Friday, February 5, 2016

Lord, Cleanse Me

Continuing my posts of patristic texts coinciding with this Sunday’s Psalm study.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.  (Ps 51:10)

And in addition to what has been said, it is good with our head cleansed, as the head which is the workshop of the senses is cleansed, to hold fast the Head of Christ—from Him the whole body is fitly joined together and formed—and to cast down our sin that exalted itself, when it would exalt us above our better part.  It is good also for the shoulder to be sanctified and purified that it may be able to take up the Cross of Christ, which not everyone can easily do.  It is good for the hands to be consecrated, and the feet.  The former that they may in every place be lifted up holy, and that they may lay hold of the discipline of Christ, lest the Lord at any time be angered; and that the Word may gain credence by action, as was the case with that which was given in the hand of a prophet.  The latter that they be not swift to shed blood, nor to run to evil, but that they be prompt to run to the Gospel and the Prize of the high Calling, and to receive Christ Who washes and cleanses them.  And if there be also a cleansing of that belly which receives and digests the food of the Word, it would be good also, not to make it a god by luxury and the meat that perishes, but rather to give it all possible cleansing, and to make it more spare, that it may receive the Word of God at the very heart, and grieve honorably over the sins of Israel.  I find also the heart and inward parts deemed worthy of honor.  David convinces me of this, when he prays that a clean heart may be created in him, and a right spirit renewed in his inward parts—meaning, I think, the mind and its movements or thoughts.

Gregory Nazianzen, Oration on Holy Baptism, 39

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