Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Christian Heritage - August 11 - The River of Grace

"Receive the garment of incorruption which Christ unfolds and holds out to you. Do not refuse the gift or you will insult him who offers it. You have wallowed in the mud long enough; hasten now to the Jordan, in answer not to the call of John but to invitation of Christ. For the river of grace flows everywhere; its source is not in Palestine, nor does it flow into the sea there, but encircles the whole earth and empties itself into paradise. It flows in the opposite direction to the four rivers which flow out of paradise, and the things it carries in are far more precious than those they carry out. For the rivers that flow away carry spices and agricultural produce and the fruits of the earth. But the river of grace brings with it men and women, the offspring of the Spirit.

"You must follow the example of Joshua, the son of Nun, and carry the gospel as he carried the ark. Leave the desert, leave sin behind you to cross the river Jordan. Hurry to follow the way of Christ, to enter the land fertile with gladdening fruits and flowing with the promised milk and honey. All those things are symbols for us, all are prefigurations of realities now made visible."

Gregory of Nyssa (AD 330-395), Treastise on Baptism: PL 46, 417-421

Gregory was the younger brother of Basil the Great and bishop of Nyssa. He was the greatest speculative theologian of the three great Cappadocian Fathers.

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