St Gregory of Nyssa: Have You Set Your Mind on the Eighth?

Feast of St Panteleimon the Great Martyr & Healer

Gregory_of_Nyssa_Square_4.jpgTHE REASON for the inscription “For her who inherits” (Ps. 5) is clear. The soul has fallen from its inheritance when the sun has set due to transgression of God’s commandment. The prophet petitions God that the early morning might appear once darkness has past, and that we might be worthy of that sweet voice saying to those worthy of it, “Come, chosen of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25.34).

The inscription “Concerning the morning aid” (Ps. 21) provides us with a similar idea of what we have just said. Scripture usually calls the dawn “early morning.” Dawn is the boundary between night and day, the passing away of night and the beginning of day. Scripture often uses the symbol of darkness for evil when God’s assistance is a rising in accord with a life of virtue. Then we will attain the victory, “taking off the works of darkness, and walking about becomingly and as in the day,” as the Apostle says (Rom. 13.12).

Closely related to what we have just explained is the inscription “For the eighth” (Pss. 6 & 11). Everyone who exercises diligence with regard to virtue has in mind the future life. Its beginning is called “the eighth” for it follows this perceptible time when the number seven is dissolved. Therefore, the inscription “For the eighth” advises us not to set our minds on this present age, but to look to the eighth. When this passing, transient time comes to a close in which some things are born and others are destroyed, the need to be born will pass away; neither will be anything destroyed, because the expected resurrection will transform our human nature. The transitory nature of time will cease because it is no longer subject to the effects of birth and corruption. The present time of the seventh number which is subject to measurement will remain; the eighth will succeed it, the full day of the age to come. Some prophets name the expected life of the resurrection “that great day” (Mal. 4.5; Jer. 30.7; Joel 2.11). The physical sun does not illumine that day, but the true light, the son of righteousness (Mal. 4.2) which prophecy calls “rising’ (Zach. 6.12). It will not  be obscured by the sun’s setting.

—St Gregory of Nyssa, Commentary on the Inscriptions of the Psalms

Showing 2 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.