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.

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.

Leo the Great: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Tuesday, Nov 10 2015 

Leo_MagnusContinued from here…..

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). 

It would perhaps be doubtful what poor He was speaking of, if in saying “blessed are the poor” He had added nothing which would explain the sort of poor:

and then that poverty by itself would appear sufficient to win the kingdom of heaven which many suffer from hard and heavy necessity.

But when He says “blessed are the poor in spirit,” He shows that the kingdom of heaven must be assigned to those who are recommended by the humility of their spirits rather than by the smallness of their means.

Yet it cannot be doubted that this possession of humility is more easily acquired by the poor than the rich:  for submissiveness is the companion of those that want, while loftiness of mind dwells with riches.

Notwithstanding, even in many of the rich is found that spirit which uses its abundance not for the increasing of its pride but on works of kindness, and counts that for the greatest gain which it expends in the relief of others’ hardships.

It is given to every kind and rank of men to share in this virtue, because men may be equal in will, though unequal in fortune:  and it does not matter how different they are in earthly means, who are found equal in spiritual possessions.

Blessed, therefore, is poverty which is not possessed with a love of temporal things, and does not seek to be increased with the riches of the world, but is eager to amass heavenly possessions.

Of this high-souled humility the Apostles first, after the Lord, have given us example. Leaving all that they had without difference at the voice of the heavenly Master, they were turned by a ready change from the catching of fish to be fishers of men, and made many like themselves through the imitation of their faith, when with those first-begotten sons of the Church, “the heart of all was one, and the spirit one, of those that believed” (Acts 4:32).

For, putting away the whole of their things and possessions, they enriched themselves with eternal goods, through the most devoted poverty, and in accordance with the Apostles’ preaching rejoiced to have nothing of the world and possess all things with Christ.

Hence the blessed Apostle Peter, when he was going up into the temple, and was asked for alms by the lame man, said, “Silver and gold is not mine, but what I have that I give thee:  in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, arise and walk” (Acts 3:6).

What more sublime than this humility? what richer than this poverty?  […] He [Peter] who gave not Cæsar’s image in a coin, restored Christ’s image on the man.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 95, 2-3.

Cyril of Alexandria: “When He had called the twelve Apostles, He gave them power and authority over all the devils, and to heal sicknesses” Tuesday, Aug 4 2015 

cyril_alexandriaAnd when He had called the twelve Apostles, He gave them power and authority over all the devils, and to heal sicknesses (Luke 9:1).

Behold the Apostles, highly distinguished, and crowned with more than human glory, by this fresh gift bestowed by Christ.

“For He gave them,” it says, “power and authority over all the devils, and to heal sicknesses.”

Observe again, I pray, that the Incarnate Word of God exceeds the measure of humanity, and is radiant with the dignities of the Godhead.

For it transcends the limits of human nature, to give authority over unclean spirits to whomsoever He will: as does also the enabling them to deliver from sicknesses such as were afflicted with them.

For God, indeed, bestows on whom He will powers of this kind; and on His decree alone it depends that any are able, according to His good pleasure, to work divine miracles, and act as ministers of the grace that is from above: but to impart to others the gift bestowed on them, is altogether an impossibility.

For the majesty and glory of the supreme nature is found existing essentially in nothing that has being, except in Itself, and It only.

Be it, therefore, angel or archangel, that any one mentions, or thrones and dominions, or the seraphim, which again are higher in dignity, let him wisely understand this: that they indeed possess pre-eminent authority by the powers given them from above, such as language cannot describe, nor nature bestow; but reason altogether forbids the supposition of their imparting these powers to others.

But Christ bestows them, as being God therefore, and as out of His own fulness: for He is Himself the Lord of glory and of powers.

The grace then bestowed upon the holy Apostles is worthy of all admiration; but the bountifulness of the Giver surpasses all praise and admiration: for He gives them, as I said, His own glory.

Man receives authority over the evil spirits, and reduces unto nothingness the pride that was so high exalted, and arrogant, even that of the devil: his wickedness he renders ineffectual, and, by the might and efficacy of the Holy Ghost, burning him as with fire, he makes him come forth with groans and weeping from those whom he had possessed.

And yet in old time he [the devil] had said: “I will hold the whole world in my hand as a nest, and will take it as eggs that are left: and there is no one that shall escape from me, or speak against me.”

