Ephraim, Apapphrat 1202
Blessed be that Child, Who gladdened Bethlehem to-day! Blessed be the Babe Who made manhood young again to-day! Blessed be the Fruit, Who lowered Himself to our famished state! Blessed be the Good One, Who suddenly enriched our necessitousness and supplied our needs! Blessed He Whose tender mercies made Him condescend to visit our infirmities!
Praise to the Fountain that was sent1 for our propitiation. Praise be to Him Who made void the Sabbath by fulfilling it! Praise too to Him Who rebuked the leprosy and it remained not, Whom the fever saw and fled! Praise to the Merciful, Who bore our toil! Glory to Thy coming, which quickened the sons of men!
Glory to Him, Who came to us by His first-born! Glory to the Silence,2 that spake by His Voice. Glory to the One on high, Who was seen by His Day-spring! Glory to the Spiritual, Who was pleased to have a Body, that in it His virtue might be felt, and He might by that Body show mercy on His household’s bodies!
Glory to that Hidden One, Whose Son was made manifest! Glory to that Living One, Whose Son was made to die! Glory to that Great One, Whose Son descended and was small! Glory to the Power Who did straiten His greatness by a form, His unseen nature by a shape! With eye and mind we have beheld Him, yea with both of them.
Glory to that Hidden One, Who even with the mind cannot be felt at all by them that pry into Him; but by His graciousness was felt by the hand of man! The Nature that could not be touched, by His hands was bound and tied, by His feet was pierced and lifted up. Himself of His own will He embodied for them that took Him.
Blessed be He Whom free will crucified, because He let it: blessed be He Whom the wood also did bear, because He allowed it. Blessed be He Whom the grave bound, that had [thereby] a limit set it. Blessed be He Whose own will brought Him to the Womb and Birth, to arms and to increase [in stature]. Blessed He whose changes purchased life for human nature.3
Blessed He Who sealed our soul, and adorned it and espoused it to Himself. Blessed He Who made our Body a tabernacle for His unseen Nature. Blessed He Who by our tongue interpreted His secret things. Let us praise that Voice whose glory is hymned with our lute, and His virtue with our harp. The Gentiles have assembled and have come to hear His strains.
Glory to the Son of the Good One, Whom the sons of the evil one rejected! Glory to the Son of the Just One, Whom the sons of wickedness crucified! Glory to Him Who loosed us, and was bound for us all! Glory to Him Who gave the pledge, and redeemed it too! Glory to the Beautiful, Who conformed us to His image! Glory to that Fair One, Who looked not to our foulnesses!
Glory to Him Who sowed His Light in the darkness,4 and was reproached in His hidden state, and covered His secret things. He also stripped and took off from us the clothing of our filthiness.5 Glory be to Him on high, Who mixed His salt6 in our minds, His leaven in our souls. His Body became Bread, to quicken our deadness).
Praise to the Rich, Who paid for us all, that which He borrowed not;7 and wrote [His bill], and also became our debtor! By His yoke He brake from us the chains of him that led us captive. Glory to the Judge Who was judged, and made His Twelve to sit in judgment on the tribes, and by ignorant men condemned the scribes of that nation!
Glory to Him Who could never be measured by us! Our heart is too small for Him, yea our mind is too feeble. He makes foolish our littleness by the riches of His Wisdom. Glory to Him, Who lowered Himself, and asked;8 that He might hear and learn that which He knew; that He might by His questions reveal the treasure of His helpful graces!
Let us adore Him Who enlightened with His doctrine our mind, and in our hearing sought a pathway for His words. Praise we Him Who grafted into our tree His fruit. Thanks to Him Who sent His Heir, that by Him He might draw us to Himself, yea make us heirs with Him! Thanks to that Good One, the cause of all goods!
Blessed He Who did not chide, because that He was good! Blessed He Who did not spurn, because that He was just also! Blessed He Who was silent, and rebuked; that He might quicken us with both! Severe His silence and reproachful. Mild His severity even When He was accusing; for He rebuked the traitor, and kissed the thief.
Glory to the hidden Husbandman of our intellects! His seed fell on to our ground, and made our mind rich. His increase came an hundredfold into the treasury of our souls! Let us adore Him Who sat down and took rest; and walked in the way, so that the Way was in the way, and the Door also for them that go in,9 by which they go in to the kingdom.
