The best discoveries often arrive unexpectedly. Just last week I was reading through the writings of the eighth century Greek Church Father, John of Damascus, and I came across an inspiring and lovely invitation to “knock” at the door of the Scriptures and enjoy the fruits of this “paradise” of God.
John’s love and appreciation for the Bible is obvious in what he writes. This short selection shows how important the Scriptures were to the Church Fathers, and how pivotal they were for their writings.
Beginning with the metaphor of knocking upon the door (“knock and it shall be opened”), John portrays the Scriptures in terms of the garden of Eden, the place of Paradise, lush and rich with life-giving fruit for us. He weaves into this description the action of the Trinity—how through the Scriptures the Spirit (the dove) bears us to the Son and through him to the Father.
“So let us knock at the very beautiful paradise of the Scriptures, the fragrant, most sweet and lovely paradise that fills our ears with the varied songs of inspired birds, that touches our heart, comforting it when grieving, calming it when angry, and filling it with everlasting joy, and that lifts our minds onto the back of the sacred dove, gleaming with gold and most brilliant, who bears us with his most bright wings to the only-begotten Son and heir of the husbandman of the spiritual vineyard and through Him on to the Father of lights.
“Let us not knock casually, but with eagerness and persistence, and let us not lose heart while knocking, for so it will be opened to us. Should we read once and then a second time and still not understand what we are reading, let us not be discouraged. Rather, let us persist, let us meditate and inquire.
“From the fountain of paradise let us draw everflowing and most pure waters springing up into life everlasting. Let us revel in them, let us revel greedily in them to satiety, for they contain the grace that cannot be exhausted.”