Athanasius of Alexandria: The Word Became Lord of All to Hallow All by the Spirit Sunday, Feb 23 2014 

AthanasiusOn St Peter’s words in Acts 2:36:

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ”.

The Son of God, being Himself the Word, is Lord of all.

We became subject from the first to the slavery of corruption and the curse of the Law.

Then, by degrees fashioning for ourselves things that were not, we served, as says the blessed Apostle, ‘them which by nature are no Gods’  (Gal. 4:8).

Ignorant of the true God, we preferred things that were not to the truth.

The ancient people when oppressed in Egypt groaned.

So also, we too had the Law ‘engrafted’  (James 1:21) in us, and according to the unutterable sighings (Rom. 8:26) of the Spirit made our intercession, ‘O Lord our God, take possession of us’ (Is. 26:13, LXX).

Then, as ‘He became for a house of refuge’ and a ‘God and defence,’ so also He became our Lord.

Nor did He then begin to be, but we began to have Him for our Lord.

God, being good and Father of the Lord, full of pity, and desiring to be known by all, makes His own Son put on Him a human body and become man, and be called Jesus.

This was so that, offering Himself in this body for all, He might deliver all from false worship and corruption, and might Himself in this way become Lord and King of all.

This it is what Peter means when he says ‘He has made Him Lord,’ and ‘has sent Christ.’

Peter is saying that, in making Him man (for to be made belongs to man), the Father did not simply make Him man.

Rather, He has made Him with a view to His being Lord of all men, and to His hallowing all through the Anointing.

For though the Word existing in the form of God took a servant’s form, yet the assumption of the flesh did not make a servant of the Word, who was by nature Lord.

It was  the emancipation of all humanity which takes place by the Word.

And by this assumption that very Word who was by nature Lord, and who was then made man, has by means of a servant’s form been made Lord of all and Christ in order to hallow all by the Spirit.

[…] Christ, being by nature Lord and King everlasting, does not become Lord more than He was at the time He is sent forth.

He does not then begin to be Lord and King, but what He is ever, that He then is made according to the flesh.

And, having redeemed all, He becomes thereby again Lord of quick and dead.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): Against the Arians, 2, 15, 14 (adapted).

Ignatius Brianchaninov: The work of accepting salvation, given to us by God free and complete, the work of repentance Tuesday, Jan 28 2014 

Ignatius_Brianchaninov“Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17).

St. Simeon the New Theologian, who acquired his knowledge of truth through his holy experience…said: “The careful fulfillment of the commandments of Christ teaches a man his own infirmities.”

Exactly! As soon as one who believes in Christ begins to fulfill the all-holy commandments of the Gospel, or also, to perform the works of renewed nature, his fallen nature is instantly revealed to him, which had been hidden from sight until then, and it enters into a sustained battle with the Gospel.

The life of one who struggles for Christ is filled with unseen falls. He involuntarily confesses with the Apostle: “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am!” (Rom. 7: 22-24).

From such an observation of oneself, blessed poverty of spirit is engendered within a Christian, rational, spiritual mourning appears, and a broken and humble heart is established, which God will not destroy (Ps. 50: 20).

In living according to the Gospel, there appears in a man, as if naturally, the repentance commanded by the Gospel. Therefore, repentance is necessary not only in order to believe in Christ; it is necessary in order to have a living faith in Christ. “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

There remains to be explained: why is there such a close connection between the words of the Lord calling us to repent, and the announcing of the nearness of the Kingdom of heaven? Why is there not presented between them a kind of intermediate struggle, an intermediate condition?

The reason is that our Lord Jesus Christ is “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)—He has accomplished everything for our salvation. He has reconciled us with God; He has prepared and acquired for us the Heavenly Kingdom.

We, mankind, have been presented with one work in the matter of our salvation: the work of accepting salvation, given to us by God free and complete, the work of repentance. The Heavenly Kingdom and the Heavenly King are ineffably close to us—incomparably closer than we imagine.

“Behold, I stand at the door” of the heart of man, exclaims this King, and I knock at it with My all-holy and almighty Word: “if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me (Rev. 3:20). The opening of the doors of the heart to the Heavenly King is accomplished—with repentance. “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

Ignatius Brianchaninov (1807–1867; Russian Orthodox): Homily for the Sunday after Theophany translated by Bishop George (Schaefer) @ Pravoslavie.