Blessed the Shepherd Who became a Lamb for our reconcilement! Blessed the Branch Who became the Cup of our Redemption! Blessed also be the Cluster, Fount of medicine of life! Blessed also be the Tiller, Who became Wheat, that He might be sown; and a Sheaf,10 that He might be cut![Blessed be] the Architect Who became a Tower for our place of safety!11 Blessed He Who so tempered the feelings of our mind,12 that we with our harp should sing that which the winged creatures’ mouth knows not with its strains to sing! Glory to Him, Who beheld how we had pleased to be like to brutes in our rage and our greediness; and came down and was one of us, that we might become heavenly!
Glory be to Him, Who never felt the need of our praising Him; yet felt the need as being kind to us, and thirsted13 as loving us, and asks us to give to Him, and longs to give to us. His fruit was mingled with us men, that in Him we might come nigh to Him, Who condescended to us. By the Fruit of His stem He grafted us into His Tree.
Let us praise Him, Who prevailed and quickened us by His stripes! Praise we Him, Who took away the curse by His thorns! Praise we Him Who put death to death by His dying! Praise we Him, Who held His peace and justified us! Praise we Him, Who rebuked death that had overcome us! Blessed He, Whose helpful graces cleansed out the left side!14
Praise we Him Who watched and put to sleep him that led us captive. Praise we Him Who went to sleep, and chased our deep sleep away. Glory be to God Who cured weak manhood! Glory be to Him Who was baptized, and drowned our iniquity in the deep, and choked him15 that choked us! Let us glorify with all our mouths the Lord of all creatures!
Blessed be the Physician Who came down and amputated without pain, and healed wounds with a medicine that was not harsh. His Son became a Medicine, that showed sinners mercy. Blessed be He Who dwelt in the womb, and wrought therein a perfect Temple, that He might dwell in it, a Throne that He might be in it, a Garment that He might be arrayed in it, and a Weapon that He might conquer in it.
Blessed be He Whom our mouth cannot adequately praise, because His Gift is too great for skill of orators [to tell]; neither can the faculties adequately praise His goodness. For praise Him as we may, it is too little.
And since it is useless to be silent and to constrain ourselves, may our feebleness excuse such praise as we can sing.
How gracious He, Who demands not more than our strength can give! How would Thy servant be condemned in capital and interest, did he not give such as he could, and did he refuse that which He owed! Ocean of glory Who needest not to have Thy glory sung, take in Thy goodness this drop of praise; since by Thy Gift Thou hast supplied my tongue a sense for glorifying Thee.
1 There is perhaps an allusion here to the pool of Siloam, which comes from the root employed in the original.
2 This name is given by St. E. to the Father, to suggest to the mind that there was a period when the Father had not begun to work by His Word.
3 St. E. seems to mean, that whereas the alterations man undergoes in his body tend ultimately to decay the same when undergone by our Lord tended to life.
4 (Ps 97,11.
5 (Za 3,3,
6 (Mc 9,49,
7 (Ps 69,4, Lc 16,6,
8 (Lc 2,46,
9 (Jn x.9, xiv.6
10 Alluding to the wave-offering, Lv 23,11, which was ordinarily interpreted of Christ.
11 (Ps 61,3,
12 (Pr 18,10,
13 Mt 25,40.
14 Allusion is here made perhaps to Qo 10,2, “a wise man’s heart is at his right hand, but a fool’s heart is at his left.”
15 (Lc viii.33.
Blessed be that first day of thine, Lord, wherewith this day of Thy Feast is stamped I Thy day is like Thee, in that it shows mercy unto men, in that it is handed down and comes with all generations.
This is the day that ends with the aged, and returns that it may begin with the young! a day that by its love refreshes itself, that it may refresh by its might us decayed creatures. Thy day when it had visited us and passed, and gone away, in its mercy returned and visited us again: for it knows that human nature needs it; in all things like unto Thee as seeking us.
The world is in want of its fountain; and for it, Lord, as for Thee, all therein are athirst. This is the day that rules over the seasons! the dominion of Thy day is like Thine, which stretches over generations that have come, and are to come! Thy day is like unto Thee, because when it is one, it buds and multiplies itself, that it may be like Thee!
In this Thy day, Lord, which is near unto us, we see Thy Birth that is far off! Like to Thee be Thy day to us, Lord; let it be a mediator and a warranter of peace.
Thy day reconciled Heaven and earth, because therein the Highest came down to the lowest.
