, setting us free unto the Father.

And if any man will not receive His birth from a virgin, how shall he receive His resurrection from the dead? For it is nothing wonderful and astonishing and extraordinary, if one who was not born rose from the dead: nay indeed we cannot speak of a resurrection of him who came unto being without birth.

For one who is unborn and immortal, and has not undergone birth, will also not undergo death. For he who took not the beginning of man, how could he receive his end?

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 35-38.

Irenaeus of Lyons: “He was obedient even unto death” Saturday, Apr 9 2016 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonContinued from here….

He obeyed even unto death, hanging on the tree, He put away the old disobedience which was wrought in the tree.

He is the Word of God Almighty, who in unseen manner in our midst is universally extended in all the world, and encompasses its length and breadth and height and depth.

For by the Word of God the whole universe is ordered and disposed.

In it the Son of God is crucified, inscribed crosswise upon it all.

For it is right that He being made visible, should set upon all things visible the sharing of His cross, that He might show His operation on visible things through a visible form.

For He it is who illuminates the height, that is the heavens; and encompasses the deep which is beneath the earth and stretches and spreads out the length from east to west.

He it is who steers across the breadth of north and south summoning all that are scattered in every quarter to the knowledge of the Father.

Moreover He fulfilled the promise made to Abraham, which God had promised him, to make his seed as the stars of heaven.

For this Christ did, who was born of the Virgin who was of Abraham’s seed, and constituted those who have faith in Him lights in the world, and by the same faith with Abraham justified the Gentiles.

For Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. In like manner we also are justified by faith in God: for the just shall live by faith. 

Now not by the law is the promise to Abraham, but by faith: for Abraham was justified by faith: and for a righteous man the law is not made.

In like manner we also are justified not by the law, but by faith, which is witnessed to in the law and in the prophets, whom the Word of God presents to us.

And He fulfilled the promise to David; for to him God had promised that of the fruit of his body He would raise up an eternal King, whose kingdom should have no end.

And this King is Christ, the Son of God, who became the Son of man; that is, who became the fruit of that Virgin who had her descent from David.

And for this cause the promise was, Of the fruit of thy body – that He might declare the peculiar uniqueness of Him, who was the fruit of the virgin body that was of David, even of Him who was King over the house of David, and of whose kingdom there shall be no end.

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 34-36 (slightly adapted).

Ambrose of Milan: The holy patriarch offered sacrifice in the secret recesses of his heart to the Trinity Monday, Oct 5 2015 

ambrose_of_milan‘Then he [Abraham] set out on his journey and on the third day came to a place which God had indicated to him’ (Gen. 22:4).

Abraham’s purpose needed the quality of continuity and perpetuity, for time is tripartite, taking in, as it does, the past, the present, and the future.

By this we are admonished that there should not be any trace of forgetfulness of the beneficence of God whether in the past, present, or future.

We should, rather, be steadfast in the recollection of His grace and in our compliance with His command.

Another reason for this reference to time lies in the fact that the person who performs a sacrifice ought to put his trust in the brilliant light of the Trinity.

For him whose sacrifice is grounded in faith has ever around him the light of day. For him there is no night.

So in Exodus Moses says: ‘We will go three days’ journey to sacrifice unto the Lord our God’ (2 Exod. 3:18).

Elsewhere, too, when God appeared to Abraham by the oak of Mamre, we are told that ‘Abraham raised his eyes and saw three men standing at a distance from him.

As soon as he saw them he ran to the entrance of the tent door to meet them and bowed down to the earth and said: My Lord, if I have found favor with you’ (Gen. 18:2, 3).

He beholds three and one he adores. He offers three measures of fine flour (cf. Gen. 18:6).

Although God is immeasurable, He nevertheless holds the measure of all things, as it is written: ‘Who hath measured the waters in his hand and weighed the heavens with his palm and the bulk of the earth in the hollow of his hand? (Isa. 40:12).

The holy patriarch, therefore, offered sacrifice in the secret recesses of his heart to the Trinity made perfect in each of the Persons.

This is the spiritual meaning of the measures of fine flour. This is the measure of fine flour mentioned in the Gospel which was ground by the woman who ‘will be taken’. ‘One will be taken; the other will be left’ (Matt. 24:41).

The Church ‘will be taken’; the Synagogue ‘will be left’, or the man of good conscience will be taken and the man of bad conscience, left.

That you may know that Abraham believed in Christ, we read; ‘Abraham saw my day and was glad’ (John 8:56).

He who believes in Christ believes, too, in the Father, and who believes in the Father believes, too, in the Son and Holy Spirit.

