Athanasius of Alexandria: Christ Provides for Us Exaltation and Resurrection and the Indwelling and Intimacy of the Spirit Wednesday, Jul 31 2013 

AthanasiusThe Psalmist…says Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy Kingdom.

Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity, therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows (Psalm 44:7-8).

Behold, O ye Arians, and acknowledge even hence the truth. The Singer speaks of us all as ‘fellows’ or ‘partakers’ of the Lord.

But were He one of things which come out of nothing and of things originate, He Himself had been one of those who partake.

But, since he hymned Him as the eternal God, saying, ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever,’ and has declared that all other things partake of Him, what conclusion must we draw?

We must conclude that He is distinct from originated things, and He only the Father’s veritable Word, Radiance, and Wisdom, which all things originate partake, being sanctified by Him in the Spirit.

And therefore He is here ‘anointed,’ not that He may become God, for He was so even before; nor that He may become King, for He had the Kingdom eternally, existing as God’s Image, as the sacred oracle shows; but in our behalf is this written, as before.

For the Israelitish kings, upon their being anointed, then became kings, not being so before, as David, as Hezekiah, as Josiah, and the rest.

But the Saviour on the contrary, being God, and ever ruling in the Father’s Kingdom, and being Himself He that supplies the Holy Ghost, nevertheless is here said to be anointed, so that, as before, being said as Man to be anointed with the Spirit, He might provide for us men, not only exaltation and resurrection, but the indwelling and intimacy of the Spirit.

And signifying this the Lord Himself hath said by His own mouth in the Gospel according to John, ‘I have sent them into the world, and for their sakes do I sanctify Myself, that they may be sanctified in the truth.’

In saying this He has shown that He is not the sanctified, but the Sanctifier; for He is not sanctified by other, but Himself sanctifies Himself, that we may be sanctified in the truth.

He who sanctifies Himself is Lord of sanctification. How then does this take place? What does He mean but this? ‘I, being the Father’s Word, I give to Myself, when becoming man, the Spirit; and Myself, become man, do I sanctify in Him, that henceforth in Me, who am Truth (for “Thy Word is Truth”), all may be sanctified.’

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): Against the Arians, 1, 12, 46.

Gregory the Great: “When Christ Ascended Upon High, He Led Captivity Captive” Thursday, May 24 2012 

St-Gregory-the-DialogistWhy do we read that Angels appeared at the time of the Birth of the Lord, but we read not that they appeared in white apparel whereas, when the Lord ascended into heaven, it is written that the angels which appeared were clad in white.

[…] White raiment is an outward sign of solemn inward joy. That the occasion of God-made-Man entering into heaven was a great Festival for Angels, is the reason which we see why angels are specially named as robed in white at His Ascension, and not at His Birth.

At the Birth of the Lord the Godhead was manifested veiled under the form of a servant, but at His Ascension the Manhood was seen exalted and white vestments are more apt to exaltation than humiliation.

[…]  At His Birth He Who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, was seen in the form in which He had humbled Himself. At His Ascension the Manhood Which He had taken into God was seen glorified.

Again, dearly beloved brethren, we must remember to-day, how that Christ hath blotted out the hand-writing that was against us, and reversed the sentence which doomed us to corruption.

That same nature to which it was said “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,” that same nature is His Who hath this day ascended up into heaven.

It is because of this up-lifting of our flesh that blessed Job, by a figure, calleth the Lord a bird. The Jews could not understand the Mystery of the Ascension, and in view of this their unbelief, blessed Job said mystically “He knew not the path of the bird.”

The name of a bird is well given to the Lord, Who bodily soared up into heaven. And the path of that Bird knoweth no man, who believeth not in the Ascension into heaven.

It is of this glorious occasion that the Psalmist saith Who hast set thy glory above the heavens (8:2), and again God is gone up with a shout, and the Lord with the sound of a trumpet (46:6). And yet again he saith Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captivity captive (67:19).

When Christ ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, (Eph. 4:8), because by His Own incorruptibility He swallowed up our corruptibility.

