Justin Popovich: Man Sentenced God to Death; by His Resurrection, God Sentenced Man to Immortality Saturday, Apr 26 2014 

Justin PopovichMan sentenced God to death; by His Resurrection, He sentenced man to immortality.

In return for a beating, He gives an embrace; for abuse, a blessing; for death, immortality.

Man never showed so much hate for God as when he crucified Him; and God never showed more love for man than when He arose.

Man even wanted to reduce God to a mortal, but God by His Resurrection made man immortal.

The crucified God is Risen and has killed death. Death is no more. Immortality has surrounded man and all the world.

By the Resurrection of the God-Man, human nature has been led irreversibly onto the path of immortality, and has become dreadful to death itself.

For before the Resurrection of Christ, death was dreadful to man, but after the Resurrection of Christ, man has become more dreadful to death.

When man lives by faith in the Risen God-Man, he lives above death, out of its reach; it is a footstool for his feet: “O Death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?” (I Cor. 15:55).

When a man belonging to Christ dies, he simply sets aside his body like clothing, in which he will again be vested on the day of Dread Judgement.

Before the Resurrection of the God-Man, death was the second nature of man: life first, death second.

But by His Resurrection, the Lord has changed everything: immortality has become the second nature of man, it has become natural for man; and death – unnatural.

As before the Resurrection of Christ, it was natural for men to be mortal, so after the Resurrection of Christ, it was natural for men to be immortal.

By sin, man became mortal and transient; by the Resurrection of the God-Man, he became immortal and perpetual. In this is the power, the might, the all-mightiness of the Resurrection of Christ.

[…] Because of the Resurrection of Christ, because of His victory over death, men have become, continue to become, and will continue becoming Christians.

The entire history of Christianity is nothing other than the history of a unique miracle, namely, the Resurrection of Christ, which is unbrokenly threaded through the hearts of Christians form one day to the next, from year to year, across the centuries, until the Dread Judgment.

Man is born, in fact, not when his mother bring him into the world, but when he comes to believe in the Risen Christ, for then he is born to life eternal, whereas a mother bears children for death, for the grave.

The Resurrection of Christ is the mother of us all, all Christians, the mother of immortals. By faith in the Resurrection, man is born anew, born for eternity.

Justin Popovich (1894-1979; Orthodox Church):Paschal Homily @ Pravmir.

Justin Popovich: In the Saviour’s Words there is a Certain Elixir of Immortality Friday, Feb 7 2014 

Justin PopovichLearning and fulfilling the words of God makes a person a relative of the Lord Jesus.

He Himself revealed this when He said: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and carry it out” (Luke 8:21).

This means that if you hear and read the word of God, you are a half-brother of Christ.

If you carry it out, you are a full brother of Christ. And that is a joy and privilege greater than that of the angels.

In learning from the Bible, a certain blessedness floods the soul which resembles nothing on earth.

The Saviour spoke about this when He said, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:28).

Great is the mystery of the word–so great that the second Person of the Holy Trinity, Christ the Lord, is called “the Word” or “the Logos” in the Bible.

God is the Word (John 1:1). All those words which come from the eternal and absolute Word are full of God, Divine Truth, Eternity, and Righteousness.

If you listen to them, you are listening to God. If you read them, you are reading the direct words of God.

God the Word became flesh, became man (John 1:14), and mute, stuttering man began to proclaim the words of the eternal truth and righteousness of God.

In the Saviour’s words there is a certain elixir of immortality, which drips drop by drop into the soul of the man who reads His words and brings his soul from death to life, from impermanence to permanence.

The Saviour indicated this when He said: “Truly, truly I say unto you, whoever listens to my word and believes in the One who sent me has eternal life …and has passed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

Thus the Saviour makes the crucial assertion: “Truly, truly I say unto you, whoever keeps my words will never see death” (John 8:51).

Every word of Christ is full of God. Thus, when it enters a man’s soul it cleanses it from every defilement. From each of His words comes a power that cleanses us from sin.

