September 20 Gospel Reading

Luke 3: 19-22

19 But Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by him concerning Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, 20 also added this, above all, that he shut John up in prison. 21 When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. 22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”

Leo the Great in his Sermon 51 said:

“…a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold a voice out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear Him.’ The Father was indeed present in the Son, and in the Lord’s brightness, which He had tempered to the disciples’ sight, the Father’s Essence was not separated from the Only-begotten: but, in order to emphasize the two-fold personality, as the effulgence of the Son’s body displayed the Son to their sigh, so the Father’s voice from out the cloud announced the Father to their hearing. And when this voice was heard, ‘the disciples fell upon their faces, and were sore afraid,’ trembling at the majesty, not only of the Father, but also of the Son: for they now had a deeper insight into the undivided Deity of Both: and in their fear they did not separate One from the Other, because they doubted not in their faith.”

“That was a wide and manifold testimony, therefore, and contained a fuller meaning than struck the ear…’This is My Son,’ Who is separated from Me, neither by Godhead, nor by power, nor by eternity. ‘This is my Son,’ not adopted, but true-born, not created from another source, but begotten of Me: nor yet made like Me from another nature, but born equal to Me of My nature. ‘This is My Son,’ ‘through Whom all things were made, and without Whom was nothing made’ because all things that I do He does in like manner: and whatever I perform, He performs with me inseparably and without difference: for the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son, and Our Unity is never divided: and though I am One Who begot, and He the Other Whom I begot, yet is it wrong for you to think anything of Him which is not possible of Me. ‘This is My Son,’ Who sought not by grasping, and seized not in greediness, that equality with Me which He has, but remaining in the form of My glory, that He might carry out Our common plan for the restoration of mankind, He lowered the unchangeable Godhead even to the form of a slave.”

In Origen’s Homilies on the Gospel of Luke he said:

“Notice that even while in prison he is teaching. For he also had his disciples in that place. Why did they stay there, unless John exercised the office of teacher even in prison and taught them with divine words? In the course of these words, a question about Jesus arose. John sends some of his disciples and asks, ‘Are you he who is to come, or do we wait for another?’ The disciples return and announce to the teacher the Savior had bidden them to say. With Jesus’ words, John was armed for battle. He died confidently and was beheaded without resistance, strengthened by the words of the Lord himself and believing that he in whom he believed was truly the Son of God. This is what we have to say about John, and his freedom, and about Herod’s madness. To his many other crimes he also added this one: he first shut John in prison and afterward beheaded him.”

St. Cyril of Alexandria in his Commentary on Luke, Homily II said:

“But how then, they object, was he baptized and received the Spirit? We reply that he had no need of holy baptism. He was wholly pure and spotless, and the holiest of the holy. He did not need the Holy Spirit, for the Spirit that proceeds from God the Father is from him and equal to him in substance. Now, at last, we must explain God’s plan of salvation. God, in his love of humankind, provided for us a way of salvation and of life. Believing in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and making this confession before many witnesses, we wash away all the filth of sin. The communication of the Holy Spirit enriched us, made us partakers of the divine nature and gained for us the grace of adoption as God’s children. It was necessary, therefore, that the Word of the Father become for our sakes the pattern and way of every good work when he humbled himself to emptiness and deigned to assume our likeness. For it follows that he who is first in everything must set the example in this too. He commences the work himself in order that we may learn about the power of holy baptism and learn how much we gain by approaching so great a grace. Having been baptized, he prays that you, my beloved, may learn that never-ceasing prayer is a thing most fitting for those who have once been counted worthy of holy baptism.”

Ambrose in his Exposition of the Gospel of Luke said:

“Why like a dove? For the grace of the washing requires simplicity, so that we may be innocent like doves. The grace of the washing requires peace, as in an earlier image the dove brought to the ark that which alone was inviolable by the flood. He of whom the dove was the image, who now deigned to descend in the form of a dove, taught me that in that branch, in that ark, was the image of peace and of the church. In the midst of the floods of the world the Holy Spirit brings its fruitful peace to its church. David too taught, he who perceived the sacrament of baptism and said with the Spirit of prophecy, ‘Who will give me wings like a dove?'”

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