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Lenten Reflection: Day 37
Gospel, Luke 1:26-38
Today are strains of praise sung joyfully by the choir of angels, and the light of the advent of Christ shines brightly upon the faithful. Today is the glad spring-time to us, and Christ the Sun of righteousness has beamed with clear light around us, and has illumined the minds of the faithful. Today is Adam made anew, and moves in the choir of angels, having winged his way to heaven. Today is the whole circle of the earth filled with joy, since the sojourn of the Holy Spirit has been realized to men. Today the grace of God and the hope of the unseen shine through all wonders transcending imagination, and make the mystery that was kept hidden from eternity plainly discernible to us. Today are woven the chaplets of never-fading virtue.
Today, God, willing to crown the sacred heads of those whose pleasure is to hearken to Him, and who delight in His festivals, invites the lovers of unswerving faith as His called and His heirs; and the heavenly kingdom is urgent to summon those who mind celestial things to join the divine service of the incorporeal choirs. Today is fulfilled the word of David, Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad. The fields shall be joyful, and all the trees of the wood before the Lord, because He comes. David thus made mention of the trees; and the Lord’s forerunner also spoke of them as trees that should bring forth fruits meet for repentance, or rather for the coming of the Lord. But our Lord Jesus Christ promises perpetual gladness to all those who believe in Him. For He says, I will see you, and you shall rejoice; and your joy no man takes from you.
Today is the illustrious and ineffable mystery of Christians, who have willingly set their hope like a seal upon Christ, plainly declared to us. Today did Gabriel, who stands by God, come to the pure virgin, bearing to her the glad annunciation, Hail, thou that art highly favoured! You know, O Mary, things kept hidden from the patriarchs and prophets. You have learned, O virgin, things which were kept concealed till now from the angels. You have heard, O purest one, things of which even the choir of inspired men was never deemed worthy. Moses, and David, and Isaiah, and Daniel, and all the prophets, prophesied of Him; but the manner they knew not. Yet you alone, O purest virgin, are now made the recipient of things of which all these were kept in ignorance, and you learn the origin of them. For where the Holy Spirit is, there are all things readily ordered. Where divine grace is present, all things are found possible with God.
For the holy Virgin is in truth an ark, wrought with gold both within and without, that has received the whole treasury of the sanctuary. Arise, O Lord, into Your rest. Arise, O Lord, out of the bosom of the Father, in order that You may raise up the fallen race of the first-formed man. Setting these things forth, David in prophecy said to the rod that was to spring from himself, and to sprout into the flower of that beauteous fruit, Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline your ear, and forget your own people and your father’s house; so shall the King greatly desire your beauty: for He is the Lord your God, and you shall worship Him. Hearken, O daughter, to the things which were prophesied beforetime of you, in order that you may also behold the things themselves with the eyes of understanding. Hearken to me while I announce things beforehand to you, and hearken to the archangel who declares expressly to you the perfect mysteries. Come then, dearly beloved, and let us fall back on the memory of what has gone before us; and let us glorify, and celebrate, and laud, and bless that rod that has sprung so marvellously from Jesse.
Excerpts from the first out of four homilies St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (Church Father) Translated by S.D.F. Salmond. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 6. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight.