Ecce Homo by Michael O'Brien
A Few Drops of Blood Renew the Whole World
by Gregory Nazianzen
Many indeed are the wondrous happenings of that time: God hanging from a cross, the sun made dark and again flaming out; for it was fitting that creation should mourn with its creator. The temple veil rent, blood and water flowing from his side: the one as from a man, the other as from what was above man; the earth shaken, the rocks shattered because of the rock; the dead risen to bear witness to the final and universal resurrection of the dead.
The happenings at the sepulcher and after the sepulcher, who can fittingly recount them? Yet no one of them can be compared to the miracle of my salvation. A few drops of blood renew the whole world, and do for all men what the rennet does for the milk: joining us and binding us together.
(excerpted from On the Holy Pasch, Oration 45.1)
Gregory of Nazianzen, also know as Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory the Theologian, was a 4th century bishop (330-389) who came from a family of distinguished church leaders and teachers. While studying in Athens, he became a close friend of Basil the Great, who was also studying there at the time. They returned to their native Cappadocia (now Eastern Turkey) to serve the Lord. Basil became a monk and Gregory, who preferred a life of solitude, was forcibly persuaded by his father to be ordained a presbyter so he could assist in the care of the local Christians in Cappadocia. Gregory described his father’s decision as an “act of tyranny” because Gregory wanted to live a solitary life as an ascetic monk. With Basil’s wise counsel, Gregory, nonetheless, embraced the life of priestly service.
the Arian controversy when many teachers contested the full divinity of
Christ, both Gregory and Basil took up the pen to write in defense of the
true doctrine of Christ’s divinity. Gregory was made a bishop. In 381 he
presided over the First Ecumenical Council of Constantinople which completed
the creed that is commonly called today the Nicene Creed. Gregory taught
with such clarity and depth that he became known simply as “the theologian.”
During his time as bishop of Constantinople Gregory encountered fierce
opposition from the Arians, but Gregory’s sermons on the Trinity and the
Incarnation won him increasing respect and renown, and even Jerome came
in from his desert to hear him. After a period of troubling work,
Gregory resigned and retired to the solitude of the desert, spending his
last years contentedly in study, writing, and ascetical practices.