Gregory the Theologian, Or. 14

I’ve recently been reading Oration 14 (On Love for the Poor) by St. Gregory the Theologian. I cannot recommend it enough. It is highly touching and an exceptionally well-argued work of theology, using Scripture and reason in speaking on diverse topics such as the marginalization of the poor, the problem of evil, and the virtues, all harmoniously combined to support his overall argument that mercy is the greatest of the virtues and that God, who is so kind to us, only asks in return that we be kind to our fellow human beings.

Blessed is the one who can make such a distinction, wielding the sword of the Word to separate what is better from what is worse! As holy David says, he has built steps in his heart, and fleeing this deep valley of tears as far as he can, he “seeks the things that are above;” crucified to the world with Christ, he rises from the dead with Christ and ascends with Christ to inherit the life that never fades or deceives – where no serpent lies on the way, ready to strike, watching for his heel and guarding his own head. (Or. 14, 21).

On the problem of evil:

Surely what seems to be unfair to us has its fairness in the plan of God, just as in the physical world there are prominent and lowly features, large and small details, ridges and valleys, by which the beauty of the whole comes into visible existence in their relationship to each other. It is, after all, very much within the skill of the Craftsman if he should adapt the occasional disorder and unevenness of the material realm to achieve the purpose of his creation; and this will be grasped and acknowledged by all of us, when we contemplate the final, perfect beauty of what he has created (Or. 14, 31).

I think this sounds like something St. Augustine might say!

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