Leo the Great: sermons 2068
I. Christ’s Godhead Never Forsook Him in His Passion.
The last discourse, dearly-beloved, of which we desire now to give the promised portion, had reached that point in the argument where we were speaking of that cry which the crucified Lord uttered to the Father: we bade the simple and unthinking hearer not take the words “My Con, &c.,” in a sense as if, when Jesus was fixed upon the wood of the cross, the Omnipotence of the Father’s Deity had gone away from Him; seeing that God’s and Man’s Nature were so completely joined in Him that the union could not be destroyed by punishment nor by death. For while each substance retained its own properties, God neither held aloof from the suffering of His body nor was made passible by the flesh, because the Godhead which was in the Sufferer did not actually suffer. And hence, in accordance with the Nature of the Word made Man, He Who was made in the midst of all is the same as He through Whom all things were made. He Who is arrested by the hands of wicked men is the same as He Who is bound by no limits. He Who is pierced with nails is the same as He Whom no wound can affect. Finally, He Who underwent death is the same as He Who never ceased to be eternal, so that both facts are established by indubitable signs, namely, the truth of the humiliation in Christ and the truth of the majesty; because Divine power joined itself to human frailty to this end, that God, while making what was ours His, might at the same time make what was His ours. The Son, therefore, was not separated from the Father, nor the Father from the Son; and the unchangeable Godhead and the inseparable Trinity did not admit of any division. For although the task of undergoing Incarnation belonged peculiarly to the Only-begotten Son of God, yet the Father was not separated from the Son any more than the flesh was separated from the Word1 .
II. Christ’s Death Was Voluntary an His Part, and Yet in Saving Others He Could Not Save Himself.
Jesus, therefore, cried with a loud voice, saying, “Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” in order to notify to all how it behoved Him not to be rescued, not to be defended, but to be given up into the hands of cruel men, that is to become the Saviour of the world and the Redeemer of all men, not by misery but by mercy; and not by the failure of succour but by the determination to die. But what must we feel to be the intercessory power of His life Who died and rose again by His own inherent power2 For the blessed Apostle saysthe Father “spared not His own Son, but gave Him up for us all3 ;” and again, he says, “For Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify it4 .” And hence the giving up of the Lord to His Passion was as much of the Father’s as of His own will, so that not only did the Father “forsake” Him, but He also abandoned Himself in a certain sense, not in hasty flight, but in voluntary withdrawal. For the might of the Crucified restrained itself from those wicked men, and in order to avail Himself of a secret design, He refused to avail Himself of His open power. For how would He who had come to destroy death and the author of death by His Passion have saved sinners, if he had resisted His persecutors? This, then, had been the Jews’ belief, that Jesus had been forsaken by God, against Whom they had been able to commit such unholy cruelty; for not understanding the mystery of His wondrous endurance, they said in blasphemous mockery: “He saved others, Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we believe Him5 .” Not at your blind will, O foolish scribes and wicked priests, was the Saviour’s power to be displayed, nor in obedience to blasphemers’ evil tongues was the Redemption of mankind to be delayed; for if you had wished to recognize the Godhead of the Son of God, you would have observed His numberless works, and they must have confirmed you in that faith, which you so deceitfully promise. But if, as you yourselves acknowledge, it is true that He saved others, why have those many, great miracles, which have been done under the public gaze, done nothing to soften the hardness of your hearts, unless it be because you have always so resisted the Holy Ghost as to turn all God’s benefits towards you into your destruction? For even though Christ should descend from the cross, youwould yet remain in your crime.
