Gregory_of_NyssaContinued from here….

What, then, have we beheld in the case of the Captain of our salvation?

A three days’ state of death and then life again.

Now some sort of resemblance in us to such things has to be planned.

What, then, is the plan by which in us too a resemblance to that which took place in Him is completed?

Everything that is affected by death has its proper and natural place, and that is the earth in which it is laid and hidden.

Now earth and water have much mutual affinity. Alone of the elements they have weight and gravitate downwards; they mutually abide in each other; they are mutually confined.

Seeing, then, the death of the Author of our life subjected Him to burial in earth and was in accord with our common nature, the imitation which we enact of that death is expressed in the neighbouring element [i.e. water].

He, that Man from above (John 3:31; 1 Cor. 15:47), having taken deadness on Himself, after His being deposited in the earth, returned back to life the third day.

So also everyone who is knitted to Him by virtue of his bodily form, looking forward to the same successful issue, I mean this arriving at life by having, instead of earth, water poured on him, and so submitting to that element, has represented for him in the three movements the three-days-delayed grace of the resurrection.

[…] By the Divine providence death has been introduced as a dispensation into the nature of man, so that, sin having flowed away at the dissolution of the union of soul and body, man, through the resurrection, might be refashioned, sound, passionless, stainless, and removed from any touch of evil.

In the case however of the Author of our Salvation this dispensation of death reached its fulfilment, having entirely accomplished its special purpose.

For in His death, not only were things that once were one put asunder, but also things that had been disunited were again brought together.

This happened so that in this dissolution of things that had naturally grown together, I mean, the soul and body, our nature might be purified, and this return to union of these severed elements might secure freedom from the contamination of any foreign admixture.

But as regards those who follow this Leader, their nature does not admit of an exact and entire imitation, but it receives now as much as it is capable of receiving, while it reserves the remainder for the time that comes after.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): The Great Catechism, 35.

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