Leo the Great: The Wise Men Saw and Adored the Child of the Tribe of Judah Sunday, Jan 5 2014 

leo1Led then, dearly beloved, into Bethlehem by obeying the guidance of the star, the wise men “rejoiced with very great joy,” as the evangelist has told us:

“And entering the house, they found the child with Mary, His mother; and falling down they worshipped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh” (Matt. 2:10, 11).

What wondrous faith of perfect knowledge, which was taught them not by earthly wisdom, but by the instruction of the Holy Spirit!

Whence came it that these men, who had quitted their country without having seen Jesus, and had not noticed anything in His looks to enforce such systematic adoration, observed this method in offering their gifts?

Besides the appearance of the star which attracted their bodily eyes, the more refulgent rays of truth taught their hearts:

that, before they started on their toilsome road, they must understand that He was signified to Whom was owed in gold royal honour, in incense Divine adoration, in myrrh the acknowledgment of mortality.

Such a belief and understanding no doubt, as far as the enlightenment of their faith went, might have been sufficient in themselves and have prevented their using their bodily eyes in inquiring into that which they had beheld with their mind’s fullest gaze.

Their sagacious diligence, persevering till they found the child, did good service for future peoples and for the men of our own time.

Thus, as it profited us all that the apostle Thomas, after the Lord’s resurrection, handled the traces of the wounds in His flesh, so it was of advantage to us that His infancy should be attested by the visit of the wise men.

And so the wise men saw and adored the Child of the tribe of Judah, “of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3), “made from a woman, made under the law” (Gal. 4:4), which He had come “not to destroy but to fulfil” (Matt. 5:17).

They saw and adored the Child, small in size, powerless to help others, incapable of speech, and in nought different to the generality of human children.

Because, as the testimonies were trustworthy which asserted in Him the majesty of invisible Godhead, so it ought to be impossible to doubt that “the Word became flesh,” and the eternal essence of the Son of God took man’s true nature.

Neither the inexpressible marvels of his acts which were to follow nor the infliction of sufferings which He had to bear should be permitted to overthrow the mystery of our Faith by their inconsistency.

For no one at all can be justified save those who believe the Lord Jesus to be both true God and true Man.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 34, 3.

Germanus of Constantinople: A Great and Mighty Wonder, a Full and Holy Cure Wednesday, Dec 25 2013 

Germanus of Constantinopleμεγα και παραδοξον Θαυμα

A great and mighty wonder, a full and holy cure:
The virgin bears the Infant with virgin honor pure!

The Word becomes incarnate and yet remains on high,
And cherubim sing anthems to shepherds from the sky.

And we with them triumphant repeat the hymn again:
“To God on high be glory and peace on earth to men!”

While thus they sing your Monarch, those bright angelic bands,
Rejoice, ye vales and mountains, ye oceans, clap your hands.

Since all He comes to ransom, by all be He adored,
The Infant born in Bethl’em, the Savior and the Lord.

And idol forms shall perish, and error shall decay,
And Christ shall wield His scepter, our Lord and God for aye.

Germanus of Constantinople (c.634–c.733): Stichera for Christmastide, translated by John Mason Neale (1818-1866) in Hymns of the Eastern Church.

Macarius the Egyptian: The heart is Christ’s palace where Christ the King comes to rest Sunday, Nov 24 2013 

Macarius3Consider how the Lord has prepared for Christians the kingdom, and calls them to enter in, and they will not.

As for the gift which they are to inherit, one might say, if everyone from the creation of Adam to the end of the world strove against Satan and endured afflictions, he would do nothing great in comparison with the glory which he is to inherit.

For he will reign to ages without end with Christ. Glory to Him Who so loved a soul like this, for giving Himself and His grace and entrusting the soul therewith! Glory to His greatness!

[…] Suppose there were a very great palace, and this were deserted, and became full of every evil smell, and of many dead bodies.

Well, the heart is Christ’s palace, and it is full of all uncleanness, and of crowds of many wicked spirits. It must be refounded and rebuilt, and its store-chambers and bedrooms put in order.

For there Christ the King, with the angels and holy spirits, comes to rest, and   to dwell, and to walk in it, and to set His kingdom.

