14 December 2008

Advent 5: The Ancestors of our Lord

Today is the Fifth Sunday of Advent. "Fifth Sunday, you say?" Fret not. The calendar of the Syriac Churches (and of the Ambrosian rite, as well as some other historical western rites) feature a longer Advent season.

Today's readings pose an interesting look at the nature of faith and how justification by faith through grace truly operates. We are reminded in our Lord's genealogy (from the Gospel at today's Divine Liturgy) of the many sinner-saints who stand in our Lord's worldly lineage.

In the Office of Readings today, we once again hear from Augustine of Hippo (Sermon 185) who reminds us that it is God's grace that the Ancestors of our Lord needed for salvation, just as we do as well.


From a Sermon of Augustine of Hippo.
(Sermon 185)

Awake! For your sake God has taken on our flesh. “Awake, you who sleep, rise from the dead, and Christ will bring you new light.” I reiterate, for your sake, God became man!

You would have suffered eternal death if he had not been born among us in time. You would have never found freedom from sinful flesh if he had not taken upon himself our nature. You would have suffered everlasting unhappiness if it had not been for his great mercy. You would never have been reborn if he had not shared your death. You would have been lost had he not come to your aid. Likewise, if he had not come, you would have perished.

So, let us joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption! “He has become our righteousness, our sanctification, our redemption.” Thus, as it is written, “All you who glory, glory in the Lord.”

“Truth, then, has arisen from the earth”: Christ himself, who said, “I am the truth” was born of a virgin. “And righteousness looked down from heaven”: because believing in this newborn child, we are justified not by ourselves but by God.

“Truth has arisen from the earth”: because “the Word was made flesh. And righteousness looked down from heaven”: because “every good and perfect gift comes from above.”

“Truth has arisen from the earth”: flesh from Mary. “And righteousness looked down from heaven”: for “you can receive nothing unless it has been given to you from heaven.”

“Justified by faith, let us be at peace with God”: for “righteousness and peace have embraced one another. Through our Lord Jesus Christ”: for “Truth has arisen from the earth. Through whom we have access to that grace in which we stand, and our boast is in our hope of God’s glory.” He does not say, “of our glory,” but “of God’s glory”: for “righteousness” has not proceeded from us but has “looked down from heaven.” Therefore let those who glory, glory not in themselves but “in the Lord.”

For this reason, when our Lord was born of the Virgin, the message of the angels was “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.” How could peace reign on earth unless “Truth has arisen from the earth,” that is, unless Christ was born of our flesh?

Let us rejoice in this grace, so that our glorying may bear witness to our good conscience by which we glory, not in ourselves, but in the Lord. That is why Scripture says, “He is my glory, the one who lifts up my head.” For what greater grace could God have made to dawn on us than to make his only Son become the Son of Man, so that we might in turn become children and heirs of God?

Ask if this were merited.
Ask for its reason and justification.
Behold, your only answer is grace.


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

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