Hence at the Mystical Supper the Saviour told His disciples, who used to listen to His word without ceasing: “You have already been cleansed by the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:3).

Christ the Lord and His Apostles call everything that is written in the Bible the word of God, the word of the Lord (John 17:14; Acts 6:2, 13:46, 16:32, 19:20; II Cor. 2:17; Col. 1:15, II Thess. 3:1), and unless you read it and receive it as such, you will remain in the mute, stuttering words of men, vain and idle.

Justin Popovich (1894-1979; Orthodox Church): How to Read the Bible and Why.

Denys the Areopagite: Sovereign Lord and Ancient of Days Thursday, Jan 23 2014 

DionysiosThe time is come to sing the God of many Names, as “Sovereign Lord,” and as “Ancient of days.”

For He is called the formerby reason that He is an all-controlling basis,

binding and embracing the whole, and establishing and supporting, and tightening, and completing the whole,

continuous in itself, and from itself, producing the whole, as it were from a Sovereign root, and turning to itself the whole, as to a sovereign parent stock,

and holding them together as an all-embracing basis of all, securing all the things embraced, within one grasp superior to all,

and not permitting them, when fallen from itself to be destroyed, as moved from an all-perfect sanctuary.

But the Godhead is called Sovereign, both as controlling and governing the members of His household, purely, and as being desired and beloved by all,

and as placing upon all the voluntary yokes, and the sweet pangs of the Divine and Sovereign, and in dissolvable love of the Goodness itself.

But Almighty God is celebrated as “Ancient of days” because He is of all things both Age and Time, and before Days, and before Age and Time.

And yet we must affirm that He is Time and Day, and appointed Time, and Age, in a sense befitting God, as being throughout every movement unchangeable and unmoved, and in His ever moving remaining in Himself, and as being Author of Age and Time and Days.

Wherefore, in the sacred Divine manifestations of the mystic visions, He is represented as both old and young;

the former indeed signifying the “Ancient” and being from the beginning, and the latter His never growing old; or both teaching that He advances through all things from beginning to end.

[…] The Oracles…do not always merely call all the things absolutely unoriginated and really everlasting, eternal, but also things imperishable and immortal and unchangeable.

[…] The Word of God says that even we, who are bounded here by time, shall partake of Eternity, when we have reached the Eternity which is imperishable and ever the same.

But sometimes eternity is celebrated in the Oracles, even as temporal, and time as eternal. … It is necessary then to suppose that things called eternal are not absolutely co-eternal with God, Who is before Eternity.

[…] But Almighty God we ought to celebrate, both as eternity and time, as Author of every time and eternity, and “Ancient of days,” as before time, and above time, and as changing appointed seasons and times;

and again as being before ages, in so far as He is both before eternity and above eternity and His kingdom, a kingdom of all the Ages. Amen.

Denys the Areopagite (late 5th-early 6th century?): On the Divine Names 10, 1-3.

Ignatius of Antioch: The Medicine of Immortality, and the Antidote to Prevent Us from Dying Monday, Jan 20 2014 

Ignatius_of_AntiochLet my spirit be counted as nothing for the sake of the cross, which is a stumbling-block to those that do not believe, but to us salvation and life eternal.

“Where is the wise man? where the disputer?” Where is the boasting of those who are styled prudent?

For our God, Jesus Christ, was, according to the appointment of God, conceived in the womb by Mary, of the seed of David, but by the Holy Ghost.

He was born and baptized, that by His passion He might purify the water.

Now the virginity of Mary was hidden from the prince of this world, as was also her offspring, and the death of the Lord; three mysteries of renown, which were wrought in silence by God.

How, then, was He manifested to the world? A star shone forth in heaven above all the other stars, the light of Which was inexpressible, while its novelty struck men with astonishment.

And all the rest of the stars, with the sun and moon, formed a chorus to this star, and its light was exceedingly great above them all. And there was agitation felt as to whence this new spectacle came, so unlike to everything else in the heavens.

