Writings of John Chrysostom. The Gospel of St. Matthew.

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St. Chrysostom:

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople,

On the Gospel of St. Matthew.

Translated by Rev. Sir George Prevost, Baronet, M.A., of Oriel College, Oxford.

Revised, with notes, by Rev. M. B. Riddle, D.D., Professor of New Testament Exegesis in the Western Theological Seminary at Allegheny, PA.

Published in 1886 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.

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Homily LXXV.

Matt. XXIV. 1, 2.

"And Jesus went out from the temple, and departed. [2737] And His disciples came to Him to show Him the buildings of the temple. And He answered and said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down."

For inasmuch as He said, "Your house is left desolate," and had previously forewarned them of many grievous things; therefore the disciples having heard these things, as though marvelling at it, came unto Him, showing the beauty of the temple, and wondering, if so much beauty was to be destroyed, and materials so costly, and variety of workmanship past utterance; He no longer thenceforth talks to them of desolation merely, but foretells an entire destruction. "See ye not all these things," saith He, and do ye marvel, and are ye amazed? "There shall not remain one stone upon another." How then did it remain? one may say. But what is this? For neither so hath the prediction fallen to the ground. For He said these things either indicating its entire desolation, or at that spot where He was. For there are parts of it destroyed unto the foundations.

And together with its we would say another thing also, that from what hath been done, even the most contentious ought to believe concerning the remains, that they are utterly to be destroyed.

"And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?" [2738]

Therefore did they come unto Him privately, as it was of such matters they meant to inquire. For they were in travail to know the day of His coming, because of their eager desire to behold that glory, which is the cause of countless blessings. And these two things do they ask him, when shall these things be? that is, the overthrow of the temple; and, what is the sign of thy coming? But Luke saith, [2739] the question was one concerning Jerusalem, as though they were supposing that then is His coming. And Mark saith, that neither did all of them ask concerning the end of Jerusalem, but Peter and John, [2740] as having greater freedom of speech.

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What then saith He? "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many. [2741] And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet." [2742]

For since they felt as being told of vengeance falling on others when hearing of that which was to be brought upon Jerusalem and as though they were to be out of the turmoils, and were dreaming of good things only, and looked for these to befall them quite immediately; for this cause He again foretells to them grievous things, making them earnest, and commanding them on two grounds to watch, so as neither to be seduced by the deceit of them that would beguile them, nor to be overpowered by the violence of ills that should overtake them.

For the war, saith He, shall be twofold that of the deceivers, and that of the enemies, but the former far more grievous, as coming upon them in the confusion and turmoils, and when men were terrified and troubled. For indeed great was the storm then, when the Roman power was beginning to flourish, and cities were taken, and camps and weapons were set in motion, and many were readily believed.

But of wars in Jerusalem is He speaking; for it is not surely of those without, and everywhere in the world; for what did they care for these? And besides, He would thus say nothing new, if He were speaking of the calamities of the world at large, which are happening always. For before this, were wars, and tumults, and fightings; but He speaks of the Jewish wars coming upon them at no great distance, for henceforth the Roman arms were a matter of anxiety. Since then these things also were sufficient to confound them, He foretells them all.

Then to show that He Himself also will assail the Jews with them, and war on them, He speaks not of battles only, but also of plagues sent from God, famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, showing that the wars also He Himself permitted to come upon them, and that these things do not happen for no purpose according to what has been before the accustomed course of things amongst men, but proceed from the wrath on high.

Therefore He saith, they shall come not by themselves or at once, but with signs. For that the Jews may not say, that they who then believed were the authors of these evils, therefore hath He told them also of the cause of their coming upon them. "For verily I say unto you," He said before, "all these things shall come upon this generation," having made mention of the stain of blood on them.

Then lest on hearing of the showers of evils, they should suppose the gospel to be broken through, He added, "See, [2743] be not troubled, for all things must come to pass," i.e. which I foretold, and the approach of the temptations will set aside none of the things which I have said; but there shall indeed be tumults and confusion, but nothing shall shake my predictions.

Then since He had said to the Jews, "Ye shall not see me, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord;" and the disciples supposed that together with the destruction would be the end also; to set right this secret thought of theirs, He said, "But the end is not yet." For that they did suspect even as I said, you may learn from their question. For, what did they ask? When shall these things be? i.e. when shall Jerusalem be destroyed? And what is the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?

But He answered nothing directly to this question, but first speaks of those other things that are urgent, and which it was needful for them to learn first. For neither concerning Jerusalem straightway, nor of His own second coming, did He speak, but touching the ills that were to meet them at the doors. Wherefore also He makes them earnest in their exertions, by saying, "Take heed that no man deceive you; [2744] for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ."

Afterwards, when He hath roused them to listen about these things (for, "take heed," saith He, "that no man deceive you"); [2745] and having made them energetic, and prepared them to be watchful, and hath spoken first of the false Christs, then He speaks of the ills of Jerusalem, assuring them ever by the things already past, foolish and contentious though they were, of those which were yet to come.

2. But by "wars and rumors of wars," He meaneth, what I before said, the troubles coming upon them. After this, because, as I have already said, they supposed after that war the end would come, see how He warns them, saying, "But the end is not yet. For nation," He saith, "shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom." [2746] Of the preludes to the ills of the Jews doth He speak. "All these are the beginning of sorrows," [2747] that is, of those that befall them. "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you." [2748]

In good season did He introduce their ills, having a consolation from the common miseries; and not in this way only, but also by His adding, that it is "for my name's sake. For ye shall be hated," He saith, "of all men for my name's sake. Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and many false Christs and false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold; but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." [2749]

This is the greater evil, when the war is intestine too, for there were many false brethren. Seest thou the war to be threefold? from the deceivers, from the enemies, from the false brethren. See Paul too lamenting over the same things, and saying, "Without were fightings, within were fears;" [2750] and, "perils among false brethren," [2751] and again, "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ." [2752]

After this again, what is more grievous than all, they shall not have so much as the consolation from love. Then indicating, that these things will in no degree harm the noble and the firm, He saith, Fear not, neither be troubled. For if ye show forth the patience that becomes you, the dangers will not prevail over you. And it is a plain proof of this, that the word shall surely be preached everywhere in the world, so much shall ye be above the things that alarm you. For, that they may not say, how then shall we live? He said more, Ye shall both live and preach everywhere. Therefore He added moreover, "And this gospel shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all nations, and then shall the end come," [2753] of the downfall of Jerusalem.