Thy day was able to reconcile the Just One, who was wroth at our sins; Thy day forgave thousands of sins, for in it bowels of mercy shone forth upon the guilty!
Great, Lord, is Thy day; let it not be small upon us, let it show mercy according as it used to do, upon us transgressors!
And if every day, Lord, Thy forgiveness wells forth, how exceeding great should itbe upon this day! All the days from the Treasure of Thy bright day gain blessings. All the feasts from the stores of this feast have their fairness and their ornaments. Thy bowels of mercy upon Thy day make Thou to abound unto us, O Lord! Make us to distinguish Thy day from all days! for great is the treasure-house of the day of Thy Birth; let it be the ransomer of debtors! Great is this day above all days, for in it came forth mercy to sinners. A store of medicines is this Thy great day, because on it shone forth the Medicine of Life to the wounded! A treasure of helpful graces is this day, for that on it Light gleamed forth upon our blindness! Yea, it also brought a sheaf unto us; and it came, that from it might flow plenty upon our hunger. This day is that forerunning Cluster, in which the cup of salvation was concealed! This day is the first-born feast, which, being born the first, overcomes all feasts. In the winter which strips the fruit of the branches off from the barren vine, Fruit sprang up1 unto us; in the cold that bares all the trees, a shoot was green for us of the house of Jesse. In December2 when the seed is hidden in the earth, there sprouted forth from the Womb the Ear of Life. In March3 when the seed was sprouting in the air, a Sheaf4 sowed itself in the earth. The harvest thereof, Death devoured it in Hell; which the Medicine of life that is hidden therein did yet burst open! In March when the lambs bleat in the wilderness, into the Womb the Paschal Lamb entered! Out of the stream whence the fishers came up,5 He was baptized and came up Who incloses all things in his net; out of the stream the fish whereof Simon took, out of it the Fisher of men came up, and took him. With the Cross which catches all robbers, He caught up unto life that robber!6 The Living by His death emptied Hell, He unloosed it and let fly away from it entire multitudes! The publicans and harlots, the impure snares, the snares of the deceitful fowler the Holy One seized! The sinful woman, who was a snare for men, He made a mirror for penitent women! The fig that cast its fruit, that refused fruit,7 offered Zacchaeus as fruit; the fruit of its own nature it gave not, but it yielded one reasonable fruit! The Lord spread His thirst over the well, and caught her that was thirsty with the water that He asked of her. He caught one soul at the well, and again caught with her the whole city:8 twelve fishers the Holy One caught, and again caught with them the whole world. As for Iscariot, that escaped from His nets, the strangling halter fell upon his neck! His all-quickening net catches the living,9 and he that escapes from it escapes from the living.
And who is able, Lord, to tell me up the several succours that are hid in Thee? How shall the parched mouth be able to drink from the Fountain of the Godhead! Answer today the voice of our petition; let our prayer which is in words take effect in deeds. Heal us, O my Master; every time that we see Thy Feast, may it cause rumours that we have heard to pass away. Our mind wanders amid these voices. O Voice of the Father, still [other] voices; the world is noisy, in Thee let it gain itself quiet; for by Thee the sea was stilled from its storms. The devils rejoiced when they heard the voice of blasphemy: let the Watchers rejoice in us as they are wont.10 From amongst Thy fold there is the voice of sorrowfulness; O Thou that makest all rejoice,11 let Thy flock rejoice! as for our murmur, O my Master, in it reject us not: our mouth murmurs since it is sinful. Let Thy day, O Lord, give us all manner of joy, with the flowers12 of peace, let us keep Thy passover. In the day of Thy Ascension we are lifted up:13 with the new Bread shall be the memorial thereof. O Lord, increase our peace, that we may keep three feasts of the Godhead. Great is Thy day, Lord, let us not be despised. All men honour the day of Thy birth. Thou righteous One, keep Thou the glory of Thy birth; for even Herod honoured the