Newsletter of the District of Asia

 March 1997

The Patience of Our Lord

by St. Gregory the Great (+604)

What the Lord did in reply to the fury of those who stoned Him we have been told; for immediately there follows: Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.  It is a thing that greatly arouses our wonder, Dearest Brethren, why the Lord should turn away from His persecutors by hiding Himself; He Who had He willed to use His divine power could have frozen them in their assault by the silent command of His mind, or overwhelmed them forever by the sudden chastisement of death?  But since He came to suffer, He willed not to exercise judgement.

And in the hour of His passion He had truly shown what He could do, yet suffered that which He came to endure.  For when He said to His persecutors who came seeking Him: I am He (Jn. xviii, 6), with His voice alone He struck down their pride, and laid them all prostrate upon the earth.  He then Who on this occasion could have escaped the hands of those who stoned Him without hiding Himself, why does He hide Himself if not that our Redeemer, being made a man among men, tells us some things by His words, and yet others by His example?  What does He here tell us by His example but that we should humbly turn aside from those who, in their anger worketh pride (Prov. xxi, 24); even when we are able to resist them.  And for this same reason Paul also tells us:  Give not place unto wrath (Rom. xii, 19).

Let man then carefully consider with what great humility he should fly from the anger of his neighbour, when God, hiding Himself, turned away from the fury of those who raged against Him.  Let no one then rise in anger against the injuries he receives; let no one give back injury.  For, imitating God, it is more glorious to turn away in silence from insult, than to triumph over it by answering in kind.

But the proud in heart will say:  ‘It is a dishonourable thing that a man who has received an insult should take it in silence.  For whoever sees you receive an insult, and keeping silent, will not believe you are exercising patience, but rather admitting guilt.’  But how do such words arise in us against the virtue of patience if not because we have our minds fixed on this lower world, and care nothing about pleasing Him Who looks down on us from heaven?  If we have received injury, let us give ourselves to reflection on the words of God: I seek not my own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.

This which was written of the Lord; that He hid Himself, can be understood in another sense.  He had preached many things to the Jews; but they had mocked the words of his Teaching.  And because of it they became even more perverse: going so far as to stone Him.  What does the Lord then teach us by hiding Himself, if not that Truth hides Herself from those who continue to despise Her words?  For Truth flies from the soul it does not find humble.

How many are there even now who execrate the Jews for not hearing the words of God; yet what they were whom they reprove, in regard to believing, that are they themselves in regard to the works of grace?  They listen to the teachings of God they see His miracles, but they refuse to change their evil ways.  Behold He calls us, and we refuse to return to Him!  Behold He waits for us, and we ignore His patience!  While there is yet time, Brethren, let each one of you forsake his own way of evil, and let Him stand in great fear of the patience of God, lest later he may be unable to escape His wrath Whose mildness he now despises; Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost lives and reigns world without end.  Amen.

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