He Who Hung The Earth Upon the Waters

This weekend, we meditate on the meaning and the power of the Holy Cross.

This is a recording of our father, Archbishop Job of Chicago singing the 15th Antiphon at Matins for Great and Holy Friday 2009.

We include it for your own spiritual edification. Contemplate this worthy meditation on the Cross in anticipation of Holy Week.

May his memory be eternal!

 

If anyone has access to sheet music for this, please contact us here.

 

The Promise to Abraham Fulfilled In Christ

by St. Irenaeus of Lyons

Against Heresies, Book 4, Chapters 7, 10, 11, 23

Therefore Abraham also, knowing the Father through the Word, who made heaven and earth, confessed Him to be God; and having learned, by an announcement [made to him], that the Son of God would be a man among men, by whose advent his seed should be as the stars of heaven, he desired to see that day, so that he might himself also embrace Christ; and, seeing it through the spirit of prophecy, he rejoiced [Genesis 17:17].

Wherefore Symeon also, one of his descendants, carried fully out the rejoicing of the patriarch, and said:

“Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared before the face of all people: a light for the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of the people Israel” [Luke 2:29].

And the angels, in like manner, announced tidings of great joy to the shepherds who were keeping watch by night [Luke 2:8]. Moreover, Mary said,

“My soul does magnify the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my salvation” [Luke 1:46].

The rejoicing of Abraham descending upon those who sprang from him — those, namely, who were watching, and who beheld Christ, and believed in Him; while, on the other hand, there was a reciprocal rejoicing which passed backwards from the children to Abraham, who did also desire to see the day of Christ’s coming. Rightly, then, did our Lord bear witness to him, saying,

“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad”.

For not alone upon Abraham’s account did He say these things, but also that He might point out how all who have known God from the beginning, and have foretold the advent of Christ, have received the revelation from the Son Himself; who also in the last times was made visible and passible, and spoke with the human race, that He might from the stones raise up children unto Abraham, and fulfil the promise which God had given him, and that He might make his seed

“as the stars of heaven” [Genesis 15:5],

as John the Baptist says:

“For God is able from these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” [Matthew 3:9].

Now, this Jesus did by drawing us off from the religion of stones, and bringing us over from hard and fruitless cogitations, and establishing in us a faith like unto Abraham. As Paul does also testify, saying that we are children of Abraham because of the similarity of our faith, and the promise of inheritance [Romans 4:12; Galatians 4:28].

He is therefore one and the same God, who called Abraham and gave him the promise. But He is the Creator, who does also through Christ prepare lights in the world, [namely] those who believe from among the Gentiles. And He says,

“You are the light of the world” [Matthew 5:14];

that is, as the stars of heaven. Him, therefore, I have rightly shown to be known by no man, unless by the Son, and to whomsoever the Son shall reveal Him. But the Son reveals the Father to all to whom He wills that He should be known; and neither without the goodwill of the Father nor without the agency of the Son, can any man know God. Wherefore did the Lord say to His disciples,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life and no man comes unto the Father but by Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also: and from henceforth you have both known Him, and have seen Him” [John 14:6-7].

From these words it is evident, that He is known by the Son, that is, by the Word….

Wherefore also John does appropriately relate that the Lord said to the Jews:

“You search the Scriptures, in which you think you have eternal life; these are they which testify of me. And you are not willing to come unto Me, that you may have life” [John 5:39-40].

How therefore did the Scriptures testify of Him, unless they were from one and the same Father, instructing men beforehand as to the advent of His Son, and foretelling the salvation brought in by Him?

“For if you had believed Moses, you would also have believed Me; for he wrote of Me” [John 5:46];

[saying this,] no doubt, because the Son of God is implanted everywhere throughout his writings: at one time, indeed, speaking with Abraham, when about to eat with him; at another time with Noah, giving to him the dimensions [of the ark]; at another, inquiring after Adam; at another, bringing down judgment upon the Sodomites; and again, when He becomes visible, and directs Jacob on his journey, and speaks with Moses from the bush. And it would be endless to recount [the occasions] upon which the Son of God is shown forth by Moses. Of the day of His passion, too, he was not ignorant; but foretold Him, after a figurative manner, by the name given to the passover; and at that very festival, which had been proclaimed such a long time previously by Moses, did our Lord suffer, thus fulfilling the passover. And he did not describe the day only, but the place also, and the time of day at which the sufferings ceased, and the sign of the setting of the sun, saying:

“You may not sacrifice the passover within any other of your cities which the Lord God gives you; but in the place which the Lord your God shall choose that His name be called on there, you shall sacrifice the passover at even towards the setting of the sun” [Deuteronomy 16:5-6].

And already he had also declared His advent, saying,

“There shall not fail a chief in Judah, nor a leader from his loins, until He come for whom it is laid up, and He is the hope of the nations; binding His foal to the vine, and His ass’s colt to the creeping ivy. He shall wash His stole in wine, and His upper garment in the blood of the grape; His eyes shall be more joyous than wine, and His teeth whiter than milk.”

For, let those who have the reputation of investigating everything, inquire at what time a prince and leader failed out of Judah, and who is the hope of the nations, who also is the vine, what was the ass’s colt [referred to as] His, what the clothing, and what the eyes, what the teeth, and what the wine, and thus let them investigate every one of the points mentioned; and they shall find that there was none other announced than our Lord, Christ Jesus.

Wherefore Moses, when chiding the ingratitude of the people, said,

“You infatuated people, and unwise, do you thus requite the Lord?” [Deuteronomy 32:6].

And again, he indicates that He who from the beginning founded and created them, the Word, who also redeems and vivifies us in the last times, is shown as hanging on the tree, and they will not believe in Him. For he says,

“And your life shall be hanging before your eyes, and you will not believe your life.”

And again,

“Has not this same one your Father owned you, and made you, and created you?”…

But that it was not only the prophets and many righteous men, who, foreseeing through the Holy Spirit His advent, prayed that they might attain to that period in which they should see their Lord face to face, and hear His words, the Lord has made manifest, when He says to His disciples,

“Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which you hear, and have not heard them” [Matthew 13:17].

In what way, then, did they desire both to hear and to see, unless they had foreknowledge of His future advent? But how could they have foreknown it, unless they had previously received foreknowledge from Himself? And how do the Scriptures testify of Him, unless all things had ever been revealed and shown to believers by one and the same God through the Word; He at one time conferring with His creature, and at another propounding His law; at one time, again, reproving, at another exhorting, and then setting free His servant, and adopting him as a son (in filium); and, at the proper time, bestowing an incorruptible inheritance, for the purpose of bringing man to perfection? For He formed him for growth and increase, as the Scripture says:

“Increase and multiply” [Genesis 1:28].

And in this respect God differs from man, that God indeed makes, but man is made; and truly, He who makes is always the same; but that which is made must receive both beginning, and middle, and addition, and increase. And God does indeed create after a skillful manner, while, [as regards] man, he is created skilfully. God also is truly perfect in all things, Himself equal and similar to Himself, as He is all light, and all mind, and all substance, and the fount of all good; but man receives advancement and increase towards God. For as God is always the same, so also man, when found in God, shall always go on towards God. For neither does God at any time cease to confer benefits upon, or to enrich man; nor does man ever cease from receiving the benefits, and being enriched by God. For the receptacle of His goodness, and the instrument of His glorification, is the man who is grateful to Him that made him; and again, the receptacle of His just judgment is the ungrateful man, who both despises his Maker and is not subject to His Word; who has promised that He will give very much to those always bringing forth fruit, and more [and more] to those who have the Lord’s money.

“Well done,” He says, “good and faithful servant: because you have been faithful in little, I will appoint you over many things; enter into the joy of your Lord” [Matthew 25:21].

The Lord Himself thus promises very much.

As, therefore, He has promised to give very much to those who do now bring forth fruit, according to the gift of His grace, but not according to the changeableness of knowledge; for the Lord remains the same, and the same Father is revealed; thus, therefore, has the one and the same Lord granted, by means of His advent, a greater gift of grace to those of a later period, than what He had granted to those under the Old Testament dispensation. For they indeed used to hear, by means of [His] servants, that the King would come, and they rejoiced to a certain extent, inasmuch as they hoped for His coming; but those who have beheld Him actually present, and have obtained liberty, and been made partakers of His gifts, do possess a greater amount of grace, and a higher degree of exultation, rejoicing because of the King’s arrival: as also David says,

“My soul shall rejoice in the Lord; it shall be glad in His salvation”.

And for this cause, upon His entrance into Jerusalem, all those who were in the way recognised David their king in His sorrow of soul, and spread their garments for Him, and ornamented the way with green boughs, crying out with great joy and gladness,

“Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord: hosanna in the highest” [Matthew 21:8].

But to the envious wicked stewards, who circumvented those under them, and ruled over those that had no great intelligence, and for this reason were unwilling that the king should come, and who said to Him,

“Do you hear what these say?”

did the Lord reply,

“Have you never read, Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings have You perfected praise?”