III. A Transition Was Then Being Effect from the Old to the New Dispensation.
Therefore the insults of empty exultation were scorned, and the Lord’s mercy in restoring the lost and the fallen was not turned from the path of its purpose by contumely or reviling. For a peerless victim was being offered to God for the world’s salvation, and the slaying of Christ the true Lamb, predicted through so many, ages, was transferring the sons of promise into the liberty of the Faith. The New Testament also was being ratified, and in the blood of Christ the heirs of the eternal Kingdom were being enrolled; the High Pontiff was entering the Holy of Holies, and to intercede with God the spotless Priest was passing in through the veil of His flesh6 . In fine, so evident a transition was being effected fromthe Law to the Gospel, from the from the synagogue to Sc the Church, from many sacrifices to the One Victim7 , that, when the Lord gave up the ghost, that mystic veil which hung before and shut out the inner part of the Temple and its holy recess was by sudden force torn from top to bottom8 , for the reason that Truth was displacing figures, and forerunners were needless in the presence of Him they announced. Tothis was added a terrible confusion of all the elements, and nature herself withdrew her support from Christ’s crucifiers. And although the centurion in charge of the crucifixion, in fright at what he had seen, said “truly this man was the Son of God9 ,” yet the wicked hearts of the Jews, which were harder than all tombs and rocks, is not reported to have been pierced by any compunction: so that it seems the Roman soldiers were then readier to recognize the Son of God than the priests of Israel.
IV. Let Us Profit by Fasting and Good Works at This Sacred Season of the Year.
Because, then, the Jews, deprived of all the sanctification imparted by these mysteries, turned their light into darkness and their “feasts into mourning10 ,” let us, dearly-beloved, prostrate our bodies and our souls and worship God’s Grace, which has been poured out upon all nations, beseeching the merciful Father and the rich Redeemer from day to day to give us His aid and enable us to escape all the dangers of this life. For the crafty tempter is present everywhere, and leaves nothing free from his snares. Whom, God’s mercy helping us, which is stretched out to us amid all dangers, we must ever with stedfast faith resist11 so that, though he never ceases to asail, he may never succeed in carrying the assault. Let all, dearly-beloved, religiously keep and profit by the fast, and let no excesses mar the benefits of such self-restraint as we have proved convenient both for soul and body. For the things which pertain to sobriety and temperance must be the more diligently observed at this season, that a lasting habit may be contracted from a brief zeal; and whether in works of mercy or in strict self-denial, no hours may be left idle by the faithful, seeing that, as years increase and time glides by, we are bound to increase our store of works, and not squander our opportunities. And to devout wills and religious souls God’s Mercy will be granted, that He may enable us to obtain that which He enabled us to desire, Who liveth and reigneth with our Lord Jesus Christ His Son, and with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever. Amen.
1 For the doctrine here stated, cf. Serm. LI., chap. vi.
2 Quoe vero illic vitoe intercessio sentienda est, ubi anima et potestate est emissa et potestate revocata ? If we adopt Quesnel’s conjecture intercisio for intercessio the meaning is I suppose, “What cutting off of the thread of life is conceivable in His case Who &c.?”
3 Rm 8,32,
4 Ep 5,2 Ep 25,29.
5 Mt 27,42.
6 Cf. He 10,20: and below, Mt 27,51 Mt 27,54.
7 The older editions here add quoe Deus est (which is God), which however both Quesnel and the Ball. reject as a marginal gloss.