day of His birth! The dances of the impure one pleased the tyrant; to Thee, Lord, let the voice of chaste women be sweet! Thee, Lord, let the voice of chaste women please, whose bodies Thou guardest holily. The day of Herod was like him: Thy day too is like Thee! The day of the troubled one was troubled with sin; and fair as Thou art is Thy fair day! The feast of the tyrant killed the preacher; in Thy feast every man preaches glory. On the day of the murderer, the Voice14 was put to silence; but on Thy day are the voices of the feast. The foul one in his feast put out the Light, that darkness might cover the adulterers. The season of the Holy One trims lamps, that darkness may flee with the hidden things thereof. The day of that fox15 stank like himself; but holy is the feast of the True Lamb.16 The day of the transgressor passed17 away like himself; Thy day like Thyself abideth for ever. The day of the tyrant raged like himself, because with his chain it put to silence the righteous Voice. The feast of the Meek One is tranquil like Himself, because His sum shines upon His persecutors. The tyrant was conscious that He was not a king, therefore to the King of kings he gave place. The whole day, Lord, suffices me not to balance Thy praise with his blame. May Thy Gracious day cause my sin to pass away, seeing that it is with the day of the impure one, that I have weighed Thy day! For great is Thy day beyond comparison! nor can it be compared with our days. The day of man is as of the earthy: the day of God is as of God! Thy day, Lord, is greater than those of the prophets,18 and I have taken and set it beside that of the murderer! Thou knowest, O Lord, as knowing all things, how to hear the comparison that my tongue hath made. Let Thy day grant our requests for life, since his day granted the request for death. The needy king swore on his feast that half his kingdom should be the reward of the dance! Let Thy feast then, O Thou that enrichest all, shed down in mercy a crumb of fine wheat flour! From the dry land gushed the Fountain, which sufficed to satisfy the thirst of the Gentiles! From the Virgin’s womb as from a strong rock sprouted up the seed, whence was much fruit! Barns without number did Joseph fill;19 and they were emptied and failed in the years of the famine. One true Sheaf gave bread; the bread of Heaven, whereof there is no stint. The bread which the First-born brake in the wilderness,20 failed and passed away though very good. He returned again and broke the New Bread21 which ages and generations shall not waste away! The seven loaves also that He brake failed,22 and the five loaves too that He multiplied were consumed;23 the Bread that He brake exceeded the world’s needs, for the more it was divided, the more it multiplied exceedingly. With much wine also He filled the waterpots; they drew it out, yet it failed though it was abundant: of the Cup that He gave though the draught was small, very great was its strength, so that there is no stint thereto. A Cup is He24 that contains all strong wines, and also a Mystery in the midst of which He Himself is! The one Bread that He brake has no bound, and the one Cup that He mingled has no stint!25 The Wheat that was sown,26 on the third day came up and filled the Garner of Life.27 The spiritual Bread, as the Giver of it, quickens the spiritual spiritually, and he that receives it carnally, receives it rashly to no profit. This Bread of grace let the spirit receive discerningly, as the medicine of Life. If the dead sacrifices in the name of devils were offered,28 yea eaten, not without a mystery; at the holy thing of the offering, how much more does it behove us that this mystery be circumspectly administered by us. He that eateth of the sacrifice in the name of devils, becomes devilish without all contra- diction. He that eateth the Heavenly Bread, becomes Heavenly without doubt! Wine teaches us, in that it makes him that is familiar therewith like itself: for it hates much him that is fond of it, and is intoxicating and maddening, and a mocker29 to him! Light teaches us, in that it makes like unto itself the eye the daughter of the sun: the eye by the light saw the nakedness, and ran and chastely hid the chaste man.30 As for that nakedness it was wine that made it, which even to the chaste skills not to show mercy!
