Sunday, August 13, 2006

“For since the life-giving Word of God indwelt in the Flesh, He transformed it into His Own proper good, that is life”

And the Bread which I will give is My Flesh for the life of the world (John 6:51).
I die (He says) for all, that I may quicken all by Myself, and I made My Flesh a Ransom for the flesh of all. For death shall die in My Death, and with Me shall rise again (He says) the fallen nature of man. For for this became I like to you, Man (that is) and of the seed of Abraham, that I might be made like in all things unto My brethren. The blessed Paul himself also, well understanding what Christ just now said to us says, Forasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same, that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. For no otherwise was it possible that he that hath the power of death should be destroyed, and death itself also, had not Christ given Himself for us, a Ransom, One for all, for He was in behalf of all. Wherefore He says in the Psalms too, offering Himself as a spotless Sacrifice to God the Father, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a Body preparedst Thou Me. In whole burnt-offerings and offerings for sin Thou tookedst no pleasure: then said I, Lo I come (in the chapter of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God, was My choice. For since the blood of bulls and of goats and the ashes of an heifer sufficed not unto the purging away of sin, nor yet would the slaughter of brute beasts ever have destroyed the power of death, Christ Himself came in in some way to undergo punishment for all. For with His stripes we were healed, as saith the Prophet, and His Own Self bare our sins in His Own Body on the tree; and He was crucified for all and on account of all, that if One died for all, all we might live in Him. For it was not possible that He should be holden by death, neither could corruption over-master that Which is by Nature Life. But that Christ gave His Own Flesh for the Life of the world, we shall know by His words also, for He saith, Holy Father keep them; and again, For their sakes I sanctify Myself. He here says that He sanctifies Himself, not aiding Himself unto sanctification for the purification of the soul or spirit (as it is understood of us), nor yet for the participation of the Holy Ghost, for the Spirit was in Him by Nature, and He was and is Holy always, and will be so ever. He here says, I sanctify Myself, for, I offer Myself and present Myself as a spotless Sacrifice for an odour of a sweet smell. For that which is brought to the Divine Altar was sanctified, or called holy according to the law.
Christ therefore gave His Own Body for the life of all, and again through It He maketh Life to dwell in us; and how, I will say as I am able. For since the life-giving Word of God indwelt in the Flesh, He transformed it into His Own proper good, that is life, and by the unspeakable character of this union, coming wholly together with It, rendered It life-giving, as Himself is by Nature. Wherefore the Body of Christ giveth life to all who partake of It. For it expels death, when It cometh to be in dying men, and removeth corruption, full in Itself perfectly of the Word which abolisheth corruption.
But a man will haply say, fixing the eye of his understanding upon the resurrection of them that have slept: They who received not the faith in Christ, and were not partakers of Him, will not live again at the time of the resurrection. What? shall not every created thing that has fallen into death return again to life?
To these things we say, Yes, all flesh shall live again: for Prophecy foretells that the dead shall be raised. For we consider that the Mystery through the resurrection of Christ extendeth over the whole nature of man, and in Him first we believe that our whole nature has been released from corruption. For all shall rise, after the likeness of Him That was raised for our sakes, and hath all in Himself, in that He is Man. And as in the first-formed we fell down into death, so in the First-born again, who was so for our sakes, all shall rise again from the dead: but they that did good, unto the resurrection of life (as it is written), and they that wrought evil, unto the resurrection of doom. And I will grant, that in no passing degree bitterer than death is the resurrection unto punishment, and the receiving life again unto disgrace alone. In the stricter sense then wo must understand the Life that is really so, the life in Christ, in holiness and bliss and unfailing delight. For that this is truly life the wise John too knows, saying, He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God shall abide on him. For lo, lo, he says that he which is in unbelief shall not see life: although every creature looks to return again to life, and to rise again. It is then manifest, that the Saviour with reason called that the life which is prepared for the Saints, I mean that in glory and in holiness, which that we ought to pursue after by coming to the participation of the Life-giving Flesh, no right-minded person will doubt.
St Cyril of Alexandria
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