— thus pointing out that what had been declared by David concerning the Son of God, was accomplished in His own person; and indicating that they were indeed ignorant of the meaning of the Scripture and the dispensation of God; but declaring that it was Himself who was announced by the prophets as Christ, whose name is praised in all the earth, and who perfects praise to His Father from the mouth of babes and sucklings; wherefore also His glory has been raised above the heavens.

If, therefore, the self-same person is present who was announced by the prophets, our Lord Jesus Christ, and if His advent has brought in a fuller [measure of] grace and greater gifts to those who have received Him, it is plain that the Father also is Himself the same who was proclaimed by the prophets, and that the Son, on His coming, did not spread the knowledge of another Father, but of the same who was preached from the beginning; from whom also He has brought down liberty to those who, in a lawful manner, and with a willing mind, and with all the heart, do Him service; whereas to scoffers, and to those not subject to God, but who follow outward purifications for the praise of men (which observances had been given as a type of future things — the law typifying, as it were, certain things in a shadow, and delineating eternal things by temporal, celestial by terrestrial), and to those who pretend that they do themselves observe more than what has been prescribed, as if preferring their own zeal to God Himself, while within they are full of hypocrisy, and covetousness, and all wickedness—[to such] has He assigned everlasting perdition by cutting them off from life….

For which reason the Lord declared to the disciples:

“Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look upon the districts (regiones), for they are white [already] to harvest. For the harvest-man receives wages, and gathers fruit unto life eternal, that both he that sows and he that reaps may rejoice together. For in this is the saying true, that one sows and another reaps. For I have sent you forward to reap that whereon you bestowed no labour; other men have laboured, and you have entered into their labours” [John 4:35].

Who, then, are they that have laboured, and have helped forward the dispensations of God? It is clear that they are the patriarchs and prophets, who even prefigured our faith, and disseminated through the earth the advent of the Son of God, who and what He should be: so that posterity, possessing the fear of God, might easily accept the advent of Christ, having been instructed by the prophets. And for this reason it was, that when Joseph became aware that Mary was with child, and was minded to put her away privately, the angel said to him in sleep:

“Fear not to take to you Mary your wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. For she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins” [Matthew 1:20].

And exhorting him [to this], he added:

“Now all this has been done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken from the Lord by the prophet, saying, ‘Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and His name shall be called Emmanuel'”;

thus influencing him by the words of the prophet, and warding off blame from Mary, pointing out that it was she who was the virgin mentioned by Isaiah beforehand, who should give birth to Emmanuel. Wherefore, when Joseph was convinced beyond all doubt, he both did take Mary, and joyfully yielded obedience in regard to all the rest of the education of Christ, undertaking a journey into Egypt and back again, and then a removal to Nazareth. [For this reason,] those who knew not the Scriptures nor the promise of God, nor the dispensation of Christ, at last called him the father of the child. For this reason, too, did the Lord Himself read at Capernaum the prophecies of Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me; to preach the Gospel to the poor has He sent Me, to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and sight to the blind” [Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18].

At the same time, showing that it was He Himself who had been foretold by Isaiah the prophet, He said to them: “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.”

For this reason, also, Philip, when he had discovered the eunuch of the Ethiopians’ queen reading these words which had been written:

“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb is dumb before the shearer, so He opened not His mouth: in His humiliation His judgment was taken away” [Acts 8:27, Isaiah 53:7];

and all the rest which the prophet proceeded to relate in regard to His passion and His coming in the flesh, and how He was dishonoured by those who did not believe Him; easily persuaded him to believe in Him, that He was Christ Jesus, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and suffered whatsoever the prophet had predicted, and that He was the Son of God, who gives eternal life to men. And immediately when [Philip] had baptized him, he departed from him.

For nothing else [but baptism] was wanting to him who had been already instructed by the prophets: he was not ignorant of God the Father, nor of the rules as to the [proper] manner of life, but was merely ignorant of the advent of the Son of God, which, when he had become acquainted with, in a short space of time, he went on his way rejoicing, to be the herald in Ethiopia of Christ’s advent. Therefore Philip had no great labour to go through with regard to this man, because he was already prepared in the fear of God by the prophets.

For this reason, too, did the apostles, collecting the sheep which had perished of the house of Israel, and discoursing to them from the Scriptures, prove that this crucified Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God; and they persuaded a great multitude, who, however, [already] possessed the fear of God. And there were, in one day, baptized three, and four, and five thousand men [Acts 2:41, Acts 4:4].

On the Saints of the Old Testament

by St. Gregory Palamas

Our father among the saints Gregory Palamas (1296-1359), Archbishop of Thessalonica, was a monk of Mount Athos in Greece (at Vatopedi  and Esphigmenou Monasteries), and later became Archbishop of Thessalonica. His feast days in the Church are Nov. 14 and the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.