With the weapon of the deceiver the First-born clad Himself, that with the weapon that killed, He might restore to life again! With the tree wherewith he slew us, He delivered us. With the wine which maddened us, with it we were made chaste! With the rib that was drawn out of Adam, the wicked one drew out the heart of Adam. There rose from the Rib31 a hidden power, which cut off Satan as Dagon: for in that Ark a book was hidden that cried and proclaimed concerning the Conqueror! There was then a mystery revealed, in that Dagon was brought low in his own place of refuge!32 The accomplishment came after the type, in that the wicked one was brought low in the place in which he trusted! Blessed be He Who came and in Him were accomplished the mysteries of the left hand, and the right hand.33 Fulfilled was the mystery that was in the Lamb, and fulfilled was the type that was in Dagon. Blessed is He Who by the True Lamb redeemed us, and destroyed our destroyer as He did Dagon! In December when the nights are long, rose unto us the Day, of Whom there is no bound! In winter when all the world is gloomy, forth came the Fair One Who cheered all in the world! In winter that makes the earth barren, virginity learned to bring forth. In December, that causes the travails of the earth to cease, in it were the travails of virginity. The early lamb no one ever used to see before the shepherds: and as for the true Lamb, in the season of His birth, the tidings of Him too hasted unto the shepherds. That old wolf saw the sucking Lamb, and he trembled before Him, though He had concealed himself; for because the wolf had put on sheep’s clothing, the Shepherd of all became a Lamb in the flocks, in order that when the greedy one had been bold against the Meek, the Mighty One might rend that Eater.34 The Holy One dwelt bodily in the womb; and He dwelt spiritually in the mind. Mary that conceived Him abhorred the marriage bed; let not that soul commit whoredom in the which He dwelleth. Because Mary perceived Him, she left her betrothed: He dwelleth in chaste virgins, if they perceive Him.35 The deaf perceive not the mighty thunder, neither does the heady man the sound of the commandment. For the deaf is bewildered in the time of the thunderclap, the heady man is bewildered also at the voice of instruction; if fearful thunder terrifies the deaf, then would fearful wrath stir the unclean! That the deaf hears not is no blame to him; but whoso tramples [on the commandments] it is headiness. From time to time there is thunder: but the voice of the law thunders every day. Let us not close our ears when their openings, as being opened and not closed against it, accuse us; and the door of hearing is open by nature, that it might reproach us for our headiness against our will. The door of the voice and the door of the mouth our will can open or close. Let us see what the Good One has given us; and let us hear the mighty Voice, and let not the doors of our ears be closed.
Glory to that Voice Which became Body, and to the Word of the High One Which became Flesh! Hear Him also, O ears, and see Him, O eyes, and feel Him, O hands, and eat Him, O mouth! Ye members and senses give praise unto Him, that came and quickened the whole body! Mary bare the silent Babe, while in Him were hidden all tongues! Joseph bare Him, and in Him was hidden a nature more ancient than aught that is old! The High One became as a little child, and in Him was hidden a treasure of wisdom sufficing for all! Though Most High, yet He sucked the milk of Mary, and of His goodness all creatures suck! He is the Breast of Life, and the Breath of Life; the dead suck from His life and revive. Without the breath of the air no man lives, without the Might of the Son no man subsists. On His living breath that quickeneth all, depend the spirits that are above and that are beneath. When He sucked the milk of Mary, He was suckling all with Life. While He was lying on His Mother’s bosom, in His bosom were all creatures lying. He was silent as a Babe, and yet He was making His creatures execute all His commands. For without the First-born no man can approach unto the Essence, to which He is equal. The thirty years He was in the earth, Who was ordering all creatures, Who was receiving all the offerings of praise from those above and those below. He was wholly in the depths and wholly in the highest! He was wholly with all things and wholly with each. While His body was forming within the womb, His power was fashioning all members! While the Conception of the Son was fashioning in the womb, He Himself was fashioning babes in the womb.36 Yet not as His body was weak in the womb, was His power weak in the womb! So too not as His body was feeble by the Cross, was His might also feeble by the Cross. For when on the Cross He quickened the dead, His Body quickened them, yea, rather His Will; just as when He was dwelling wholly in the womb, His hidden Will was visiting all! For see how, when He was wholly hanging upon the Cross, His Power was yet making all creatures move! For He darkened the sun and made the earth quake; He rent the graves and brought forth the dead! See how when He was wholly on the Cross, yet again He was wholly everywhere! Thus was He entirely in the womb, while He was again wholly in everything! While on the Cross He quickened the dead, so while a Babe He was fashioning babes. While He was slain, He opened the graves;37 while He was in the womb, He opened wombs. Come hearken, my brethren, concerning the Son of the Secret One that was revealed in His Body, while His Power was concealed! For the Power of the Son is a free Power; the womb did not bind it up, as it did the Body! For while His Power was dwelling in the womb, He was fashioning infants in the womb! His Power compassed her, that compassed Him. For if He drew in His Power, all things would fall; His Power upholds all things; while He was within the womb, He left not His hold of all. He in His own Person shaped an Image in the womb, and was shaping in all wombs all countenances. Whilst He was increasing in stature among the poor, from an abundant treasury He was nourishing all!38 While she that anointed Him was anointing Him, with His dew and His rain He was anointing all! The Magi brought myrrh and gold, while in Him was hidden a treasure of riches. The myrrh and spices which He had prepared and created, did the Magi bring Him of His own. It was by Power from Him that Mary was able to bear in Her bosom Him that bears up all things! It was from the great storehouse of all creatures, Mary gave Him all which she did give Him!39 She gave Him milk from Himself that prepared it, she gave Him food from Himself that made it! He gave milk unto Mary as God: again He sucked it from her, as the Son of Man. Her hands bare Him in that He had emptied. His strength; and her arm embraced Him, in that He had made Himself small. The measure of His Majesty who has measured? He caused His measures to shrink into a Raiment. She wove for Him and clothed Him because He had put off His glory. She measured Him and wove for Him, since He had made Himself little).
