Excerpt from Gospel of the Day – In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit – Luke 10:21-24, 19th of Paope – St. Cyril the Pillar of Faith

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In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”  Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.” (Luke 10:21-24)

One of the holy prophets has said : “Whoever thirsts, come to the waters” (Is 55:1).  For he sends us to the writings of the holy Evangelists as to fountains of water. For just as “waters are pleasant to the thirsty soul,” (Pro 25:25) as the Scripture says, so to the mind that loves instruction is the life-giving knowledge of the mysteries of our Saviour. Let us, therefore, draw from the sacred springs the living and life-giving waters, even those that are rational and spiritual. Let us take our fill, and weary not in your drinking, for in these things more than enough is still for edification and greediness is great praise. What then was it that the Saviour said, That fountain which came down from heaven, That river of delight, so we learn from what has here been read to us: “In that same hour, Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, and said.” Whoever then loves instruction, must approach the words of God not carelessly, and without earnestness; but, on the contrary, with eagerness, for it is written, “That for every one that takes care, there is something over” (Pro 14:23). Let us, therefore, examine them, and especially what is meant by the expression, that He “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit then proceeds from God the Father as from the fountain; but is not foreign from the Son: for every property of the Father belongs to the Word, Who by nature and verily was begotten of Him. Christ saw therefore that many had been won by the operation of the Spirit, Whom He bestowed on them that were worthy, and whom He had also commanded to be ministers of the divine message: He saw that wonderful signs were wrought by their hands, and that the salvation of the world by Him, I mean by faith, had now begun: and therefore He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, that is, in the works and miracles wrought by means of the Holy Spirit. For He had appointed the twelve disciples, whom He also called apostles, and after them again seventy others, whom He sent as His forerunners to go before Him unto every village and city of Judaea, preaching Him, and the things concerning Him. And He sent them, nobly adorned with apostolic dignities, and distinguished by the operation of the grace of the Holy Spirit. “For He gave them power over unclean spirits to cast them out.” They then, having wrought many miracles, returned saying, “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us in Your Name.” And therefore as I have already said, well knowing that those who had been sent by Him had benefited many, and that above all others, they had themselves learned by experience His glory, He was full of joy, or rather of exultation. For being good and loving unto men, and wishing that all should be saved, He found His cause of rejoicing in the conversion of those that were in error, in the enlightenment of those that were in darkness, and in the answer of the understanding to the acknowledgment of His glory, of those who had been without knowledge and without instruction.

What then does He say ? “Father, I confess You, Lord of the heaven and the earth.” And these words,”I confess You,” He says after the manner of men, instead of, “I accept Your kindness,” that is,”I praise You.” For it is the custom of the divinely inspired Scripture to use the word confession in some such way as this. For it is written, that “they shall confess, O Lord, Your great name; for it is terrible and holy” (Ps 99:3). And again,”I will confess You, Lord, with all my heart, and I will tell all Your wonders” (Ps 86:12).

But I perceive again, that the mind of these perverted men departs not from its depravity; and some of them perhaps will object to us the following argument: “Look ! the Son makes confession of gratitude to the Father: and how must He not be inferior to Him?” But whosoever is skilful in defending the doctrines of truth may well reply to this: “And what hinders, worthy sir, the Son, though equal in substance, from thanking and praising His Father, for saving by His means all beneath the heaven? But if  you think that because of this thanksgiving He is inferior to the Father, observe that also which follows; for He calls the Father ‘Lord of the heaven and the earth.” But of a certainty the Son of Almighty God is equally with Him Lord of all, and above all: not as being inferior, or different in substance, but as God of  God, crowned with equal honours, and possessing by right of His substance equality with Him in all things.” And so much then in answer to them.

