Once again I am enjoying daily readings from Robert Wright’s excellent Daily Office Readings from the Early Church. I especially appreciate how different, and how erudite, the early church mothers and fathers were in explicating Christian faith to the world. Without them our faith would not have translated across centuries, continents and cultures. Here are a few excerpts from the early church celebrating Epiphany:
Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome, 461 AD/CE
Dear Friends, you must have the same zeal to be of help to one another; then, in the kingdom of God, to which faith and good works are the way, you will shine as children of the light!
Gregory of Nazianzus, Bishop of Constantinople, 389 AD/CE
Christ is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in light. Christ is baptized; let us also go down with him and rise with him…be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed. Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of human beings, for whom his every word and every revelation exist. He wants you to become a living force for all humanity, lights shining in the world. You are to be radiant lights as you stand before Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of him who is the light of heaven.
Peter Chrysologus, Bishop of Ravenna, 450 AD/CE
In choosing to be born for us, God chose to be known by us….Today the Magi gaze in deep wonder at what they see: heaven on earth, earth in heaven, humankind in God, God in human flesh, one whom the whole universe cannot contain now enclosed in a tiny body. As they look, they do not question, as their symbolic gifts bear witness…So the Gentiles who were the last, become the first: the faith of the Magi is the first fruits of the belief of the Gentiles.
Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, circa 340 AD/CE
Glory to God the almighty, the King of the universe, for all his gifts, and gratitude to Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of our souls, through whom we pray that this peace may be preserved for us stable and unshaken forever: a peace that will keep us safe from troubles outside as well as from all anxieties and disturbances of soul…for us above all who had placed our hopes upon Christ, there was inexpressible joy and a heavenly happiness shone on every face.
Clement of Alexandria, Priest, circa 210 AD/CE
It is not for war that we are educated, but for peace. War requires great preparation, and self-indulgence craves profusion; but peace and love, simple and quiet sisters, require neither arms nor excessive preparation. The Word is their sustenance. This Word has received the charge to show the way and to educate; from him we learn frugality and humility, and all that pertains to love of truth, love of humanity, and love of excellence. In short, through him we become like God by a participation in moral excellence.