The sea when it bore Him was still and calmed, and how came the lap of Joseph to bear Him? The womb of hell conceived Him and was burst open, and how did the womb of Mary contain Him? The stone that was over the grave He broke open by His might, and how could Mary’s arm contain Him? Thou camest to a low estate, that Thou mightest raise all to life! Glory be unto Thee from all that are quickened by Thee! Who is able to speak of the Son of the Hidden One who came down and clothed Himself with a Body in the womb? He came forth and sucked milk as a child, and among little children the Son of the Lord of all crept about. They saw Him as a little Child in the street, while there was dwelling in Him the Love of all. Visibly children surrounded Him in the street; secretly Angels surrounded Him in fear. Cheerful was He with the little ones as a child; awful was He with the Angels as a Commander: He was awful to John for him to loose His shoe’s latchet: He was gentle to sinners that kissed His feet! The Angels as Angels saw Him; according to the measure of his knowledge each man beheld Him: according to the measure of each man’s discernment, thus he perceived Him that is greater than all. The Father and Himself alone are a full measure of knowledge so as know Him as He is! For every creature whether above or below obtains each his measure of knowledge; He the Lord of all gives all to us. He that enriches all, requires usury of all. He gives to all things as wanting nothing, and yet requires usury of all as if needy. He gave us herds and flocks as Creator, and yet asked sacrifices as though in need. He made the water wine as Maker: and yet he drank of it as a poor man. Of His own He mingled [wine] in the marriage feast, His wine He mingled and gave to drink when He was a guest. In His love He multiplied [the days of] the aged Simeon; that he, a mortal, might present Him who quickeneth all. By power from Him did Simeon carry Him; he that presented Him, was by Him presented [to God]. He gave imposition of hands to Moses in the Mount,40 and received it in the midst of the river from John. In the power of His gifts John was enabled to baptize, though earthy, the heavenly. By power from Him the earth supported Him: it was nigh to being dissolved, and His might strengthened it. Martha gave Him to eat: viands which He had created she placed before Him. Of His own all that give have made their vows: of His own treasures they placed upon His table.
1 Is 5,2.
4 Lv 23,10.
5 (Ez 47,10, etc.
6 (Lc 23,43.
7 St. E. seems to blend here the account of the withering of the fig-tree and that of Zacchaeus climbing into the wild fig tree, as the Peshitto renders it.
8 (Jn 4,42,
9 Mt 13,47.
10 Mt 18,10.
11 (Lc 15,7,
12 Flowers used at Easter in the Churches are here alluded to.
13 (Jn 20,17,
14 This was a common name of old for St. John Baptist, with allusion to St. Jn 1,23
15 (Lc 13,32,
16 It may be well to observe once for all, that true is often use, as in Jn 15,1, for “real,” in opposition to “typical,” as in Scripture, so in the Fathers.
17 The same Syriac verb means to pass, and to transgress.
18 It might seem from this that there were some days kept in their honour in the East.
19 (Gn 41,49,
20 (Jn 6,1, etc.
21 p. 227.
22 Mt 15,36.
23 Mt 14,17.
24 (Ps 16,5
25 (Pr 9,5,
26 (Jn 12,24
27 Mt 13,30.
28 1Co 10,20.
29 (Pr 20,1,
30 (Gn 9,23,
31 (Gn 3,15,
32 1S 5,4.
33 Mt 25,33
34 (Jg 14,6,
35 Mt 5,28.
36 (Ps 139,16,
37 Mt 27,52.
38 p.11. n. d.
39 (Jr 31,22
40 (Ex 33,22.
This is the month which brings all manner of joy; it is the freedom of the bondsmen, the pride of the free, the crown of the gates, the soothing of the body, that also in its love put purple upon us as upon kings.
This is the month that brings all manner of victories; it frees the spirit; it subdues the body; it brings forth life among mortals; it caused, in its love, Godhead, to dwell in Manhood.