For in proof that He meant this, and that before the taking of Jerusalem the gospel was preached, hear what Paul saith, "Their sound went into all the earth;" [2754] and again, "The gospel which was preached to every creature which is under Heaven." [2755] And seest thou him running from Jerusalem unto Spain? And if one took so large a portion, consider what the rest also wrought. For writing to others also, Paul again saith concerning the gospel, that "it is bringing forth fruit, and growing up in every creature which is under Heaven." [2756]

But what meaneth, "For a witness to all nations?" Forasmuch as though it was everywhere preached, yet it was not everywhere believed. It was for a witness, He saith, to them that were disbelieving, that is, for conviction, for accusation, for a testimony; for they that believed will bear witness against them that believed not, and will condemn them. And for this cause, after the gospel is preached in every part of the world, Jerusalem is destroyed, that they may not have so much as a shadow of an excuse for their perverseness. For they that saw His power shine throughout every place, and in an instant take the world captive, what excuse could they then have for continuing in the same perverseness? For in proof that it was everywhere preached at that time, hear what Paul saith, "of the gospel which was preached to every creature which is under Heaven." [2757]

Which also is a very great sign of Christ's power, that in twenty or at most thirty years the word had reached the ends of the world. "After this therefore," saith He, "shall come the end of Jerusalem." For that He intimates this was manifested by what follows.

For He brought in also a prophecy, to confirm their desolation, saying, "But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, let him that readeth understand." [2758] He referred them to Daniel. And by "abomination" He meaneth the statue of him who then took the city, which he who desolated the city and the temple placed within the temple, wherefore Christ calleth it, "of desolation." Moreover, in order that they might learn that these things will be while some of them are alive, therefore He said, "When ye see the abomination of desolation."

3. Whence one may most marvel at Christ's power, and their courage, for that they preached in such times, in which most especially the Jewish state was warred against, in which most especially men regarded them as movers of sedition, when Cæsar commanded all of them to be driven away. [2759] And the result was the same as if any one (when the sea was stirred up on every side, and darkness was filling all the air, and successive shipwrecks taking place, and when all their fellow-sailors were at strife above, and monsters were rising up from beneath, and with the waves devouring the mariners, and thunderbolts falling, and their being pirates, and those in the vessel plotting one against another), were to command men inexperienced in sailing, and who had not so much as seen the sea to sit at the rudder, and to guide and fight the vessel, and when an immense fleet was coming against them with a great array, making use of a single bark, with her crew in this disturbed state, to sink and subdue the fleet. For indeed by the heathens they were hated as Jews, and by the Jews were stoned, as waging war against their laws; and nowhere could they stand.

Thus were all things, precipices, and reefs, and rocks, the things in the cities, the things in the fields, the things in the houses, and every single person was at war with them; generals and rulers, and private persons, and all nations, and all people, and a turmoil which cannot be set forth by words. For the Jewish race was exceedingly detestable to the government of the Romans, as having occasioned them endless trouble; and not even from this did the preaching of the word take hurt; but the city was stormed and set on fire, and involved its inhabitants in countless evils; but the apostles that came from thence, introducing new laws, prevailed even over the Romans.

O strange and wonderful facts! Countless myriads of Jews did the Romans then subdue, and they did not prevail over twelve men fighting against them naked and unarmed. What language can set forth this miracle? For they that teach need to have these two things, to be worthy of credit, and to be beloved by them whom they are instructing; and together with these, and besides them, that their sayings should be easy of reception, and the time should be free from trouble and tumults.

But then were all the contraries to these. For while they did not seem worthy of credit, they were withdrawing from such as did seem worthy of it, those who had been deceived by them. So far from being loved, they were even hated, and were taking men away from what they loved, both habits, and hereditary customs, and laws.

Again, their injunctions had great difficulty; but the things, from which they were withdrawing men, much pleasure. And many were the perils, many the deaths, both themselves and they that obeyed them underwent, and together with all this, the time also occasioned them much difficulty, teeming with wars, tumults, disturbance, so that, even if there had been none of the things we have mentioned, it would have quite thrown all things into confusion.

We have good occasion to say, "Who shall tell the mighty works of the Lord, and make all His praises to be heard." [2760] For if his own people amid signs hearkened not to Moses, because of the clay only, and the bricks; who persuaded these that every day were beaten and slain, and were suffering incurable evils, to leave a quiet life, and to prefer thereto this which was teeming with blood and death, and that when they who preached it were strangers to them, and very hostile in every way? For I say not unto nations and cities and people, but into a small house let one bring in him that is hated of all that are in the house, and by him endeavor to bring them away from those whom they love, from father, and wife, and child, will he not surely be seen torn in pieces, before he hath opened his mouth? And if there be added moreover a tumult and strife of husband and wife in the house, will they not stone him to death before he steps on the threshold? And if he also be one whom they may readily despise, and who enjoins galling things, and commands them who are living in luxury to practise self restraint, and together with this the conflict be against those who are far more in numbers and who excel him, is it not quite manifest that he will be utterly destroyed? Yet nevertheless, this, which is impossible to be done in one house, this hath Christ accomplished in all the world, through precipices and furnaces, and ravines, and rocks, and land and sea at war with Him, bringing in the healers of the world.

And if thou art minded to learn these things more distinctly, I mean, the famines, the pestilences, the earthquakes, the other calamities, peruse the history about these things composed by Josephus, and thou wilt know all accurately. Therefore Himself too said, "Be not troubled, for all must be;" and, "He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved;" and, "The gospel shall surely be preached in all the world." For when weakened and faint at the fear of what had been said, He braces them up by saying, Though ten thousand things be done, the gospel must be preached in every part of the world, and then shall the end come.

4. Seest thou in what a state things were then, and how manifold was the war? And this is the beginning, when each of the things to be effected most required quiet. In what state then were they? for nothing hinders us from resuming the same things again. The first war was that of the deceivers; "For there shall come," He saith, "false Christs and false prophets:" the second, that of the Romans, "For ye shall hear," He saith, "of wars:" the third, that which bringeth on the "famines:" the fourth, "the pestilences" and "the earthquakes:" the fifth, "they shall deliver you into afflictions:" the sixth, "ye shall be hated of all men:" the seventh, "They shall betray one another, and hate one another" (an intestine war doth He here make known); then, "false Christs," and false brethren; then, "the love of the most [2761] shall wax cold," which is the cause of all the ills.

Seest thou numberless kinds of war, new and strange? Yet nevertheless in the midst of these things, and much more (for with the intestine wars was mingled also that of kinsmen), the gospel prevailed over the whole earth. "For the gospel," He saith, "shall be preached in the whole world."

Where then are they who set up the power of a nativity and the cycle of times against the doctrines of the church? For who has ever recorded that another Christ appeared; that such a thing took place? Although they falsely affirm other things, that ten myriads of years passed, yet this they cannot even feign. Of what kind of cycle then would ye speak? For there was never another Sodom, nor another Gomorrah, nor another flood. How long do ye trifle, talking of a cycle and nativity?

How then, it is said, do many of the things they say come to pass? Because thou hast bereaved thyself of the help God bestows, and didst betray thyself, and didst place thyself without His providence; therefore doth the evil spirit turn and twist about thy matters as he will.

But not so among the saints, or rather not even amongst us sinners, who utterly despise it. For although our practice is beyond endurance, yet because by God's grace we cling with much exactness to the doctrines of the truth, we are above the malice of the evil spirits.

And altogether, what is a nativity? nothing else than injustice, and confusion, and that all things are borne along at random; or rather not at random only; but more than this, with folly.

"And if there is not any nativity, whence is such a one rich? whence is such a one poor?"

I know not: for in this way I will for a time reason with thee, instructing thee not to be curious about all things; neither in consequence of this to go on at random and rashly. For neither because thou art ignorant of this, oughtest thou to feign the things that are not. It is better to be ignorant well, than to learn ill. For he that knoweth not the cause, will come soon to the right one; but he who because he does not know the real cause, feigns one that is untrue, will not be able easily to receive the real; but he needs more both of labors and toil, in order to take away the former. For indeed on a tablet, if it have been wiped smooth, any one may easily write what he will, but when it is written upon, no longer in the same way, for we must first wipe out what has been ill written. And amongst physicians again, he that applies nothing, is far better than he that applies hurtful things; and he who builds unsoundly, is worse than he who doth not so much as build at all; like as the land is far better that bears nothing, than that which bears thorns.

Let us not then be impatient to learn all things, but let us endure to be even ignorant of some things, that when we have found a teacher, we may not afford him double toil. Or rather many oftentimes have remained even incurably diseased, by carelessly entangling themselves in evil opinions. For neither is the toil the same to pluck up first what hath taken root amiss, and then to sow, as to plant a clear ground. For in that case, he must overthrow first, and then put in other things; but in this, the hearing is ready.

Whence then is such a one rich? I will say, now; many acquire wealth, by God's gift; and many by His permission. For this is the short and simple account.

What then? it is said, doth He make the whoremongers to be rich, and the adulterers, and him that hath abused himself with mankind, and him that hath made a bad use of his possessions? He doth not make them, but permits them to be rich; and great is the difference, and quite infinite between making and permitting. But wherefore doth He suffer it at all? Because it is not yet the time for judgment, that every one may receive according to his merits.

For what more worthless than that rich man, who giveth not to Lazarus so much as of his crumbs? Nevertheless, he was more wretched than all, for he came to be possessed not even of a drop of water, and for this very cause most especially, that being rich he was cruel. For if there are two wicked men, who have not had the same portion here, but one in wealth, the other in poverty, they will not be similarly punished there, but the wealthier more grievously.

5. Dost thou not see at least even this man, suffering more fearfully because he had "received his good things?" Do thou also therefore, when thou seest in prosperity one who is become rich by injustice, groan, weep; for indeed this wealth is to him an addition of punishment. For like as they who sin much, and are not minded to repent, treasure up to themselves a treasure of wrath; even so they, who, besides not being punished, are even enjoying prosperity, will undergo the greater punishment.

And the proof of this, if thou wilt, I will show thee, not from the things to come only, but also from the present life. For the blessed David, when he sinned that sin of Bathsheba, and was convicted by the prophet, for this cause most of all was he more severely reproved, that even when he had enjoyed such security, he was like this. Hear at least God upbraiding him with this especially. "Did not I anoint thee for a king, and delivered thee from the hand of Saul, and give thee all that pertained to thy master, and all the house of Israel and Judah, and if it had been little for thee, I would have added thus and thus; and wherefore hast thou done that which was evil in my sight?" [2762] For not for all sins are there the same punishments, but many and diverse, according to the times, according to the persons, according to their rank, according to their understanding, according to other things besides. And that what I say may be more clear, let one sin be set forth, fornication; and mark how many different punishments I find not from myself, but from the divine Scriptures. Did any one commit fornication before the law, he is differently punished; and this Paul showeth, "For as many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law." [2763] Did any one commit fornication after the law? He shall suffer more grievous things. "For as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law." [2764] Did any one commit fornication being a priest, he receives from his dignity a very great addition to his punishment. So for this cause, whereas the other women were slain for fornication, the daughters of the priests were burnt; the lawgiver showing the more amply, how great punishment await the priest if he commits this sin. For if on the daughter he inflicts a greater punishment, because of her being a priest's daughter, much more on the man himself who bears the priest's office. Was fornication committed with any violence? she is even freed from punishment. Did one play the harlot being rich, and another being poor? Here again also is a difference. And this is evident from what we have said before concerning David. Was any one guilty of fornication after Christ's coming? Should he depart uninitiated, he will suffer a punishment more sore than all those. Was any guilty of fornication after the laver? in this case not even a consolation is left for the sin any more. And this selfsame thing Paul declared when he said, "He that despised Moses' law dieth without mercy, under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall he be counted worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, and hath done despite to the grace of the Spirit? [2765] Hath any been guilty of fornication, bearing the priest's office now? this above all is the crown of the evil deeds.

Seest thou of one sin how many different forms? one that before the law, another that after the law, another that of him who bears the priest's office; that of the rich woman, and that of the poor woman, of her that is a catechumen, and of the believing woman, of the daughter of the priest.

And from the knowledge again great is the difference; "For he which knew his Lord's will, and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes." [2766] And to sin after examples bringeth greater vengeance. Therefore He saith, "But ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterwards," [2767] though ye had had the advantage of much care. Therefore He upbraids Jerusalem likewise with this saying, "How often would I have gathered thy children together, and ye would not!" [2768]

And to sin being in luxury, this is shown by the history of Lazarus. And from the place also the sin becomes more grievous, which He Himself indicated when He said, "Between the temple and the altar." [2769]

And from the equality of the offenses themselves, "It is not marvellous if one be taken stealing;" [2770] and again, "Thou didst slay thy sons and thy daughters; this is beyond all thy whoredoms, and thine abominations." [2771]

And from the persons again: "If one man sin against another, they shall pray for him; but if he sin against God, who shall entreat for him?" [2772]

And when any one surpasses in negligence those who are far inferior; wherewith in Ezekiel He doth charge them, saying, "Not even according to the judgments of the nations hast thou done." [2773]

And when one is not sobered even by the examples of others, "She saw her sister," it is said, "and justified her." [2774]

And when one has had the advantage of more abundant care; "For if," He saith, "these mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago; but it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for that city." [2775]

Seest thou perfect exactness, and that all for the same sins are not paying the same penalty? For moreover when we have had the benefit of long-suffering, and profit nothing, we shall endure worse things. And this Paul shows, where he says, "But after thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest up for thyself wrath." [2776]

Knowing then these things, let us not be offended, neither let us be confounded at any of the things that happen, nor bring in upon us the storm of thought, but giving place to God's providence, let us give heed to virtue, and flee vice, that we may also attain to the good things to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom be glory unto the Father together with the Holy Spirit, now and always, and world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[2737] [R.V., "and was going on his way," to bring out the force of the imperfect tense.'R.] [2738] Matt. xxiv. 3. [2739] Luke xxi. 6, 7. [2740] See Mark xiii. 3. [2741] [R.V., "lead you astray," and "shall lead many astray."] [2742] Matt. xxiv. 4-6. [2743] [The Oxford translator renders "Take heed," but orte is rendered "See" above; so A.V. and R.V.'R.] [2744] [R.V., "lead you astray."] [2745] [R.V., "lead you astray."] [2746] Matt. xxiv. 7. [2747] Matt. xxiv. 8. [R.V., "travail," birth pangs.'R.] [2748] Matt. xxiv. 9. [R.V., "unto tribulation."] [2749] Matt. xxiv. 9-13. [In verse 9, "all men" is substituted for "all the nations" (tn thnn omitted); in verse 11"many false Christs and" occurs (taken from verse 24). The R.V. represents, in other details, the Greek text of the Homily. In verse 12, "the many" is the necessary rendering.'R.] [2750] 2 Cor. vii. 5. [2751] 2 Cor. xi. 26. [2752] 2 Cor. xi. 13. [2753] Matt. xxiv. 14. ["Of the kingdom" omitted.] [2754] Rom. x. 18. [2755] Col. i. 23. [2756] Col. i. 6. [Combined with Col. i. 23.] [2757] Col. i. 23. [2758] Matt. xxiv. 15. [Instead of on the particle d (as in Mark and Luke) is found here.] [2759] Acts xviii. 2. [2760] Ps. cvi. 2. [2761] [Only one ms. inserts tn polln here. Field rejects it. If accepted, it should be rendered "of the many," as in the R.V. But internal reasons are against it. It would naturally be supplied from the New Testament passage. Moreover, the briefer reading yields a better sense: "Love shall wax cold, the cause of all these ills."'R.] [2762] 2 Sam. xii. 7-9. [2763] Rom. ii. 12. [2764] Rom. ii. 12. [The article does not occur, either here or in the text of the New Testament. R.V., "under law" and "by law."'R.] [2765] Heb. x. 28, 29. [The last phrase is altered, as indicated in the above rendering.'R.] [2766] Luke xii. 47. [2767] Matt. xxi. 32. [2768] Luke xiii. 34. [2769] Matt. xxiii. 35. [2770] Prov. vi. 30. [Most editors supply the remainder of the verse.'R.] [2771] Ezek. xvi. 20, 21. LXX. [2772] 1 Sam. ii. 25. [LXX. The Hebrew differs: for the clause "they shall pray for him," the R.V. has, "God shall judge him."'R.] [2773] Ezek. v. 7. [2774] Ezek. xvi. 51. [First half freely cited.] [2775] Matt. xi. 21, 22. [2776] Rom. ii. 5. .


Homily LXXVI.

Matt. XXIV. 16-18.

"Then let them which be in Judæa flee into the mountains. And let him that is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house. Neither let him which is in his field return back to take his clothes." [2777]

Having spoken of the ills that were to overtake the city, and of the trials of the apostles, and that they should remain unsubdued, and should overrun the whole world, He mentions again the Jews' calamities, showing that when the one should be glorious, having taught the whole world, the others should be in calamity.

And see how He relates the war, by the things that seem to be small setting forth how intolerable it was to be. For, "Then," saith He, "let them which be in Judæa flee into the mountains." Then, When? When these things should be, "when the abomination of desolation should stand in the holy place." Whence he seems to me to be speaking of the armies. Flee therefore then, saith He, for thenceforth there is no hope of safety for you.

For since it had fallen out, that they often had recovered themselves in grievous wars, as under Sennacherib, under Antiochus again (for when at that time also, armies had come in upon them, and the temple had been seized beforehand, the Maccabees rallying gave their affairs an opposite turn); in order then that they might not now also suspect this, that there would be any such change, He forbids them all thought of the kind. For it were well, saith He, to escape henceforth with one's naked body. Therefore them also that are on the housetop, He suffers not to enter into the house to take their clothes, indicating the evils to be inevitable, and the calamity without end, and that it must needs be that he that was involved therein should surely perish. Therefore He adds also, him that is in the field, saying, neither let this man turn back to take his clothes. For if they that are in doors flee, much more they that are out of doors ought not to take refuge within.

"Woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck," [2778] to the one because of their greater inertness, and because they cannot flee easily, being weighed down by the burden of their pregnancy; to the other, because they are held by the tie of feeling for their children, and cannot save their sucklings. For money it is a light thing to despise, and an easy thing to provide, and clothes; but the bonds of nature how could any one escape? how could the pregnant woman become active? how could she that gives suck be able to overlook that which she had borne?

Then, to show again the greatness of the calamity, He saith, "Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day. For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be." [2779]

Seest thou that His discourse is addressed to the Jews, and that He is speaking of the ills that should overtake them? For the apostles surely were not to keep the Sabbath day, neither to be there, when Vespasian did those things. For indeed the most part of them were already departed this life. And if any was left, he was dwelling then in other parts of the world.

But wherefore neither "in the winter, nor on the Sabbath day?" [2780] Not in the winter, because of the difficulty arising from the season; not on the Sabbath day, because of the absolute authority exercised by the law. For since they had need of flight, and of the swiftest flight, but neither would the Jews dare to flee on the Sabbath day, because of the law, neither in winter was such a thing easy; therefore, "Pray ye," saith He; "for then shall be tribulation, such as never was, neither shall be."

And let not any man suppose this to have been spoken hyperbolically; but let him study the writings of Josephus, and learn the truth of the sayings. For neither can any one say, that the man being a believer, in order to establish Christ's words, hath exaggerated the tragical history. For indeed He was both a Jew, and a determined Jew, and very zealous, and among them that lived after Christ's coming.

What then saith this man? That those terrors surpassed all tragedy, and that no such had ever overtaken the nation. For so great was the famine, that the very mothers fought about the devouring of their children, and that there were wars about this; and he saith that many when they were dead had their bellies ripped up.

I should therefore be glad to inquire of the Jews. Whence came there thus upon them wrath from God intolerable, and more sore than all that had befallen aforetime, not in Judæa only, but in any part of the world? Is it not quite clear, that it was for the deed of the cross, and for this rejection? All would say it, and with all and before all the truth of the facts itself.

But mark, I pray thee, the exceeding greatness of the ills, when not only compared with the time before, they appear more grievous, but also with all the time to come. For not in all the world, neither in all time that is past, and that is to come, shall any one be able to say such ills have been. And very naturally; for neither had any man perpetrated, not of those that ever have been, nor of those to come hereafter, a deed so wicked and horrible. Therefore He saith, "there shall be tribulation such as never was, nor shall be."

"And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." [2781] By these things He shows them to be deserving of a more grievous punishment than had been mentioned, speaking now of the days of the war and of that siege. But what He saith is like this. If, saith He, the war of the Romans against the city had prevailed further, all the Jews had perished (for by "no flesh" here, He meaneth no Jewish flesh), both those abroad, and those at home. For not only against those in Judæa did they war, but also those that were dispersed everywhere they outlawed and banished, because of their hatred against the former.

2. But whom doth He here mean by the elect? The believers that were shut up in the midst of them. For that Jews may not say that because of the gospel, and the worship of Christ, these ills took place, He showeth, that so far from the believers being the cause, if it had not been for them, all had perished utterly. For if God had permitted the war to be protracted, not so much as a remnant of the Jews had remained, but lest those of them who had become believers should perish together with the unbelieving Jews, He quickly put down the fighting, and gave an end to the war. Therefore He saith, "But for the elect's sake they shall be shortened." But these things He said to leave an encouragement to those of them who were shut up in the midst of them, and to allow them to take breath, that they might not be in fear, as though they were to perish with them. And if here so great is His care for them, that for their sakes others also are saved, and that for the sake of Christians remnants were left of the Jews, how great will be their honor in the time for their crowns?

By this He also encouraged them not to be distressed at their own dangers, since these others are suffering such things, and for no profit, but for evil upon their own head.

But He not only encouraged them, but also led them off secretly and unsuspectedly from the customs of the Jews. For if there is not to be a change afterwards, and the temple is not to stand, it is quite evident that the law also shall be made to cease.

However, He spake not this openly, but by their entire destruction He darkly intimated it. But He spake it not openly, lest He should startle them before the time. Wherefore neither at the beginning did He of Himself fall into discourse touching these things; but having first lamented over the city, He constrained them to show Him the stones, and question Him, in order that as it were in answering them their question, He might declare to them beforehand all the things to come.

But mark thou, I pray thee, the dispensation of the Spirit, that John wrote none of these things, lest he should seem to write from the very history of the things done (for indeed he lived a long time after the taking of the city), but they, who died before the taking, and had seen none of these things, they write it, in order that every way the power of the prediction should clearly shine forth.

"Then, if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not: for there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. [2782] Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, He is in the desert, go not forth: behold, He is in the secret chambers, believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there shall the eagles be gathered together." [2783]

Having finished what concerned Jerusalem, He passes on to His own coming, and tells the signs of it, not for their use only, but for us also, and for all that shall come after us.

"Then." When? Here, as I have often said, the word, "then," relates not to the connection in order of time with the things before mentioned. At least, when He was minded to express the connection of time, He added, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days," [2784] but here not so, but, "then," not meaning what should follow straightway after these things, but what should be in the time, when these things were to be done, of which He was about to speak. So also when it is said, "In those days cometh John the Baptist," [2785] he is not speaking of the time that should straightway follow, but that many years after, and that in which these things were done, of which He was about to speak. For, in fact, having spoken of the birth of Jesus, and of the coming of the magi, and of the death of Herod, He at once saith, "In those days cometh John the Baptist;" although thirty years had intervened. But this is customary in the Scripture, I mean, to use this manner of narration. So then here also, having passed over all the intermediate time from the taking of Jerusalem unto the preludes of the consummation, He speaketh of the time just before the consummation. "Then," He saith therefore, "if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not."

Awhile He secures them by the place, mentioning the distinguishing marks of His second coming, and the indications of the deceivers. For not, as when at His former coming He appeared in Bethlehem, and in a small corner of the world, and no one knew Him at the beginning, so doth He say it shall be then too; but openly and with all circumstance, and so as not to need one to tell these things. And this is no small sign that He will not come secretly.

But mark how here He saith nothing of war (for He is interpreting the doctrine concerning His advent), but of them that attempt to deceive. For some in the days of the apostles deceived the multitude, "for they shall come," saith He, "and shall deceive many;" [2786] and others shall do so before His second coming, who shall also be more grievous than the former. "For they shall show," He saith, "signs and wonders, so as to deceive if possible the very elect:" [2787] here He is speaking of Antichrist, and indicates that some also shall minister to him. Of him Paul too speaks on this wise. Having called him "man of sin," and "son of perdition," He added, "Whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders; and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish." [2788]

And see how He secures them; "Go not forth into the deserts, enter not into the secret chambers." He did not say, "Go, and do not believe;" but, "Go not forth, neither depart thither." For great then will be the deceiving, because that even deceiving miracles are wrought.

3. Having told them how Antichrist cometh, as, for instance, that it will be in a place; He saith how Himself also cometh. How then doth He Himself come? "As the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there also will the eagles be gathered together." [2789]

How then shineth the lightning? It needs not one to talk of it, it needs not a herald, but even to them that sit in houses, and to them in chambers it shows itself in an instant of time throughout the whole world. So shall that coming be, showing itself at once everywhere by reason of the shining forth of His glory. But He mentions also another sign, "where the carcase is, there also shall the eagles be;" meaning the multitude of the angels, of the martyrs, of all the saints.

Then He tells of fearful prodigies. What are these prodigies? "Immediately after the tribulation of those days," saith He, "the sun shall be darkened." [2790] Of the tribulation of what days doth He speak? Of those of Antichrist and of the false prophets? For there shall be great tribulation, there being so many deceivers. But it is not protracted to a length of time. For if the Jewish war was shortened for the elect's sake, much more shall this temptation be limited for these same's sake. Therefore, He said not, "after the tribulation," but Immediately "after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened," for almost at the same time all things come to pass. For the false prophets and false Christs shall come and cause confusion, and immediately He Himself will be here. Because no small turmoil is then to prevail over the world.

But how doth He come? The very creation being then transfigured, for "the sun shall be darkened," not destroyed, but overcome by the light of His presence; and the stars shall fall, for what shall be the need of them thenceforth, there being no night? and "the powers of Heaven shall be shaken," and in all likelihood, seeing so great a change come to pass. For if when the stars were made, they trembled and marvelled ("for when the stars were made, all angels," it is said, "praised Me with a loud voice"); [2791] much more seeing all things in course of change, and their fellow servants giving account, and the whole world standing by that awful judgment-seat, and those who have lived from Adam unto His coming, having an account demanded of them of all that they did, how shall they but tremble, and be shaken?

"Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven;" [2792] that is, the cross being brighter than the sun, since this last will be darkened, and hide himself, and that will appear when it would not appear, unless it were far brighter than the beams of the sun. But wherefore doth the sign appear? In order that the shamelessness of the Jews may be more abundantly silenced. For having the cross as the greatest plea, Christ thus cometh to that judgment-seat, showing not His wounds only, but also the death of reproach. "Then shall the tribes mourn," for there shall be no need of an accusation, when they see the cross; and they shall mourn, that by His death they are nothing benefited; because they crucified Him whom they ought to have adored.

Seest thou how fearfully He has pictured His coming? how He has stirred up the spirits of His disciples? For this reason, let me add, He puts the mournful things first, and then the good things, that in this way also He may comfort and refresh them. And of His passion He suggests to them the remembrance, and of His resurrection, and with a display of glory, [2793] He mentions His cross, so that they may not be ashamed nor grieve, whereas indeed He cometh then setting it forth for His sign. And another saith, "They shall look on Him whom they pierced." Therefore it is that they shall mourn, when they see that this is He.

And forasmuch as He had made mention of the cross, He added, "They shall see the Son of Man coming," no longer on the cross, but "in the clouds of Heaven, with power and great glory." [2794]

For think not, He meaneth, because thou hearest of the cross, that it is again anything mournful, for He shall come with power and great glory. But He bringeth it, that their sin may be self-condemned, as if any one who had been struck by a stone, were to show the stone itself, or his garments stained with blood. And He cometh in a cloud as He was taken up, and the tribes seeing these things mourn. Not however that the terrors shall with them proceed no further than mournings; but the mourning shall be, that they may bring forth their sentence from within, and condemn themselves.

And then again, "He will send His angels with a great trumpet, [2795] and they shall gather the elect from the four winds, from one end of Heaven to the other." [2796]

But when thou hast heard of this, consider the punishment of them that remain. For neither shall they suffer that former penalty only, but this too. And as above He said, that they should say, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord," [2797] so here, that they shall mourn. For since He had spoken unto them of grievous wars, that they might learn, that together with the fearful things here, the torments there also await them, He brings them in mourning and separated from the elect, and consigned to hell; by this again rousing the disciples, and indicating from how many evils they should be delivered, and how many good things they shall enjoy.

4. And why now doth He call them by angels, if He comes thus openly? To honor them in this way also. But Paul saith, that they "shall be caught up in clouds." And He said this also, when He was speaking concerning a resurrection. "For [2798] the Lord Himself," it is said, "shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel." So that when risen again, the angels shall gather them together, when gathered together the clouds shall catch them up; and all these things are done in a moment, in an instant. For it is not that He abiding above calleth them, but He Himself cometh with the sound of a trumpet. And what mean the trumpets and the sound? They are for arousing, for gladness, to set forth the amazing nature of the things then doing, for grief to them that are left.

Woe is me for that fearful day! For though we ought to rejoice when we hear these things, we feel pain, and are dejected, and our countenance is sad. Or is it I only that feel thus, and do ye rejoice at hearing of these things? For upon me at least there comes a kind of shudder when these things are said, and I lament bitterly, and groan from the very depth of my heart. For I have no part in these things, but in those that are spoken afterwards, that are said unto the virgins, unto him that buried the talents he had received, unto the wicked servant. For this cause I weep, to think from what glory we are to be cast out, from what hope of blessings, and this perpetually, and forever, to spare ourselves a little labor. For if indeed this were a great toil, and a grievous law, we ought even so to do all things; nevertheless many of the remiss would seem to have at least some pretext, a poor pretext indeed, yet would they seem to have some, that the toil was great, and the time endless, and the burden intolerable; but now we can put forward no such objection; which circumstance most of all will gnaw [2799] us no less than hell at that time, when for want of a slight endeavor, and a little toil, we shall have lost Heaven, and the unspeakable blessings. For both the time is short, and the labor small, and yet we faint and are supine. Thou strivest on earth, and the crown is in Heaven; thou art punished of men, and art honored of God; the race is for two days, and the reward for endless ages; the struggle is a corruptible body, and the rewards in an incorruptible.

And apart from these things, we should consider another point also, that even if we do not choose to suffer any of the things that are painful for Christ's sake, we must in other ways most assuredly endure them. For neither, though thou shouldest not have died for Christ, wilt thou be immortal; neither though thou shouldest not have cast away thy riches for Christ, wilt thou go away hence with them. These things He requires of thee, which although He should not require them, thou wilt have to give up, because thou art mortal; He willeth thee to do these by thy choice, which thou must do by necessity. So much only He requires to be added, that it be done for His sake; since that these things befall men and pass away, cometh to pass of natural necessity. Seest thou how easy the conflict? What it is altogether necessary for thee to suffer, that choose to suffer for my sake; let this only be added, and I have sufficient obedience. The gold which thou intendest to lend to another, this lend to me, both at more profit, and in greater security. Thy body, wherewith thou art going to warfare for another, make it to war for me, for indeed I surpass thy toils with recompenses in the most abundant excess. Yet thou in all other matters preferrest him that giveth thee more as well in loans, as in marketing and in warfare; but Christ alone, when giving more, and infinitely more than all, thou dost not receive. And what is this so great hostility? What is this so great enmity? Where will there be any excuse or defense left for thee, when the reasons for which thou preferrest man to man avail not to induce thee to prefer God to man?

Why dost thou commit thy treasure to the earth? "Give it into my hand," He saith. Doth not the earth's Lord seem to thee more worthy of trust than the earth? This indeed restoreth that which thou laidest in it, though oftentimes not even this, but He gives thee also recompense for His keeping of it? For indeed He doth exceedingly love us. Therefore if thou shouldest wish to lend, He stands ready; or to sow, He receives it; or if thou shouldest wish to build, He draws thee unto Himself, saying, Build in my regions. Why runnest thou unto poor, unto beggarly men, who also for little gains occasion thee great trouble? Nevertheless, not even on hearing these things, do we make up our minds to it, but where are fightings and wars, and wild struggles, [2800] and trials and suits of law, and false accusations, thither do we hasten.

5. Doth He not justly turn away from us, and punish us, when He is giving up Himself unto us for all things, and we are resisting Him? It is surely plain to all. For whether thou art desirous to adorn thyself, "Let it, He saith, be with my ornaments;" or to arm thyself, "with my arms," or to clothe thyself, "with my raiment;" or to feed thyself, "at my table;" or to journey, "on my way;" or to inherit, "my inheritance;" or to enter into a country, "the city of which I am builder and maker;" or to build a house, "amongst my tabernacles." "For I, so far from asking thee for a recompense of the things that I give thee, to even make myself owe thee a recompense for this very thing, if thou be willing to use all I have." What can be equal to this munificence, "I am Father, I am brother, I am bridegroom, I am dwelling place, I am food, I am raiment, I am root, I am foundation, all whatsoever thou willest, I am." "Be thou in need of nothing, I will be even a servant, for I came to minister, not to be ministered unto; I am friend, and member, and head, and brother, and sister, and mother; I am all; only cling thou closely [2801] to me. I was poor for thee, and a wanderer for thee, on the cross for thee, in the tomb for thee, above I intercede for thee to the Father; on earth I am come for thy sake am ambassador from my Father. Thou art all things to me, brother, and joint heir, and friend, and member." What wouldest thou more? Why dost thou turn away from Him, who loveth thee? Why dost thou labor for the world? Why dost thou draw water into a broken cistern? For it is this to labor for the present life. Why dost thou comb wool into the fire? Why dost thou "beat the air?" [2802] Why dost thou "run in vain?" [2803]

Hath not every art an end? It is surely plain to every one. Do thou also show the end of thy worldly eagerness. But thou canst not; for, "vanity of vanities, all is vanity." [2804] Let us go to the tombs; show me thy father; show me thy wife. Where is he that was clad in raiment of gold? he that rode in the chariot? he that had armies, that had the girdle, [2805] that had the heralds? he that was slaying these, and casting those into prison? he that put to death whom he would, and set free whom he was minded? I see nothing but bones, and a worm, and a spider's web; all those things are earth, all those a fable, all a dream, and a shadow, and a bare relation, and a picture, or rather not so much as a picture. For the picture we see at least in a likeness, but here not so much as a likeness.

And would that the evils stop with this. For now the honor, and the luxury, and the distinction, end with a shadow, with words; but the consequences of them, are no longer limited to a shadow and to words, but continue, and will pass over with us elsewhere, and will be manifest to all, the rapine, the covetousness, the fornications, the adulteries, the dreadful things beyond number; these not in similitude, neither in ashes, but written above, both words and deeds.

With what eyes then shall we behold Christ? For if any one could not bear to see his father, when conscious to himself that he had sinned against him, upon Him who infinitely exceeds a father in forbearance how shall we then look? how shall we bear it? For indeed we shall stand at Christ's judgment-seat, and there will be a strict inquiry into all things.

But if any man disbelieve the judgments to come, let him look at the things here, at those in the prisons, those in the mines, those on the dunghills, the possessed, the frantic, them that are struggling with incurable diseases, those that are fighting against continual poverty, them that live in famine, them that are pierced with irremediable woes, those in captivity. For these persons would not suffer these things here, unless vengeance and punishments were to await all the others also that have committed such sins. And if the rest have undergone nothing here, you ought to regard this very fact as a sign that there is surely something to follow after our departure here. For the self-same God of all would not take vengeance on some, and leave others unpunished, who have committed the same or more grievous offenses, unless He designed to bring some punishments upon them there.

By these arguments then and these examples let us also humble ourselves; and let them who are obstinate unbelievers of the judgment believe it henceforth, and become better men; that having lived here in a manner worthy of the kingdom, we may attain unto the good things to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes

[2777] [In minor details the Greek text agrees with the received against that of our oldest mss. authorities.'R.] [2778] Matt. xxiv. 19. [2779] Matt. xxiv. 20, 21. [2780] [There is a curious variation in the Greek text here. Our best New Testament mss. reads sabbt; above the Homily has en sabbt, but here sabbtou, without any preposition.'R.] [2781] Matt. xxiv. 22. [R.V., "And except those days had been shortened, no flesh would have been saved: but," etc.] [2782] [R.V., "to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you beforehand."] [2783] Matt. xxiv. 23-28. [The citation is in verbal agreement with the received text.'R.] [2784] Matt. xxiv. 29. [2785] Matt. iii. 1. See the comment on that place. [2786] Matt. xxiv. 11. [2787] Matt. xxiv. 24. [2788] 2 Thess. ii. 9, 10. [2789] Matt. xxiv. 27, 28. [2790] Matt. xxiv. 29. [2791] Job xxxviii. 7, LXX. [The LXX. is accurately cited. At this point there is a great variation in the readings of the mss. of the Homilies, which may be due to the variation from the Hebrew.'R.] [2792] Matt. xxiv. 30. [2793] met lampro to schmato. [2794] Matt. xxiv. 30. [2795] [So Tischendorf, and R.V. margin.'R.] [2796] Matt. xxiv. 31. [2797] Matt. xxii. 39. [2798] 1 Thess. iv. 16. [2799] diatrgein . [2800] pankrtia. [2801] okeō che. [2802] 1 Cor. ix. 26. [2803] Gal. ii. 2. [2804] Eccl. i. 2. [2805] See On Stat. Hom. III. p. 59, a badge of military rank. .


Homily LXXVII.

Matt. XXIV. 33, 34.

"Now learn a parable of the fig tree; when his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors." [2806]

Forasmuch as He had said, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days;" but they sought of this, after how long a time it should be, and desired to know in particular the very day, therefore He puts also the similitude of the fig tree, indicating that the interval was not great, but that in quick succession would occur His advent also. And this He declared not by the parable alone, but by the words that follow, saying, "know that it is near, even at the doors." [2807]

Whereby He foretells another thing also, a spiritual summer, and a calm that should be on that day (after the present tempest) for the righteous; but to the sinners the contrary, winter after summer, which He declares in what follows, saying, that the day shall come upon them, when they are living in luxury.

But not for this intent only did He put forward this about the fig tree, in order to declare the interval; for it was possible to have set this before them in other ways as well; but that he might hereby also confirm His saying, as assuredly thus to come to pass. For as this of the fig tree is of necessity, so that too. For thus, wherever He is minded to speak of that which will assuredly come to pass, He brings forward the necessary courses of nature, both Himself, and the blessed Paul imitating Him. Therefore also when speaking of His resurrection, He saith, "When the corn of wheat hath fallen into the earth, except it die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." [2808] Whereby also the blessed Paul being instructed uses the same similitude, [2809] "Thou fool," he saith, "that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die." [2810]

After this, that they might not straightway return to it again, and say, "When?" he brings to their remembrance the things that had been said, saying, "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled!" [2811] All these things. What things? I pray thee. Those about Jerusalem, those about the wars, about the famines, about the pestilences, about the earthquakes, about the false Christs, about the false prophets, about the sowing of the gospel everywhere, the seditions, the tumults, all the other things, which we said were to occur until His coming. How then, one may ask, did He say, "This generation?" Speaking not of the generation then living, but of that of the believers. For He is wont to distinguish a generation not by times only, but also by the mode of religious service, and practice; as when He saith, "This is the generation of them that seek the Lord." [2812]

For what He said above, "All these must come to pass," [2813] and again, "the gospel shall be preached," [2814] this He declares here also, saying, All these things shall surely come to pass, and the generation of the faithful shall remain, cut off by none of the things that have been mentioned. For both Jerusalem shall perish, and the more part of the Jews shall be destroyed, but over this generation shall nothing prevail, not famine, not pestilence, not earthquake, nor the tumults of wars, not false Christs, not false prophets, not deceivers, not traitors, not those that cause to offend, not the false brethren, nor any other such like temptation whatever.

Then to lead them on more in faith, He saith, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away;" [2815] that is, it were more easy for these firm, fixed, and immoveable bodies to be blotted out, than for ought of my words to fall to the ground. And he who gainsays these things, let him test His sayings, and when he hath found them true (for so he surely will find them) from what is past, let him believe also the things to come, and let him search out all things with diligence, and he will see the actual events bearing witness to the truth of the prophecy. And the elements He hath brought forward, at once to declare, that the church is of more honor than Heaven and earth, and at the same time to indicate Himself by this also to be maker of all. For since He was speaking of the end, a thing disbelieved by many, He brought forward Heaven and earth, indicating His unspeakable power, and showing with great authority, that He is Lord of all, and by these things rendering His sayings deserving of credit, even with those who are much given to doubt.

"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of Heaven, [2816] neither the Son, [2817] but the Father." By saying, not the angels, He stopped their mouths, that they should not seek to learn what these angels know not; and by saying, "neither the Son," forbids them not only to learn, but even to inquire. For in proof that therefore He said this, see after His resurrection, when He saw they were become over curious, how He stopped their mouths more decidedly. For now indeed He hath mentioned infallible signs, many and endless; but then He saith merely, "It is not for you to know times or seasons." And then that they might not say, we are driven to perplexity, we are utterly scorned, we are not held worthy so much as of this, He says, "which the Father hath put in His own power." [2818] And this, because He was exceedingly careful to honor them, and to conceal nothing from them. Therefore He refers it to His Father, both to make the thing awful, and to exclude that of which He had spoken from their inquiry. Since if it be not this, but He is ignorant of it, when will He know it? Will it be together with us? But who would say this? And the Father He knoweth clearly, even as clearly as He knoweth the Son; and of the day is He ignorant? Moreover, "the Spirit indeed searcheth even the deep things of God," [2819] and doth not He know so much as the time of the judgment? But how He ought to judge He knoweth, and of the secrets of each He hath a full perception; and what is far more common than that, of this could He be ignorant? And how, if "all things were made by Him, and without Him was not even one thing made," [2820] was He ignorant of the day? For He who made the worlds, [2821] it is quite plain that He made the times also; and if the times, even that day. How then is He ignorant of that which He made?

