John Damascene: Feast of the Dormition – Christ the New Solomon and Mary the True Ark Thursday, Aug 15 2013 

John-of-Damascus_01What of those who watched by the most holy and all-holy body of God’s Mother?

In loving reverence and with tears of joy they gathered round the blessed and divine tabernacle, embracing every member, and were filled with holiness and thanksgiving.

Then illnesses were cured, and demons were put to flight and banished to the regions of darkness.

The air and atmosphere and heavens were sanctified by her passage through them, the earth by the burial of her body.

[…] Sinners who approached with faith blotted out the handwriting against them.

Then the holy body is wrapped in a snow-white winding-sheet, and the queen is again laid, upon her bed.

Then follow lights and incense and hymns, and angels singing as befits the solemnity; apostles and patriarchs acclaiming her in inspired song.

When the Ark of God, departing from Mount Sion for the heavenly country, was borne on the shoulders of the Apostles, it was placed on the way in the tomb.

First it was taken through the city, as a bride dazzling with spiritual radiance, and then carried to the sacred place of Gethsemane, angels overshadowing it with their wings, going before, accompanying, and following it, together with the whole assembly of the Church.

King Solomon compelled all the elders of Israel in Sion to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the city of David, that is Sion, to rest in the temple of the Lord, which he had built, and the priests took the ark and the tabernacle of the testimony, and the priests and levites raised it.

And the king and all the people sacrificed numberless oxen and sheep before the ark. And the priests carried in the ark of the testimony of God into its place, into the Holy of Holies, beneath the wings of the cherubim.

So is it now with the dwelling-place of the true ark, no longer of the testimony, but the very substance of God the Word.

The new Solomon, the Prince of peace, the Creator of all things in the heavens and on the earth, assembled together to-day the supporters of the new covenant, that is the Apostles, with all the people of the saints in Jerusalem, brought in her soul through angels to the true Holy of Holies, under the wings of the four living creatures, and set her on His throne within the Veil, where Christ Himself had preceded her.

Her body the while is borne by the Apostles’ hands, the King of Kings covering her with the splendour of His invisible Godhead, the whole assembly of the saints preceding her, with sacred song and sacrifice of praise until through the tomb it was placed in the delights of Eden, the heavenly tabernacles.

John Damascene (c.675-749): Homily 2 on the Dormition of the Theotokos @ Medieval Sourcebook.

Origen Adamantius: The Crossing of the River Jordan is Experienced in the Present Wednesday, Jun 12 2013 

Origen3The ark of the covenant led the people of God across the Jordan.

The priests and the Levites halted, and the waters, as though out of reverence to the ministers of God, stopped flowing. They piled up in a single mass, thus allowing the people of God to cross in safety.

[…] The divine Word promises much greater and more lofty things to you who have passed through Jordan’s stream by the sacrament of baptism: he promises you a passage even through the sky.

Listen to what Paul says concerning the just: We shall be caught up in the clouds to meet Christ in heaven, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

There is absolutely nothing for the just man to fear; the whole of creation serves him.

Listen to another promise that God makes him through the prophet: If you pass through fire, the flame shall not burn you, for I am the Lord your God. The just man is everywhere welcome, and everything renders him due service.

So you must not think that these events belong only to the past, and that you who now hear the account of them do not experience anything of the kind. It is in you that they all find their spiritual fulfilment.

You have recently abandoned the darkness of idolatry, and you now desire to come and hear the divine law. This is your departure from Egypt.

When you became a catechumen and began to obey the laws of the Church, you passed through the Red Sea; now at the various stops in the desert, you give time every day to hear the law of God and to see the face of Moses unveiled by the glory of God.

But once you come to the baptismal font and, in the presence of the priests and deacons, are initiated into those sacred and august mysteries which only those know who should, then, through the ministry of the priests, you will cross the Jordan and enter the promised land.

There Moses will hand you over to Jesus, and He himself will be your guide on your new journey.

Mindful, then, of all the mighty works of God, remembering that he divided the sea for you and held back the waters of the river, you will turn to them and say: Why was it, sea, that you fled? Jordan, why did you turn back? Mountains, why did you skip like rams, and you hills, like young sheep?

And the word of the Lord will reply: The earth is shaken at the face of the Lord, at the face of the God of Jacob, who turns stones into a pool and rock into springs of water.

