John Chrysostom: St John – the Son of Thunder, the Beloved of Christ, Who Holds the Keys of Heaven, Who Drank the Cup of Christ Friday, Dec 27 2013 

John_ChrysostomDecember 27th is the Feast of St John the Evangelist.

For the son of thunder, the beloved of Christ, the pillar of the Churches throughout the world,

who holds the keys of heaven, who drank the cup of Christ, and was baptized with His baptism,

who lay upon his Master’s bosom with much confidence,

this man comes forward to us now;

not as an actor of a play, not hiding his head with a mask…,

nor mounting a platform, nor striking the stage with his foot, nor dressed out with apparel of gold, but he enters wearing a robe of inconceivable beauty.

For he will appear before us having “put on Christ” (Rom. 13:14; Gal. 3:27), having his beautiful “feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace” ( Eph. vi. 15 );

wearing a girdle not about his waist, but about his loins, not made of scarlet leather nor daubed outside with gold, but woven and composed of truth itself.

Seeing then it is no longer the fisherman the son of Zebedee, but He who knoweth “the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10), the Holy Spirit I mean, that striketh this lyre, let us hearken accordingly.

For he will say nothing to us as a man, but what he saith, he will say from the depths of the Spirit, from those secret things which before they came to pass the very Angels knew not; since they too have learned by the voice of John with us, and by us, the things which we know.

And this hath another Apostle declared, saying, “To the intent that unto the principalities and powers might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10).

If then principalities, and powers, and Cherubim, and Seraphim, learned these things by the Church, it is very clear that they were exceedingly earnest in listening to this teaching; and even in this we have been not a little honored, that the Angels learned with us things which before they knew not.

[…] If we long to know what is going on in the palace, what, for instance, the king has said, what he has done, what counsel he is taking concerning his subjects, though in truth these things are for the most part nothing to us; much more is it desirable to hear what God hath said, especially when all concerns us.

And all this will this man tell us exactly, as being a friend of the King Himself, or rather, as having Him speaking within himself, and from Him hearing all things which He heareth from the Father.

“I have called you friends,” He saith, “for all things that I have heard of My Father, I have made known unto you” (John 15:15).

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homilies on St John’s Gospel, Homily1, Preface, 2-3.

Gregory of Nyssa: Through the Church the Heavenly Powers Discover the Manifold Wisdom of God Saturday, Aug 24 2013 

Gregory_of_NyssaThat the manifold wisdom of God may be made known to the principalities and powers in heavenly places through the Church, according to the eternal purpose, which he made, in Christ Jesus our Lord: in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him (Ephesians 3:10-12).

It is indeed through the Church that the heavenly powers discover the manifold wisdom of God that accomplished great wonders by contrary means: how life resulted from death, righteousness from sin, a blessing from a curse, glory from disgrace, power from weakness.

In earlier times the heavenly powers were aware only of the simple, unqualified wisdom of God working wonders in a manner appropriate to its nature.

There was nothing complex in what they saw when in its mighty power the Godhead created the universe by a simple act of will, bringing the natural world into being and endowing all things with the great beauty that springs from the source of all beauty.

Now, however, through the Church, they have been clearly shown this manifold kind of wisdom which consists in the combination of opposites.

They have learned how the Word became flesh; how life mingled with death; how Christ healed our wounds by his own bruises; and how by the weakness of the Cross he overcame the power of the adversary.

They have learned how the Invisible was revealed in flesh; how he re­deemed captives, being himself both the Redeemer and the price, since he gave himself up to death to pay our ransom; how he also entered the realm of death without abandoning life, and became a servant without ceasing to be a king.

All these and similar things contained in the manifold and not simple works of Wisdom the friends of the Bridegroom learned through the Church, and were fascinated to perceive in the mystery yet another mark of the divine Wisdom.

Indeed, if it is not too bold a thing to say, perhaps in gazing at the beauty of the Bridegroom reflected in the bride, they beheld with wonder that which is invisible and incomprehensible to all created beings.

For God, whom no one has ever seen, as John says, or can see, as Paul testifies, has made the Church his body, and by the addition of those who are saved he builds it up in love until we all attain full maturity, measured by nothing less than the full stature of Christ.

If then the Church is the body of Christ, and Christ is the body’s head who impresses his own features on its face, this may explain why the friends of the Bridegroom were fascinated to see the Church, since through her they beheld more clearly the invisible Bridegroom.

Just as one cannot look straight at the sun but can see its brilliance reflected on water, so they too see the Sun of Righteousness in the clear mirror of the Church, in which they contemplate him through his reflection.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): On the Song of Songs, 8 (Jaeger, 6:254-7); from the Monastic Office of Vigils for Thursday of the 20th Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1.