God is like an inaccessible rock


From a homily by Saint Gregory of Nyssa, bishop

Consider the feelings of a man who looks down into the depths of the sea from the top of a mountain. This is similar to my own experience when the voice of the Lord from on high, as from a mountaintop, reached the unfathomable depths of my intellect. Along the seacoast, you may often see mountains facing the sea. It is as though they had been sliced in two, with a sheer drop from top to bottom. At the top a projection forms a ledge overhanging the depths below. If a man were to look down from that ledge, he would be overcome by dizziness. In this same way my soul grows dizzy when it hears the great voice of the Lord saying: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God. 

The vision of God is offered to those who have purified their hearts. Yet, no man has seen God at any time. These are the words of the great Saint John and they are confirmed by Saint Paul’s lofty thought, in the words: God is he whom no one has seen or can see. He is that smooth, steep and sheer rock, on which the mind can find no secure resting place to get a grip or lift ourselves up. In the view of Moses, he is inaccessible. In spite of every effort, our minds cannot approach him. We are cut off by the words: No man can see God and live.And yet, to see God is eternal life. But John, Paul and Moses, pillars of our faith, all testify that it is impossible to see God. Look at the dizziness that affects the soul drawn to contemplating the depths of these statements. If God is life, then he who does not see God does not see life. Yet God cannot be seen; the apostles and prophets, inspired by the Holy Spirit, have testified to this. Into what straits is man’s hope driven!

Yet God does raise and sustain our flagging hopes. He rescued Peter from drowning and made the sea into a firm surface beneath his feet. He does the same for us; the hands of the Word of God are stretched out to us when we are out of our depth, buffeted and lost in speculation. Grasped firmly in his hands, we shall be without fear: Blessed are the pure of heart, he says, for they shall see God.

RESPONSORY John 1:18; Psalm 145:3

No one has ever seen God;
 The only Son of God, nearest to the Father’s heart, has made him known.

Great is the Lord and highly to be praised;
his greatness is beyond our understanding.
 The only Son of God, nearest to the Father’s heart, has made him known.

CONCLUDING PRAYER

Grant, O Lord,
that we may always revere and love your holy name,
for you never deprive of your guidance
those you set firm on the foundation of your love.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
 Amen.

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