I tell you, it is like a ship furnished with plenty of tackle, where the captain disposes of all, and sets them their tasks, finding fault with some, and showing others their way about.

The heart has a captain in the mind, the conscience, which is ever judging us, thoughts accusing or else excusing one another.

[…] God and His angels came for thy salvation. The King, the King’s Son, held council with His Father, and the Word was sent, and put on the garment of flesh, and concealed His own Godhead, that like might be saved by like, and laid down His life upon the Cross.

So great is the love of God towards man. The Immortal chose to be crucified for thee. Consider then how God loved the world, because He gave His only begotten Son for them. How shall He not with Him freely give us all things?

In another place it says, Verily I say unto you that He shall make him ruler over all His goods. Elsewhere it shews the angels as ministers of the saints.

When Elias was in the mountain, and the foreigners came against him, the young servant said, “There are many coming against us, and we are by ourselves.” Then Elias answered, “Do you not see camps and multitudes of angels with us round about succouring us?”

You see that the Master and the multitudes of the angels are with His servants. How great then is the soul, and how much valued by God, that God and the angels seek after it for fellowship with themselves and for a kingdom!

Macarius the Egyptian (c. 300-391) [attributed]: Spiritual Homily 15, 31; 33; 44, trans. by A.J. Mason DD.

John Damascene: The Saints are Heirs of God, Co-Heirs of Christ, and Partakers in the Divine Glory Friday, Nov 1 2013 

John-of-Damascus_01I live, says the Lord, and I will glorify those who glorify Me.

And the divine Apostle says: therefore now he is not a servant, but a son. And if a son, an heir also through God. Again, If we suffer with Him, that we also may be glorified….

St John, who rested on His breast, says, that we shall be like to Him.

Just as a man by contact with fire becomes fire, not by nature, but by contact and by burning and by participation, so is it, I apprehend, with the flesh of the Crucified Son of God.

That flesh, by participation through union (kath’ hypostasin) with the divine nature, was unchangeably God, not in virtue of grace from God as was the case with each of the prophets, but by the presence of the Fountain Head Himself.

God, the Scripture says, stood in the synagogue of the gods, so that the saints, too, are gods.

Holy Gregory takes the words God stands in the midst of the gods to mean that He discriminates their several merits.

The saints in their lifetime were filled with the Holy Spirit, and when they are no more, His grace abides with their spirits and with their bodies in their tombs, and also with their likenesses and holy images, not by nature, but by grace and divine power.

[…] We depict Christ as our King and Lord, and do not deprive Him of His army. The saints constitute the Lord’s army.

Let the earthly king dismiss his army before he gives up his King and Lord. Let him put off the purple before he takes honour away from his most valiant men who have conquered their passions.

For if the saints are heirs of God, and co-heirs of Christ, they will be also partakers of the divine glory of sovereignty.

If the friends of God have had a part in the sufferings of Christ, how shall they not receive a share of His glory even on earth?

I call you not servants, our Lord says, you are my friends. Should we then deprive them of the honour given to them by the Church?

[…] I worship the image of Christ as the Incarnate God; that of the Theotokos), the Mother of us all, as the Mother of God’s Son; that of the saints as the friends of God.

They have withstood sin unto blood, and followed Christ in shedding their blood for Him, who shed His blood for them.

I put on record the excellencies and the sufferings of those who have walked in His footsteps, that I may sanctify myself, and be fired with the zeal of imitation.

John Damascene (c.675-749): Against Those Who Deny Holy Images, pp 21-24.

Gregory Palamas: “At Thy Right Hand Stood The Queen” Wednesday, Aug 14 2013 

Gregory_PalamasWho can describe in words thy divinely resplendent beauty, O Virgin Mother of God? Thoughts and words are inadequate to define thine attributes, since they surpass mind and speech.

Yet it is meet to chant hymns of praise to thee, for thou art a vessel containing every grace, the fulness of all things good and beautiful, the tablet and living icon of every good and all uprightness, since thou alone hast been deemed worthy to receive the fulness of every gift of the Spirit.

Thou alone didst bear in thy womb Him in Whom are found the treasuries of all these gifts and didst become a wondrous tabernacle for Him; hence thou didst depart by way of death to immortality and art translated from earth to Heaven, as is proper, so that thou mightest dwell with Him eternally in a super-celestial abode.

