Thursday, April 20, 2017

Invisible, Incomprehensible, Incorporeal, Immortal

The very Son of God, older than the ages ,the invisible, the incomprehensible, the incorporeal, the beginning of beginning, the light or light, the fountain of life and immortality, the image of the archetype, the immovable seal, the perfect likeness, the definition and word of the Father:  he it is who comes to his own image and takes our nature for the good of our nature, and unites himself to an intelligent soul for the good of my soul, to purify like by like.
                He takes to himself all that is human, except for sin.  He was conceived by the Virgin Mary, who had been first prepared in soul and body by the Spirit; his coming to birth had to be treated with honor, virginity had to receive new honor.  He comes forth as God, in the human nature he has taken, one being, made of two contrary elements, flesh and spirit.  Spirit gave divinity, flesh received it.
               He who makes rich is made poor; he takes on the poverty of my flesh, that I may gain the riches of his divinity.  He who is full is made empty; he is emptied for a brief space of his glory that I may share in his fullness.  He takes on my flesh, to bring salvation to the image, immortality to the flesh.  He enters into a second union with us, a union far more wonderful than the first.
               Holiness had to be brought to man by the humanity assumed by one who was God, so that God might overcome the tyrant by force and so deliver us and lead us back to himself through the mediation of his Son.  The Son arranged this for the honor of the Father, to whom the Son is clearly obedient in all things.
               The Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep, came in search of the straying sheep to the mountains and hills on which you used to offer sacrifice.  When he found it, he took it on the shoulders that bore the wood of the cross, and led it back to the life of heaven.
               Christ, the light of all lights, follows John, the lamp that goes before him.  The Word of God follows the bridegroom's friend, who prepares a worthy people for the Lord by cleansing them by water in preparation for the Spirit.  We need God to take our flesh and die that we might live.                          Saint Gregory Nazianzen, bishop
               Who can comprehend the depth of the wisdom of God or the depth of his Love for us?  Before time began he planned to send his Son to us.  A Son who would give us all of himself for us.  Are we willing to give our total obedience to God?            kvs

Love Unites Us to God

Let the person truly possessed by the love of Christ keep his commandments. Who can express the binding power of divine love?  Who can find words for the splendor of its beauty?  Beyond all description are the heights to which it lifts us.  Love unites us to God; it cancels innumerable sins, has no limits to its endurance, and bears everything patiently. 
Love is neither servile nor arrogant.  It does not provoke schism or form cliques, but always acts in harmony with others.   By it all God’s chosen one have been sanctified; without it, it is impossible to please him.  Out of love the Lord took us to himself; because he loved us and it was God’s will, our Lord Jesus Christ gave his life’s blood for us—he gave his body for our body, his soul for our soul.
See the, beloved, what a great and wonderful thing love is, and how inexpressible its perfection.  Who are worthy to possess it unless God make them so?  To him therefore we must turn, begging of his mercy that there may be found in us a love free from human partiality and beyond reproach.  Every generation from Adam’s time to ours has passed away; but those who by God’s grace were made perfect in love have a dwelling now among the saints, and when at last the kingdom of Christ appears, they will be revealed.  Take shelter in your rooms for a little while, says Scripture, until my wrath subsides.  Then I will remember the good days, and will raise you from your graves.
Happy are we, beloved, if love enables us to live in harmony and it the observance of God’s commandments, for then it will also gain for us the remission of our sins.  Scripture pronounces happy those whose transgressions are pardoned, whose sins are forgiven.  Happy the man, it says, to whom the Lord imputes no fault, on whose lips there is not guile.  This is the blessing given those whom God has chosen through Jesus Christ our Lord. To him be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.  (Saint Clement I, pope)
Are we truly possessed by the love of Christ?  Do we keep his commandments?  Do we act in harmony with others, or do we belong to cliques?  Do we harbor hard feelings because of the past?  Have we asked for the grace to have a love of God beyond reproach?  Have you?  kvs

He Prepares the Way

At Christmas Jesus was born a man; at His Baptism He was reborn sacramentally.  Then He was born of the Virgin; at Baptism He was born in mystery.  When He was born a man, His mother Mary held Him close to her heart; when He was born in mystery, God the Father embraces Him with His voice when He says: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased:  listen to Him.  The mother caresses the tender baby on her lap; the Father serves His Son by His loving testimony.  The mother holds the child for Magi to adore; the Father reveals that His Son is to be worshipped by all the nations.
Christ was baptized not to be made holy by the water, but to make the water holy, and by His cleansing to purify the waters which He touched.   For when the Savior is washed, all water for our baptism is made clean, purified at its source for the dispensing of baptismal grace to the people of future ages.  Christ is the first to be baptized, then, so that Christians will follow after Him with confidence.
The mystery is this.  The column of fire went before the sons of Israel through the Red Sea so they could follow on their journey; the column went first through the waters to prepare a path for those who followed.  As the apostle Paul said, what was accomplished then was the mystery of baptism.  Clearly it was baptism in a certain sense when the cloud was covering the people and bringing  them through the water. 
But Christ the Lord does all these things; in the column of fire He went through the sea before the sons of Israel; so now, in the column of His body, He goes though baptism before the Christian people.  At the time of the Exodus the column provided light for the people who followed; now it gives light to the hearts of believers.  Then it made a firm pathway through the waters; now it strengthens the footsteps of faith in the bath of baptism.
The path is clear.  In our Baptism, sins are cleansed and we became adoptive Children of God.  Do we live as God’s child?  Our Father God made it clear, “Listen to Him.”  Do we listen, or like the Israelites do we follow complaining, or worse go our own way ignoring His light, His path. 
With great thanks to Saint Maximus of Turin, bishop.   kvs


Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.  He was the only disciple absent; on his return he heard what had happened but refused to believe it.  The Lord came a second time; he offered his side for the disbelieving disciple to touch, held out his hands, and showing the scars of his wounds, healed the wound of his disbelief.
               Dearly beloved, what do you see in these events?  Do you really believe that it was by chance that this chosen disciple was absent, then came and heard, heard and doubted, doubted and touched, touched and believed?  It was not by chance, but in God’s providence.  In a marvelous way God’s mercy arranged that the disbelieving disciple, in touching the sounds of his master’s body, should heal our wounds of disbelief.  The disbelief of Thomas has done more for our faith than the faith of the other disciples.  As he touches Christ and is won over to belief, every doubt is cast aside and our faith is strengthened.  So the disciple who doubted, then felt Christ’s wounds, becomes a witness to the reality of the resurrection.
               Touching Christ, he cried out: My Lord and my God.  Jesus said to him: Because you have seen me, Thomas, you have believed.  Paul said: Faith the guarantee of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.  It is clear, then, that faith is the proof of what cannot be seen.  What is seen gives knowledge, not faith.  When Thomas saw and touched, why was he told: You have believed because you have seen me?  Because what he saw and what he believed were different things.  God cannot be seen by mortal man.  Thomas saw a human being, whom he acknowledged to be God, and said: My Lord and my God.  Seeing, he believed; looking at one who was true man, he cried out that this was God, the God he could not see.
               What follows is reason for great joy: Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.  There is here a particular reference to ourselves; we hold in our hearts one we have not seen in the flesh.  We are included in these words, but only if we follow up our faith with good works.  The true believer practices what he believes.  But of those who pay only lip service to faith, Paul has this to say:  They profess to know God but they deny him in their works.  Therefore James says: Faith without works is dead.                Saint Gregory the Great Pope
               The challenge to us:  Do we deny him in our works, or lack of them?  Do we give of ourselves, our time, our talent and our treasure?  Do we serve or expect to be served?             kvs

Love is Stronger!

Death is strong, for it can rob us of the gift of life.  Love too is strong, for it can restore us to a better life.
               Death is strong, for no man can withstand it.  Love too is strong, for it can conquer death itself, soothe its sting, calm its violence, and bring its victory to naught.   The time will come when death is reviled and taunted: O death, where is your victory?
               Love is as strong as death because Christ's love is the very death of death.  Our love for Christ is also as strong as death, because it is itself a kind of death; destroying the old life, rooting out vice, and laying aside dead works.
               Our love for Christ is a return, though very unequal, for his love of us.  For He first loved us, and, through the example of love he gave us, he became a seal upon us by which we are made like him.  We lay aside the likeness of the earthly man and put on the likeness of the heavenly man; we love him as he has loved us.  For in this matter he has left us an example so that we might follow in His steps.
               This is why he says:  Set me as a seal upon your heart.  It is as if he were saying:  "Love me as I love you.  Keep me in your mind and memory, in your desires and yearnings, in your groans and sobs.  Remember, man, the kind of being I made you; how far I set you above other creatures; the dignity I conferred upon you; the glory and honor with which I crowned you; how I made you only a little less than the angels and set all things under your feet.  Remember not only how much I have done for you, but all the hardship and shame I have suffered for you. Yet look and see:  Do you not wrong me?  Do you not fail to love me?  Who loves you as I do?  Who created and redeemed you but I?"
               Lord, take away my heart of stone, a heart so bitter and uncircumcised, and give me a new heart, a heart of flesh, a pure heart.  You cleanse the heart and love the clean heart.  Take possession of my heart and dwell in it, contain it and fill it, you who are higher than the heights of my spirit and closer to me than my innermost self!
               You are the pattern of all beauty and the seal of all holiness.  Set the seal of your likeness upon my heart!  In your mercy set your seal upon my heart, God of my heart and the God who is my portion for ever!  Amen.                 from a treatise by Baldwin, bishop of Canterbury
               And Again, Amen!!  kvs