Friday, September 22, 2017

Patristic Wisdom: Looking to the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Prophet Isaiah
Seek the Lord, and when you find Him,
    call upon Him when He draws near to you,
let the ungodly leave his ways,
    and the transgressor his counsels;
and let him return to the Lord, and he shall find mercy;
    for He shall abundantly pardon your sins.
“For My counsels are not as your counsels,
    nor are My ways as your ways,” says the Lord.
“But as the heaven is distant from the earth,
    so are My ways distant from your ways,
    and your thoughts from My mind.” (Is 55:6–9 LXX)

Seek Him while He can be found, while you are in the body and as long as an opportunity for repentance is provided, and seek Him not in any particular place but in faith. Just how God is to be sought we learn elsewhere.… “Taste of the Lord in goodness, and in simplicity of heart seek Him” [Wis. 1:1].… For it is not enough to seek the Lord and while there is a time of repentance to find Him and call on Him while He is near—unless the ungodly also leave their former ways and leave the old ways of thinking for the Lord.

Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah

“For my counsels” we read “are not as your counsels nor my ways as your ways; but far as is the Heaven from the earth, so far are my thoughts from your mind, and my counsels from your counsels.” Now if we admit to our favor household slaves when they have often offended against us, on their promising to become better, and place them again in their former portion, and sometimes even grant them greater freedom of speech than before; much more does God act thus. For if God had made us in order to punish us, you might well have despaired, and questioned the possibility of your own salvation. But if He created us for no reason than His own good will, and with a view to our enjoying everlasting blessings, and if He does and contrives everything for this end, from the first day until the present time, what is there which can ever cause you to doubt? Have we provoked Him severely, so as no other man ever did? this is just the reason why we ought especially to abstain from our present deeds and to repent for the past, and exhibit a great change. For the evils we have once perpetrated cannot provoke Him so much as our being unwilling to make any change in the future. For to sin may be a merely human failing, but to continue in the same sin ceases to be human, and becomes altogether devilish.

John Chrysostom, Letter to the Fallen Theodore

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