Gregory Nazianzen- On the Resurrection

(from Panegyric on His Brother S. Caesarius, c. 370 A.D.)

“I believe the words of the wise, that every fair and God-beloved soul, when, set free from the bonds of the body, it departs hence, and at once enjoys a sense and perception of the blessings which await it, inasmuch as that which darkened it has been purged away, or laid aside–I know not how else to term it–and feels a wondrous pleasure and exultation, and goes rejoicing to meet its Lord, having escaped as it were from the grievous poison of life here, and shaken off the fetters which bound it and held down the wings of the mind, and so enters on the enjoyment of bliss laid up for it, of which it has even now some conception.

“Then, a little later, it receives its kindred flesh, which once shared in its pursuit of things above, from the earth which both gave and had been entrusted with it, and in some way known to God who knit them together and dissolved them, enters with it upon the inheritance of the glory there. And, as it shared, through their close union, in its hardships, so also it bestows upon it a portion of its joys, gathering it up entirely into itself, and becoming with it one in spirit and in mind and in God, the mortal and mutable being swallowed up of life.

“Hear at least how the inspired Ezekiel discourses of the knitting together of bones and sinews (Ezek. xxxvii. 3 ff.), how after him Saint Paul speaks of the earthly tabernacle, and the house not made with hands, the one to be dissolved, the other laid up in heaven, alleging absence from the body to be presence with the Lord (2 Cor. v. 1, 6; Phil. i. 23), and bewailing his life in it as an exile, and therefore longing for and hastening to his release.

“Why am I faint-hearted in my hopes? Why behave like a mere creature of a day? I await the voice of the Archangel (1 Thess. iv. 16), the last trumpet (1 Cor. xv. 52), the transformation of the heavens, the transfiguration of the earth, the liberation of the elements, the renovation of the universe (2 Peter iii. 10). Then shall I see Caesarius himself, no longer in exile, no longer laid upon a bier, no longer the object of mourning and pity, but brilliant, glorious, heavenly, such as in my dreams I have often beheld thee, dearest and most loving of brothers, pictured thus by my desire, if not by the very truth.”

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