He gave gifts unto men, because by sending the Spirit from above, He gave to one, the word of wisdom to another, the word of knowledge to another, the working of miracles to another, the gifts of healing; to another, divers kinds of tongues to another, the interpretation of tongues, (1 Cor. 12:8-10).

Gregory the Great (c.540-604): Homilies on the Gospels, 29, from Mattins of Wednesday in the Octave of the Ascension in the Old Breviary.

Robert Hugh Benson: Mary Magdalen and the Risen Jesus Tuesday, Apr 10 2012 

“Mary!”

“Rabboni!”

But there is still one more lesson for her to learn.

As she throws herself forward, speechless with love and desire, to grasp His Feet

– to assure herself even by touch that it is these same feet indeed which she kissed in the Pharisee’s house, and on the Cross of Calvary

– that it is Himself, and no phantom

– He moves back from her.

“Do not touch me, for I am not yet ascended to my Father.”

“Do not touch me.” . . .

That Friendship is not what it used to be: it is infinitely higher.

It is not what it seemed to be, since the limitations of that Sacred Humanity are gone

– those limitations by which It was here and not there; by which It could suffer and grow weary and hunger and weep

– limitations that endeared It to Its lovers, since they could indeed minister to It, comfort It, and hold It up.

And Its expansion in Glory is not yet consummated – “I am not yet ascended to my Father” –

that expansion of the Ascension and the Nine Days’ Journey through the Heavenly Hierarchy, from the position “a little lower than the angels” to the Session and Coronation at the right Hand of the Majesty on high

– that expansion of which the Descent of the Holy Ghost is the expression, and the Sacramental Presence of that same Humanity on a hundred altars the result.

And then, Mary, the Friendship shall be given back in “good measure and pressed down and shaken together and running over.”

Then that which thou hast known on earth confined by time and space shall be given back to touch and handling once more.

Again thy Friend shall be thine own.

The Creator of Nature shall be present in that Nature, unlimited by its limitations.

He who took Humanity shall be present in Humanity.

He who spoke on earth “as one having authority” shall speak again in the same accent.

He who healed the sick shall heal them in the Gate called Beautiful; He who raised the dead shall raise Dorcas in Joppa; He who called Peter in Galilee, shall call Paul in Damascus.

A Friend again He shall be, as never before: a Creature exercising the power of the Creator: a Creator clothed with the sympathy of the Creature; God suffering on earth, and Man reigning in Heaven.

But a Friend, first and last, in Alpha and Omega; a Friend who has died in the humiliation of Friendship; who has risen and reigns in its Eternal Power.

Robert Hugh Benson (1871-1914): The Friendship of Christ, chapter13.

Thomas Aquinas: Jesus the Pioneer and Perfecter of Our Faith Tuesday, Apr 3 2012 

… looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).

For He is the author [pioneer] of faith in two ways: first, by teaching it by word: ‘He has spoken to us by His Son’ (Heb. 1:2); ‘The only begotten, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him’ (Jn. 1:18);

Secondly, by impressing it on the heart: ‘Unto you it is given for Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him’ (Phil 1:29).

Likewise, He is the finisher [perfecter] of our faith in two ways: in one way by confirming it through miracles: ‘If you do not believe me, believe the works’ (Jn. 10:32);

And in another way by rewarding faith. For since faith is imperfect knowledge, its reward consists in perfectly understanding it: ‘I will love him and will manifest myself to him’ (Jn. 14:21).

This was signified by Zechariah (4:9) where it says: ‘The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of his house,’ namely, the Church, whose foundation is faith, ‘and his hands shall finish it.’

For the hands of Christ, Who descended from Zerubbabel, founded the Church and will finish the faith in glory: ‘We see now through a glass in a dark manner, but then face to face’ (1 Cor. 13:12);

‘Contemplation is the reward of faith, by which reward our hearts are cleansed through faith,’ as is says in Acts (15:9): ‘purifying their hearts by faith.’ (Augustine, On the Trinity, c. 10).

Three things should be considered in the passion of Christ: first, what He despised; secondly, what He endured; thirdly, what he merited.

