Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Great Is the Mystery of Godliness

He was born—but he had been begotten: he was born of a woman—but she was a virgin.…In his human nature he had no father, but also in his divine nature no mother.…He dwelt in the womb—but he was recognized by the prophet, himself still in the womb, leaping before the Word, for whose sake he came into being.  He was wrapped in swaddling clothes—but he took off the swathing bands of the grave by His rising again.  He was laid in a manger—but he was glorified by angels, and proclaimed by a star, and worshiped by the magi.…He had no form nor comeliness in the eyes of the Jews—but to David he is fairer than the children of men.  And on the mountain he was bright as the lightning, and became more luminous than the sun, initiating us into the mystery of the future.

He was baptized as man—but he remitted sins as God—not because he needed rites of purification himself, but that he might sanctify the element of water.  He was tempted as man, but he conquered as God; he bids us be of good cheer, for he has overcome the world.  He hungered—but he fed thousands; he is the bread that gives life, and that is of heaven.  He thirsted—but he cried, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.”  He promised that fountains should flow from them that believe.  He was wearied, but he is the rest of them that are weary and heavy laden.  He was heavy with sleep, but he walked lightly over the sea. He rebuked the winds, he made Peter light as he began to sink.  He pays tribute, but it is out of a fish; he is the king of those who demanded it.  He is called a Samaritan and a demoniac;…the demons acknowledge him, and he drives out demons and sinks in the sea legions of foul spirits, and sees the prince of the demons falling like lightning.…He prays, but he hears prayer.  He weeps, but he causes tears to cease.  He asks where Lazarus was laid, for he was man; but he raises Lazarus, for he was God.

He is sold, and very cheap, for it is only for thirty pieces of silver; but he redeems the world, and that at a great price, for the price was his own blood.  As a sheep he is led to the slaughter, but he is the shepherd of Israel, and now of the whole world also.  As a lamb he is silent, yet he is the word, and is proclaimed by the voice of one crying in the wilderness.  He is bruised and wounded, but he heals every disease and every infirmity.  He is lifted up and nailed to the tree, but by the tree of life he restores us; yea, he saves even the robber crucified with Him; he wrapped the visible world in darkness.  He is given vinegar to drink mingled with gall.  Who?  He who turned the water into wine, who is the destroyer of the bitter taste, who is sweetness and altogether desire.  He lays down his life, but he has power to take it again; and the veil is rent, for the mysterious doors of heaven are opened; the rocks are cleft, the dead arise.  He dies, but he gives life, and by his death destroys death.  He is buried, but he rises again; he goes down into Hades, but he brings up the souls; he ascends to heaven, and shall come again to judge the living and the dead.

Gregory Nazianzen, On the Son

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