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Gregory Nazianzen the Theologian To Those Who Had Invited Him and Not Come to Receive Him (Oration III), Complete

Translated by Ch. Browne and J. Swallow.

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(About Easter a.d. 362.)

I. How slow you are, my friends and brethren, to come to listen to my words, though you were so swift in tyrannizing over me, and tearing me from my Citadel Solitude, which I had embraced in preference to everything else, and as coadjutress and mother of the divine ascent, and as deifying man, [2920] I had especially admired, and had set before me as the guide of my whole life. [2921] How is it that, now you have got it, you thus despise what you so greatly desired to obtain, and seem to be better able to desire the absent than to enjoy the present; as though you preferred to possess my teaching rather than to profit by it? Yes, I may even say this to you: "I became a surfeit unto you before you tasted of me, or gave me a trial" [2922] —which is most strange.

II. And neither did you entertain me as a guest, nor, if I may make a remark of a more compassionate kind, did you allow yourselves to be entertained by me, reverencing this command if nothing else; nor did you take me by the hand, as beginning a new task; nor encourage me in my timidity, nor console me for the violence I had suffered; but—I shrink from saying it, though say it I must—you made my festival no festival, and received me with no happy introduction; and you mingled the solemn festival with sorrow, because it lacked that which most of all would have contributed to its happiness, the presence of you my conquerors, for it would not be true to call you people who love me. So easily is anything despised which is easily conquered, and the proud receives attention, while he who is humble before God is slighted.

III. What will ye? Shall I be judged by you, or shall I be your judge? Shall I pass a verdict, or receive one, for I hope to be acquitted if I be judged, and if I give sentence, to give it against you justly? The charge against you is that you do not answer my love with equal measure, nor do you repay my obedience with honour, nor do you pledge the future to me by your present alacrity—though even if you had, I could hardly have believed it. But each of you has something which he prefers to both the old and the new Pastor, neither reverencing the grey hairs of the one, nor calling out the youthful spirit of the other.

IV. There is a Banquet in the Gospels, [2923] and a hospitable Host and friends; and the Banquet is most pleasant, for it is the marriage of His Son. He calleth them, but they come not: He is angry, and—I pass over the interval for fear of bad omen—but, to speak gently, He filleth the Banquet with others. God forbid that this should be your case; but yet you have treated me (how shall I put it gently?) with as much haughtiness or boldness as they who after being called to a feast rise up against it, and insult their host; for you, though you are not of the number of those who are without, or are invited to the marriage, but are yourselves those who invited me, and bound me to the Holy Table, and shewed me the glory of the Bridal Chamber, then deserted me (this is the most splendid thing about you)—one to his field, another to his newly bought yoke of oxen, another to his just-married wife, another to some other trifling matter; you were all scattered and dispersed, caring little for the Bridechamber and the Bridegroom. [2924]

[2920] S. Gregory very frequently uses this very strong expression to bring out the reality and intimacy of the Christian's Union with Christ as the result of the sanctifying grace by which all the Baptized are made "partakers of the Divine Nature" (2 Pet. i. 4).

[2921] The passage might also be rendered "had preferred to every other kind of life."

[2922] Isa. i. 14.

[2923] S. Luke xiv. 16.

[2924] S. Matt. xxii. 10.

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