Origen Adamantius (c.185-254): Homilies on Joshua (Hom 4, 1: PG 12, 842-843), from the Office of Readings, Wednesday of the 10th Week of Ordinary Time @ Crossroads Initiative.

Nicholas Cabasilas: Mary constructed a dwelling-place for Him who is able to save and fashioned a beautiful house for God Monday, Apr 8 2013 

nicholas_cabasilasThe “middle wall and barrier of enmity” (Ephesians 2:14) were of no account to her; indeed, everything that divided the human race from God was abolished as far as she was concerned.

Even before the common reconciliation, she alone had made peace with God; or rather, she was never in any need of reconciliation, since from the very beginning she stood foremost in the choir of the friends of God.

However, such a reconciliation was made for the rest of mankind. And she was, before the Comforter, “an advocate for us before God” (Cf. Romans 8:34), as Paul puts it, not lifting up her hands to Him on behalf of mankind, but holding out her life as an olive branch.

The virtue of a single soul was sufficient to put a stop to all of the evil committed by men from the beginning of time.

And, just as the Ark, which saved man during the general shipwreck of the inhabited earth, was not itself subject to the calamities that befell the entire world, and just as it preserved for the human race the resources for its continuation, so also did it happen in the case of the Virgin.

And, as if no man had dared to commit even one single sin, but all had abided by the Divine commandments and were still occupying their ancient habitation, thus did she ever keep her mind inviolate; and she had no awareness of the wickedness that had, so to speak, been diffused in every direction.

The cataclysm of evil, which held all things in its grip, closed Heaven and opened up Hades, started a war between God and men, drove the Good One from the earth and introduced the Evil One in His stead, was yet completely powerless against the blessed Virgin.

Although evil had dominion over the entire inhabited earth and had everywhere wrought confusion, commotion, and havoc, it was defeated by a single thought and a single soul, and it yielded not only to her, but also, on account of her, to the entire human race.

This was the contribution that the Virgin made to the common salvation of mankind, even before that day arrived on which God was to bow the Heavens and descend.

As soon as she was born, she constructed a dwelling-place for Him Who is able to save and fashioned a beautiful house for God—and one that would be worthy of Him.

The King could not find any fault with His palace; and indeed, not only did she provide a dwelling fit for His royal majesty, but she also prepared from herself His purple robe and cincture, and the majesty, strength, and the Kingdom itself.

Nicholas Cabasilas (1319/1323–after 1391): On the Occasion of the Feast of the Annunciation, 3, Translated from the Greek text in “Homélies Mariales Byzantines (II),” ed. M. Jugie, in Patrologia Orientalis, Vol. XIX, pp. 484-495@ Old Calendar Orthodox Church of Greece.

Gregory the Great: The Scriptures Afford Warmth To Hearts Thursday, Jul 7 2011 

St-Gregory-the-DialogistMy dear brethren, I urge you to meditate seriously on the word of God, and not to think lightly of the writings which your Creator has bequeathed to us.

Beyond all doubt they afford warmth to hearts which would otherwise be numb with cold because of our sins.

When we read of the heroic deeds of our saintly forefathers, their holy example inspires us and gives us the courage to do whatever is right.

Are we trying to avoid sin and endure humbly even when we are injured by someone in our own family?

Let us remember Abel. Scripture says that his brother killed him, but we read nothing about Abel offering any resistance.

Are we striving to put God’s commands before our own imme­diate advantage? Let us think of Noah.

At the command of almighty God he put aside his own domestic concerns and spent a hundred years building the Ark.

Are we endeavouring to acquire the virtue of obedience? We should look at Abraham.

He left his home, kindred, and native land out of obedience to the command to go to a land which he was to receive as an inheritance, and he set out not knowing where he was going.

He was ready to kill the beloved heir he had received for the sake of an eternal inheritance; and because he did not hesitate to offer his only son to the Lord, he received the whole multitude of nations as his offspring.

Remember Joseph. When tempted by his master’s wife he was determined to preserve his chastity even at the risk of his life.

And so, since he knew how to rule his body well, he was made ruler of all Egypt.

Do we seek to acquire gentleness and patience? Let us call Moses to mind, the ruler of six hundred thousand armed men, as well as their women and children.

He is described as the most gentle person living on the whole face of the earth.