8 Cf. He 10,20: and below, Mt 27,51 Mt 27,54.
9 Cf. He 10,20: and below, Mt 27,51 Mt 27,54.
10 Cf. Am 8,10: and below, 1P 5,9.
11 Cf. Am 8,10: and below, 1P 5,9.
I. We Must All Be Partakers in Christ’s Resurrection Life.
In my last sermon2 , dearly-beloved, not in- appropriately, as I think, we explained to you our participation in the cross of Christ, whereby the life of believers contains in itself the mystery of Easter, and thus what is honoured at the feast is celebrated by our practice. And how useful this is you yourselves have proved, and by your devotion have learnt, how greatly benefited souls and bodies are by longer fasts, more frequent prayers, and more liberal alms. For there can be hardly any one who has not profited by this exercise, and who has not stored up in the recesses of his conscience something over which he may rightly rejoice. But these advantages must be retained with persistent care, lest our efforts fall away into idleness, and the devil’s malice steal what God’s grace gave. Since, therefore, by our forty days’ observance3 we have wished to bring about this effect, that we should feel something of the Cross at the time of the Lord’s Passion, we must strive to be found partakers also of Christ’s Resurrection, and “pass from death unto life4 ,” while we are in this body. For when a man is changed by some process from one thing into another, not to be what he was is to him an ending, and to be what he was not is a beginning. But the question is, to what a man either dies or lives: because there is a death, which is the cause of living, and there is a life, which is the cause of dying. And nowhere else but in this transitory world are both sought after, so that upon the character of our temporal actions depend the differences of the eternal retributions. We must die, therefore, to the devil and live to God: we must perish to iniquity that we may rise to righteousness.Let the old sink, that the new may rise; and since, as says the Truth, “no one can serve two masters5 ,” let not him be Lord who has caused the overthrow of those that stood, but Him Who has raised the fallen to victory.
II). God Did Not Leave His Soul in Hell, Nor Suffer His Flesh to See Corruption.
Accordingly, since the Apostle says, “the first man is of the earth earthy, the second man is from heaven heavenly. As is the earthy, such also are they that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such also are they that are heavenly. As we have borne the image of the earthy, so let us also bear the image of Him Who is from heaven6 ,” we must greatly rejoice over this change, whereby we are translated from earthly degradation to heavenly dignity through His unspeakable mercy, Who descended into our estate that He might promote us to His, by assuming not only the substance but also the conditions of sinful nature, and by allowing the impossibility of Godhead to be affected by all the miseries which are the lot of mortal manhood. And hence that the disturbed minds of the disciples might not be racked by prolonged grief, He with such wondrous speed shortened the three days’ delay which He had announced, that by joining the last part of the first and the first part of the third day to the whole of the second, He cut off a considerable portion of the period, and yet did not lessen the number of days. The Saviour’s Resurrection therefore did not long keep His soul in Hades, nor His flesh in the tomb; and so speedy was the quickening of His uncorrupted flesh that it bore a closer resemblance to slumber than to death, seeing that the Godhead, Which quitted not either part of the Human Nature which He had assumed, reunited by Its power that which Its power had separated7 .
III. Christ’s Manifestation After the Resurrection Showed that His Person Was Essentially the Same as Before.
And then there followed many proofs, whereon the authority of the Faith to be preached through the whole world might be based. And although the rolling away of the stone, the empty tomb, the arrangement of the linen cloths, and the angels who narrated the whole deed by themselves fully built up the truth of the Lord’s Resurrection, yet did He often appear plainly to the eyes both of the women and of the Apostles8 not only talking with them, but also remaining and eating with them, and allowing Himself to be handled by the eager and curious hands of those whom doubt assailed. For to this end He entered when the doors were closed upon the disciples, and gave them the Holy Spirit by breathing on them, and after giving them the light of understanding opened the secrets of the Holy Scriptures, and again Himself showed them the wound in the side, the prints of the nails, and all the marks of His most recent Passion, whereby it might be acknowledged that in Him the properties of the Divine and Human Nature remained undivided, and we might in such sort know that the Word was not what the flesh is, as to confess God’s only Son to be both Word and Flesh.
IV. But Though It is the Same, It is Also Glorified.
The Apostle of the Gentiles, Paul, dearly. beloved, does not disagree with this belief, when he says, “even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know Him so no more9 .” For the Lord’s Resurrection was not the ending, but the changing of the flesh, and His substance was not destroyed by His increase of power. The quality altered, but the nature did not cease to exist: the body was made impassible, which it had been possible to crucify: it was made incorruptible, though it had been possible to wound it. And properly is Christ’s flesh said not to be known in that state in which it had been known, because nothing remained passible in it, nothing weak, so that it was both the same in essence and not the same in glory. But what wonder if S. Paul maintains this about Christ’s body, when he says of all spiritual Christians “wherefore henceforth we know no one after the flesh.” Henceforth, he says, we begin to experience the resurrection in Christ, since the time when in Him, Who died for all, all our hopes were guaranteed to us. We do not hesitate in diffidence, we are not under the suspense of uncertainty, but having received an earnest of the promise, we now with the eye of faith see the things which will be, and rejoicing in the uplifting of our nature, we already possess what we believe.
