Friday, October 6, 2017

Patristic Wisdom: Looking to the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts;
Look down from heaven and see,
And visit this vine
And the vineyard which Your right hand has planted,
And the branch that You made strong for Yourself.
It is burned with fire, it is cut down;
They perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.
Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand,
Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.
Then we will not turn back from You;
Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.
Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved! (Ps 80:14–19)

Here he teaches the springing up of Christ the Lord: he begs that the vine be given care on account of the temple—clearly called Son of Man—to be assumed from it. This is the way the Lord also in the sacred Gospels, though being man and God at the same time, called himself Son of Man, bestowing the name from the visible nature. Consequently, the inspired Word teaches those taken captive to beseech the God of all to show some mercy to the vine on account of the saving root springing from it. The Lord, in fact, also calls himself this in the words, “I am the true vine, you the branches, and my Father is the farmer”: as man he is the vine, as God he is also the farmer, sowing good seed in his field. You see, though he sprang from this vine, which proved useless, bearing thorns instead of grapes for the farmer, he for his part became the true vine and put forth the biggest branches, the multitude of those who believed in him. The shadow from these truly covered the mountains, and the limbs the cedars. The vine for its part truly extended its branches to the sea, and its offshoots as far as the rivers. There is no place, no place under heaven, in which the divine vats from this vine are not established. For its sake they beg, in narrating all its manifold sufferings, that it too enjoy mercy.…

You do not renege on Your promises: once these firstfruits are received from us, the whole human race will recognize the true God and sing the praises of the lovingkindness demonstrated. In this manner the power of death will be overcome, and we shall gain eternal life, adoring You, God the Savior. So on account of all this and the salvation coming to all people through us, deliver us from this sadness and grant return: if You but appear, we shall gain salvation.

Theodoret of Cyrus, Commentary on the Psalms

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