The Daughter of a Murderer and Adulterer

St. Symeon the New Theologian has some brilliant insights into the nature of the Church. In On the Mystical Life: The Ethical Discourses, he says:

For the prophet says concerning Him: “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers” [Isa. 40:22]. The same says a little later, “The Lord is the everlasting God, creator of the ends of the earth” [Isa. 40:28] and established their pillars over the abyss. And David says, “Who looks on the earth and it trembles” [Psalm 104:32]. Now given a king so important and so great, where might he look for someone whose daughter could be offered a bride for his Son? Would you like to know whose daughter it is? But my thoughts scatter before the magnitude of his condescencion! While I want to say it, I am still terrified by it! However, taking courage from His goodness, I will declare it here: it is the daughter of one who rebelled against Him, who commited murder and adultery. That is to say, He procures for Himself as a bride the daughter of an adulterer and murderer.

Have you ever heard of such incomparable and inexpressible goodness and condescension? Have you ever heard of such an excess of love for mankind? Have you ever seen such magnificence of love and goodness? All of you who think highly of yourselves, learn here from me to humble yourselves and moderate your self-opinion, and never to exalt yourselves, be you the mightiest king of kings, or the most noble of nobles, or wealthier than all the other rich men put together. Here you see the Master, the Lord of all, the Holy of hollies, the blessed God and unique Sovereign, the one who dwells in unapproachable light, so condescending as to take from a rebel the Bride of his only-begotten Son- Who Himself is invisible, unknowable, unsearchable, the Creator and Maker of all- and all of this for your sake and for you salvation.

It is a humbling thing when you realize your place before God, the one who is eternal, above all, incomprehensible and all powerful. All too often, I follow in the footsteps of my father, the adulturer and murder. I commit adultury through lustful thoughts, through attempting to usurp the Head, Christ. I become a murder when I fail to practice empathy with my brother or sister. May the Lord have mercy on all of us, that we may ignore the “great torrent of human custom” and our old father, and instead strive to be like the perfect man, the divine Jesus Christ, who condescended to become man, so that we could become like him.

Lord have mercy!

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