From thence thou ever carest diligently for thine inheritance and by thine unsleeping intercessions with Him, thou showest mercy to all. To the degree that she is closer to God than all those who have drawn nigh unto Him, by so much has the Theotokos been deemed worthy of greater audience.

I do not speak of rnen alone, but also of the angelic hierarchies themselves. Isaiah writes with regard to the supreme commanders of the heavenly hosts: “And the seraphim stood round about Him” (Isaiah 6:2); but David says concerning her, “at Thy right hand stood the queen” (Ps. 44:8).

Do you see the difference in position? From this comprehend also the difference in the dignity of their station. The seraphim are round about God, but the only Queen of all is near beside Him.

She is both wondered at and praised by God Himself, proclaiming her, as it were, by the mighty deeds enacted with respect to Him, and saying, as it is recorded in the Song of Songs, “How fair is my companion” (cf. Song of Songs 6:4), she is more radiant than light, more arrayed with flowers than the divine gardens, more adorned than the whole world, visible and invisible.

She is not merely a companion but she also stands at God’s right hand, for where Christ sat in the heavens, that is, at the “right hand of majesty” (Heb. 1:3), there too she also takes her stand, having ascended now from earth into the heavens.

Not merely does she love and is loved in return more than every other, according to the very laws of nature, but she is truly His Throne, and wherever the King sits, there His Throne is set also. And Isaiah beheld this throne amidst the choir of cherubim and called it “high” and “exalted” (Isaiah 6:1), wishing to make explicit how the station of the Mother of God far transcends that of the celestial hosts.

Gregory Palamas (1296-1359): extracted from A Homily on the Dormition of Our Supremely Pure Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary @ Mediaeval Sourcebook.

Athanasius of Alexandria: The Lordship of Christ and Our Deliverance from Idolatry and Corruption Thursday, Aug 8 2013 

AthanasiusLet all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified (Acts 2:36).

The Son of God indeed, being Himself the Word, is Lord of all.

We once were subject from the first to the slavery of corruption and the curse of the Law. Then by degrees we fashioned for ourselves things that were not.

We served, as says the blessed Apostle, ‘them which by nature are no Gods,’ and, ignorant of the true God, we preferred things that were not to the truth.

But afterwards, as the ancient people when oppressed in Egypt groaned, so, when we too had the Law ‘engrafted’ in us, and according to the unutterable sighings of the Spirit made our intercession, ‘O Lord our God, take possession of us.’

Then, as ‘He became for a house of refuge’ and a ‘God and defence,’ so also He became our Lord. Nor did He then begin to be our Lord, but we began to have Him for our Lord.

For upon this, God being good and Father of the Lord, in pity, and desiring to be known by all, makes His own Son put on Him a human body and become man, and be called Jesus.

This was so that, offering Himself in this body for all, He might deliver all from false worship and corruption, and might Himself become of all Lord and King.

His becoming therefore in this way Lord and King, is what Peter means when he says, ‘He hath made Him Lord,’ and ‘hath sent Christ.’

Peter is saying, that the Father in making Him man (for to be made belongs to man), did not simply make Him man, but has made Him with a with a view to His being Lord of all men, and to His hallowing all through the Anointing.

For though the Word existing in the form of God took a servant’s form, yet the assumption of the flesh did not make a servant of the Word, who was by nature Lord.

Not only did the emancipation of all humanity take place by the Word, but that very Word who was by nature Lord, and was then made man, has, by means of a servant’s form, been made Lord of all and Christ in order to hallow all by the Spirit.

[…]  Christ…being by nature Lord and King everlasting, does not become Lord more than He was at the time He is sent forth, nor then begins to be Lord and King; but what which He always and eternally is, He then is made according to the flesh.

And, having redeemed all, He becomes thereby again Lord of quick and dead. For Him henceforth do all things serve, and this is David’s meaning in the Psalm, ‘The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.’

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): Against the Arians, 2, 15, 14.

Aphrahat the Persian: Christ is the Temple, and Christians are a Temple for a Dwelling-Place of Christ Wednesday, Jul 17 2013 

ephrem-isaac-aphrahatThe true Stone, our Lord Jesus Christ, is the foundation of all our faith.

[…] And now hear concerning faith that is based upon the Stone, and concerning the structure that is reared up upon the Stone.

