Wings to Ascend With Christ

Isaiah 40
[28] Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary,
his understanding is unsearchable.
[29] He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
[30] Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
[31] but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.

Psalm 55
[1] Give ear to my prayer, O God;
and hide not thyself from my supplication!
[2] Attend to me, and answer me;
I am overcome by my trouble.
I am distraught
[3] by the noise of the enemy,
because of the oppression of the wicked.
For they bring trouble upon me,
and in anger they cherish enmity against me.
[4] My heart is in anguish within me,
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
[5] Fear and trembling come upon me,
and horror overwhelms me.
[6] And I say, “O that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
[7] yea, I would wander afar,
I would lodge in the wilderness, [Selah]
[8] I would haste to find me a shelter
from the raging wind and tempest.”

Ephesians 4
[7] But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
[8] Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”
[9] (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth?
[10] He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)

Homily II
A man watches a bird flying, and wishes to fly himself, but he cannot, because he has no wings. Even so the will is present (Ro. 7.18) with a man to be pure, and blameless, and without spot, and to have no wickedness in him, but to be always with God; but he has not the power. To fly into the air of God and the liberty of the Holy Ghost may be his wish, but unless wings are given him, he cannot. Let us then beseech God to bestow upon us the wings of a dove (Ps. 55.6), even of the Holy Ghost, that we may fly to Him and be at rest, and that He would separate and make to cease from our souls and bodies, that evil wind, which is the sin that dwelleth in the members of our souls and bodies. None but He can do it. Behold, it says, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world (Jo. 1.29). He alone has shewn this mercy to those men who believe Him, redeeming them from sin ; and for those who are always waiting for Him, and hope, and seek without ceasing, He achieves this unutterable salvation.

4. As in a gloomy black night a fierce wind blows, and stirs and searches and shakes all the plants and seeds, so when man falls under the power of the darkness of the devil’s night, and is in night and darkness, he is agitated by that dreadful wind of sin that blows, and is shaken and stirred, and searched through all his nature, his soul, his thoughts, his understanding ; and all the limbs of his body are shaken, and no member of either soul or body escapes free and immune from the sin that dwelleth in us. In like manner there is a day of light and a divine wind of the Holy Ghost, which blows and refreshes the souls that are in the day of the light of God. It penetrates all the substance of the soul and its thoughts, and all the being and all the members of the body, refreshing and resting them with a divine, unspeakable rest. This is what the apostle declared when he said, We are not children of the night or of darkness, for ye are all the sons of light and the sons of day (1 Th. 5.5). And as yonder, in the state of error, the old man put on man as a complete whole, and wears the garment of the kingdom of darkness, the garment of blasphemy, unbelief, unconcern, vainglory, pride, avarice, lust, and all the other trappings of the kingdom of darkness, ragged, unclean, and abominable ; so here, all who have put off the old man, which is from beneath the earth all whom Jesus has stripped of the clothing of the kingdom of darkness have put on the new and heavenly man, Jesus Christ, once more corresponding, eyes to eyes, ears to ears, head to head, to be all pure, and wearing the heavenly image.

5. The Lord has clothed them with the clothing of the kingdom of ineffable light, the clothing of faith, hope, this mercy to those men who believe Him, redeeming them from sin ; and for those who are always waiting for Him, and hope, charity, of joy, peace, goodness, kindness, and all the other divine and living clothing of the light of life, of inexpressible rest, that, as God Himself is love, and joy, and peace, and kindness, and goodness, so the new man may be through grace. And as the kingdom of darkness, and sin, are hidden in the soul until the day of resurrection, when the bodies also of sinners shall be covered with the darkness that is now hidden in the soul, so the kingdom of light, and the heavenly Image, Jesus Christ, now mystically enlightens the soul, and reigns in the soul of the saints, but is hidden from the eyes of men, and only with the eyes of the soul is Christ truly seen, until the day of resurrection; but then the body also shall be covered and glorified with the light of the Lord, which is now in the man’s soul, that the body also may reign with the soul which now receives the kingdom of Christ and rests and is enlightened with eternal light. Glory to His mercies and His tender compassion, for that He has such pity on His servants, and enlightens them, and delivers them from the kingdom of darkness, and bestows upon them His own light and His own kingdom. To Him be glory and might for ever. Amen. from Fifty Spiritual Homilies of St. Marcarius the Egyptian, pg. 13-15, by A.J. Mason D.D., SPCK, 1921

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