24 December 2007

The Peace of the Lord Stands in our Midst!

Now that First Vespers for the Nativity of Our Lord has been sung, it is fitting to rejoice the acclamation of St Peter Chrysologus.

Today, the Church is in peace, and the heretic is in anger.
Today, the ship of the Church is in port, and the fury of the heretics is tossed about on the waves.
Today, brethren, the pastors [and shepherds] of the Church are in security, and the heretics are in consternation.
Today, the sheep of the Lord are in a safe place, and the wolves rage in anger.
Today, the vineyard of the Lord has abundance, and the workers of iniquity are indigent.
Today, very dearly beloved, the people of Christ has been exalted, and the enemies of truth have been humbled.
Today, dearly beloved, Christ is in joy, and the Devil in grief.
Today, the angels are in exultation, and the demons in confusion.

Why should I say more? Today, Christ, who is the King of peace, has come forth with His peace and routed all discord, banished dissensions, and dissipated conflicts. As the brilliance of the sun lights up the sky, so He illumines the Church with the splendor of peace. 'For,' the text says, 'there has been born to you today a Savior of the world.' O how desirable is the very name of peace! How firm a foundation peace is for the Christian religion, and what a heavenly ornament for the altar of the Lord!

What can we utter worthy of peace? Peace is a name of Christ Himself, as even the Apostle says: "For Christ is our peace, He it is who has made both one." The two were at variance, not over conflicting opinions or faith, but because of the Devil's envy. But, just as the streets are cleansed when the king comes forth, and the whole city decked with myriad flowers and banners to keep out of sight anything less worthy of the king's countenance, so also now, when Christ the King of peace comes forth, let everything depressing be removed from our midst. While truth is shining, let falsehood be banished, and discord flee, and concord be resplendent. ... [For] at present, the Peace of the Lord standing in our midst, and with palpitating bosom joining both of us together, teaches separated persons to come to agreement in [the] Spirit by linking elbows. In all this is fulfilled, no doubt, the prophetical statement which says: "And the counsel of peace shall be between them both."

The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation. Saint Peter Chrysologus (Selected Sermons) and Saint Valerian (Homilies). Volume 17. (New York: The Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1953). pp. 252-253.

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