There were three measures, therefore, and one substance of fine flour. This means that there was one sacrifice which was offered to the Blessed Trinity.

Ambrose of Milan (c. 337-397): Cain and Abel, book 1, chapter 8, 29-30, in St Ambrose: Hexameron, Paradise, and Cain and Abel, tr. John J. Savage, Catholic Univeristy of America Press, 1961, pp. 386-388.

Philoxenus of Mabbug: When the eye of faith hears the voice of God there rises in it the light of His Word Tuesday, Jul 14 2015 

philoxenos_of_mabbugWhen Abraham heard the voice and knew that it was of God, he immediately despised everything and went forth to Him, and hearkened unto Him with simplicity.

[…] Look then, O disciple, upon this coming forth, and let thy coming forth be like unto it, and be not backward in following the living voice of Christ, Who hath called thee.

For as in that case it called to Abraham only, so in this He calls every one He pleases by His Gospel, and invites them to go forth after Him.

For in that He said, “Whosoever wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24), He shewed a universal calling to all the children of men.

And instead of choosing one person, Abraham, as He did at that time, He now invites every man to be like unto Abraham.

And again in the case of the holy Apostles, He renewed that call of Abraham; and observe their faith also, that it was like unto the faith of Abraham; for as Abraham heard immediately he was called, so also immediately He called the Apostles, they heard and went forth after Him.

“He saw them casting nets into the sea, and He called them, and straightway they forsook their nets and their father, and went after Him” (Matt. 4:18).

And before they had heard from Him the words, “If a man forsake not his father and mother, and everything that he hath, and cometh after me, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26), they forsook everything and went after Jesus.

For He did not propound for the disciples lengthy doctrine, but only the hearing of the word of faith; and because the faith which was in them was living, immediately it received the living word it became obedient unto life, and they ran thereafter straightway, and delayed not.

Now in this they show themselves to have been disciples before they were called. For the custom of faith which is mingled with simplicity is that it does not receive doctrine (or instruction) by much persuasion.

The sound and healthy eye does not receive the ray which is sent therein by contrivances and cunning inventions. but immediately that it is opened it looks with strength upon the light, because its natural sight is sound.

So also the eye of faith, which is set in the pupil of simplicity, immediately it hears the voice of God, recognises it, and there rises in it the light of His Word.

And joyfully it draws towards Him and receives Him, even as our Lord said in His Gospel, “My sheep hear My voice and come after Me” (John 10:27).

Philoxenus of Mabbug (d. 523): Fourth Ascetic Discourse (slightly adapted).

Athanasius of Alexandria: Let us then sing unto the Lord a song of victory Sunday, Apr 26 2015 

AthanasiusThe patriarch [Abraham] was tried, through Isaac.

However it was not Isaac who was sacrificed (Gen. 22), but He who was pointed out in Isaiah:

‘He shall be led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers he shall be speechless’ (Is. 53:7).

[…] The death of Isaac did not procure freedom to the world, but that of our Saviour alone, by whose stripes we all are healed’ (Is. 53:5).

For He raised up the falling, healed the sick, satisfied those who were hungry, and filled the poor, and, what is more wonderful, raised us all from the dead.

Having abolished death, He has brought us from affliction and sighing to the rest and gladness of this feast, a joy which reaches even to heaven.

For not we alone are affected by this, but because of it, even the heavens rejoice with us, and the whole church of the firstborn, written in heaven (Heb. 12:23), is made glad together, as the prophet proclaims, saying:

‘Rejoice, ye heavens, for the Lord hath had mercy upon Israel. Shout, ye foundations of the earth. Cry out with joy, ye mountains, ye high places, and all the trees which are in them, for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and Israel hath been glorified’ (Is. 44:23).

And again; ‘Rejoice, and be glad, ye heavens; let the hills melt into gladness, for the Lord hath had mercy on His people, and comforted the oppressed of the people’ (Is. 49:13).

The whole creation keeps a feast, my brethren, and everything that hath breath praises the Lord’ (Ps. 150:6), as the Psalmist says, on account of the destruction of the enemies, and on account of our salvation.

And justly indeed; for if there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth (Luke 15:7), what should there not be over the abolition of sin, and the resurrection of the dead?

Oh what a feast and how great the gladness in heaven! how must all its hosts joy and exult, as they rejoice and watch in our assemblies, those that are held continually, and especially those at Easter?

For they look on sinners while they repent; on those who have turned away their faces, when they become converted; on those who formerly persisted in lusts and excess, but who now humble themselves by fastings and temperance; and, finally, on the enemy who lies weakened, lifeless, bound hand and foot, so that we may mock at him:

‘Where is thy victory, O Death? where is thy sting, O Grave’ (1 Cor. 15:55). Let us then sing unto the Lord a song of victory.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): Sixth Festal Letter, 8-10 (slightly adapted).

