Friday, July 14, 2017

Patristic Wisdom: Looking to the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

You have visited the earth, and saturated it;
    You have abundantly enriched it.
The river of God is filled with water;
    You have prepared their food,
    for thus is the preparation of it.
Saturate her furrows,
    multiply her fruits;
the crop springing up
    shall rejoice in its drops.
You will bless the crown of the year because of Your goodness;
    and Your plains shall be filled with fatness.
The mountains of the wilderness shall be enriched;
    and the hills shall gird themselves with joy.
The rams of the flock are clothed with wool,
    and the valleys shall abound in grain;
    they shall cry aloud; yes, they shall sing hymns. (Ps 65:9–13 LXX)

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Mt 13:3–9)

With the emergence of this bounty, the former wilderness will yield fruit in due season. The hills stained with the demons’ sacrifices will welcome those who sing to the Lord constantly and embrace the angelic way of life, and will become the center of admiration of all eyes. Now events bear out these words: we see everyone making their way to those occupying the pinnacles and practicing the exalted virtue. The prophet Ezekiel also called the rams of flocks powerful, but accused them of consuming the good pasture and trampling underfoot the rest, of drinking the pure water and stirring up the rest with their feet.* Here, on the other hand, he forecasts good things even for them: he says they will be clad and clothed; the nature of the clothing the divinely inspired Paul mentions, “All you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ,”† he says. In other words, since Christ the Lord chose those who were originally fishermen, artisans, and people living in poverty, the grace of the Spirit prophecies the salvation of both rich and powerful. Hence, … not only the other sheep but also the very rams present themselves for the baptism of salvation. Those whose lot is poverty and who have chosen to practice piety will offer God their particular fruit, one thirtyfold, one sixtyfold, one a hundredfold. All the aforementioned will praise God with complete enthusiasm for bestowing upon human nature such a wonderful transformation.

Theodoret of Cyrus, Commentary on the Psalms 65.9

* Ezekiel 34:17–19
† Galatians 3:27

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