Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Sermon for Holy Saturday, by St. Ephiphanius, Part 2

(Note: This sermon reproduced from it's translation as found on page 33 of "The Lamentations of Matins of Holy and Great Saturday", translated from the Greek and published by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston, Massachusetts, 1981
© Copyright Holy Transfiguration MonasteryBrookline, MA, used by permission. All rights reserved.)

And these things, where did they take place? In Sion, the city of the great King, where He "wrought salvation in the midst of the earth."2 In the midst of two living beings was Jesus, the Child of God, known,3 in the midst of the Father and the Spirit, two living Beings; Life from Life, he says, known as a living Being, and in the midst of angels and men He was born in a manger.

In the midst of of two peoples He lies as the Cornerstone; in the midst of the Law and the prophets He is preached; in the midst of Moses and Elias He is seen upon the mount; in the midst of two thieves He is recognized as God by the grateful thief; in the midst of the present life and the future He sits as the eternal Judge; and today in the midst of the living and the dead He works a twofold life and salvation. Nay, again I say a twofold life, a twofold birth and also rebirth.

Listen now to the circumstances of Christ's twofold birth and acclaim the wonders. An angel announced to Mary Christ's maternal birth, and an angel announced to Mary of Magdala His awesome rebirth from the grave. At night Christ is born in Bethlehem, and at night in Sion He is reborn. Upon His birth He receives swaddling bands, and here also He is wound round with swaddling bands. When born He received myrrh, and at His burial He receives myrrh and aloes.

There Joseph was the name of Mary's non-husband husband, but here Joseph of Arimathaea proved to be the burier of our Life. In Bethlehem in a manger the former took place, and the latter in the tomb as in a manger. First the shepherds were given news of the birth of Christ, and first the shepherds, Christ's disciples, were given news of His rebirth from the dead. There the angel cried "Rejoice!" to the virgin, whilst here Christ, the Angel of Great Counsel, cried "Rejoice!" to the women.

At His first birth Christ after forty days entered the earthly Jerusalem, and the temple, and as firstborn He offered a pair of turtle-doves to God. But at His resurrection from the dead Christ after forty days ascended to the Jerusalem on high, from whence He departed not, and as the incorruptible First-born from the dead, in the true Holy of Holies He offered to God the Father our soul and body as two spotless turtle-doves; and like some Symeon the ancient, God the Father received Him uncircumscribably in to His embrace, into His own bosom.

If, however, thou hearest these things as though they were fables and not with faith, the unbroken seals of the Master's tomb condemn thee with respect to Christ's rebirth. For just as Christ was born from the Virgin whilst the natural gates of the virginal nature remained closed at the opening of the womb, so also Christ's rebirth was wrought whilst the seals of the tomb were unbroken.

This is not a paragraph break in the original, but it is right before the transitional sentence into a new section, so I'll stop here. :)
To be continued....

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