Gathered Together

From Commentary on Isaiah (ca. 425)

“The wolf shall graze with the lamb, and the leopard shall rest with the kid”(11:6). Through Christ the savage and the meek will be joined together, and those who are wholly lacking holiness will be joined to the holy ones and to the saints. Insofar as Israel was under the tutoring of the law and learned forbearance, it was gentle and meek, and also holy, similar to a sheep or goat. Both of these animals are holy and pure and by nature tame. The world and the leopard, however, and also the lion, are by nature savage and unable to dwell together. But in Christ that is what happened. Jews and Greeks were gathered together with one another, sharing a single food, the evangelical and apostolic kerygma, under the care of the one chief shepherd who knows how to graze his flock in a good pasture and in a very rich place.

“And they will not hurt or be able to destroy anyone on my holy mountain” (11:9). The holy mountain is the church, lifted up on a high place in glory and adorned with sublime teachings. It is a community devoted to higher things. It is our practice to worship the creator and maker, not the creation. Nor do we number the divine Word, maker of all things, among created things but give him the glory due to him…

“In that day shall be a root of Jesse, and he will arise to rule the Gentiles; they will hope in him, and his rest shall be an honor” (11:10) Little by little the spiritual meaning of what was spoken obscurely shines forth, and those things that were uttered through figures are clearly elucidated for eager listeners. For how it is that the wolf shall graze with the lamb, and the leopard rest with the kid, and the calf, ox, and lion eat husks together; and when it shall be that these things actually come to pass — that those who were once bellicose and cruel become docile and mild, and how they shall be fed abundantly along with those who are gentle and holy under one chief shepherd – all of this is made clear when it says, “and there shall be a root of Jesse.” …

Even if they [the Gentiles] were without hope and after the fashion of this world, did not know God — for they worshipped the works of their own hands — nevertheless, since they have been called through faith to the knowledge of Christ, they have been made subject to him, they have laid hold of him who is truly, and by nature, God, and have come to share in the hope of the saints. Christ is not only a matter of hope for the Gentiles; he will actually be manifested in the course of time… He will bestow freely his rest among them as their honor and glory. For the mind of his saints is a hospitable dwelling place for the Lord.

St. Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) was Patriarch of Alexandria and an influential theologian, who convened the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431, which resolved the Nestorian Controversy by asserting the unity of Christ’s person, and defending the use of the Marian title “Theotokos,” the God-bearer. His commentary on Isaiah was a product of the early days of his episcopate. He is commemorated on various days on the liturgical calendar of Eastern and Western churches.

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