St Gregory Palamas: Do You Believe the Resurrected Christ Brought Everything from Non-Being into Being?

Lazarus Saturday

IN AN acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee,” said God through Isaiah (Is. 49.8). It is good today to speak these words of the apostle to your charity: “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6.2). “Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us work the works of light. Let us walk honestly as in the day” (Rom. 13.12-13). The commemoration of Christ’s saving passion is at hand, and the new, great spiritual Passover, which is the reward for dispassion and the prelude to the world to come. Lazarus proclaims it in advance by coming back from the depths of Hades and raising from the dead on the fourth day just by the voice and command of God, who has power over life and death (Jn. 11.1-45). By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, children and simple people sing praises in advance to the Redeemer from death, who brings souls up from Hades and gives souls and bodies eternal life. […]

The miracle performed on Lazarus openly proved the one who did it to be God. But whereas the people were convinced and believed, the rulers at that time, that is to say, the scribes and Pharisees, were so far from being persuaded that they raged against Him even more, and resolved in their madness to hand Him over to death, although everything He had said and done plainly declared Him to be the Lord of life and death. No one can say that the fact that the Lord lifted up His eyes at that time and said, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me,” was an obstacle to their regarding Him as equal to the Father, since He went on to say, “I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me” (Jn. 11.41-42). So that they might know He was God and came from the Father, and also that He did not work miracles in opposition to God, but in accordance with God’s purpose, He lifted up His eyes to God in front of everybody and spoke to Him words which made it clear that He who was speaking on earth was equal to the heavenly Father on high. In the beginning when man was to be formed, there was a Counsel beforehand. So now also, in the case of Lazarus, when a man was to be formed anew, there was a Counsel first. When man was to be created the Father said to the Son, “Let us make man” (Gen. 1.26), the Son listened to the Father, and man was brought into being. Now, by contrast, the Father listened to the Son speaking, and Lazarus was brought to life.

Notice that the Father and the Son are of equal honor and have the same will. The words are in the form of a prayer for the sake of the crowd standing by, but they are not words of prayer but of lordship and absolute authority. “Lazarus, come forth” (Jn. 11.43). And at once the man who had been dead four days stood before Him alive. Did this come about by the command of the life-giver or His prayer? He cried with a loud voice, again on account of the bystanders, since He could have raised him not only by using His normal voice, but just by His will alone. In the same way, He could have done it from afar and with the stone in place. But instead He came to the grave and spoke to those present, who took away the stone and smelt the stench. Then He cried with a loud voice. He raised him in this manner so that by means of their sight (for they saw Him standing at the grave), their sense of smell (for they were aware of the stench of the man four days dead), their sense of touch (for they used their own hands to take away the stone beforehand from the grave, and afterwards to loose the grave-clothes from his body and the napkin from his face), and their hearing (for the Lord’s voice reached the ears of all), they all might understand and believe that it was He who called everything from non-being into being, who upheld all things by the word of His power, and who in the beginning by His word alone made everything that exists out of nothing.

~St Gregory Palamas, Homily 15, Delivered on Palm Sunday


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