As to the first he says, ‘who for the joy set before him endured the cross.’ That joy was earthly joy, for which He was sought by the crowd, when they wished to make Him king; but He scorned it by fleeing into the mountain (Jn. 6:15); […] For having set before him the joy of eternal life as a reward, he endured the cross.

This is the second thing He endured, namely, the cross: ‘He humbled himself, being made obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross’ (Phil 2:8).

In this is shown the bitterness of His torment, because His hands and feet were nailed to the cross; and the shame and ignominy of His death, because this was the most shameful of deaths: ‘Let us condemn him to a most shameful death’ (Wis. 2:20).

In regard to the third, namely, what He merited was to sit at the right hand of the Father; hence, he says, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

For the exaltation of Christ’s humanity was the reward of His passion: ‘He sits on the right hand of the majesty on high’ (Heb. 1:3).

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274): Commentary on Hebrews, cap. 4, lect.1.

Basil the Great: He Is So Good, He Asks No Recompense Except Our Love Tuesday, Jan 24 2012 

St-Basil-the-GreatGod fashioned man in his own image and likeness. He gave him knowledge of himself. He endowed him with the ability to think which raised him above all living creatures.

He permitted him to delight in the unimaginable beauties of paradise, and gave him dominion over everything upon earth.

Then, when man was deceived by the serpent and fell into sin, which led to death and to all the sufferings associated with death, God still did not forsake him.

He first gave man the law to help him; he set angels over him to guard him; he sent the prophets to denounce vice and to teach virtue; he restrained man’s evil impulses by warnings and roused his desire for virtue by promises.

Frequently, by way of warning, God showed him the respective ends of virtue and of vice in the lives of other men. Moreover, when man continued in disobedience even after he had done all this, God did not desert him.

No, we were not abandoned by the goodness of the Lord. Even the insult we offered to our Benefactor by despising his gifts did not destroy his love for us.

On the contrary, although we were dead, our Lord Jesus Christ restored us to life again, and in a way even more amazing than the fact itself, for his state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God, but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave.

He bore our infirmities and endured our sorrows. He was wounded for our sake so that by his wounds we might be healed.

He redeemed us from the curse by becoming a curse for our sake, and he submitted to the most ignominious death in order to exalt us to the life of glory.

Nor was he content merely to summon us back from death to life; he also bestowed on us the dignity of his own divine nature and prepared for us a place of eternal rest where there will be joy so intense as to surpass all human imagination.

How, then, shall we repay the Lord for all his goodness to us? He is so good that he asks no recompense except our love: that is the only payment he desires.

To confess my personal feelings, when I reflect on all these blessings I am overcome by a kind of dread and numbness at the very possibility of ceasing to love God and of bringing shame upon Christ because of my lack of recollection and my preoccupation with trivialities.

Basil the Great (330-379): Detailed Rules for Monks (Resp. 2, 2-4: PG 31, 914-915), taken from the Office of Readings for Tuesday of the Third week of Ordinary Time @ Crossroads Initiative.

Paulinus of Nola: “Stand Firm, for I Have Overcome the World” Monday, Sep 12 2011 

From the beginning of the world Christ has been suffering in all his people;

for he is the beginning and the end, veiled in the Law, revealed in the Gospel, the Lord ever wonderful in his saints, in whom he both suffers and triumphs.

In Abel he was killed by his brother, in Noah mocked by his son, in Abraham a sojourner, in Isaac offered in sacrifice, in Jacob a servant, in Joseph sold, in Moses exposed and put to flight, in the Prophets stoned and sawn in two, in the Apostles buffeted on land and sea, and in the many varied torments of the blessed Martyrs put to death time and again.

And it is the same Lord who endures our sufferings and sorrows today. He identified himself with the human race and so has continually borne the maltreatment inflicted upon us;

for he knows how to endure suffering, which without him we cannot endure and do not know how to endure.

It is he, I say, who contin­ues to withstand the world in us and for us today, so that, overcoming it by his patient endurance, he may bring his power to perfection in weakness.

He it is who suffers the taunts you endure, and by hating you this world is hating him.

But thanks be to him, for he is vindicated when he is judged.