In this day the Lord exchanged glory for shame, as being humble; because Adam changed the truth for unrighteousness as being a rebel: the Good One had mercy on him, justified and set right them that had turned aside.
Let every man chase away his weariness, since that Majesty was not wearied with being in the womb nine months for us, and in being thirty years in Sodom among the madmen.1
Because the Good One saw that the race of man was poor and humbled, He made feasts as a treasure-house, and opened them to the slothful, that the feast might stir up the slothful one to rise and be rich).
Lo! The First-born has opened unto us His feast as a treasure-house. This one day in the whole year alone opens that treasure-house: come, let us make gain, let us grow rich from it, ere they shut it up.
Blessed be the watchful, that have taken by force2 from it the spoil of Life. It is a great disgrace, when a man sees his neighbor take and carry out treasure, and himself sits in the treasure-house slumbering, so as to come forth empty.
In this feast, let each one of us crown the gates of his heart. The Holy Spirit longs for the gates thereof, that He may enter in and dwell there, and sanctify it, and He goes round about to all the gates to see where He may enter.
In this feast, the gates are glad before the gates,3 and the Holy One rejoices in the holy temple, and the voice resounds in the mouth of children, and Christ rejoices in His own feast as a mighty man.
At the Birth of the Son the king was enrolling all men for the tribute-money, that they might be debtors to Him: the King came forth to us Who blotted out our bills,4 and wrote another bill in His own Name that He might be our debtor. The sun gave longer light, and foreshadowed the mystery by the degrees which it had gone up.5 It was twelve days since it had gone up, and to-day is the thirteenth day: a type exact of the Son’s birth6 and of His Twelve.
Moses shut up a lamb in the month Nisan on the tenth day; a type this of the Son that came into the womb and shut Himself up therein on the tenth day.7 He came forth from the womb in this month in which the sun gives longer light.
The darkness was overcome, that it might proclaim that Satan was overcome; and the sun gave longer light, that it might triumph, because the First-born was victorious. Along with the darkness the dark one was overcome, and with the greater light our Light conquered!
Joseph caressed the Son as a Babe; he ministered to Him as God. He rejoiced in Him as in the Good One, and he was awe-struck at Him as the Just One, greatly bewildered.
“Who hath given me the Son of the Most High to be a Son to me? I was jealous of Thy Mother, and I thought to put her away, and I knew not that in her womb was hidden a mighty treasure, that should suddenly enrich my poor estate. David the king sprang of my race, and wore the crown: and I have come to a very low estate, who instead of a king am a carpenter. Yet a crown hath come to me, for in my bosom is the Lord of crowns!”
With rival words Mary burned, yea she lulled Him, [saying,] Who hath given me, the barren, that I should conceive and bring forth this One, that is manifold; a little One, that is great; for that He is wholly with me, and wholly everywhere?
The day that Gabriel came in unto my low estate, he made me free instead of a handmaid, of a sudden: for I was the handmaid of Thy Divine Nature, and am also the Mother of Thy human Nature, O Lord and Son!
Of a sudden the handmaid became the King’s daughter in Thee, Thou Son of the King. Lo, the meanest in the house of David, by reason of Thee, Thou Son of David, lo, a daughter of earth hath attained unto Heaven by the Heavenly One!
How am I astonied that there is laid before me a Child, older than all things! His eye is gazing unceasingly upon Heaven. As for the stammering of His mouth, to my seeming it betokens, that with God its silence speaks.
Who ever saw a Child the whole of Whom beholdeth every place? His look is like one that orders all creatures that are above and that are below! His visage is like that Commander that commandeth all.
How shall I open the fountain of milk to Thee, O Fountain? Or how shall I give nourishment to Thee that nourishest all from Thy Table? How shall I bring to swaddling clothes One wrapped round with rays of glory?
My mouth knows not how I shall call Thee, O Thou Child of the Living One: for to venture to call Thee as the Child of Joseph, I tremble, since Thou art not his seed: and I am fearful of denying the name of him to whom they have betrothed me.
While Thou art the Son of One, then should I be calling Thee the Son of many. For ten thousand names would not suffice Thee, since Thou art the Son of God and also the Son of man, yea, David’s Son and Mary’s Lord.
