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For Palm Sunday: a reading from “The Epistle to Diognetus”

April 9, 2017

From Faith and Life, here is a reading for Palm Sunday that comes from the “Epistle to Diognetus.”  It is not known who wrote this, but the Epistle to Diognetus is an early example of Christian apologetics – along the lines of the writings of Justin Martyr.

When our unrighteousness was consummated, and full proof was given that punishment and death were to be looked for as its reward, and the time was come which God had preordained for the manifestation of His own loving-kindness and power, (for the love of God, which proceeds from His transcendent benignity, is peerless,) He did not hate us, nor repel us, nor did He remember evil, but showed His long-suffering, bore with us, Himself took upon Him our sins,—gave up, of Himself, His own Son as a ransom for us, the Holy for the lawless, the Innocent for the wicked, the Just for the unjust, the Incorruptible for the corruptible, the Immortal for the mortal. For what else but His Son’s Righteousness was able to cover our sins? Wherein was it possible for us, the lawless and impious, to be justified, save in the Son of God alone? O that sweet Substitution! O that unsearchable plan! O those unexpected benefits! That the transgression of many should be covered by one Righteous, and the Righteousness of One should justify many that were unrighteous.

–Anonymous Epistle to Diognetus, c. 9 (early in the second century).

It is remarkable how beautiful are the writings of so many from this time – and this one is as beautiful as those by Melito of Sardis.  Truly, God was and is so merciful, that “the transgression of many should be covered by one Righteous, and the Righteousness of One should justify many that were unrighteous.”

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