Cyril of Jerusalem: The Good Thief Friday, Apr 18 2014 

Cyril-of-Jerusalem(On Luke 23:39-43).

What power, O robber, led thee to the light?

Who taught thee to worship that despised Man, thy companion on the Cross?

O Light Eternal, which gives light to them that are in darkness!

Therefore also he justly heard the words, Be of good cheer (Luke 23:43 in Codex Bezae):

not because thy deeds are worthy of good cheer; but because the King is here, dispensing favours.

The request reached unto a distant time; but the grace was very speedy.

Verily I say unto thee, This day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.

Because to-day thou hast heard My voice, and hast not hardened thine heart  (Ps. 95:7, 8).

Very speedily I passed sentence upon Adam, very speedily I pardon thee.

To him it was said, In the day wherein ye eat, ye shall surely die (Gen. 2:17).

But thou to-day hast obeyed the faith, to-day is thy salvation.

Adam by the Tree fell away; thou by the Tree art brought into Paradise.

Fear not the serpent; he shall not cast thee out; for he is fallen from heaven (Luke 10:18).

And I say not unto thee, This day shalt thou depart, but, This day shalt thou be with Me.

Be of good courage:  thou shalt not be cast out.  Fear not the flaming sword; it shrinks from its Lord (Gen. 3:24). 

O mighty and ineffable grace! The faithful Abraham had not yet entered, but the robber enters.

Moses and the Prophets had not yet entered, and the robber enters though a breaker of the law.

Paul also wondered at this before thee, saying, Where sin abounded, there grace did much more abound (Rom. 5:20).

They who had borne the heat of the day had not yet entered; and he of the eleventh hour entered.

Let none murmur against the goodman of the house, for he says, Friend, I do thee no wrong; is it not lawful for Me to do what I will with Mine own (Matt. 20:12 ff)?

The robber has a will to work righteousness, but death prevents him; I wait not exclusively for the work, but faith also I accept. 

I am come who feed My sheep among the lilies (Cant. 6:3), I am come to feed them in the gardens. 

I have found a sheep that was lost (Luke 15:5, 6), but I lay it on My shoulders.

For he believes, since he himself has said, I have gone astray like a lost sheep (Ps. 119:176);

Lord, remember me when Thou comest in Thy kingdom.

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechetical Lectures 13, 31.

Peter Chrysologus: Wounded by Love Friday, Dec 13 2013 

Church FathersAs God sees the world tottering to ruin because of fear, he acts unceasingly to bring it back by love, invite it by grace, to hold it by charity and clasp it firmly with affection.

Hence, he washes the earth grown old in evil with the avenging flood.

He calls Noah the father of a new world, speaks to him gently and gives him kindly confidence.

He gives him fatherly instruction about the present and consoles him with good hope for the future.

He did not give orders but instead shared in the work of enclosing together in the ark all living creatures on the earth.

In this way the love of being together was to banish the fear born of slavery. What had been saved by a shared work was to be preserved by a community of love.

God calls Abraham from among the nations and makes his name great. He also makes him the father of those who believe, accompanies him on his journeys, and takes care of him among foreign peoples.

He enriches him with possessions, honours him with triumphs, and binds himself to him by promises. He snatches him from harm, looks after him hospitably, and astonishes him with a son he had given up hope of ever having.

All this he does, so that, filled with so many good things, and drawn by the great sweetness of divine love, Abraham might learn to love God and not to be afraid of him, to worship him by love, not by trembling in fear.

He comforts the fugitive Jacob in his sleep. On his way back he calls him to the contest and grasps him with a wrestler’s arms. This was to teach him to love and not to fear the father of the contest.

He invites Moses to be the liberator of his people, calling him with a fatherly voice and speaking to him father’s love.

The events that we have recalled where the hearts of men were fired with the flame of the love of God and their senses flooded to intoxication with that love, led them, wounded by love, to begin to want to look upon God with their bodily eyes.

How could the narrowness of human vision enclose God whom the world cannot contain?

The law of love has no thought about what will be, what ought to be or what can be. Love knows nothing about judgement, is beyond reason, and is incapable of moderation.

Love takes no relief from the fact that its object is beyond possibility, nor is it cured by difficulties. […] Love cannot bear not to have sight of what it loves.

Peter Chrysologus (c.380–c.450): Sermon 147; from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Thursday of the 2nd Week in Advent, Year 2.