He missed, then, the truth, and fell from his hope, proud and audacious though he was, and vaunting himself over the infirmity of mankind. For the Lord of powers marshalled against him the ministers of the sacred proclamations.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on Luke, Sermon 47 (on Luke9:1ff).

John Chrysostom: “A well of water springing up into everlasting life” Friday, May 29 2015 

John_ChrysostomAnd suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting (Acts 2:2).

That wind (πνοὴ) was a very pool of water.

This betokened the copiousness, as the fire did the vehemence.

This nowhere happened in the case of the Prophets: for to uninebriated souls such accesses are not attended with much disturbance.

[…] Those had to deal with only one nation, and with their own people; but these with the whole world, and with men whom they never knew.

Elisha receives the grace through the medium of a mantle (2 Kings 13); another by oil, as David (1 Sam. 16:13); and Moses by fire, as we read of him at the bush (Exod. 3:2).

But in the present case it is not so; for the fire itself sat upon them.

[…] You are not to stop at this, that “there appeared unto them cloven tongues,” but note that they were “of fire.” Such a fire as this is able to kindle infinite fuel.

Also, it is well said, cloven, for they were from one root; that you may learn, that it was an operation sent from the Comforter.

But observe how those men also were first shown to be worthy, and then received the Spirit as worthy.

Thus, for instance, David: what he did among the sheepfolds, the same he did after his victory and trophy; that it might be shown how simple and absolute was his faith.

Again, see Moses despising royalty, and forsaking all, and after forty years taking the lead of the people (Exod. 2:11); and Samuel occupied there in the temple (1 Sam. 3:3); Elisha leaving all (1 Kings 19:21); Ezekiel again, made manifest by what happened thereafter.

In this manner, you see, did these also leave all that they had. They learnt also what human infirmity is, by what they suffered; they learnt that it was not in vain they had done these good works (1 Sam. 9 and 11:6).

[…] But in the same manner as here did none of them receive. Thus Moses was the greatest of the Prophets, yet he, when others were to receive the Spirit, himself suffered diminution.

But here it is not so; but just as fire kindles as many flames as it will, so here the largeness of the Spirit was shown, in that each one received a fountain of the Spirit; as indeed He Himself had foretold, that those who believe in Him, should have “a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).

And good reason that it should be so. For they did not go forth to argue with Pharaoh, but to wrestle with the devil.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, Homily 4.

Cyril of Alexandria: He arose from the dead to be the way whereby we return to incorruption Tuesday, Apr 14 2015 

cyril_alexandriaIt came to pass, as they were perplexed at this (Luke 24:4).

The women came to the sepulchre, and when they could not find the body of Christ – for He had risen – they were much perplexed. And what followed?

For their love’s sake to Christ, and their earnest zeal thereunto, they were counted worthy of seeing holy angels, who even told them the joyful tidings, and became the heralds of the resurrection, saying:

“Why seek you the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen.”

For the Word of God ever lives, and is by His own nature Life: but when He humbled Himself to emptying, and submitted to be made like to us, He tasted death.

But this proved to be the death of death: for He arose from the dead, to be the way whereby not Himself so much but we rather return to incorruption.

And let no one seek Him Who ever lives among the dead; for He is not here, with mortality, that is, and in the tomb: but where rather is He? in heaven plainly, and in godlike glory.

And more firmly to settle the faith of the women in these things, they recall to their minds what Christ had said, that “He must necessarily be given up into the hands of sinners, and suffer, and the third day rise again.”

Angels too brought the joyful tidings of the nativity to the shepherds in Bethlehem, and now they tell His resurrection: and heaven yields its service to proclaim Him, and the hosts of the spirits which are above attend the Son as God, even when He had become flesh.

And they returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest (Luke 24:9).

The women having been taught the mystery by the voice of angels, run to tell these things to the disciples. For it was fitting that this grace, though so splendid, should be granted to women.

For she who of old was the minister of death is now freed from her guilt by ministering to the voice of the holy angels, and by being the first both to learn and tell the adorable mystery of the resurrection.

[…] To the holy apostles however the account of the resurrection seemed absolutely but an idle tale, and falsehood; for even they did not know the inspired Scripture, and so they were incredulous, and mocked at the news and rejected it.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on St Luke’s Gospel, Fragments on Luke 24.

Irenaeus of Lyons: The Spirit Accomplished the Father’s Will in Men who had Grown Old in Sin Friday, Jun 13 2014 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonWhen the Lord told his disciples to go and teach all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he conferred on them the power of giving men new life in God.