Do we long to rid ourselves of animosity and become large-­hearted and kind? Let us think of Samuel.

When the people who ousted him from the leadership asked him to pray to the Lord for them, he answered: Far be it from me to sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you.

The holy man really thought he would be committing a sin if he did not show kindness and goodwill by praying for those whose opposition he had endured even to the point of being deposed by them.

Gregory the Great (c.540-604): Homilies on Ezekiel, 2.3.18-21 (CCL 142:250-3) from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Thursday of the Thirteenth Week of Ordinary Time, Year I.

Augustine of Hippo: What is Cleaner than His Blood? What More Health-Giving than His Wounding? Sunday, Jul 3 2011 

St Augustine of AfricaOne of the soldiers with a spear pierced His Side, and forthwith came out Blood and Water.

The Evangelist speaks carefully. He says not that he smote the Side, nor yet that he wounded It, nor yet anything else.

Rather, he pierced It, to fling wide the entrance unto life, whence flow the Sacraments of the Church, those Sacraments without which there is no entrance unto the life which is life indeed.

That Blood which was shed there was shed for the remission of sins, that Water is the water that is mingled in the cup of salvation.

Therein are we washed, and thereof do we drink.

Of this was it a type when it was said unto Noah The door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof, and of every living thing of all flesh shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive (Gen. 6: 16, 19).

This is a figure of the Church. Thus was it that the first woman was made from the side of her husband while he slept, and she was called Eve – which is, being interpreted, Life, because she was the mother of all living.

This name set forth a great good, before it became associated with the bitter fruit of a great evil.

And here we have the Second Adam bowing His Head, and the deep sleep of death falling upon Him upon the Cross.

And He sleeps, that the Lord God may take a thing out of His side, and may make thereof a wife for Him.

O what a death was His, which quickens the dead! What is cleaner than His Blood? What more health-giving than His wounding?

Then they were held bondsmen to the devil, slaves to evil spirits. But now they have been redeemed from that bondage.

They had been able to sell themselves, but they were not able to redeem themselves.

A Redeemer came and paid the price for them. He shed His Blood, and at that cost bought the world.

Ye ask what He bought, look what He paid, and ye shall see what He bought.

Christ’s Blood was the price. What is His Blood worth? What, but the whole world! What but all men?

[…] What He paid, He paid for all.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430:  120th Tract on John, from the Feast of the Precious Blood in the Old Breviary.

Cyril of Alexandria: Christ as the Ark of the Covenant Sunday, Feb 20 2011 

The Ark is for us a figure and image of Christ.

For if we consider the way in which God’s only-begotten Son became man, we shall see that the Word of the Father dwelt in the Temple which he received from the Virgin as in the Ark.

For the whole fullness of the Godhead dwelt in him in bodily form, as Scripture says.

And the testimonies placed in the Ark were the word of God.

Moreover, the wood of the Ark was incorruptible, being adorned both within and without by the purest and finest gold, just as Christ’s body was incorruptible, being preserved incorrupt, as by gold, by the power and glory of the indwelling Word, and by the nature and life-giving action of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore Christ too is said to give life. For the Word of God the Father, being life by nature, by the power of his own Spirit restored his own Temple to life, making it incorruptible.

As Saint Paul says, his body did not experience corruption. Moreover, he himself said to the Jews in reference to his own body: Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

And Peter adds his witness: He was put to death in the body but raised to life in the Spirit.

Gold, then, is a symbol of the great brilliance of the Godhead, which was, as it were, inlaid in the sacred body, and which en­dowed it with its own glory and incorruptibility in an ineffable manner known only to that divine nature which is beyond all understanding.

For if in time to come the righteous will shine like the sun in the Father’s kingdom, what will be the glory of Christ himself?

Surely its brilliance is beyond all our powers to conceive or describe.

Then, too, the poles by which the Ark was carried were of gold and so were the rings that held them in place, and everything in it was of gold.

For those around Christ share his glory, and are, as it were, attached to him and serviceable through love and sanctity.

Such were the blessed disciples, who received divine power from ­him, and shared so abundantly in his glory and majesty, that they were able to work miracles.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): The Worship of God in Spirit and Truth, 8 (PG 68:597-600); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Sunday of the Thirteenth Week of Ordinary Time, Year 1.