Friday, February 2, 2018

Patristic Wisdom: Looking to the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany

For why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, saying, “My way is hidden from God, and my God took away my judgment and departed”? So then, have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the God who created the ends of the earth, neither hungers nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives strength to the hungry, and sorrow to those who do not grieve. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the elect shall be without strength. But those who wait on God shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not hunger. (Is 40:27–31 LXX)

According to the same word, then, it seems that the youths and the young and those who have arrived at manhood are able to work through weakness, although surrounded by various calamities and diseases, but myriads who were vigorous and swift in their youth he prepared to put to death. And he did not fall to the depths of old age, although driven to extreme poverty so that he could not even find daily food. But once again he did away once and for all with the others who had boasted in riches and glory among people. But then again, those who wait for God during the period of their persecutions, although they are weak and pitiful according to the standards of this present life, they are deemed worthy of divine transformation, so that they are not only calm and free, but they shall grow wings like eagles, and they will fly away and be lifted up high and soar through the air, and finally set out on their journey into the heavens. For the nature of eagles is fallen from heaven, but they alone are able to drink in the light of the sun. And, therefore, it is in these flashings that those who wait for God are comparable to eagles, although from a human standpoint they were homeless and with no place to rest and hopeless and distressed by anxiety during the times of their persecution in this mortal life. And, therefore, after being deemed worthy by God of the visitation of exceeding afflictions, they lived their lives in peace and grew wings like eagles, and they were raised up into the heights. And if it shall happen that just as those who contend and overcome in their testimony to godliness are made perfect, how much more appropriate for them is the promise that says: But those who wait for God shall renew their strength. And, therefore, exchanging mortal life for the angelic life and preparing themselves for the heavenly journey, they shall grow wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not hunger, or according to the other Greek translations, they shall not faint. Therefore, if He shall grant such transformations to those who wait for Him, He will also repay those who do the opposite with punishments, partially during the present life but to the fullest during the time of judgment. How dare you then—you who are called “Jacob” and “Israel” and who have been instructed in the divine words—how dare you say among yourselves that “your way was hidden from God, and your judgment has been taken away, and he has withdrawn”?

Eusebius of Caesarea, Commentary on Isaiah

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