David indicates that our Lord Jesus Christ has no genealogy with regard to His divinity (Ps. 110:4), Isaiah says the same (Isa. 53:8), and later so does the apostle (Heb. 7:3). How can the descent be traced of Him

“who is in the beginning, and is with God, and is God, and is the Word and Son of God” (cf. Jn. 1:1-2, 18)?

He does not have a Father who was before Him, and shares with His Father

“a name which is above every name” and all speech (Phil. 2:9).

For the most part, genealogies are traced back through different surnames; but there is no surname for God (cf. Gen. 32:29), and whatever may be said of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, they are one and do not differ in any respect.

Impossible to recount is Christ’s descent according to His divinity, but His ancestry according to His human nature can be traced, since He who deigned to become Son of Man in order to save mankind was the offspring of men. And it is this genealogy of His that two of the evangelists, Matthew and Luke, recorded. But although Matthew, in the passage from his Gospel read today, begins with those born first, he makes no mention of anyone born before Abraham He traces the line down from Abraham until he reaches Joseph to whom, by divine dispensation, the Virgin Mother of God was betrothed (Matt. 1:1-16), being of the same tribe and homeland as him, that her own stock may be shown from this to be in no way inferior.

Luke, by contrast, begins not with the earliest forebears but the most recent, and working his way back from Joseph the Betrothed, does not stop at Abraham, nor, having included Abraham’s predecessors, does he end with Adam, but lists God among Christ’s human forebears (Lk. 3:23-38); wishing to show, in my opinion, that from the beginning man was not just a creation of God, but also a son in the Spirit, which was given to him at the same time as his soul, through God’s quickening breath (Gen. 2:7). It was granted to him as a pledge that, if, waiting patiently for it, he kept the commandment, he would be able to share through the same Spirit in a more perfect union with God, by which he would live forever with Him and obtain immortality.

By heeding the evil counsel of the pernicious angel, man transgressed the divine commandments, was shown to be unworthy, forfeited the pledge, and interrupted God’s plan. God’s grace, however, is unalterable and His purpose cannot prove false, so some of man’s offspring were chosen, that, from among many, a suitable receptacle for this divine adoption and grace might be found, who would serve God’s will perfectly, and would be revealed as a vessel worthy to unite divine and human nature in one person, not just exalting our nature, but restoring the human race.

The holy Maid and Virgin Mother of God was this vessel, so she was proclaimed by the Archangel Gabriel as full of grace (Lk. 1:28), being the chosen one among the chosen, blameless, undefiled and worthy to contain the person of the God-Man and to collaborate with Him. Therefore God pre-ordained her before all ages, chose her from among all that had ever lived, and deemed her worthy of more grace than anyone else, making her the holiest of saints, even before her mysterious childbearing. For that reason, He graciously willed that she should make her home in the Holy of Holies, and accepted her as His companion to share His dwelling from her childhood. He did not simply choose her from the masses, but from the elect of all time, who were admired and renowned for their piety and wisdom, and for their character, words and deeds, which pleased God and brought benefit to all.

Note where this choice began. The excellent Seth was chosen from among Adam’s children, because by his well-ordered conduct, his control over his senses and his glorious virtues he showed himself to be a living heaven and so came to be one of the elect, from whom the Virgin would spring forth, that truly heavenly and divinely appropriate chariot of the supercelestial God, and through whom He would call men back to eternal sonship. Therefore all Seth’s stock were called

“sons of God” (Gen 6:2),

because it was from the race that the Son of God was to become the Son of Man. That is why the name Seth can be interpreted to mean “resurrection“, or rather “a raising up from“, which really refers to the Lord, who promises and gives eternal life to those who believe in Him.

And how worthy a type of Christ is Seth?

“Seth was born to Eve”, as she herself says, “instead of Abel” (Gen. 4:25),

whom Cain envied and murdered, whereas the Virgin’s son, Christ, was born to the human race instead of Adam, whom the prince and father of evil killed out of envy. Seth, however, did not raise up Abel, as he was merely a prefiguration of the resurrection, whereas our Lord Jesus Christ resurrected Adam, for He is the true life and resurrection of mankind (cf. Jn. 11:25), through whom Seth’s descendants were deemed worthy, in hope, of divine adoption, being called sons of God. That they were referred to as God’s sons on account of this hope, is demonstrated by the first person to be so called and to inherit God’s election. This was Seth’s son Enos who, as Moses wrote,

“was the first to hope to be called by the Lord’s name” (Gen. 4:26 LXX).