Who hath made the Lord of mouths to be without a mouth? For my pure conception of Thee wicked men have slandered me. Be, O Thou Holy One, a Speaker for Thy Mother. Show a miracle that they may be persuaded, from Whom it is that I conceived Thee!
For Thy sake too I am hated, Thou Lover of all. Lo! I am persecuted who have conceived and brought forth One House of refuge for men. Adam will rejoice, for Thou art the Key of Paradise.
Lo, the sea raged against Thy mother as against Jonah. Lo, Herod, that raging wave, sought to drown the Lord of the seas. Whither I shall flee Thou shalt teach me, O Lord of Thy Mother.
With Thee I will flee, that I may gain in Thee Life in every place. The prison with Thee is no prison, for in Thee man goes up unto Heaven: the grave with Thee is no grave, for Thou art the Resurrection!8
A star of light which was not nature, shone forth suddenly; less than the sun and greater than the sun, less than it in its visible light, but greater than it in its hidden might, by reason of its mystery.
The Morning Star cast its bright beams among the darknesses, and led them as blind men, and they came and received a great light: they gave offerings and received life, and they worshipped and returned.
In the height and the depth two preachers were there to the Son: the bright star shouted above; John also preached below, two preachers, an earthly and a heavenly.
That above showed His Nature to be from the Majesty, and that below too showed his Nature to be from mankind. O great marvel, that His Godhead and His Manhood each was preached by them.
Whoso thought Him earthly, the bright star convinced him that He was heavenly; and whoso thought Him spiritual, John convinced him that He was also corporeal.
In the Holy temple Simeon carried Him, and lulled Him, [saying,] “Thou art come, O Merciful One, showing mercy on my old age, making my bones to go into the grave in peace. In Thee shall I be raised from the grave into Paradise!”
Anna embraced Him, and put her mouth to His lips, and the Spirit dwelt upon her own lips. As when Isaiah’s mouth was silent, the coal9 which approached his lips opened his mouth; so Anna burned with the Spirit of His mouth, yea, she lulled Him, [saying,] “Son of the Kingdom, Son of the lowliness, that hearest and art still, that seest and art hidden, that knowest and art unknown, God, Son of Man, glory be unto Thy Name.”
The barren also heard, ran, and came with their provisions: the Magi came with their treasures, the barren came with their provisions. Provisions and riches were suddenly heaped up in the house of the poor.
The barren woman cried out, as at that which she looked not for, Who hath granted me this sight of thy Babe, O Blessed One, by whom the heaven and earth are filled! Blessed be thy Fruit, which made the barren vine to bear a cluster.
Zacharias came and opened his venerable mouth and cried, “Where is the King, for whose sake I have begotten the Voice that is to preach before His face? Hail, Son of the King, to whom also our Priesthood shall be given up!”
(Jn approached with his parents and worshipped the Son, and He shed glory upon his countenance; and he was not moved as when in the womb! Mighty miracle, that here he was worshipping, there he leaped.
Herod also, that base fox, that stalked about like a lion, as a fox crouched down, and howled, when he heard the roaring of the Lion, who came to sit in the kingdom according to the Scriptures. The fox heard that the Lion was a whelp, and as a suckling; and he sharpened His teeth, that while He was yet a child the fox might lie in wait and devour the Lion ere He had grown up, and the breath of His mouth should destroy him.
The whole creation became mouths to Him, and cried concerning Him. The Magi cried by their offerings! the barren cried with their children, the star of light cried in that air, lo! the Son of the King!
The Heavens were opened, the waters were calmed, the Dove glorified Him, the voice of the Father, louder than thunder, was instant and said, This is my beloved Son. The Angels proclaim Him, the children shout to Him with their Hosannas.
These voices above and below proclaim Him and cry aloud. The slumber of Sion was not dispersed by the voice of the thunders, but she was offended, stood up, and slew Him because He aroused her.
1 (Is 1,10 Ap 11,8,
2 Mt 11,12.
3 I. e., the gates of the heart, before the gates of the Church.
4 (Col 2,14,
5 The increase of light at the time of the Nativity is meant.
6 (Ex 12,3,
7 Of Nisan. So St. E. writes on Ex 12,3. “The Lamb is a type of our Lord, who on the tenth of Nisan entered into the womb; for from the tenth day of the seventh month when Zachary received the message of John’s birth, even to the tenth day of the first month when Mary received the message from the Angel, are six months.”
8 (Jn 11,25,
9 Is 6.
Ephraim, Apapphrat 1202