Hence every kind of magic was destroyed, and every bond of wickedness disappeared; ignorance was removed, and the old kingdom abolished, God Himself being manifested in human form for the renewal of eternal life.

And now that took a beginning which had been prepared by God. Henceforth all things were in a state of tumult, because He meditated the abolition of death.

If Jesus Christ shall graciously permit me through your prayers, and if it be His will, I shall, in a second little work which I will write to you, make further manifest to you the nature of the dispensation of which I have begun to treat, with respect to the new man, Jesus Christ, in His faith and in His love, in His suffering and in His resurrection.

Especially will I do this if the Lord make known to me that you come together in common, man by man, through grace – individually, in one faith, and in Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David according to the flesh, being both the Son of man and the Son of God;

and if you thus obey the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but which causes that we should live for ever in Jesus Christ.

Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35 – c. 107): Letter to the Ephesians, 18-20 @ Crossroads Initiative.

Gregory Palamas: When Our Nature was Remade in the Jordan, the Most Sublime and All-Accomplishing Trinity was Made Manifest Saturday, Jan 11 2014 

Gregory_PalamasJesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water:

and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him:

and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:16-17).

Man is the only creature who, in the image of the tri-hypostatic Being, has a mind, reason, and a spirit which gives life to his body, inasmuch as he also has a body which needs to be infused with life.

When our nature was re-made in the Jordan, the most sublime and all-accomplishing Trinity was made manifest, as the archetype of the image in our soul.

[…] Christ’s going down into the water and His being underneath it, at the time of His baptism, foreshadowed His descent into Hades; and, accordingly, His coming up from under the water prefigured His resurrection from the dead.

As a fitting consequence, when He came up from the water the heavens were immediately opened unto Him.

For at the time of His descent into Hades, He went under the earth for our sake, and on returning thence, He opened all things both to Himself and to us, not just things on or around the earth, but highest heaven itself, to which afterwards He ascended bodily, “whither the forerunner is for us entered” (Hebrews 6.20).

Just as He foreshadowed the saving Passion through the mystical bread and cup, and then handed on this mystery to the faithful to perform for their salvation (1 Corinthians 11.25; Luke 22.17-20), so He mystically foretold His descent into Hades and His ascent from there through this baptism of His, and afterwards passed on this sacrament to believers to perform that they may be saved.

He allowed Himself what was painful and difficult, but bestowed on us communion in His sufferings right from the start through these painless means, causing us, according to the Apostle, to be “planted together in the likeness of His death” (Romans 6.5), that in due time we might also be vouchsafed the promised resurrection.

Having a soul and body like ours, which He assumed from us for our sake, by means of this body He underwent the Passion, death and burial for us, and showed forth the resurrection from the tomb that this same body might become immortal.

He taught us to accomplish the bloodless sacrifice in remembrance of these events, that through it we might reap salvation.

With His soul He went down to Hades and returned, making us all partakers in eternal light and life, and in token of this He handed on to us the practice of holy baptism, that through it we might harvest salvation;

and indeed that through each of these two mysteries and through both elements, soul and body, we might be initiated into and receive the seeds of incorruptible life.

For our whole salvation depends on these two sacraments, as the entire dispensation whereby God became man is summed up in them.

Gregory Palamas (1296-1359): Homily 60, on the Holy Feast of Theophany: Disclosing the Mystery of Christ’s Baptism as far as is Possible. From Saint Gregory Palamas: The Homilies (Mount Thabor Publishing, 2009) @ Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Ascension, Oakland, California.

Augustine of Hippo: God Promised Men Divinity, Mortals Immortality, Sinners Justification, Outcasts Glory Thursday, Dec 12 2013 

St Augustine of AfricaGod had a time for making his promises and a time for fulfilling them.

His time for making promises was from the days of the prophets until the coming of John the Baptist.

His time for fulfilling them was from then until the end of the world. God is faithful and he has put himself in our debt, not by receiving anything from us but by promising so much.

