30 November 2008

Advent 3: The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth

Today we celebrate the Third Sunday of the Advent season, commemorating the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, and of Christ Jesus to his Forerunner, John. Often times the latter portion of this great mystery remains unspoken, but in today's Office of Readings, Ambrose of Milan's words from his Commentary on Luke speak eloquently of the double visitation that occured on that day in the Judean highlands.


From a Commentary on the Gospel of Luke by Ambrose of Milan.

When the angel revealed his message to the Virgin Mary he gave her a sign to win her trust. He told her of the motherhood of an old and barren woman to show that God is able to do all that he wills.

When Mary hears this, she sets out for the hill country. She does not disbelieve God’s word; she feels no uncertainty over the message or doubt about the sign. She goes forth, eager in purpose, dutiful in conscience, hastening for joy.

Filled with God, where would she rush but to the heights? The Holy Spirit does not proceed by slow, laborious efforts. Quickly, too, the blessings of her coming and the Lord’s presence are made clear: as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting the child leapt in her womb, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Notice the contrast and the choice of words. Elizabeth is the first to hear Mary’s voice, but John is the first to be aware of grace. She hears with the ears of the body, but he leaps for joy at the meaning of the mystery. She is aware of Mary’s presence, but he is aware of the Lord’s: a woman aware of a woman’s presence, the forerunner aware of the pledge of our salvation. The women speak of the grace they have received while the children are active in secret, unfolding the mystery of love with the help of their mothers, who prophesy by the spirit of their sons.

The child leaps in the womb; the mother is filled with the Holy Spirit, but not before her son. Once the son has been filled with the Holy Spirit, he fills his mother with the same Spirit. John leaps for joy, and the spirit of Mary rejoices in turn. When John leaps for joy Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, but we know that though Mary’s spirit rejoices, she does not need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Her son, who is beyond our understanding, is active in his mother in a way beyond our understanding. Elizabeth is filled with the Holly Spirit after conceiving John, while Mary is filled with the Holy Spirit before conceiving the Lord. Elizabeth says: Blessed are you because you have believed.

You also are blessed because you have heard and believed. A soul that believes both conceives and brings forth the Word of God and acknowledges his works.

Let Mary’s soul be in each of you to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Let her spirit be in each of you to rejoice in the Lord. Christ has only one mother in the flesh, but we all bring forth Christ in faith. Every soul receives the Word of God if only it keeps chaste, remaining pure and free from sin, its modesty undefiled. The soul that succeeds in this proclaims the greatness of the Lord, just as Mary’s soul magnified the Lord; just as her spirit rejoiced in God her Savior.

Elsewhere in Scripture we hear the words “Magnify the Lord with me”. The Lord is magnified, not because our voice can add anything to God, but because he is magnified within us. Christ is the image of God, and if the soul does what is right and holy, it magnifies that image of God, in whose likeness it was created and, in magnifying the image of God, the soul has a share in its greatness and is exalted.

23 November 2008

Advent 2: The Annunciation of our Lord to Mary

Today is the second of six Advent Sundays in the calendar of the Church year of many Syriac Churches, and in our own local calendar. Our readings retell the marvelous day of the Incarnation, when Christ Jesus was made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

Instead of giving you my own words today, I would like to share words that are far wiser and more ancient than anything I could come up with on my own. These words are taken from today's Office of Readings, and come from a letter penned by Leo of Rome (i.e., Leo the Great) to Flavian.


Majesty took on humility, strength weakness, eternity mortality; and for the paying off of the debt belonging to our condition a nature that is incapable of suffering was joined to one that could. Thus, in keeping with the needs of our case , one and the same Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, was able to die in one nature, and unable to die in the other.

Thus in the whole and perfect nature of true man was true God born, complete in what was his own, complete in what was ours. And by ours we mean what the Creator formed in us from the beginning and what he undertook to repair. For what the Deceiver brought in and man, being misled, committed, had no trace in the Savior. Though he partook of man’s weaknesses, he did not share our faults.

