St Irenaeus of Lyons: Have You Ascended to Life?

Feast of Sts Cosmas & Damian the Holy Unmercenaries

Irenaeus_Square_2.jpgCHRIST GLORIOUSLY accomplished our salvation and fulfilled the promise made to the patriarchs and dissolved the old disobedience—the Son of God become the Son of David and the Son of Abraham: for, in accomplishing and recapitulating these things in Himself, in order to obtain life for us, “the Word of God became flesh” by the economy of the Virgin, in order to undo death and vivify man, for we were in the prison of sin, we who have become sinners and fallen under the power of death. Rich in mercy was God the Father: He sent the creative Word, who, coming to save us, was in the same place and situation in which we were when we lost life, breaking the bonds of the prison; and His light appeared and dispelled the darkness of the prison, and sanctified our birth and abolished death, loosening the same bonds by which we were trapped. And He demonstrated the resurrection, becoming Himself “the first-born from the dead,” and raising in Himself fallen man, raising Him above to the highest heaven, to the right hand of the glory of the Father, as God had promised, by the prophets, saying, “I will raise up the fallen tabernacle of David” (Amos 9.11; Acts 15.16), that is, the flesh descended from David: and our Lord Jesus Christ truly accomplished this, gloriously achieving our salvation, that He might truly raise us up, saving us for the Father.

And, if one does not accept His birth from a Virgin, how can he accept His resurrection from the dead? For it is no astonishing, nor marvelous or extraordinary thing if, without being born, He neither rose from the dead; moreover we cannot even speak of the resurrection of one who is unbegotten, since one who is unbegotten is also immortal, and one who has not undergone birth will neither undergo death—for one who has not had the beginning of a man, how is he able to assume his end? So, if He was not born, neither did He die; and if He did not die, neither was He raised from the dead; and if He was not raised from the dead, death is not conquered nor its kingdom destroyed; and if death is not conquered, how are we to ascend to life, having fallen under death from the beginning?

—St Irenaeus of Lyons, On the Apostolic Preaching

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