Christ whose glory (3)
Once again remorse was stirring within the Supple Breast. Was I wasting the
valuable time of our much-loved list-members, by offering them something
outside their period? But again this morning I was reading Gregory of
Nyssa's treatise "On Christian perfection", and the following sentence leapt
from the page:
"When we consider that Christ is the true light far removed from all
falsehood, we realize that our lives too should be lit by the rays of the
sun of justice, which shine for our enlightenment." ("Justice" and
"Righteousness" render the same Greek word, "dikaiosyne".)
"Sun of Righteousness, arise". This is a quotation from Malachi 4:2, "But
for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing
in its wings." Malachi is talking about the events which will accompany
"the great and terrible day of the Lord". The prophecy has been interpreted
by Christians as referring to the Advent of Christ.
Wesley used the image in his Christmas hymn, "Hark the herald angels sing":
"Hail the heaven-born Prince of peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings . . ."
Members should also be familiar with the text from the Advent antiphon, "O
Oriens" (Did somebody call?) It may be helpful to reprise what I said about
that antiphon last Advent:
O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae: veni, et illumina
sedentes in tenebris et umbra mortis.
O Day-spring, Brightness of Light Everlasting, and Sun of Righteousness:
Come and enlighten him that sitteth in darkness and the shadow of death.
My illustrious namesake derives his title from the Song of Zechariah, or
Benedictus, Luke 1:78-79,
Per viscera misericordiae Dei nostri:
In quibus visitavit nos, Oriens ex alto,
Illuminare his qui in tenebris et in umbra mortis sedent . . .
'Through the bowels of compassion of our God,
Through which the Dayspring from on high has visted us,
To illuminate those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death . . .'
The symbolism of light is often applied to Christ in the NT, but for
specifically eternal light we should look to Isaiah 60, which is all about
light. The chapter begins,
Surge, illuminare, Ierusalem, quia venit lumen tuum,
Et gloria Domini super te orta est.
'Arise, shine, Jerusalem, for your light has come,
And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.'
Note orta, 'risen', the past participle of orior, of which Oriens is the
present participle. At verse 19 of this chapter we find,
Non erit tibi amplius sol ad lucendum per diem,
Nec splendor lunae illuminabit te;
Sed erit tibi Dominus in lucem sempiternam.
'The sun shall be no more thy light by day;
neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee:
but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light.'
This is taken up in the Book of Revelation, or Apocalypse:
Et civitas non eget sole, neque luna ut luceant in ea, nam claritas Dei
illuminavit eam, et lucerna eius est Agnus. (Rev. 21:23)
'And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it;
for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.'
We should also note the Second Letter of St Peter, 1:19,
Et habemus firmiorem propheticum sermonem: cui benefacitis attendentes
quasi lucernae lucenti in caliginoso donec dies elucescat, et lucifer
oriatur in cordibus vestris.
'We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereto ye do well that ye take
heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and
the day star arise in your hearts.'
The 'Sun of Righteousness' comes from Malachi 4:2,
'Et orietur vobis timentibus nomen meum Sol iustitiae, et sanitas in pennis
(note again the use of orior)
'And there shall rise upon you who fear my name the Sun of Righteousness,
with healing in his wings.'
We shall see Wesley re-using much of this material as he continues:
"Dayspring from on high, be near;
Daystar, in my heart appear."
But sufficient unto the Day.
The Supple Doctor.