He took the form of a slave without stain of sin, increasing the human and not diminishing the divine. He emptied himself; though invisible he made himself visible, though Creator and Lord of all things he chose to share our mortality. This was the condescension of pity, not the loss of omnipotence. Accordingly he who while remaining in the form of God made man, was also made man in the form of a slave. Both natures retain their own proper character without loss: and as the form of God did not do away with the form of a slave, so the form of a slave did not impair the form of God. Thus the Son of God enters into our lowly world, descending from his heavenly home and yet not relinquishing his Father's glory. He is born in a new condition, by a new birth.

He was born in a new condition, for, invisible in his own nature, he became visible in ours. He whom nothing could contain was content to be contained. Existing before all time, he began to exist at a moment in time. Lord of the cosmos, he obscured his immeasurable majesty and took upon himself the form of a servant. Incapable, as God, of suffering, he did not disdain our humanity which is capable of suffering. Immortal, he chose to be subject to the laws of death.

The Lord Jesus assumed his mother’s nature without her faults; and, in spite of his wonderous virgin birth, his human nature is not unlike our own. He who is true God is also true man. There is no falsehood in this unity as long as the humility of manhood and the loftiness of the Godhead co-exist together.

As God is not changed by the showing of pity, man is not swallowed up by God’s dignity. Both natures exercises its own activity, in unity with the other. The Word performs what is proper to the Word, and the flesh performs what is proper to the flesh. One nature shines forth with miracles, while the other succumbs to injuries. And as the Word does not loose equality with the Father’s glory, so the flesh does not leave behind the nature of our race. It must again and again be repeated: one and the same is truly Son of God and truly Son of Man.

God in that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”; man in that “the Word became flesh and dwelt in us.” God in that “all things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made”; man in that “He was made of a woman, made under law.”

The nativity of the flesh was the manifestation of human nature: the childbearing of a virgin is the proof of Divine power.

21 November 2008

New Review at TrekMovie.com

Delayed by fire and a need to reship the book, my review of the final installment of the Destiny trilogy, "Lost Souls" hit the web yesterday over at TrekMovie.com. Enjoy!

17 November 2008

Because Some Things Just Won't Die

TrekMovie.com has just posted a new promo that will begin running in December for the 're-mastered' Star Trek: Original Series episodes that are now avaliable in syndication.

I'll definately keep my original discs, but this promo is just too funny to pass up.

16 November 2008

Advent 1: The Annunciation of John the Forerunner

Today, those of us who are beginning Advent are celebrating the Annunciation and Conception of John the Forerunner. I wanted to draw your attention to an outstanding and timely homily on the topic at the website of St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas.

You can read the homily at this link.
Over the next several weeks, we will be hearing about the unfolding of our Lord's first Advent on the Sundays of the season, while recalling that his second Advent is immanent throughout the weekdays that follow.
May God bless you and your families during this Advent Season.

03 November 2008

Things Come, Things Go, but God Stays the Same

It's been one heck of a day.  I was planning to blog about the Colts beating my Patriots last night, but a local television station can tell you more about why that post is not being made today...  CLICK HERE

I was at home when the fire started, but was given warning by the Fire Department and evacuated.  Our apartment suffered extensive smoke damage (read: everything stinks!) but we have been moved to a temporary residence tonight, and have already had a washer installed (with furniture on its way).  

My hats off to the firefighters who responded from Franklin Township and the Beech Grove Fire Department (I thought I may have seen one other department there... but I am not sure).  Nobody was hurt.  God was watching out for us today, and while our couch may stink, and our main work for the next week will be washing clothes, we have our lives and our health... and in the end, that's enough for me.

To that end, please pardon me if, for the next several days I am somewhat quiet... but we have a lot of work to get done.  We are planning on moving our closing date up a few days (as much as we can) and we actually have a place to go.  Please be in prayer for those who do not.

All original material (C) 2007-2010 by Father Robert Lyons.

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