A New Life Has Come

From “Oration 1 on the Resurrection” (ca. 370-390)

The reign of life has begun, the tyranny of death is ended. A new birth has taken place, a new life has come, a new order of existence has appeared, our very nature has been transformed! This birth is not brought about “by human generation, by the will of man, or by the desire of the flesh, but by God.” …

“This is the day the Lord has made” – a day far different from those made when the world was first created and which are measured by the passage of time. This is the beginning of a new creation. On this day, as the prophet says, God makes a new heaven and a new earth. What is this new heaven, you may ask? It is the firmament of our faith in Christ. What is the new earth? A good heart, a heart like the earth, which drinks up the rain that falls on it and yields a rich harvest.

In this new creation, purity of life is the sun, the virtues are the stars, transparent goodness is the air, and “the depths of the riches of wisdom and knowledge,” the sea. Sound doctrine, the divine teachings are the grass and plants that feed God’s flock, the people whom he shepherds, the keeping of the commandments is the fruit borne by the trees.

On this day is created the true human, the one made in the image and likeness of God. For “this day the Lord has made” is the beginning of this new world. Of this day the prophets says that this is not like other days, nor is this night like other nights. But still we have not spoken of the greatest gift it has brought us. This day destroyed the pangs of death and brought to birth the firstborn of the dead.

“I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and to your God.” O what wonderful good news! He who for our sake became like us in order to make us his brothers and sisters, now presents to his true Father his own humanity in order to draw all his kindred after him.

St. Gregory Nazianzus (329-390) was among the most influential theologians and orators of the early church, and is ranked among the four great doctors of the Eastern Church. An uncompromising champion of the Nicene Faith, he went to Constantinople in 379, aiming to reconvert the city to orthodoxy, and was made its archbishop. He led the Second Ecumenical Council in 381, which affirmed the full divinity of the Holy Spirit. Gregory is commemorated on January 2 by most Anglican churches and the Roman Catholic Church, and on January 25 by the Orthodox churches.  

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