Nor was a promise sufficient for him; he even bound himself in writing, giving us as it were a pledge in his own hand.

He wanted us to see from Scripture, when the time for fulfilment came, how he was carrying out his promises one by one.

God promised us eternal salvation, everlasting bliss with the angels, an incorruptible inheritance, endless glory, the joyful vision of his face, his holy dwelling in heaven, and after the resurrection from the dead no further fear of dying.

This is what he holds out to us at the end as the goal of all our striving. When we reach it we shall ask for nothing more. But as to how we are to reach our final goal, he revealed this too by promises and prophecies.

God promised men divinity, mortals immortality, sinners justification, outcasts glory.

But because his promise that we who are mortal, corruptible, weak and of low estate, mere dust and ashes, were to be equal to the angels seemed incredible, God not only made a written covenant with us to win our faith, but he also gave us a mediator of his pledge.

This mediator was not a prince, an angel, or an archangel, but his only Son; through his own Son he meant both to show us and give us the way by which he would lead us to the promised goal.

He was not satisfied with sending his Son to show us the way. He made him the way itself. God’s only Son, then, was to come among us, take our human nature, and in this nature be born as a man.

He was to die, to rise again, to ascend into heaven, to sit at the right hand of the Father, and to fulfil his promises among the nations.

After that he was also to fulfil his promise to come again, to demand what he had previously requested, to separate those deserving his anger from those deserving his mercy, to give the wicked what he had threatened and the just what he had promised.

All this had to be prophesied, foretold, and impressed on us as an event in the future so that we should not be terrified by its happening unexpectedly, but wait for it with faith.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Commentary on Psalm 109, 1-3 (CSEL 40:1601-1603); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Thursday of the 2nd Week in Advent, Year 1.

Ignatius of Antioch: Faith and Love towards Christ Jesus are the Beginning and the End of Life Wednesday, Oct 30 2013 

Ignatius_of_AntiochTake heed, then, often to come together to give thanks to God, and show forth His praise.

For when ye assemble frequently in the same place, the powers of Satan are destroyed, and the destruction at which he aims is prevented by the unity of your faith.

Nothing is more precious than peace, by which all war, both in heaven and earth, is brought to an end.

None of these things is hid from you, if ye perfectly possess that faith and love towards Christ Jesus which are the beginning and the end of life.

For the beginning is faith, and the end is love. Now these two. being inseparably connected together, are of God, while all other things which are requisite for a holy life follow after them.

No man truly making a profession of faith sins; nor does he that possesses love hate any one.

The tree is made manifest by its fruit; so those that profess themselves to be Christians shall be recognised by their conduct. For there is not now a demand for mere profession, but that a man be found continuing in the power of faith to the end.

It is better for a man to be silent and be a Christian, than to talk and not to be one. It is good to teach, if he who speaks also acts. There is then one Teacher, who spake and it was done; while even those things which He did in silence are worthy of the Father.

He who possesses the word of Jesus, is truly able to hear even His very silence, that he may be perfect, and may both act as he speaks, and be recognised by his silence.

There is nothing which is hid from God, but our very secrets are near to Him. Let us therefore do all things as those who have Him dwelling in us, that we may be His temples, and He may be in us as our God, which indeed He is, and will manifest Himself before our faces. Wherefore we justly love Him.

[…] For this end did the Lord suffer the ointment to be poured upon His head, that He might breathe immortality into His Church. Be not ye anointed with the bad odour of the doctrine of the prince of this world; let him not lead you away captive from the life which is set before you.

And why are we not all prudent, since we have received the knowledge of God, which is Jesus Christ? Why do we foolishly perish, not recognising the gift which the Lord has of a truth sent to us?

Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35 – c. 107): Letter to the Ephesians, 13-17 @ Crossroads Initiative.