V. Being Saved by Hope, We Must Not Fulfil the Lasts of the Flesh.
Let us not then be taken up with the appearances of temporal matters, neither let our contemplations be diverted from heavenly to earthly things. Things which as yet have for the most part not come to pass must be reckoned as accomplished: and the mind intent on what is permanent must fix its desires there, where what is offered is eternal. For although “by hope we were saved10 ,” and still bear about with us a flesh that is corruptible and mortal, yet we are rightly said not to be in the flesh, if the fleshly affections do not dominate us, and are justified in ceasing to be named after that, the will of which we do not follow. And so, when the Apostle says, “make not provision for the flesh in the lusts thereof11 ,” we understand that those things are not forbidden us, which conduce to health and which human weakness demands, but because we may not satisfy all our desires nor indulge in all that the flesh lusts after, we recognizethat we are warned to exercise such self-restraint as not to permit what is excessive nor refuse what is necessary to the flesh, which is placed under the mind’s control12 . And hence the same Apostle says in another place, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it13 ;” in so far, of course, as it must be nourished and cherished not in vices and luxury, but with a view to its proper functions, so that nature may recover herself and maintain due order, the lower parts not prevailing wrongfully and debasingly over the higher, nor the higher yielding to the lower, lest if vices overpower the mind, slavery ensues where there should be supremacy.
VI. Our Godly Resolutions Must Continue All the Year Round, Not Be Confined to Easier Only.
Let God’s people then recognize that they are a new creation in Christ, and with all vigilance understand by Whom they have been adopted and Whom they have adopted14 . let not the things, which have been made new, return to their ancient instability; and let not him who has “put his hand to the plough15 ” forsake his work, but rather attend to that which he sows than look back to that which he has left behind. Let no one fall back into that from which he has risen, but, even though from bodily weakness he still languishes under certain maladies, let him urgently desire to be healed and raised up. For this is the path of health through imitation of the Resurrection begun in Christ, whereby, notwithstanding the many accidents and falls to which in this slippery life the traveller is liable, his feet may be guided from the quagmire on to solid ground, for, as it is written, “the steps of a man are directed by the Lord,and He will delight in his way. When the just man falls he shall not be overthrown, because the Lord will stretch out His hand16 .” These thoughts, dearly-beloved, must be kept in mind not only for the Easter festival, but also for the sanctification of the whole life, and to this our present exercise ought to be directed, that what has delighted the souls of the faithful by the experience of a short observance may pass into a habit and remain unalterably, and if any fault creep in, it may be destroyed by speedy repentance. And because the cure of old-standing diseases is slow and difficult, remedies should be applied early, when the wounds are fresh, so that rising ever anew from all downfalls, we may deserve to attain to the incorruptible Resurrection of our glorified flesh in Christ Jesus our Lord, Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Ghost for ever and ever. Amen.
1 The time of delivery of this and the next Sermons was first identified by Quesnel with Easter Eve: for a most instructive note on the ceremonies of that day in early times, see Bright’s n. 102.
2 Viz. Serm. LXX. in which (chap 6) he had promised to continue the subject (superest ut de resurrectionis consortio disseramus : quod ne continuato sermone et mihi et vobis fiat onerosum, in diem sabbati promissa differemus)).
3 Acc. to Bright (n. 103), “As to the duration of Lent, there was anciently much diversity....Although it was not until the time of Gregory II. (715 - 731) that it became strictly a forty days’ fast, there is no doubt that in the fourth century it not earlier a period was generally observed which might be called ‘forty days.0’”
4 Cf. 1 1Jn 3,14.
5 Mt 6,24.
6 1Co 15,47-49. Leo’s text agrees with the Vulgate in inserting ‘heavenly0’ after ‘from heaven0’ and in translating foreswmen (let us bear) not forevsomen (we shall bear), but is peculiar in its paraphrase at the end of the quotation (“the image of him, &c.”).
