To Catch Sight

From “Sermon 147” (ca. 450)

God, seeing the world falling into ruin through fear, never stops working to bring it back into being through love, inviting it back by grace, holding it firm by charity, and embracing it with affection…

That is why God invited Moses to be the liberator of his people, calling him with a fatherly voice and speaking to him with a fatherly voice.

All the events we are recalling reveal the human heart fired with the flame of the love of God, senses flooded to the point of intoxication with that love, leading people on, until wounded by love, they begin to want to look upon the face of God with their bodily eyes.

How could the narrowness of human vision ever enclose God whom the entire world cannot contain? The law of love has no thought bout what might be, what ought to be or what can be. Love knows nothing of judgment, reaches beyond reason, and laughs at moderation. Love takes no relief from the fact that the object of its desire is beyond possibility, nor is it dissuaded by difficulties. If love does not attain what it desires it kills the lover, with the result that it will go where it is led, not where it ought to go. Love breeds a desire so strong as to make its way into forbidden territory. Love cannot bear not to catch sight of what it longs for. That is why the saints thought that they merited nothing if they could not see the Lord. It is why love that longs to see God has a spirit of devotion, even if it lacks judgment. It is why Moses dares to say to God: “If I have found favor in your sight, show me your face.”

It is also why God, aware that his people were suffering pain and weariness from their longing to see hm, chose as a means to make himself visible, something which was to be great to the dwellers on earh, and by no means insignificant to the dwellers in heaven. He chose to come to mankind as a human being, assuming our nature, in order to be seen by us.

St. Peter Chrysologus (ca. 380-450) was Bishop of Ravenna, and most famous preacher of his age, famed for his concise and eloquent homilies, and for his orthodoxy in an age of doctrinal conflict. His epithet, “of the golden word” marks him as the Western counterpart of St. John Chrysostom (‘of the golden mouth”). He is commemorated on July 30.


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