Be Ready
Thursday of Pentecost 8
8 August 2019
When in 449 A.D. Leo the Great sent his famous Tome to the Metropolitan of Constantinople, Bishop Flavian, he wrote to him nothing out of the ordinary. Leo's points had been offered by many teachers of the ancient church; such as the Cappadocian Fathers, Athanasius and Cyril of Alexandria, Hilary of Poitiers, who was called "Hammer of the Arians," and others. But his Tome was written at the right time and delivered in the right place. Who could have predicted that this clear and simple recitation of the Nicene faith of the ancient church would have such an enormous impact on the church's Christology? Even the preceding arguments of a more political nature could not have anticipated the effect of Leo's Tome.
This is why church leaders should remain faithful students of both Scripture and the holy church's trustworthy teachers. They may be bored with the recitation of the catechism, but sometimes a well-placed catechetical reply makes a world of difference. As we read the ancient teachers, we may be offended by the arcane discussions of theology extant in the ancient literature, or impatient with its repetitive character. But all of this serves careful study and gives the gift of readiness because of the repetition. When we are called to account for the hope that is in us, we will be prepared to confess it.
Augustine had previously tackled what appeared to be contradictory dominical statements from John's Gospel: "I and the Father are one" (Jn 10:30), and "the Father is greater than I" (Jn 14:28). Whether Leo was aware of that fact, I don't know. But they shared a certainty that both things could be attributed to the person of Christ by reason of the properties of each nature: divine and human. Christ was certainly equal to the Father in regard to His full divinity. This was nothing less than the meaning of the Nicene statement: "being of one substance with the Father." Yet, according to His manhood the incarnate Christ was certainly inferior to His heavenly Father. Both inferiority and equality are shared with the person by reason of the personal union. There is but one united God-Man. He is equal to us in His manhood and equal to His Father in His divinity. What a joy it is to search into those things that the angels in heaven long to see (1Pt 1:12)!

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Leo the Great
"The nativity of the flesh was the manifestation of human nature. The childbearing of a virgin is the proof of divine power. The infancy of a baby is shown in the humbleness of His cradle (Lk 2:12). The greatness of the Most High is proclaimed by the angels' voices (Lk 2:13). He whom Herod treacherously endeavors to destroy is like us in our earliest stage. But He whom the Magi delight to worship on their knees is the Lord of all. So too when He came to the baptism of John, His forerunner, lest He should not be known through the veil of flesh which covered His divinity, the Father's voice thundered from the sky, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased' (Mt 3:17). And thus Him whom the devil's craftiness attacks as man, the ministrations of angels serve as God. To be hungry and thirsty, to be weary, and to sleep, is clearly human. But to satisfy 5,000 men with five loaves, and to bestow on the woman of Samaria living water, drafts of which can secure the drinker from thirsting anymore, to walk upon the surface of the sea with feet that do not sink, and to quell the risings of the waves by rebuking the winds, without any doubt, is God. Just as therefore (to pass over many other instances) it is not part of the same nature to be moved to tears of pity for a dead friend, and when the stone that closed the four-days' grave was removed, to raise that same friend to life with a voice of command. Or to hang on the cross, and turning day to night, to make all the elements tremble. Or to be pierced with nails, and yet open the gates of paradise to the robber's faith. So it is not part of the same nature to say, 'I and the Father are one' (Jn 10:30), and to say, 'the Father is greater than I' (Jn 14:28). For although in the Lord Jesus Christ God and man is one person, yet the source of the humbling, which is shared by both, is one, and the source of the glory, which is shared by both, is another. For His manhood, which is less than the Father, comes from our side: His Godhead, which is equal to the Father, comes from the Father." 

Leo the Great, Tome, 4
1 Peter 1:10-25

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for "All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever." And this word is the good news that was preached to you. (ESV)
Lord Jesus Christ, God and man in one person, grant us an orthodox faith that we might confess always the catholic truth of Your true divinity of one substance with Your Father and Your true humanity by which You share our nature. Defend us from the onslaughts of Your enemy, so that we might always have the power to say back to You in doxology what You have said to us in theology. Amen.
For the Boards of Regents of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, that the Lord of the church would direct their deliberations as they meet jointly to serve the church
For Dr. Russell Dawn, who has accepted the call to be President of Concordia University Chicago, that the Lord Jesus would give him wisdom and insight as he leads the university
For Vicar Martin Hill, that the Lord Jesus would continue to grant him abundant blessings in his days of service to the church
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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