, ,

St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 38, Section 14:

In regard to these things, what do the slanderers say to us, the bitter calculators of divinity, the accusers of praiseworthy things, the dark ones speaking of the light, the uneducated speaking of wisdom, for whom “Christ died in vain,” the unthankful creatures, fashioned by the Evil One? Do you bring as a charge against God his good deed? Is he small because he is humble for your sake? Do you accuse the Good Shepherd because he went to the one who strayed, he who laid down his life for the sheep, to find the stray ‘on the mountains and the hills where you offered sacrifice,’ and having found it took it on his shoulder, on which also he carried the cross, and having taken it brought it back to life on high, and having brought it on high counted it again among those who remained there? Do you accuse him because he lit a lamp, his own flesh, and swept the house, cleansing the world of sin, and searched for the coin, the royal image covered with a heap of passions, then calls together his friends, the angelic powers, once he has found the coin, and makes participants in his joy those angels initiated into the mystery of his saving plan? Do you accuse him because the most radiant Light follows the lamp, his forerunner John, and the Word follows the voice, and the Bridegroom follows the friend of the bridegroom, who prepares for the Lord a chosen people and through water purifies them beforehand for the Spirit? Do you bring these charges against God? Do you also suppose that he is inferior for these reasons, that he girds himself with a towel and washes the feet of his disciples, and shows that the best way to be exalted is lowliness, since he lowers himself because of the soul bent down to the ground, so as to lift up with himself those leaning downward because of sin? But how do you not accuse him because he also eats with tax collectors and at the homes of tax collectors and makes tax collectors his disciples, that he also may make some profit for himself? What profit? The salvation of sinners. Of so, one must also blame the physician for bending over one who is ill and enduring the stench to health to the sick; or one who through compassion leans over a pit to rescue, according to the law, the animal that has fallen into it.