Irenaeus of Lyons: The Eucharist – Life, Immortality, Incorruption, Resurrection to the Glory of God Wednesday, Oct 23 2013 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonThe mingled cup and the manufactured bread receives the Word of God, and the Eucharist becomes the body of Christ, from which things the substance of our flesh is increased and supported.

So how can anyone affirm that the flesh is incapable of receiving the gift of God, which is life eternal, which flesh is nourished from the body and blood of the Lord, and is a member of Him?

St Paul declares, “we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones” (Eph. 5:30). He does not speak these words of some spiritual and invisible man, for a spirit has not bones nor flesh (Luke 24:39).

Rather, he refers to that dispensation by which the Lord became an actual man, consisting of flesh, and nerves, and bones—that flesh which is nourished by the cup which is His blood, and receives increase from the bread which is His body.

A cutting from the vine planted in the ground fructifies in its season; a corn of wheat falling into the earth and becoming decomposed, rises with manifold increase by the Spirit of God, who contains all things.

Then, through the wisdom of God, it serves for the use of men, and having received the Word of God, becomes the Eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ.

So also our bodies, being nourished by it, and deposited in the earth, and suffering decomposition there, shall rise at their appointed time, the Word of God granting them resurrection to the glory of God, even the Father, who freely gives to this mortal immortality, and to this corruptible incorruption (1 Cor. 15:53).

For the strength of God is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:3), in order that we may never become puffed up, as if we had life from ourselves, and exalted against God, our minds becoming ungrateful;

that, learning by experience, we might possess eternal duration from the excelling power of this Being, not from our own nature;

that we may neither undervalue that glory which surrounds God as He is, nor be ignorant of our own nature;

that we may know what God can effect, and what benefits man receives, and thus never wander from the true comprehension of things as they are, that is, both with regard to God and with regard to man.

And might it not be the case, perhaps, as I have already observed, that for this purpose God permitted our resolution into the common dust of mortality, that we, being instructed by every mode, may be accurate in all things for the future, being ignorant neither of God nor of ourselves?

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Adversus Haereses, 5, 2, 3.

Justin Popovich: “The Healing Power of Scripture” Saturday, Oct 19 2013 

Justin PopovichBy reading the Bible you are adding yeast to the dough of your soul and body, which gradually expands and fills the soul until it has thoroughly permeated it and makes it rise with the truth and righteousness of the Gospel.

In every instance, the Saviour’s parable about the sower and the seed can be applied to every one of us. The seed of Divine Truth is given to us in the Bible.

By reading it, we sow that seed in our own soul. It falls on the rocky and thorny ground of our soul, but a little also falls on the good soil of our heart — and bears fruit.

And when you catch sight of the fruit and taste it, the sweetness and joy will spur you to clear and plow the rocky and thorny areas of your soul and sow it with the seed of the word of God.

Do you know when a man is wise in the sight of Christ the Lord? When he listens to His word and carries it out. The beginning of wisdom is to listen to God’s word (Matt. 7:24-25).

Every word of the Saviour has the power and the might to heal both physical and spiritual ailments. “Say the word and my servant will be healed” (Matt. 8:8). The Saviour said the word and the centurion’s servant was healed.

Just as He once did, the Lord even now ceaselessly says His words to you, to me, and to all of us. But we must pause, and immerse ourselves in them and receive them – with the centurion’s faith.

And a miracle will happen to us, and our souls will be healed just as the centurion’s servant was healed. For it is related in the Gospel that they brought many possessed people to Him, and He drove out the spirits with a word, and healed all the sick (Matt. 8:16).

He still does this today, because the Lord Jesus “is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8)

[…] In each word of the Saviour there is more eternity and permanence than in all of heaven and earth with all their history.

Hence He said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matt. 24:35). This means that God and all that is of God is in the Saviour’s words. Therefore they cannot pass away.

If a man accepts them, he is more permanent than heaven and earth, because there is a power in them that immortalizes man and makes him eternal.

Justin Popovich (1894-1979; Orthodox Church): How to Read the Bible and Why.

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.

Next Page »