Do you see clearly that it was through hope that he came to be called? If the Seventy [translators of the Septuagint] say,

“He was the first to hope to be called by the Lord’s name”,

they are not at all in disagreement with the others; because Enos lived in a way that pleased God more than anyone else in his day, and was the first to receive this hope from God. He called upon this hope and was called after it. Seth was chosen from God from among Adam’s sons, and so Luke, in preparing his genealogy, traces back to him the whole race from which Christ was born according to the flesh. Then Enos was chosen in preference to Seth’s other children, as we have said. From his descendants Enoch was chosen, who proved through what happened to him that virtue does not go unrewarded, and that this fleeting world is not worthy of those who are well-pleasing to God, for he was translated because he pleased God (Gen. 5:24; Heb. 11:5).

Lamech was chosen and preferred to Enoch’s other descendants, and after him his son, Noah, attained to God’s election and became the only father of everyone in the world after the flood. Only he and his entire family were found to live chastely at that time when the sons of God took wives from among the daughters of men, as Moses tells us (Gen. 6:1-2). This means that among the offspring of Seth, the forefather of the Mother of God, those who were rejected as unworthy were swept out of the Virgin Mother’s family and completely deprived of the divine Spirit. Later this Spirit came upon the Virgin, according to the angel’s words to her:

“The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you” (Lk. 1:35).

The Spirit also arranged beforehand for the Virgin to come into being, choosing from the beginning, and cleansing, the line of her descent, accepting those who were worthy, or were to become fathers of eminent men, but utterly casting out the unworthy.

This is why the Lord God said on that occasion of those rejected ones,

“My Spirit shall not abide with these men, for they are flesh” (Gen. 6:3 LXX).

Although the Virgin, of whom Christ was born according to the flesh, came from Adam’s flesh and seed, yet, because this flesh had been cleansed in many different ways by the Holy Spirit from the start, she was descended from those who had been chosen from every generation for their excellence. Noah, too, “a just man and perfect in his generation”, as the Scriptures say of him (Gen. 6:9), was found worthy of this election.

Observe also that the Holy Spirit makes it clear to such as have understanding that the whole of divinely inspired Scripture was written because of the Virgin Mother of God. It relates in detail the entire line of her ancestry, which begins with Adam, then passes through Seth, Noah and Abraham, as well as David and Zerubbabel, those in between them and their successors, and goes up to the time of the Virgin Mother of God. By contrast, Scripture does not touch upon some races at all, and in the case of others, it makes a start at tracing their descent, then soon abandons them, leaving them in the depths of oblivion. Above all, it commemorates those of the Mother of God’s forebears who, in their own lives and the deeds wrought by them, prefigured Christ, who was to be born of the Virgin.

See how Noah clearly foreshadows Him who was later to be born of the Virgin, for whose sake the election was made. For Noah was shown to be the savior, not of all the race of men in general, but of his own household, all of whom were saved through him. In the same way Christ, too, is the Savior of the race of men, not of all men in general, but of all His own household, that is of His Church; not, however, of the disobedient. Furthermore, the name Noah can be translated to mean “rest” (Gen. 5:29). But who is true “rest” except the Virgin’s Son, who says,

“Come unto me through repentance, all you that labor and are heavy laden with sin, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28),

bestowing freedom, ease and eternal life upon you.

Lamech, who gave Noah this name, because he saw in him Christ, who was later to come from their stock, and would be the comfort of all God-fearing people down through the ages, clearly prophesied through this name concerning Christ.

“He called his name Noah”,

says the Scripture,

“saying, ‘This name shall bring us rest from our works, and from the toils of our hands, and from the earth, which the Lord our God has cursed'” (Gen. 5:29 LXX).

These words are not about the flood which came to pass, for Lamech’s death preceded the flood, yet he says that Noah will “bring us rest”, including himself as a partaker in the comfort he foretold. In those days it had not yet come about that in each man

“every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5)

throughout his life, which was why universal destruction of everyone on earth came upon the earth from God. So to whom do his words refer when he says, “He will bring us rest”? He also says,

“He shall bring us rest from the earth except Him who opened heaven, raised our nature thither and taught us, through words and deeds, the way up to heaven, calling us towards it? But if the flood too prefigured this rest, it did so by cutting off sins and laying them to rest, not by bringing comfort and ease to sinners.

