Pondering for Monday, March 9, 2020

Readings for Gregory of Nyssa (March 9, 394)

Psalm 119:97-104 Wisdom 7:24-28  John 14:23-26 

“Though she [Wisdom] is but one, she can do all things, and while remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets.”  (Wisdom 7:27)

These words from the Wisdom of Solomon really work for the story of Gregory of Nyssa. “Gregory was a man enchanted with Christ and dazzled by the meaning of his Passion. He was born in Caesarea in Cappadocia (Turkey) about 334, the younger brother of Basil the Great, and, in his youth, was but a reluctant Christian.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for March 9)

Sometimes however, the best people for an important position are the people who really don’t want it. “His brother Basil, in his struggle against the Emperor Valens, compelled Gregory to become Bishop of Nyssa, a town ten miles from Caesarea. Knowing himself to be unfit for the charge, Gregory described his ordination as the most miserable day of his life. He lacked the important Episcopal skills of tact and understanding, and had no sense of the value of money. Falsely accused of embezzling Church funds, Gregory went into hiding for two years, not returning to his diocese until Valens died.”  (Great Cloud of Witnesses for March 9)

I think we are what we experience.  Significant events in our lives can change us, hopefully for the better.  “Although he resented his brother’s dominance, Gregory was shocked by Basil’s death in 379. Several months later, he received another shock: his beloved sister Macrina was dying. Gregory hastened to Annesi and conversed with her for two days about death, and the soul, and the meaning of the resurrection. Choking with asthma, Macrina died in her brother’s arms. The two deaths, while stunning Gregory, also freed him to develop as a deeper and richer philosopher and theologian. He reveals his delight in the created order in his treatise, On the Making of Man. He exposes the depth of his contemplative and mystical nature in his Life of Moses and again in his Commentary on the Song of Songs. His Great Catechism is still considered second only to Origen’s treatise, On First Principles.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for March 9)

Again, “[Wisdom] renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets.”  (Wisdom 7:27)  I studied Gregory while in Seminary but have not read some of the material mentioned above, but I plan to.  I also often refer to the life of Moses when advising people to depend on God to act in their lives, especially when they are at the water’s edge.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John

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