As you read in Scripture, the Lord triumphs in us through his appearance as a slave, acquiring for his servants the gift of freedom through that mystery of his love whereby he clothed himself in the nature of a slave and for our sakes deigned to humble himself even to the extent of dying on a cross, so that by dwelling in our nature in its visible lowliness, he might win for us invisible exaltation with the blessed.

Consider the position from which we fell in the beginning, and you will realize that it is by the design of God’s wisdom and love that we are being restored to life.

In Adam we were destroyed by pride, and therefore we are humbled in Christ so as to wash away the guilt of that ancient crime by practicing the opposite virtue.

Having offended by arrogance, we win ap­proval by service.

Let us then rejoice and make our boast in him who made his battle and victory ours when he said: Stand firm, for I have overcome the world.

Paulinus of Nola (354-431): Letter 38: 3-4, 6 (CSEL 29:326-327), from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Monday of the Twenty-Fourth Week of Ordinary Time, Year I.

Leo the Great: Fixing the Eyes of Our Heart on Jesus Crucified Friday, Apr 8 2011 

True reverence for the Lord’s passion means fixing the eyes of our heart on Jesus crucified and recognizing in him our own humanity.

The earth – our earthly nature – should tremble at the suffering of its Redeemer.

The rocks – the hearts of unbelievers – should burst asunder.

The dead, imprisoned in the tombs of their mortality, should come forth, the massive stones now ripped apart.

Foreshadowings of the future resurrection should appear in the holy city, the Church of God: what is to happen to our bodies should now take place in our hearts.

No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the cross.

No one is beyond the help of the prayer of Christ.

His prayer brought benefit to the multitude that raged against him.

How much more does it bring to those who turn to him in repentance.

Ignorance has been destroyed, obstinacy has been overcome.

The sacred blood of Christ has quenched the flaming sword that barred access to the tree of life.

The age-old night of sin has given place to the true light.

The Christian people are invited to share the riches of paradise.

All who have been reborn have the way open before them to return to their native land, from which they had been exiled.

[…] The business of this life should not preoccupy us with its anxiety and pride, so that we no longer strive with all the love of our heart to be like our Redeemer, and to follow his example.

Everything that he did or suffered was for our salvation: he wanted his body to share the goodness of its head.

First of all, in taking our human nature while remaining God, so that the Word became man, he left no member of the human race, the unbeliever excepted, without a share in his mercy.

Who does not share a common nature with Christ if he has welcomed Christ, who took our nature, and is reborn in the Spirit through whom Christ was conceived?

[…] The body that lay lifeless in the tomb is ours.

The body that rose again on the third day is ours.

The body that ascended above all the heights of heaven to the right hand of the Father’s glory is ours.

If then we walk in the way of his commandments, and are not ashamed to acknowledge the price he paid for our salvation in a lowly body, we too are to rise to share his glory.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 66, 3-4, taken from the Office of Readings for Thursday of the 4th week of Lent @ Crossroads Initiative.

John of the Cross: Creation, Incarnation, Resurrection Thursday, Nov 12 2009 

The son of God is, in the words of St. Paul, “the brightness of His glory and the figure of His substance” (Heb. 1:3).

God saw all things only in the face of His Son.

This was to give them their natural being, bestowing upon them many graces and natural gifts, making them perfect, as it is written in the book of Genesis: “God saw all the things that He had made: and they were very good” (Gen. 1:31).

To see all things very good was to make them very good in the Word, His Son.

He not only gave them their being and their natural graces when He beheld them, but He also clothed them with beauty in the face of His Son, communicating to them a supernatural being when He made man, and exalted him to the beauty of God, and, by consequence, all creatures in him, because He united Himself to the nature of them all in man.

For this cause the Son of God Himself said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all things to Myself” (John 12:32).

And thus in this exaltation of the incarnation of His Son, and the glory of His resurrection according to the flesh, the Father not only made all things beautiful in part, but also, we may well say, clothed them wholly with beauty and dignity.

John of the Cross (1542-1591): Spiritual Canticle, Stanza 5, 3-4.