In this way and for these reasons, Noah attained to God’s election. Of his children, Shem was accepted among those chosen to be the blessed family of the Mother of God. That is why, although Japheth also appears to have been well-pleasing to his father, only Shem heard from his father,

“Blessed be the Lord God of Shem” (Gen. 9:26),

as his progeny was to be divine. For it was from him that Abraham was descended, who was preferred according to God’s election above all Shem’s offspring and was called to be part of the lineage of the Virgin Mother. He was given a new name by God, and received that great promise that all the families of the earth would be blessed in his seed (Gen. 17:5; 12:3). According to Paul, Christ our God, who was born of the Virgin, is his seed according to the flesh (Gal. 3:16).

And who could describe the divine visions that Abraham experienced, or the signs and promises from God which foreshadowed and prophesied concerning the ever-virgin Mother of God and her ineffable childbearing? Let us, however, quickly pass over what happened next, as time does not permit us to speak at length. From among Abraham’s children Isaac was chosen, then Jacob from among his sons, and the tribe of Judah from Jacob’s offspring. From this tribe the root of Jesse was selected, and for those who sprang from this root, David the psalmist and prophet and king, of whom God says,

“Thy seed shall endure forever, and His throne as the sun before Me; and as the moon that is established forever, and the witness in heaven is faithful” (Ps. 89:36-37 LXX).

Who is this witness? Obviously He who sits upon the heavenly throne, of whom it says elsewhere:

“His name shall be continued as long as the sun: and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in Him” (Ps. 72:17 LXX).

From this the lineage of the Mother of God and Joseph, to whom she was betrothed, seems somehow double, for both were of the same tribe and descent according to the law. Thus the family’s ancestral line is twofold, made up both of natural children and children according to the law, often converging into one, but sometimes divided into two, so that the same child, strange as it may seem, might be the son of two fathers who are brothers, of the one from a legal point of view, as not having been begotten of him physically, and of the other, according to nature, as having been raised up as seed for his brother (Matt. 22:24; Deut. 25:5; Gen. 38:8); inasmuch as the child traces his ancestry back to David through both his fathers. It is possible to see the dual nature of this lineage in another respect, because the royal line was united on many occasions and in numerous ways with the priestly one.

Thus in the holy ancestral line of the Mother of God, Zerubbabel traces his lineage back to David through the descendants of Nathan, who was counted among the priests, as well as through those of Solomon, who inherited the kingdom. For this reason the Lord’s genealogy according to the flesh is drawn up differently by the evangelists Luke and Matthew, because one takes into account natural fathers, the other, fathers according to the law, and one mentions only those of royal descent, whereas Luke brings in those of the Levitical race and those of the royal house, who were bound together by priesthood or marriage.

As for Zerubbabel, because he was also favored among the Mother of God’s forbears, he too prefigured Christ and was honored with great titles and authority. Born in captivity, he was admired by Cyrus, king of the Medes and Persians, for his virtue and misunderstanding. He taught both Hebrews and foreigners the power of the truth, set his race free from servitude, and restored God’s Temple (1 Esd. 4:33-63; Ezra 3:1-13).

Later Christ did something similar, not renewing the inanimate Temple, but that living, rational temple, our nature, and redeeming it, not from perceptible and temporary, but spiritual and primeval captivity. Nor did He move His followers from one country to another, but transferred them from earth to heaven. Zerubbabel was the forefather of both the Virgin and Joseph to whom she was betrothed, but whereas she was the Virgin’s forbear by nature alone, he was Joseph’s according to nature and the law. For Joseph had two fathers, Heli according to Luke (Lk. 3:23), and Jacob according to Matthew (Matt. 1:16). Heli and Jacob were brothers descended from Zerubbabel, and when Heli died without children, Jacob fathered a child, Joseph, by his brother’s wife, who according to the law belongs to Heli.

Now these things are examples and types of greater mysteries, since it was necessary that the royal line be united in many ways, with the priestly race, which would bring forth the family of Christ according to the flesh; because in many ways Christ is truly the eternal King and High Priest. And the fact that adopted sons are counted as sons, that the law approves of adoptive fathers no less and sometimes more than natural fathers, and that the same, appropriately, applies to other kinds of kinship, was a clear example and type of our adoption by Christ, our kinship with Him and our calling according to the Spirit and the law of grace. For the Lord Himself says in the Gospels,

“Whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother” (Matt. 12:50).

Do you see that the family and kin of Christ are not engendered according to nature, but according to grace and the law that comes from grace? This law is so far superior to the law given through Moses that, whereas those called sons according to the law of Moses are neither born of God nor do they transcend human nature, those styled sons by the law of grace are born of God, brought to perfection above nature and made sons of Abraham through Christ, more closely associated with Him than sons according to blood. All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ, according to Paul (Gal. 3:27), and although they are other people’s children according to nature, they are born supernaturally of Christ, who in this way conquers nature. For as He became incarnate without seed of the Holy Spirit and the ever-virgin Mary, so He grants potential and power to those that believe in His name to become children of God. For “as many as received Him”, says the evangelist,

“to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn. 1:12-13).

