My dear friends in our Lord: Glory to Jesus Christ!
After having celebrated this past Thursday the feast of the most glorious Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, on this Sunday the Church enjoins us to celebrate the memory of the three hundred eighteen holy and God-bearing fathers of the First Ecumenical Council, assembled against the impious Arius, formerly a priest in Alexandria, who blasphemed against the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, declaring God the Son to be a mere creature, not consubstantial with God the Father, and that there was a time when our Lord was not.
For this reason the holy council deposed and anathematized him as an enemy of truth, together with those who were of one mind with him. It confirmed that faith received from the Apostles; it proclaimed the Son to be of one essence with the Father, the Maker of all; not a creature, but true God; begotten of the Father before all ages, but not made; He is the Master and Lord, as confessed in the holy Symbol of Faith, the Creed, which the Holy Council set forth, not by means of human reasoning, but under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In honour of the triumph of truth over heresy, on this day the Church of God keeps a feast in honour of the fathers who fought the good fight for true piety and for the holy right-glorifying faith. As for the Arian heresy as well as all other heresies, the Church anathematizes them and cuts them off. And that those who may be inclined towards any deviation from the faith might know from the very words of our Lord that heresy alienates from Him those who choose such, and that by their choice they have been separated, severed, and expelled from the holy body of the Church of Christ, we hear the words of our Lord in the Gospel today.
For we hear that our Lord lifted up his eyes to heaven, saying: Father, the hour is come, glorify thy Son, that thy Son may glorify thee.
Our Lord, here about to go to His voluntary Passion, lifts up His eyes to heaven, teaching us also to do likewise, and to seek there from our heavenly Father a release and liberation from all evils. In saying, the hour, He meant that this was the appropriate time, in which He deigned to suffer, and to put death to death by His Passion, and to give life to the dead by His Resurrection from the dead.
Our blessed Lord suffered voluntarily, and as God He had no need of assistance, but here He acts as Man, giving us His example as a rule, (that we might) overcome by prayer the visible and invisible enemies who seek to offend and injure us. For our Lord came not only to manifest Himself, but also to teach us every virtue, as one who teaches by deed as well as by word. “Glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee,” in other words our Lord beseeches that the Father might reveal and show His Son to those who do not know Him or believe in Him, and that the Father might manifest unto them the glory which the Son had and ever has from Him as true Son of the Father and true God of true God. “That Thy Son also may glorify Thee,” that the Son may cause men to recognize and to believe that such as is God, His Father, so also is He, the only-begotten Son and God, of one essence, one honour, one glory; for he who has seen the Son has seen the Father also.
Indeed, the Father’s glory is that we believe in His Son, and the Son’s glory is that His Father is made known.
God’s glory is to give good things to all and at all times. “As thou hast given him power over all flesh,” our Lord says, “that he may give eternal life to all whom thou hast given him.” The preaching of the Gospel reveals a good gift to all, whereby they may receive eternal life.
Now this is eternal life, the Lord says, “That they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
In saying, The only true God, He refers to the Father; for no one acquires knowledge of God the Father except through the Son. Our Lord then attests that He has glorified the Father on earth. Now, inasmuch as in heaven He was worshipped and glorified by the angels, the glory of which He here speaks is the service and adoration rendered and offered Him by humanity.
Then, wishing to show us the mystery of His fleshly dispensation, our Lord Himself asks glory of God the Father; for His human nature was not yet glorified. After the Resurrection, of course, His Body was glorified, and received and was made a partaker of glory, incorruptibility, impassibility, and the royal throne itself.
Our Lord continues, saying: I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou hast given me out of the world. Thine they were, and to me thou gavest them; and they have kept thy word.
These words our blessed Lord speaks for the instruction and strengthening of His disciples, to show that all who belong to the Son belong also to the Father, and all that belong to the Father belong also to the Son. The Son manifested the name of the Father; for although humanity knew Him, they knew Him not as Father, but only as Creator. And indeed not all men, but only the Hebrews truly knew Him, having kept the knowledge and service of the true God. The only-begotten Son and Word of God the Father, having appeared on earth, manifested Him as Father and made Him known to all men through His words and deeds.
Thereafter, again our Lord speaks of His disciples, comforting them in many and various ways, that they might know the love that He has for them, saying, “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them whom thou hast given me: because they are thine.” And He does not speak only of the disciples, but of all who believe in Him through the teaching of the disciples.
“All my things are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am not in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to thee.” That which one sees in the Father is seen also in the Son, not through a transfer or succession of substance, but according to unity of substance. Those of equal power are clearly equal in their activity, and Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
“Holy Father,” our Lord says, “keep them in thy name whom thou has given me; that they may be one, as we also are. Those whom thou gavest me have I kept; and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition that the scripture may be fulfilled.”
Our Lord spared nothing in His power, He preserved those given to Him, and He sought in every way to strengthen them. Though Judas, by his own choice and determined will, was lost, and though indeed many others also will choose their own fall into perdition, it is through no lack of divine power or solicitude on the part of our Lord; it is not because He rejects or abandons them that they choose to depart from the right way. He draws no one by force or compulsion. Those who come to Him of their own free will He will not drive away. Those who abide in His commandments He does not cast off; but the evil and the wicked He will allow to walk after their own will.
“And now I come to thee;” our Lord says finally, “and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy filled in themselves.”
Our Lord speaks these things that His disciples might find rest and freedom; He speaks these things in the world for their consolation, that they might have His joy fulfilled in themselves.
My friends, with these words of our Lord as consolation and instruction, let us also, every day, in every way strive to have this joy and gladness in ourselves. Let us lay low the demons of confusion, dissention, selfishness, pride, and despondency, which assault us in our very hearts and souls. Let us firmly keep the divine and right-glorifying teachings handed down to us by the holy fathers whose remembrance we make today, who themselves received those teachings from the Apostles, and the Apostles from our Lord Himself. Let us reject the blasphemous and death-dealing reasonings and speculations rejected and condemned by the Church.
Aided by the light of divine grace, let us understand with our minds, and believe with our hearts, and confess with our lips our one true Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have come to know God the Father and through Whom the life-giving Spirit has come unto us.
Living thus, may we have the joy of our Lord fulfilled in ourselves. Being filled this divine and invincible joy, may we cross the difficult terrain of this life without danger, to arrive ultimately at the safe harbour of our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory, together with His Unoriginate Father, and His Most Holy, Good, and Life-Giving Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.