He had promised through the prophets that in these last days he would pour out his Spirit on his servants and handmaids, and that they would prophesy.

So when the Son of God became the Son of Man, the Spirit also descended upon him, becoming accustomed in this way to dwelling with the human race, to living in men and to inhabiting God’s creation.

The Spirit accomplished the Father’s will in men who had grown old in sin, and gave them new life in Christ.

Luke says that the Spirit came down on the disciples at Pentecost, after the Lord’s ascension, with power to open the gates of life to all nations and to make known to them the new covenant.

So it was that men of every language joined in singing one song of praise to God, and scattered tribes, restored to unity by the Spirit, were offered to the Father as the first-fruits of all the nations.

This was why the Lord had promised to send the Advocate: he was to prepare us as an offering to God.

Like dry flour, which cannot become one lump of dough, one loaf of broad, without moisture, we who are many could not become one in Christ Jesus without the water that comes down from heaven.

And like parched ground, which yields no harvest unless it receives moisture, we who were once like a waterless tree could never have lived and borne fruit without this abundant rainfall from above.

Through the baptism that liberates us from change and decay we have become one in body; through the Spirit we have become one in soul.

The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of God came down upon the Lord, and the Lord in turn gave this Spirit to his Church, sending the Advocate from heaven into all the world into which, according to his own words, the devil too had been cast down like lightning.

If we are not to be scorched and made unfruitful, we need the dew of God. Since we have our accuser, we need an advocate as well.

And so the Lord in his pity for man, who had fallen into the hands of brigands, having himself bound up his wounds…, entrusted him to the Holy Spirit.

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Adversus Haereses 3,17,1-3 @ Crossroads Initiative.

 

Cyril of Jerusalem: The Descent of the Holy Spirit Wednesday, Jun 11 2014 

Cyril-of-JerusalemHe came down to clothe the Apostles with power, and to baptize them.

For the Lord says, ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence (Acts 1:5).

This grace was not in part, but His power was in full perfection.

For as he who plunges into the waters and is baptized is encompassed on all sides by the waters, so were they also baptized completely by the Holy Ghost.

The water however flows round the outside only, but the Spirit baptizes also the soul within, and that completely.

And wherefore wonderest thou?  Take an example from matter; poor indeed and common, yet useful for the simpler sort.

The fire passing in through the mass of the iron makes the whole of it fire, so that what was cold becomes burning and what was black is made bright.

If fire which is a body thus penetrates and works without hindrance in iron which is also a body, why wonder that the Holy Ghost enters into the very inmost recesses of the soul?

And lest men should be ignorant of the greatness of the mighty gift coming down to them, there sounded as it were a heavenly trumpet.

For suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind (Acts 2:2), signifying the presence of Him who was to grant power unto men to seize with violence the kingdom of God; that both their eyes might see the fiery tongues, and their ears hear the sound.  

And it filled all the house where they were sitting; for the house became the vessel of the spiritual water; as the disciples sat within, the whole house was filled.

Thus they were entirely baptized according to the promise, and invested soul and body with a divine garment of salvation.  

And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.

They partook of fire, not of burning but of saving fire; of fire which consumes the thorns of sins, but gives lustre to the soul.

This is now coming upon you also, and that to strip away and consume your sins which are like thorns, and to brighten yet more that precious possession of your souls, and to give you grace; for He gave it then to the Apostles.

And He sat upon them in the form of fiery tongues, that they might crown themselves with new and spiritual diadems by fiery tongues upon their heads.  A fiery sword barred of old the gates of Paradise; a fiery tongue which brought salvation restored the gift.

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechetical Lectures 17, 14-15.

Severus of Al-Ushmunain: How St Mark Healed and Converted a Cobbler in Alexandria Friday, Apr 25 2014 

St.-Mark-the-Apostle

April 25th is the Feast of St Mark the Evangelist.

Mark journeyed to the city of Alexandria; and when he entered in at the gate, the strap of his shoe broke.

And when he saw this, he thought: «Now I know that the Lord has made my way easy».

Then he turned, and saw a cobbler there, and went to him and gave him the shoe that he might mend it.

And when the cobbler received it, and took the awl to work upon it, the awl pierced his hand. So he said: «Heis ho Theos»; the interpretation of which is, «God is One».

And. when the holy Mark heard him mention the name of God, he rejoiced greatly, and turned his face to the East and said: «O my Lord Jesus, it is thou that makest my road easy in every place».

Then he spat on the ground and took from it clay, and put it on the place where the awl had pierced the cobbler’s hand, saying:

«In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, the One living and eternal God, may the hand of this man be healed at this moment, that thy holy name may be glorified».

Then his hand at once became whole.

[…] The cobbler remained astonished at the power of God which descended upon the holy Mark, and said to him: «I pray thee, O man of God, to come to the dwelling of thy servant, to rest and eat bread, for I find that to-day thou hast conferred a benefit upon me».

[…] After they had eaten, the cobbler said to him: «O my father, I beg thee to make known to me who thou art that hast worked this great miracle».

Then the saint answered him: «I serve Jesus Christ, the Son of the ever living God». The cobbler exclaimed: «I would that I could see him».

The holy Mark said to him: «I will cause thee to behold him». Then he began to teach him the gospel of good tidings, and the doctrine of the glory and power and dominion which belong to God from the beginning, and…ended by saying to him:

«The Lord Christ in the last times became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and came into the world, and saved us from our sins». And he explained to him what the prophets prophesied of him, passage by passage.

[…] Then when the cobbler had heard wisdom and the words of the Scriptures from the holy Mark, together with the great miracle which he had seen him work upon his hand, his heart inclined towards him, and he believed in the Lord, and was baptized, he and all the people of his house, and all his neighbours.

Severus of Al-Ushmunain (d. 987): History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria.

The image, found at Pravmir, is a Coptic icon of St Mark, the first of the Coptic Patriarchs of Alexandria in the history written by Severus.

John Maximovitch: Seeing the Light of the Risen Christ with the Eyes of the Heart Wednesday, Apr 23 2014 

Saint John Maximovich Tobolsk editedLet us cleanse our senses and see through the gleaming, unapproachable light of Christ’s Resurrection.

Now is everything filled-full with light — the heavens, the earth, and the underworld.

All is presently bathed in light: Christ is risen from the dead.

The heavens make merry, the earth rejoiceth, the underworld exulteth.

The Angels in Heaven hymn Thy Resurrection, O Christ-Saviour. Do Thou make us, on earth, also worthy to glorify Thee with a pure heart.

The Angelic Choir, horrified at seeing Its Creator and Master dead, doth now, in joyous song, glorify Him resurrected.

Today doth Adam exult, and Eve rejoiceth; and with them do the Prophets and Patriarchs sing worthy songs to the Creator of all and to our Deliverer, Who did descend into the underworld for our sake.

The Giver of Life doth lead men out of hell this day, and up-lifteth them to Heaven; He layeth low the powers of the enemy and breaketh down the gates of hell by the Divine power of His authority.

On earth, the Angels announce the gladsome tidings to men and declare Christ’s Resurrection. Attired in gleaming white robes, the Angels ask the Myrrh-bearing Women:

“Why seek ye the Living One amongst the dead? He is risen; He is not here! Come, see the place where the Lord did lie.”

The Myrrh-bearing women rush to the Apostles, bearing to them the joyous news. And through the Apostles and the Gospel is Christ’s Resurrection preached unto all the world today.

Not all the Apostles immediately saw the risen Christ through spiritual eyes. Two disciples travelling to Emmaus did see Jesus walking with them, but did not recognize Him till such time as He had warmed their saddened hearts; and then were their spiritual eyes opened.

Mary Magdalene conversed with Christ in the garden, but neither recognized Him nor was cognizant of the mystery of the Resurrection, until the voice of her beloved Teacher touched her heart and illumined her soul, which had been given to thinking in worldly fashion.

It was the beloved disciple John, whose heart was pure and undimmed by, timidity, who before all others descried the light of the risen Christ through spiritual eyes; and with his bodily eyes did he behold the manifested Lord.

Scattering and dispersing the dark and gloomy tempest of sin, Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, shone forth, gleaming not in the hearts and souls of the Apostles only, but in those of all who draw near to Him with faith, salvation seeking.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed,” Christ sayeth; “blessed are those who have perceived Me not with bodily eyes, but with the eyes of the heart.”

John Maximovitch (John of Shanghai and san Francisco; Orthodox Church; 1896-1966): A Paschal Epistle of Archbishop John to the Western European and East Asian Flock and to All His Spiritual Children, 1956, Paris, Translated into English by G. Spruksts, “Orthodox Rus”, No. 7, 1996, p.5.

Next Page »