7 Cf. Serm. LXX. chap. 3, nisi enim Verbum caro fieret, et tam solida consisteret unitas in utraque natura, ut a suscipiente susceptam nec ipsum breve mortis tempus abiungeret, nunquam valeret ad oeternitatem redire mortalitas. Bright (n. 96) quotes authorities ancient and more recent to show that this has always been the Christian’s belief.
8 From this point to the end of the chapter the language is almost identical with a passage in Letter XXVIII. (Tome), chap. 5).
9 2Co 5,16, must be borne in mind that the application of the phrase after the flesh (kata; savrka) is mistaken: S. Paul means ’according to the ordinary view of man," as in Rm 8,1, and 2Co 10,2, Bright’s note 107
10 Rm 8,24,
11 Rm 13,14,
12 Cf. Serm. XIX. chap. 1.
13 Ep 5,29,
14 Quo suscepta sit (sc. nova creatura) quemve susceperit, i.e. Christ has taken on Him human nature, and we by virtue thereof are partakers of the Divine.
15 Lc 9,62.
16 Ps 37,23-24.
I. The Cross is Not Only the Mystery of Salvation, But an Example to Follow.
The whole of the Easter mystery, dearly-beloved, has been brought before us in the Gospel narrative, and the ears of the mind have been so reached through the ear of flesh that none of you can fail to have a picture of the events: for the text of the Divinely-inspired story has clearly shown the treachery of the Lord Jesus Christ’s betrayal, the judgment by which He was condemned, the barbarity of His crucifixion, and glory of His resurrection. But a sermon is still required of us, that the priests’ exhortation may be added to the solemn reading of Holy Writ, as I am sure you are with pious expectation demanding of us as your accustomed due. Because therefore there is no place for ignorance in faithful ears, the seed of the Word which consists of the preaching of the Gospel, ought to grow in the soil of your heart, so that, when choking thorns and thistles have been removed, the plants of holy thoughts and the buds of right desires may spring up freely into fruit. For the cross of Christ, which was set up for the salvation of mortals, is both a mystery and an example1 : a sacrament where by the Divine power takes effect, an example whereby man’s devotion is excited: for to those who are rescued from the prisoner’s yoke Redemption further procures the power of following the way of the cross by imitation. For if the world’s wisdom so prides itself in its error that every one follows the opinions and habits and whole manner of life of him whom he has chosen as his leader, how shall we share in the name of Christ save by being inseparably united to Him, Who is, as He Himself asserted, “the Way, the Truth, and the Life2 ?” the Way that is of holy living, the Truth of Divine doctrine, and the Life of eternal happiness.
II. Christ Look Our Nature Upon Him for Our Salvation.
For when the whole body of mankind had fallen in our first parents, the merciful God purposed so to succour, through His only-begotten Jesus Christ, His creatures made after His image, that the restoration of our nature should not be effected apart from it, and that our new estate should be an advance upon our original position. Happy, if we had not fallen from that which God made us; but happier, if we remain that which He has re-made us. It was much to have received form from Christ; it is more to have a substance in Christ3 . For we were taken up into its own proper self by that Nature (which condescended to those limitations which loving-kindness dictated and which yet incurred no sort of change. We were taken up by that Nature4 , which destroyed not what was His in what was ours, nor what was ours in what was His; which made the person of the Godhead and of the Manhood so one in Itself that by co-ordination of weakness and power, the flesh could not be rendered inviolable through the Godhead, nor the Godhead passible through the flesh. We were taken up by that Nature, which did not break off the Branch from the common stock of our race, and yet excluded all taint of the sin which has passed upon all men. That is to say, weakness and mortality, which were not sin, but the penalty of sin, were undergone by the Redeemer of the World in the way of punishment, that they might be reckoned as the price of redemption. What therefore in all of us is the heritage of condemnation, is in Christ “the mystery of godliness5 .” For being free from debt, He gave Himself up to that most cruel creditor, and suffered the hands of Jews to be the devil’s agents in torturing His spotless flesh. Which flesh He willed to be subject to death, even up to His(speedy)6 resurrection, to this end, that believers in Him might find neither perse- cution intolerable, nor death terrible, by the remembrance that there was no more doubt about their sharing His glory than there was about His sharing their nature.
