Gregory Palamas: Christ now sent forth the Spirit Who comes from the Father Sunday, Jun 19 2016 

Gregory_PalamasA short while ago, with the strong eyes of faith, we beheld Christ ascending, no less clearly than those accounted worthy to be eye-witnesses.

Nor are we less favoured than they. “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed”, says the Lord (John 20:29), referring to those who have found assurance through hearing, and see by faith.

Recently we saw Christ lifted up from the ground bodily (Acts 1:9). Now, through the Holy Spirit sent by Him to His disciples, we see how far Christ ascended and to what dignity He carried up the nature He assumed from us.

Clearly He went up as high as the place from which the Spirit sent by Him descended. He who spoke through the prophet Joel showed us whence the Spirit comes, saying, “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2:28), and to Him David addressed the words, “Thou wilt send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created; and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth” (Ps. 103:32).

It follows that at His ascension Christ went up to the Father on high, as far as His Fatherly bosom, from which comes the Spirit. Having been shown, even in His human form, to share the Father’s glory, Christ now sent forth the Spirit Who comes from the Father and is sent by Him from heaven.

But when we hear that the Spirit was sent by the Father and the Son, this does not mean that the Spirit has no part in their greatness, for He is not just sent, but also Himself sends and consents to be sent.

This is clearly shown by Christ’s words spoken through the prophet, “Mine hand hath laid the foundation of the earth and stretched out the heavens, and now the Lord God, and His Spirit, hath sent Me” (cf. Isa. 48:13-16). Again, speaking through the same prophet He says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek” (Isa. 61:1).

The Holy Spirit is not just sent, but Himself sends the Son, Who is sent by the Father. He is therefore shown to be the same as the Father and the Son in nature, power, operation and honour.

By the good pleasure of the Father and the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, the only-begotten Son of God, on account of the boundless ocean of divine love for mankind, bowed the heavens and came down (Ps. 17:9). He appeared on earth after our fashion, lived among us, and did and taught great, wonderful and sublime things truly worthy of God, which led those who obeyed Him towards deification and salvation.

Gregory Palamas (1296-1359): Homily 24, on Pentecost, 1-2. From Saint Gregory Palamas: The Homilies (Mount Thabor Publishing, 2009), full version online here.

Ælfric of Eynsham: There came a great light, and an awful sound, and blowing trumpets Sunday, May 15 2016 

All_SS_of_BritainGod commanded Moses in Egypt, that he and all the people of Israel should offer, for every household, a lamb of one year to God, and mark with the blood the sign of the cross on their door-posts and lintels, as on that night God’s angel went and slew in every house of the Egyptian folk the firstborn child and the dearest.

And the people of Israel went on the same night from the nation, and God led them over the Red sea with dry feet.

Pharaoh then hastened after them with a great army. When he came into the middle of the sea, the people of God were gone up, and God then sank Pharaoh and all his host.

God then commanded Moses and the people that they should keep that tide with great reverence in the circuit of every year. The tide was then appointed to the people for Easter-tide, because God had saved them from their foes, and destroyed their persecutors.

Then fifty days after this God appointed a law for the people, and the glory of God was seen on a hill which is called Sinai. There came a great light, and an awful sound, and blowing trumpets. Then God called Moses to him, and he was with God forty days, and wrote down the old law by God’s direction. Then was the day called Pentecost in the Old Testament.

The offered lamb betokened the slaying of Christ, who innocent was offered to his Father for our redemption. Now is his passion and his resurrection our Easter-tide, because he redeemed us from the thraldom of the devil, and our persecutors are sunk by the holy baptism, as Pharaoh was with his people in the Red sea.

These fifty days from the day of Easter are all hallowed to one celebration, and this present day is our Pentecost, that is, the fiftieth day from Easter-day.

On the old Pentecost God appointed a law to the people of Israel, and on this day the Holy Ghost came in semblance of fire to God’s company; for as the lamb betokened the passion of Christ, so also the old law betokened the preaching of the gospel under the grace of God.

There are three periods in this world: one is that which was without law; the second is that which was under the law; the third is now after the advent of Christ. This period is called ‘under God’s grace.’

We are not without law, nor may we hold bodily the law of Moses, but God’s grace directs us to his will, if we be mindful of Christ’s commandments and of the precepts of the apostles.

Ælfric of Eynsham (c. 955 – c. 1010): Homily 22 (for the Holy Day of Pentecost), trans. Benjamin Thorpe; icon of All Saints of Britain and Ireland.