For first a man believes, and when he believes, he loves.  When he loves, he hopes.  When he hopes, he is justified.  When he is justified, he is perfected.  When he is perfected, he is consummated.

And when his whole structure is raised up, consummated, and perfected, then he becomes a house and a temple for a dwelling-place of Christ, as Jeremiah the Prophet said:

The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are ye, if ye amend your ways and your works.

And again He said through the Prophet: I will dwell in them and walk in them.  And also the Blessed Apostle thus said: Ye are the temple of God and the Spirit of Christ dwelleth in you.

And also our Lord again thus said to His disciples: Ye are in Me and I am in you.

And when the house has become a dwelling-place, then the man begins to be anxious as to that which is required for Him Who dwells in the building.

[…] In a house that is void of all good things, the King will not lodge, nor will he dwell in the midst of it; but all that is choicest in the house is required for the King and that nothing in it be deficient.

[…]  So also let the man, who becomes a house, yea a dwelling-place, for Christ, take heed to what is needed for the service of Christ, Who lodges in him, and with what things he may please Him.

[…]  If Christ is set for the foundation, how does Christ also dwell in the building when it is completed?  For both these things did the blessed Apostle say.

For he said: I as a wise architect have laid the foundation.  And there he defined the foundation and made it clear, for he said as follows: No man can lay other foundation than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

And that Christ furthermore dwells in that building is the word that was written above—that of Jeremiah who called men temples and said of God that He dwelt in them.  And the Apostle said: The Spirit of Christ dwelleth in you.  And our Lord said: I and My Father are one.

And therefore that word is accomplished, that Christ dwells in men, namely, in those who believe on Him, and He is the foundation on which is reared up the whole building.

Aphrahat the Persian (c.270-c.345): Demonstrations, 1 – On Faith (1-5). (The icon accompanying this extract depicts Ephrem the Syrian, Isaac the Syrian, and Aphrahat.)

Georges Florovsky: The Victory of Christ is Wrought in Us by the Power of the Holy Spirit Friday, May 10 2013 

FlorovskyTerror-stricken and trembling stand the angelic hosts, contemplating the Ascension of Christ.

[…] The Office for the Feast of the Ascension depicts the mystery in a poetical language. As on the day of Christ’s Nativity the earth was astonished on beholding God in the flesh, so now the Heavens do tremble and cry out.

“The Lord of Hosts, Who reigns over all, Who is Himself the head of all, Who is preeminent in all things, Who has reinstated creation in its former order – He is the King of Glory.”

And the heavenly doors are opened: “Open, Oh heavenly gates, and receive God in the flesh.” It is an open allusion to Psalms 24:7-10, now prophetically interpreted.

“Lift up your heads, Oh ye gates, and be lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty….”

St Chrysostom says, “Now the angels have received that for which they have long waited, the archangels see that for which they have long thirsted.

“They have seen our nature shining on the King’s throne, glistening with glory and eternal beauty…. Therefore they descend in order to see the unusual and marvelous vision: Man appearing in heaven.”

The Ascension is the token of Pentecost, the sign of its coming, “The Lord has ascended to heaven and will send the Comforter to the world”.

For the Holy Spirit was not yet in the world, until Jesus was glorified. And the Lord Himself told the disciples, “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you” (John 16:7).

The gifts of the Spirit are “gifts of reconciliation,” a seal of an accomplished salvation and of the ultimate reunion of the world with God. And this was accomplished only in the Ascension.

“And one saw miracles follow miracles,” says St John Chrysostom, “ten days prior to this our nature ascended to the King’s throne, while today the Holy Ghost has descended on to our nature.”

The joy of the Ascension lies in the promise of the Spirit. “Thou didst give joy to Thy disciples by a promise of the Holy Spirit.” The victory of Christ is wrought in us by the power of the Holy Spirit.

“On high is His body, here below with us is His Spirit. And so we have His token on high, that is His body, which He received from us, and here below we have His Spirit with us.

“Heaven received the Holy Body, and the earth accepted the Holy Spirit. Christ came and sent the Spirit. He ascended, and with Him our body ascended also” (St John Chrysostom).

Georges Florovsky (1893-1979; Eastern Orthodox): And Ascended Into Heaven…; originally published in St Vladimir’s Seminary Quarterly, Vol. 2 # 3, 1954; full text @ Mystagogy.

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