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Monday, October 26, 2020

Saint Gregory the Theologian On the Lord Jesus Christ

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  As man he was baptized, but he absolved sins as God; he needed no purifying rites himself – his purpose was to hallow water.  As man he was put to the test, but as God he came through victorious – yes, bids us be of good cheer, because he has conquered the world.  He hungered – yet he fed thousands.  He is indeed “living, heavenly bread.”  He thirsted – yet he exclaimed: “Whosoever thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”  Indeed he promised that believers would become fountains.  He was tired – yet he is the “rest” of the weary and the burdened.  He was overcome by heavy sleep – yet he goes lightly over the sea, rebukes winds, and relieves the drowning Peter.  He pays tax – yet he uses a fish to do it; indeed he is emperor over those who demand the tax.  He is called a “Samaritan, demonically possessed” – but he rescues the man who came down from Jerusalem and fell among thieves.  Yes, he is recognized by demons, drives out demons, drowns deep a legion of spirits, and sees the prince of demons falling like lightning.  He is stoned, yet not hit; he prays, yet he hears prayer.  He weeps, yet he puts an end to weeping.  He asks where Lazarus is laid – he was man; yet he raises Lazarus – he was God.  He is sold, and cheap was the price – thirty pieces of silver; yet he buys back the world at the mighty cost of his own blood.  A sheep, he is led to the slaughter – yet he shepherds Israel and now the whole world as well.  A lamb, he is dumb – yet he is “Word,” proclaimed by “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.”  He is weakened, wounded – yet he cures every disease and every weakness.  He is brought up to the tree and nailed to it – yet by the tree of life he restores us.  Yes, he saves even a thief crucified with him; he wraps all the visible world in darkness.  He is given vinegar to drink, gall to eat- and who is he?  Why, one who turned water into wine, who took away the taste of bitterness, who is all sweetness and desire.  He surrenders his life, yet he has power to take it again.  Yes, the veil is rent, for things of heaven are being revealed, rocks split, and dead men have an earlier awakening.  He dies, but he vivifies and by death destroys death.  He is buried, yet he rises again.  He goes down to Hades, yet he leads souls up, ascends to heaven, and will come to judge quick and dead, and to probe discussions like these.  If the first set of expressions starts you going astray, the second set takes your error away.

 

 

– Taken from “The Third Theological Oration (Oration 29) – On the Son” from the book On God and Christ: The Five Theological Orations and Two Letters to Cledonius by St. Gregory of Nazianzus, translated by Lionel Wickham, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press: Crestwood, NY, 2002.   

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