Friday, July 30, 2004

Christian Heritage - July 30 - The Church is a Garden Extending Over the Whole World

"Christ became all things in order to restore all of us in himself. The man Christ received the mustard seed which represents the kingdom of God; as man he received it, though as God he had always possessed it. He sowed it in his garden, that is in his bride, the Church. The Church is a garden extending over the whole world, tilled by the plough of the gospel, fenced in by stakes of doctrine and discipline, cleared of every harmful weed by the labor of the apostles, fragrant and lovely with perennial flowers: virgins' lilies and martyrs' roses, set amid the pleasant verdure of all who bear witness to Christ and the tender plants of all who have faith in him.

"Such then is the mustard seed which Christ sowed in his garden. When he promised a kingdom to the patriarchs the seed took root in them; with the prophets it sprang up, with the apostles it grew tall, in the Church it became a great tree putting forth innumerable branches laden with gifts. And now you too must take the wings of the psalmist's dove, gleaming gold in the rays of divine sunlight, and fly to reap for ever among those sturdy, fruitful branches. No snares are set to trap you there; fly off, then, with confidence and dwell securely in its shelter."

Peter Chrysologus (AD 400-450), Hom. 98: PL 52, 475-476

Peter was the bishop of Ravenna. He was, above all, a pastor and preached many sermons to his people. By his beautiful words I am once again reminded how thankful I am, to recall a phrase from Augustine's *Confessions*, to have been raised in the wings of the Church my whole life.

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