Why, when he says, “which were born of God”, does he not say “and became sons of God”, but “received power to become” sons? Because he was looking towards the end and universal restoration, the perfection of the age to come. The same evangelist says in his Epistles,

“It does not yet appear what we shall be: but when He shall appear, we shall be like Him” (1Jn. 3:2).

Then we shall be children of God, seeing and experiencing God’s radiance, with the rays of Christ’s glory shining around us and shining ourselves, as Moses and Elijah proved to us when they appeared with Him in glory on Mount Tabor (Matt. 17:3; Lk. 9:30).

” The righteous”, it says, “shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:43).

We receive power for this purpose now through the grace of divine baptism. Just as a newborn infant has received potential from his parents to become a man and heir to their house and fortune, but does not yet possess that inheritance because he is a minor, nor will he receive it if he dies coming of age, so a person born again in the Spirit through Christian baptism has received power to become a son and heir of God, a joint-heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17), and in the age to come he will, with all certainty, receive the divine and immortal adoption as a son, which will not be taken from him, unless he has forfeited this by spiritual death. Sin is spiritual death, and whereas physical death is annulled when the future age arrives, spiritual death is confirmed for those who bring it with them from here.

Everyone who has been baptized, if he is to obtain the eternal blessedness and salvation for which he hopes, should live free from all sin. Peter and Paul, the leaders of the highest company of the holy apostles made this clear. Paul said of Christ,

“In that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he lives, he lives unto God”, (Rom. 6:10-11),

whereas Peter wrote,

“Forasmuch as Christ has died for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: that you no longer should live the rest of your time by the lusts of men, but by the will of God” (1 Pet. 4:1-2).

If it was for our sake that the Lord lived His time on earth, to leave us an example, and He passed His life without sin, we too must live without sin, in imitation of Him. Since He said even to Abraham’s descendants according to the flesh,

“If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham” (Jn. 8:39),

how much more will He say to us who have no physical kinship with Him, “If you were My children, you would do My works”? It is therefore consistent and just that anyone who, after divine baptism, after the covenants he made then to God and the grace he received from it, does not follow Christ’s way of life step by step, but transgresses and offends against the benefactor, should be utterly deprived of divine adoption and the eternal inheritance.

But, O Christ our King, who can worthily extol the greatness of Your love for mankind? What was unnecessary for Him and what He did not do, namely, repentance (for He never needed to repent, being sinless, cf. Heb. 4:15), He granted to us a mediator for when we sin even after receiving grace. Repentance means returning once again to Him and to a life according to His will out of remorse. Even if someone commits a deadly sin, if he turns away from it with all his soul, abstains from it and turns back to the Lord in deed and truth, he should take courage and be of good hope, for he shall not lose eternal life and salvation. When a child according to the flesh meets his death, he is not brought back to life by his father, but someone born of Christ, even though he fall into deadly sins, if he turns again and runs to the Father who raises the dead, is made alive once more, obtains divine adoption, and is not cast out from the company of the just.

May we all attain to this, to the glory of Christ and of His Father without beginning and of the life-giving Spirit, now and forever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Sermon 1 on the New Testament

by St. Augustine of Hippo

St. Augustine of HippoOf the agreement of the evangelists Matthew and Luke in the generations of the Lord.

1. May He, beloved, fulfill your expectation who has awakened it: for though I feel confident that what I have to say is not my own, but God’s, yet with far more reason do I say, what the Apostle in his humility says,

“We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

Continue reading Sermon 1 on the New Testament

Sermon of the Month begins Nov. 2010

Submissions are now being accepted for November’s

Sermon of the Month.

Here at the Preachers Institute, we are committed to expanding the opportunities for you, the Orthodox Christian preacher, to expand your repertoire, advance your homiletics education, and hone your preaching skills.

Therefore, in line with those goals, beginning the month of November, the Preachers Institute will be publishing a Sermon Of The Month.

Featured from among the many sermons we receive by email, the Preachers Institute Sermon Of The Month will take the best we receive for that calendar month, and publish, with notes from our editors and contributors why it was chosen.

The monthly winners will be published each month on Preachers Institute, and will remain on the front page until the following month.

You are encouraged to submit each sermon you write and preach.

Here are the guidelines for submission.

There is no charge for entry, so submit early and often.