III. The Presence of the Risen and Ascended Lord Is Still with Us.
And so, dearly-beloved, if we unhesitatingly believe with the heart what we profess with the mouth, in Christ we are crucified, we are dead, we are buried; on the very third day, too, we are raised. Hence the Apostle says, “If ye have risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting on God’s right hand: set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. For when Christ, your life, shall have appeared, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory7 .” But that the hearts of the faithful may know that they have that whereby to spurn the lusts of the world and be lifted to the wisdom that is above, the Lord promises us His presence, saying, “Lo! I am with you all the days, even till the end of the age8 .” For not in vain had the Holy Ghost said by Isaiah: “Behold! a virgin shall conceive and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which is, being interpreted, God wire us9 .” Jesus, therefore, fulfils the proper meaning of His name, and in ascending into the heavens does not forsake His adopted brethren, though “He sitteth at the right hand of the Father,” yet dwells in the whole body, and Himself from above strengthens them for patient waiting while He summons them upwards to His glory.
IV. We Must Have the Same Mind as Was in Christ Jesus.
We must not, therefore, indulge in folly amid vain pursuits, nor give way to fear in the midst of adversities. On the one side, no doubt, we are flattered by deceits, and on the other weighed down by troubles; but because “the earth is full of the mercy of the Lord10 ,” Christ’s victory is assuredly ours, that what He says may be fulfilled, “Fear not, for I have overcome the world11 .” Whether, then, we fight against the ambition of the world, or against the lusts of the flesh, or against the darts of heresy, let us arm ourselves always with the Lord’s Cross. For our Paschal feast will never end, if we abstain from the leaven of the old wickedness (in the sincerity of truth12 . For amid all the changes of this life which is full of various afflictions, we ought to remember the Apostle’s exhortation; whereby he instructs us, saying, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God counted it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, being made in the likeness of men and found in fashion as a man. Wherefore God also exalted Him, and gave Him a name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow of things in heaven, of things on earth, and of things below, and that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father13 .” If, he says, you understand “the mystery of great godliness,” and remember what the Only-begotten Son of God did for the salvation of mankind, “have that mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus,” Whose humility is not to be scorned by any of the rich, not to be thought shame of by any of the high-born. For no human happiness whatever can reach so great a height as to reckon it a source of shame to himself that God, abiding in the form of Coy, thought it not unworthy of Himself to take the form of a slave.
V. Only He Who Holds T/re Truth on the Incarnation Can Keep Easter Properly.
Imitate what He wrought: love what He loved, and finding in you the Grace of God, love in Him your nature in return, since as He was not dispossessed of riches in poverty, lessened not glory in humility, lost not eternity in death, so do ye, too, treading in His footsteps, despise earthly things that ye may gain heavenly: for the taking up of the cross means the slaying of lusts, the killing of vices, the turning away from vanity, and the renunciation of all error. For, though the Lord’s Passover can be kept by no immodest, self-indulgent, proud, or miserly person, yet none are held so far aloof from this festival as heretics, and especially those who have wrong views on the Incarnation of the Word, either disparaging what belongs to the Godhead or treating what is of the flesh as unreal. For the Son of God is true God, having from the Father all that the Father is, with no beginning in time, subject to no sort of change, undivided from the One God, not different from the Almighty, the eternal Only-begotten of the eternal Father; so that the faithful intellect believing in the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost in the same essence of the one Godhead, neither divides the Unity by suggesting degrees of dignity, nor confounds the Trinity by merging the Persons in one. But it is not enough to know the Son of God in the Father’s nature only, unless we acknowledge Him in what is ours without withdrawal of what is His own. For that self-emptying, which He underwent for man’s restoration, was the dispensation of compassion, not the loss of power14 . For, though by the eternal purpose of God there was “no other name under heaven given to men whereby they must be saved15 ,” the Invisible made His substance visible. the Intemporal temporal, the Impassible passible: not that power might sink into weakness, but that weakness might pass into indestructible power.
