The Shepherd, December 2007

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FROM THE FATHERS

 

“HUMILITY IS THE RAIMENT OF THE GODHEAD.  The Word Who became man clothed Himself in it, and therewith He spoke to us in our body.  Every man who has been clothed with it has truly been made like unto Him Who came down from His own exaltedness, and hid the splendour of His majesty, and concealed His glory with humility, lest creation should be utterly consumed by the contemplation of Him.  Creation could not look upon Him unless He took a part of it to Himself, and thus conversed with it, and neither could it hear the words of His mouth face to face.  The sons of Israel were not even able to hear His voice when He spoke with them from the cloud (Deut.5:25ff).  How, then, should creation be able to bear the vision of Him openly?  The Israelites were so afflicted that they said to Moses, ‘Let God speak with thee, and thou shalt hear His words for us: and let God not speak with us, lest we die’ (Ex. 20:19).  So terrible is the sight of God that even the mediator [Moses] said, ‘I exceedingly fear and quake’ (Heb.12:21).  The spendour of His glory appeared on Mount Sinai; and the mountain smoked and quaked in fear of the revelation that was in it, so that even the beasts that approached the lower parts of it died.  The sons of Israel made ready and prepared themselves, keeping themselves chaste for three days according to the command of Moses (Ex. 19:15-16), so that they might be made worthy of hearing the voice of God, and of the vision of His revelation.  And when the time was come, they could not receive the vision of His light and the fierceness of the voice of His thunders.  But now, when He has poured out His grace upon the world through His own Coming, He has descended not in an earthquake, not in a fire, not in a terrible and might sound (see 3 Kgs 19:12), but ‘as rain upon a fleece, and rain-drops that fall upon the earth’ (Ps. 71:6) softly, and He was seen conversing with us after another fashion.  This came to pass when, as though in a treasury, He concealed His majesty with the veil of the flesh (see Heb. 10:20), and among us spoke with us in that [body] which His own bidding wrought for Him out of the womb of the Virgin, even Mary the Theotokos.”

 

Ven. Isaac the Syrian,  seventh century

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