There are three categories – seminarian, deacon, and priest.

Sermons by bishops will be included in the priest category.

  • Anyone may submit a sermon (provided they give the preacher proper credit);
  • Every sermon must be submitted in electronic format –  .doc files preferred (.doc, .docx, .pdf, .pub, .txt are all acceptable);
  • Include the Biblical text which you are preaching from, Chapter and verse;
  • Include the day, date and location the sermon was delivered;
  • Laymen are encouraged to submit the sermons delivered in their own parish, or in a parish they have visited and personally heard;
  • Sermons by seminarians must be submitted with the approval/signature/initials of the president, dean, or homiletics professor of the seminary. (this can be submitted by email)
  • Every sermon must have been delivered verbally to a congregation, class, or an otherwise live audience. No exceptions.

Remember, the Preachers Institute exists to further the development, education and skill of Orthodox Christian preachers.

You can submit your sermon through our handy-dandy Contact form, or by emailing them to

sermons (at) preachersinstitute.com.

A Lesson From Preaching Class

by Fr. Barnabas Powell

We are republishing this article from our good friend, Fr. Barnabas, who is the priest of Ss. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene Church in Cumming, GA  and blogger at Sober Joy, co-teaches the course PAST 7201 – Preaching: Proclaiming The Kindgom, with Fr. Nick Triantifilou, the president of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Fr. Nick  was the main professor, and Fr.  Barnabas was the co-instructor. In this preaching lesson, which was given earlier this year, we are given an excellent example of a three-step process to preparing an effective sermon on the Gospel.

Tonight we are going to look at one way to organize a homily to insure that your homily has a clear purpose and a clear structure to encourage effective preaching.

The outline I use is as follows:

Introduction

D.S. – (Declarative Statement)

T.S. – (Transitional Statement)

I. (1st Main Point)

1. (Sub points)

2.

Ill. – (Illustration)

Appl. – (Application)

T.S. – (Transitional Statement)

II. (2nd Main Point)

1. (Sub points)

2.

Ill. – (Illustration)

Appl. – (Application)

T.S. – (Transitional Statement)

Conclusion Continue reading A Lesson From Preaching Class

The Perpetual Virginity of Mary: Part 3

by St. Jerome of Stridonium

Our venerable and God-bearing father Jerome was noted as a scholar of Latin at the time when Greek was considered the language of scholarship. He was one of the most learned of the Fathers of the Western Church and is noted as the translator of the holy scriptures into Latin. This translation, the Vulgate, became the official biblical text of the Roman Church. A critic of secular excesses, he was a strong defender of the Orthodox faith against the heresies of his time. This writing against Helvidius, is part three of a three part installment of this important teaching.This understanding of the Perpetual Virginity of the Theotokos is the Orthodox tradition, the Roman Catholic teaching, and until modernism, was the undisputed teachings of Luther, Calvin, and the entire Protestant tradition.

17. Innumerable instances of the same kind are to be found in the sacred books. But, to be brief, I will return to the last of the four classes of brethren, those, namely, who are brethren by affection, and these again fall into two divisions, those of the spiritual and those of the general relationship. I say spiritual because all of us Christians are called brethren, as in the verse,

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”

And in another psalm the Savior says,

“I will declare thy name unto my brethren.” Continue reading The Perpetual Virginity of Mary: Part 3

The Perpetual Virginity of Mary: Part 2

by St. Jerome of Stridonium

Our venerable and God-bearing father Jerome was noted as a scholar of Latin at the time when Greek was considered the language of scholarship. He was one of the most learned of the Fathers of the Western Church and is noted as the translator of the holy scriptures into Latin. This translation, the Vulgate, became the official biblical text of the Roman Church. A critic of secular excesses, he was a strong defender of the Orthodox faith against the heresies of his time. This writing against Helvidius, is part two of a three part installment of this important teaching. This understanding of the Perpetual Virginity of the Theotokos is the Orthodox tradition, the Roman Catholic teaching, and until modernism, was the undisputed teachings of Luther, Calvin, and the entire Protestant tradition.

9. Helvidius will answer, “What you say, is my opinion mere trifling. Your arguments are so much waste of time, and the discussion shows more subtlety than truth. Why could not Scripture say, as it said of Tamar and Judah, ‘ And he took his wife, and knew her again no more’? Could not Matthew find words to express his meaning ? ‘

He knew her not,’ he says, ‘ until she brought forth a son.’

He did then, after her delivery, know her, whom he had refrained from knowing until she was delivered.”

10. If you are so contentious, your own thoughts shall now prove your master. Continue reading The Perpetual Virginity of Mary: Part 2