In his commentary on the first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, St. Gregory gives as one of the interpretations of the four winged creatures (vv. 5-14) that they represent holy people devoted to heavenly things. When the vision goes on to include four wheels (vv. 15ff), these are interpreted to refer to the Holy Scriptures, which permits the following reflections on Ez 1:19, which have received recent attention because of their hermeneutical interest: Ezekiel 1:19: "And when the living creatures went, the wheels went alongside them; and when the living creatures were raised from the earth, the wheels rose."

The living creatures move when holy men recognize how they are to live morally. They are raised from the earth when they lift themselves in contemplation. And because to the degree that a holy person makes progress in Sacred Scripture, the same Sacred Scripture makes progress in him, it is rightly said, "And when the living creatures went, the wheels went alongside them; and when the living creatures were raised from the earth, the wheels rose at the same time." For the divine Scriptures grow with the one reading them, and a person understands them more loftily the more loftily he devotes himself to them. The wheels are not raised if the living creatures are not raised, because unless the minds of readers make progress toward the heights, the Scriptures, not being understood, lie as if in the depths. If a word of Scripture seems lukewarm to some reader and does not stir his mind and there is no spark of understanding in his thinking, the wheel does not move and remains on earth because the living creature is not raised from the earth. But if the living creature goes, that is, if he seeks how to live properly and by the progress of his heart finds how to make progress in good works, then the wheels move too because you will find as much of an advance in the Scriptures as you advance in yourself. And if the winged living creature suspends itself in contemplation, the wheels are lifted from the earth, because things in the Scriptures which beforehand you thought were said with some earthly meaning you now understand are not earthly. You recognize the words of Scripture to be heavenly if on fire by the grace of contemplation you lift yourself to heavenly things. The wondrous and ineffable power of the Scriptures is recognized when the mind of the reader is penetrated by love from above.Surely all of us have had the experience of revisiting some work of lierature, or philosophy, or even theology, and finding in it much that we never saw the first time we read it. The Scriptures grow with the one reading them...

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

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