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St Gregory of Nyssa On the Baptism of Christ, Complete

Translated by W. Moore and H. A. Wilson

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On the Baptism of Christ.

A Sermon for the Day of the Lights. [2114]

Now I recognize my own flock: to-day I behold the wonted figure of the Church, when, turning with aversion from the occupation even of the cares of the flesh, you come together in your undiminished numbers for the service of God--when the people crowds the house, coming within the sacred sanctuary, and when the multitude that can find no place within fills the space outside in the precincts like bees. For of them some are at their labours within, while others outside hum around the hive. So do, my children: and never abandon this zeal. For I confess that I feel a shepherd's affections, and I wish, when I am set upon this watch-tower, to see the flock gathered round about the mountain's foot: and when it so happens to me, I am filled with wonderful earnestness, and work with pleasure at my sermon, as the shepherds do at their rustic strains. But when things are otherwise, and you are straying in distant wanderings, as you did but lately, the last Lord's Day, I am much troubled, and glad to be silent; and I consider the question of flight from hence, and seek for the Carmel of the prophet Elijah, or for some rock without inhabitant; for men in depression naturally choose loneliness and solitude. But now, when I see you thronging here with all your families, I am reminded of the prophetic saying, which Isaiah proclaimed from afar off, addressing by anticipation the Church with her fair and numerous children:--"Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as doves with their young to me [2115] "? Yes, and he adds moreover this also, "The place is too strait for me; give place that I may dwell [2116] ." For these predictions the power of the Spirit made with reference to the populous Church of God, which was afterwards to fill the whole world from end to end of the earth.

[2114] That is, for the Festival of the Epiphany or Theophany, when the Eastern Church commemorates especially the Baptism of our Lord.

[2115] Is. lx. 8 (LXX.).

[2116] Is. xlix. 20.

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