VI. A Mystical Application of the Term “Passover” Is Given.
For which reason the very feast which by us is named Pascha, among the Hebrews is called Phase, that is Pass-over16 , as the evangelist attests, saying, “Before the feast of Pascha, Jesus knowing that His hour was come that He should pass out of this world unto the Father17 .” But what was the nature in which He thus passed out unless it was ours, since the Father was in the Son and the Son in the Father inseparably? But because the Word and the Flesh is one Person, the Assumed is not separated from the Assuming nature, and the honour of being promoted is spoken of as accruing to Him that promotes, as the Apostle says in a passage we have already quoted, “Wherefore also God exalted Him and gave Him a name which is above every name.” Where the exaltation of His assumed Manhood is no doubt spoken of, so that He in Whose sufferings the Godheard remains indivisible is likewise coeternal in the glory of the Godhead. And to share in this unspeakable gift the Lord Himself was preparing a blessed “passing over” for His faithful ones, when on the very threshhold of His Passion he interceded not only for His Apostles and disciples but also for the whole Church, saying, “But not for these only I pray, but for those also who shall believe on Me through their word, that they all may be one, as Thou also, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us18 .”
VII. Only True Believers Can Keep the Easter Festival.
In this union they can have no share who deny that in the Son of God, Himself true God, man’s nature abides, assailing the health-giving mystery and shutting themselves out from the Easter festival. For, as they dissent from the Gospel and gainsay the creed, they cannot keep it with us, because although they dare to take to themselves the Christian name, yet they are repelled by every creature who has Christ for his Head: for you rightly exult and devoutly rejoice in this sacred season as those who, admitting no falsehood into the Truth, have no doubt about Christ’s Birth according to the flesh, His Passion and Death, and the Resurrection of His body: inasmuch as without any separation of the Godhead you acknowledge a Christ, Who was truly born of a Virgin’s womb, truly hung on the wood of the cross, truly laid in an earthly tomb, truly raised in glory, truly set on the right hand of the Father’s majesty; “whence also,” as the Apostle says, “we look for a Saviour our Lord Jesus Christ. Who shall refashion the body of our humility to become conformed to the body of His glory19 .” Who liveth and reigneth, &c.
1 Cf. Serm. LXIII. 4, above: Salvator noster - et sacramentum condidit et exemplum : ut unum apprehenderent renascendo, alterum sequerentur imitando.
2 Jn 14,6.
3 i.e. that both of the two natures in Christ should be ours, as he goes on to show.
4 The words in brackets are of doubtful genuineness, and seem in themselves a medioeval imitation of Leo’s style.
5 Sacramentum pietatis, the regular Latin version of 1Tm 3,16.
6 Celerrimam. The epithet spoils the argument, and is probably an interpolation. Cf. however Serm. LXXI. chap. 2, above).
7 Col 3,1-4,
8 Mt 28,20.
9 Is 7,14 Mt 1,23,
10 Ps 33,5,
11 Jn 16,33.
12 Cf. 1Co 5,8: the words in brackets are of doubtful authority.
13 Ph 2,5-11.
14 Much the same language is used in Lett. XXVIII. (Tome) 3 and Serm. XXIII. 2.
15 Ac 4,12,
16 Phase id transitus dicitur, cf. the Vulgate, Ex 12,11, est enim Phase (id est transitus) Domini. The form of the word is due to defective transliteration, the correct Hebrew form being Pesach, which “is derived from a root which means to step over or to overleap, and thus points back to the historical origin of the festival (Exod. xii)..” - Edersheim’s Temple, p. 179.
17 Jn 13,1; the word for “pass” here in the Gk. is metabh, in the Lat). transeat.
18 Jn 17,20-21.
19 Ph 3,20-21.
Leo the Great: sermons 2068