Today we pray with St Gregory of Nyssa, one of the three Cappadocian Fathers (ca. 335- after 394). As we read some of his writings, may we align our spirits with the Spirit of God and understand that Christ is in our midst:
Our Bridegroom has not been taken from us. He stands in our midst, though we see him not. The Priest is within the holy place. He is entered into that within the veil, whither
Our forerunner Christ has entered for us (Hebrews 6:20). He has left behind him the curtain of the flesh. No longer does he pray to the type or shadow of the things in heaven, but he looks upon the very embodiment of these realities. No longer through a glass darkly does he intercede with God, but face to face he intercedes with Him: and he intercedes for us , and for thenegligences and ignorancesof the people.
Where are you pasturing your flock, O good Shepherd, who carry the whole flock on your shoulders? For the whole of human nature is one sheep and you have lifted it onto your shoulders. Show me the place of peace, lead me to the good grass that will nourish me, call me by name so that I, your sheep, hear your voice, and by your speech give me eternal life. Answer me, you whom my soul loves.I give you the name ‘you whom my soul loves’ because your name is above every name and above all understanding and there is no rational nature that can utter it or comprehend it. Therefore your name, by which your goodness is known, is simply the love my soul has for you. How could I not love you, when you loved me so much, even though I was black, that you laid down your life for the sheep of your flock? A greater love cannot be imagined, than exchanging your life for my salvation.
Show me then, my soul says, where you pasture your flock, so that I can find that saving pasture too, and fill myself with the food of heaven without which no-one can come to eternal life, and run to the spring and fill myself with the drink of God. You give it, as from a spring, to those who thirst – water pouring from your side cut open by the lance, water that, to whoever drinks it, is a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
If you lead me to pasture here, you will make me lie down at noon, sleeping at peace and taking my rest in light unstained by any shade. For the noon has no shade and the sun stands far above the mountain peaks. You bring your flock to lie in this light when you bring your children to rest with you in your bed. But no-one can be judged worthy of this noonday rest who is not a child of light and a child of the day. Whoever has separated himself equally from the shadows of evening and morning, from where evil begins and evil ends, at noon he will lie down and the sun of righteousness will shine on him.Show me, then, my soul says, how I should sleep and how I should graze, and where the path is to my noonday rest. Do not let me fall away from your flock because of ignorance, and find myself one of a flock of sheep that are not yours.
Thus my soul spoke, when she was anxious about the beauty that God’s care had given her and wanted to know how she could keep this good fortune for ever.
[This is a guest post from Michael Fletcher, a Th.M. student at Western Seminary.]