There are four gospels and only four, neither more nor less: four like
points of the compass, four like the chief directions of the wind.
The Church, spread all over the world, has in the gospels four pillars
and four winds blowing wherever people live.
These four gospels are in actual fact one single Gospel, a fourfold
Gospel inspired by the one Spirit, a Gospel which has four aspects representing
the work of the Son of God.
These aspects are like the four cherubs described by Ezekiel. In the
prophet's words: `The first had the like ness of a lion,' symbolizing the
masterly and kingly role of Christ in priesthood; `the second had the appearance
of an ox,' the beast of sacrifice, recalling the perfect sacrifice of Christ;
`the third had the face of a man,' undoubtedly referring to the coming
of the Lord in human nature; `and the fourth had the aspect of a flying
eagle,' with a clear allusion to the grace of the Spirit hovering over
the Church. [cf. Ezek. 1:10; Rev. 4:7]
The four Gospels correspond to these symbols. Christ is at the center
John actually speaks of his kingly and glorious Sonship to the Father
in his opening words: `In the beginning was the Word.' [John 1:1] Luke
begins with Zaccharias offering sacrifice. Matthew chooses first of all
the Lord's human genealogy. And Mark leads off by calling on the prophetic
Spirit which invests humanity from on high.
(Translation by Thomas Spidlik, Drinking from the Hidden
Fountain: A Patristic Breviary, Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo,
MI - Spencer, MASS, 1994)