FORTY GOSPEL HOMILIES
It is often forgotten , in the centuries after scholastic systems and Reformation polemic came to dominate the study of theology, just how intimate was the familiarity the Church Fathers and monastic authors had of Scripture. It formed their prayer, their lives, and their teaching.
After the intellectual controversies of the past four and a half centuries and more, the restored interest in religion today has concerned itself mainly with a more personal experience of what it means to know and be drawn up into contact with the divine. It is felt that an intimate relation with what we think of as God is more primitive and authentic than an exact knowledge of what constitutes religious dogma. But overemphasis on either doctrinal formulations concerning other-wordly realities or human involvement in their implications is fraught with tendencies toward extremism. To maintain a balanced attitude to both is very difficult but is of the utmost importance. This is what St. Gregory the reat achieved with outstanding success in all his writings, but especially in his homilies or sermons on certain of the Gospel passages which he preached during his early years as Bishop of Rome (591-92). He is both practical in insisting on the usefulness of the Word of God as a guide for everyday actions and persistent in his statements about its being the revealed directive of human affairs.
At the dividing line between Antiquity and the Middle Ages, scholar-diplomat-pastor-writer-pope Gregory the Great drew on his profound knowledge of Scripture and his personal experience to preach the Gospel. These forty homilies show the practical concerns Gregory faced as well as the theological expectations he had of his flock.