How should we interpret the words, Behold he comes, leaping over the mountains (Song of Songs 2:8)?

Perhaps they foresee the divine plan, spoken of in the Gospel and foretold by the prophets, whereby the Word of God became visible to us by his coming in the flesh.

See, there he stands, looking through the windows, peeping through the lattices (2:9).

The Word unites humanity to God methodically, step by step.

First he enlightens us through the prophets and the precepts of the law; for we take the prophets to be the windows admitting the light and the network of the law’s commands to be the lattice.

Through both of these steals the brilliance of the true light.

Afterward comes the full illumination when by union with our nature the true light shines upon those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

First the light of the ideas contained in the prophets and the law shines upon the soul through windows and lattices apprehended by our minds, filling it with a desire to see the sun in the open air. Then the desire is fulfilled.

Rise up my companion, my fair one, my dove, and come (2:10). How much the Word teaches us in these few words!

We watch him leading the bride to the heights along the ascending path of virtue, as though up a flight of steps.

First he sends her a ray of light through the windows which are the prophets and the lattice which is the precepts of the law, calling her to approach the light and to become beautiful as she takes on in the light the form of a dove.

Then when she has taken on as much of the divine beauty as she can, as though she had not yet received any part in it, he draws her once again from the beginning toward the supreme Beauty in which she is to share.

As a result her desire becomes more intense the further she advances toward what is continually being revealed to her.

Moreover, because of the surpassing greatness of the blessings she is always receiving by his grace who surpasses all, she seems to be making the journey for the first time.

And so, after she has risen the Word again says ‘Rise’ and after she has come he says ‘Come’.

One who has thus risen never lacks the opportunity to rise further and one who is running toward the Lord never reaches the end of the space available for the divine race.

We should always be rising and those whom the race is bringing close to the goal should never stop.

Each time the Word says ‘Rise’ and ‘Come’ he gives the power to ascend to still loftier heights.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): Homily 5 on the Song of Songs (Jaeger 6, 140-159); from the Monastic Office of Vigils for December 31st, Year 2

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