But let us consider the words which He addresses to His Father respecting us and in our behalf. “You have hidden, He says, all these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes: Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.” For God the Father has revealed unto us the mystery, which before the foundations of the world was hidden and reserved in silence with Him: even the Incarnation of the Only-begotten, which was foreknown indeed before the foundations of the world, but revealed to its inhabitants in the last ages of the world. For the blessed Paul writes, that “to me who am the least of all saints, has this grace been given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and clearly teach them all, what is the dispensation of the mystery that for ages has been hid in God Who created all” (Eph 3:8). The great and adorable mystery of our Saviour was hidden therefore even before the foundations of the world, in the knowledge of the Father. And in like manner we also were foreknown and foreordained to the adoption of sons. And this again the blessed Paul teaches us, thus writing, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heaven in Christ, according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundations of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him, having foreordained us in love to the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ unto Himself” (Eph 1). To us therefore, as unto babes, the Father has revealed the mystery that for ages had been hidden and reserved in silence.

And yet multitudes of men have preceded us in the world past numbering, who, as far as words went, were wise, who had a practised and skilful tongue, and beauty of stylo, and grandeur of expression, and no mean reputation for wisdom: but as Paul said, “They had become empty in their reasonings, and their foolish heart was darkened: while professing to be wise, they had made themselves fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of corruptible man, and into that of birds, and four-footed beasts and reptiles. For this cause they were given up to a reprobate mind;” “and God made the wisdom of this world to be folly” (1 Cor 3:19) neither did He shew unto them the mystery. And to us too it is written, “Whosoever seems to be wise in this world, let him become foolish, in order that he may become wise: for the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” It may truly therefore be affirmed, that he who possesses merely and by itself the wisdom of the world, is foolish and without understanding before God: but that he who seems to be a fool to the wise men of the world, but possesses in his mind and heart the light of the true vision of God, is wise before God. And Paul again confirms this, saying, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach: not with wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ be made ineffectual. For the speech of the cross is to them who are perishing foolishness; but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and take away the understanding of the prudent.” And to others also he sent, saying, “For see your calling, brethren: that there are not among you many wise men after the flesh: nor many mighty, nor many of high birth; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, that He may confound the wise.” To those therefore who seemed to be foolish, by which is meant, men of an innocent and guileless mind, and simple as a child in wickedness, the Father hath revealed His Son, as being themselves also foreknown and foreordained to the adoption of sons.

Nor is it in my opinion unreasonable to add also the following. The Scribes and Pharisees, who held high rank among the Jews, as having the reputation of legal learning, were regarded as wise men. But they were convicted by the very result of not being so in reality. For even the prophet Jeremiah thus somewhere addressed them: “How say ye, that we are wise, and the word of the Lord is with us? The lying cord of the scribe is for emptiness. The wise men are ashamed; they fear and are taken: what wisdom is in. them, because they have rejected the word of the Lord?” Because then they rejected the word of the Saviour, that is, the saving message of the Gospel, or in other language, the Word of God the Father, Who for our sakes became man, they have themselves been rejected. For again the prophet Jeremiah said of them, “Call ye them reprobate silver, because the Lord has rejected them.” And the mystery of Christ was also hid from them: for He somewhere even said to his disciples concerning them, “To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; but to them it is not given.” “To you,” that is, to whom? Plainly to those who believed: to those who have recognised His appearing, who understand the law spiritually, who can perceive the meaning of the previous revelation of the prophets, who acknowledge that He is God and the Son of God, to them the Father is pleased to reveal His Son: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever. Amen.

 [St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke, Sermon LXV]

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In the beginning God created the heaven and earth – St. Basil the Great

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“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). I stop struck with admiration at this thought. What shall I first say? Where shall I begin my story? Shall I show forth the vanity of the Gentiles? Shall I exalt the truth of our faith? The philosophers of Greece have made much ado to explain nature, and not one of their systems has remained firm and unshaken, each being overturned by its successor. It is vain to refute them; they are sufficient in themselves to destroy one another. Those who were too ignorant to rise to a knowledge of a God, could not allow that an intelligent cause presided at the birth of the Universe; a primary error that involved them in sad consequences. Some had recourse to material principles and attributed the origin of the Universe to the elements of the world. Others imagined that atoms, and indivisible bodies, molecules and ducts, form, by their union, the nature of the visible world. Atoms reuniting or separating, produce births and deaths and the most durable bodies only owe their consistency to the strength of their mutual adhesion: a true spider’s web woven by these writers who give to heaven, to earth, and to sea so weak an origin and so little consistency! It is because they knew not how to say “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Deceived by their inherent atheism it appeared to them that nothing governed or ruled the universe, and that was all was given up to chance.

