Sunday, May 21, 2006


At Matins - from Nocturn I, Lesson iii
St Peter Epistle c.1; 13-21

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

Nocturn ii
From the Book of St Ambrose, Bishop, on the faith in the resurrection
Lesson iv-vi
The Wisdom of God could not die. And what could not die could not rise from the dead. Therefore the Wisdom of God took to himself flesh which could die, so that that what is wont to die (as is its nature) might die, and rise again. Moreover the resurrection of the dead could not come otherwise than by man ; for since by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection of the dead. Therefore, as Man, he arose again, since it was as Man that he had died. And thus Manhood was quickened but the Godhead was the Quickener. He was Man, then, as touching the flesh ; but now he is God over all things. For we know Christ no longer after the flesh ; but we owe it to the flesh that we know him as the first-fruits of them that slept, and the first-begotten of the dead.
The first fruits are of the same kind and nature as the other fruits, and they are brought as an offering to God, to win his blessing on the ingathering ; an holy offering made on behalf of all, and as it were the homage of restored nature. Christ then is the first-fruits of them that sleep. But is he the first fruits only of his own beloved ones? That is, only of those who fall asleep in him, and lie as it were untouched by death, wrapt in a sweet slumber? Or is he the first-fruits of all the dead? But (as Scripture saith) as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. So that, as in Adam were the first-fruits of the death, wherein all do die, even so in Christ were the first-fruits of the resurrection, wherein we all do rise again. But let no man be hopeless ; neither let the righteous think it a belittlement of righteousness that the resurrection will be common to all men ; for the righteous do rightly look forward to that day wherein the harvest of his life will nobly realize itself. All indeed shall rise again, but, as saith the Apostle : Every man in his own order. The harvest of God's mercy will be for all, but in reward one man shall differ from another.
We note how grievous an outrage against God it is not to believe in the resurrection. If we shall not rise again, then did Christ die in vain, then is Christ not risen. For if he rose for us, and if he had not us to rise for, then certainly, he is not risen. In him the world, in him the heavens, in him the earth rose again. For there shall be a new heaven, and a new earth. He needed not to rise again, so far as it concerned himself, whom death could not hold in bonds. For although he died as Man, yet was he free in the netherworld itself. Wouldest thou hear how free? I am as a man that hath no strength, free among the dead. Well is he called free, who was able to take up his life again at will, even as he had said : Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Well is he called free, who descended into hell only to redeem others therefrom.

Benediction 7: May the Gospel's holy lection be our safeguard and protection.
R. Amen.