To guard us against this error the writer on the creation, from the very first words, enlightens our understanding with the name of God; “In the beginning God created.” What a glorious order! He first establishes a beginning, so that it might not be supposed that the world never had a beginning. Then he adds “Created” to show that which was made was a very small part of the power of the Creator. In the same way that the potter, after having made with equal pains a great number of vessels, has not exhausted either his art or his talent; thus the Maker of the Universe, whose creative power, far from being bounded by one world, could extend to the infinite, needed only the impulse of His will to bring the immensities of the visible world into being. If then the world has a beginning, and if it has been created, enquire who gave it this beginning, and who was the Creator: or rather, in the fear that human reasonings may make you wander from the truth, Moses has anticipated enquiry by engraving in our hearts, as a seal and a safeguard, the awful name of God: “In the beginning God created”—It is He, beneficent Nature, Goodness without measure, a worthy object of love for all beings endowed with reason, the beauty the most to be desired, the origin of all that exists, the source of life, intellectual light, impenetrable wisdom, it is He who “in the beginning created heaven and earth.”

[St. Basil the Great, Hexaemeron, Homily I]

For I was sick and you visited me – Apophthegmata Patrum

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A brother asked an old man, saying, “There were two brethren, and one of them led a life of silent contemplation in his cell, and used to fast six days at a time, and to devote himself to great labour, and his companion used to minister to the sick; which of them will receive the [greater reward for] his service? The old man said, “If he who fasted were to raise himself up upon the works which are profitable, he would not find himself equal before God with him that visited the sick.”

[Apophthegmata Patrum]

Set God always before you – Apophthegmata Patrum

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An old man used to say, “If when you are sitting down, or standing up, or when you are doing anything else, God is set before your eyes continually, no act of the Enemy can terrify you. If this thought abides with a man, the power of God will abide with him also.”

[Apophthegmata Patrum]

Love covers a multitude of sins – Apophthegmata Patrum

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There was a certain man who had within himself love and affection for the brotherhood, and who never had in his mind any evil thought whatsoever; and a certain brother stole some things and brought [them] and deposited them with him, and the man did not consider or perceive by what means the brother had obtained them.

Now some days later the matter was discovered, and it was pointed out to the owner of the things that they had been deposited with the old man, who made excuses to them, saying, “Forgive me, for I repent.” And after a few days the brother who had stolen the things came to him, and he began to demand [them from] the old man, and said unto him, “You are the one who took the things,” the old man made excuses to him, saying, “Forgive me”; and the old man brought out all the work of his hands, and gave it to him, and the brother took it and departed. Now the disposition of the old man was such that, if one of the brethren committed a fault, and denied it, he would make excuses for him, saying, “It was I who did this thing;” thus meek and humble was the holy man, and he never wronged any man even by the least word.

[Apophthegmata Patrum]

Consider others before yourself – Abba Anthony the Great

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The blessed Anthony never deemed it right to do that which was convenient for himself to the same extent as that which was profitable for his neighbour.

[Abba Anthony the Father of Monks, Apophthegmata Patrum]

Repentance comes before gifts, lean not on your own understanding – Abba Isaiah

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Do not seek the sublime gifts of God while still praying to Him for help in order that He may come and save you from sin, for, if the place of the heart is undefiled and pure, the divine gifts come of themselves. Whoever depends on his own knowledge but still possesses his own will gains only hatred, and those who hear sorrow in their heart simply cannot be of the Spirit. Whoever considers the words of Scriptures and practices them according to his own knowledge, thinking intently to himself that this is how reality is, is ignorant of God’s glory and wealth. Whereas one who considers them and says, “I do not know what they mean, for I am human,” offers glory to God. In this person the wealth of God abides in accordance with his capacity and understanding.

[Abba Isaiah of Scetis, Discourse 6]