2. And ye indeed say that ye know even His substance, [2822] but that the Son not even the day, the Son, who is always in the bosom of the Father; and yet His substance is much greater than the days, even infinitely greater. How then, while assigning to yourselves the greater things, do you not allow even the less to the Son, "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." [2823] But neither do you know what God is in His substance, though ten thousand times ye talk thus madly, neither is the Son ignorant of the day, but is even in full certainty thereof.

For this cause, I say, when He had told all things, both the times and the seasons, and had brought it to the very doors ("for it is near," He saith, "even at the doors"), He was silent as to the day. For if thou seek after the day and hour, thou shalt not hear them of me, saith He; but if of times and preludes, without hiding anything, I will tell thee all exactly.

For that indeed I am not ignorant of it, I have shown by many things; having mentioned intervals, and all the things that are to occur, and how short from this present time until the day itself (for this did the parable of the fig tree indicate), and I lead thee to the very vestibule; and if I do not open unto thee the doors, this also I do for your good.

And that thou mayest learn by another thing also, that the silence is not a mark of ignorance on His part, see, together with what we have mentioned, how He sets forth another sign also. "But as in the days of Noe they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that the flood came, and took all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be." [2824] And these things He spake, showing that He should come on a sudden, and unexpectedly, and when the more part were living luxuriously. For Paul too saith this, writing on this wise, "When they shall speak of peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them;" and to show how unexpected, He said, "as travail upon a woman with child." [2825] How then doth He say, "after the tribulation of those days?" For if there be luxury then, and peace, and safety, as Paul saith, how doth He say, "after the tribulation of those days?" If there be luxury, how is there tribulation? Luxury for them that are in a state of insensibility and peace. Therefore He said not, when there is peace, but "when they speak of peace and safety," indicating their insensibility to be such as of those in Noah's time, for that amid such evils they lived in luxury.

But not so the righteous, but they were passing their time in tribulation and dejection. Whereby He shows, that when Antichrist is come, the pursuit of unlawful pleasures shall be more eager among the transgressors, and those that have learnt to despair of their own salvation. Then shall be gluttony, then revellings, and drunkenness. Wherefore also most of all He puts forth an example corresponding to the thing. For like as when the ark was making, they believed not, saith He; but while it was set in the midst of them, proclaiming beforehand the evils that are to come, they, when they saw it, lived in pleasure, just as though nothing dreadful were about to take place; so also now, Antichrist indeed shall appear, after whom is the end, and the punishments at the end, and vengeance intolerable; but they that are held by the intoxication of wickedness shall not so much as perceive the dreadful nature of the things that are on the point of being done. Wherefore also Paul saith, "as travail upon a woman with child," even so shall those fearful and incurable evils come upon them.

And wherefore did He not speak of the ills in Sodom? It was His will to introduce an example embracing all men, [2826] and disbelieved after it was foretold. So therefore, as by the more part the things to come are disbelieved, He confirms those things by the past, terrifying their minds. And together with the points I have mentioned, He shows this also, that of the former things also He was the doer. Then again He sets another sign, by all which things He makes it evident, that He is not ignorant of the day. And what is the sign? "Then shall two be in the field; one shall be taken, and one left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill, one shall be taken, and one left. Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." [2827] And all these things are both proofs that He knew, and calculated to turn them from their inquiry. So for this cause He spake also of the days of Noe, for this cause He said too, "Two shall be on the bed," signifying this, that He should come upon them thus unexpectedly, when they were thus without thought, and "two women grinding at the mill," which also of itself is not the employment of them that are taking thought.

And together with this, He declares that as well servants as masters should be both taken and left, both those who are at ease, and those in toil, as well from the one rank as from the other; even as in the Old Testament He saith, "From him that sitteth upon the throne to the captive woman that is at the mill." [2828] For since He had said, that hardly are the rich saved, He shows that not even these are altogether lost, neither are the poor saved all of them, but both out of these and out of those are men saved, and lost.

And to me He seems to declare, that at night will be the advent. For this Luke too saith. [2829] Seest thou how accurately He knows all things?

After this again, that they may not ask about it, He added, "Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." [2830] He said not, "I know not," but, "ye know not." For when He had brought them well nigh to the very hour, and had placed them there, again He deters them from the inquiry, from a desire that they should be striving always. Therefore He saith, "Watch," showing that for the sake of this, He did not tell it.

"But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh." [2831]

For this intent He tells them not, in order that they may watch, that they may be always ready; therefore He saith, When ye look not for it, then He will come, desiring that they should be anxiously waiting, and continually in virtuous action.

But His meaning is like this: if the common sort of men knew when they were to die, they would surely strive earnestly at that hour.

3. In order therefore that they may strive, not at that hour only, therefore He tells them not either the common hour, or the hour of each, desiring them to be ever looking for this, that they may be always striving. Wherefore He made the end of each man's life also uncertain.

After this, He openly calls Himself Lord, having nowhere spoken so distinctly. But here He seems to me also to put to shame the careless, that not even as much care as they that expect a thief have taken for their money, not even this much do these take for their own soul. For they indeed, when they expect it, watch, and suffer none of the things in their house to be carried off; but ye, although knowing that He will come, and come assuredly, continue not watching, saith He, and ready so as not to be carried away hence unprepared. So that the day cometh unto destruction for them that sleep. For as that man, if he had known, would have escaped, so also ye, if ye be ready, escape free.

Then, as He had fallen upon the mention of the judgment, He directs His discourse to the teachers next, speaking of punishment and honors; and having put first them that do right, He ends with them that continue in sin, making His discourse to close with that which is alarming.

Wherefore He first saith this, "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord shall set over [2832] His household to give them their meat in their [2833] due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, that He shall make him ruler over all His goods." [2834]

Tell me, is this too the language of one who is in ignorance? For if because He said, "neither doth the Son know," thou sayest He is ignorant of it; as He saith, "who then?" what wilt thou say? Wilt thou say He is ignorant of this too? Away with the thought. For not even one of them that are frantic would say this. And yet in the former case one might assign a cause; but here not even this. And what when He said, "Peter, lovest thou me?" [2835] asking it, knew He not so much as this? nor when He said, "Where have ye laid him?" [2836]

And the Father too will be found to be saying such things. For He Himself likewise saith, "Adam, where art thou?" [2837] and, "The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is waxed great before me. I will go down therefore, and see whether their doings be according to their cry which cometh unto me, and if not, I will know." [2838] And elsewhere He saith, "Whether they will hear, whether they will understand." [2839] And in the gospel too, "It may be they will reverence my Son:" [2840] all which are expressions of ignorance. But not in ignorance did He say these things, but as compassing objects such as became Him: in the case of Adam, that He might drive him to make an excuse for his sin: in that of the Sodomites, that He might teach us never to be positive, till we are present at the very deeds; in that of the prophet, that the prediction might not appear in the judgment of the foolish a kind of compulsion to disobedience; and in the parable in the gospel, that He might show that they ought to have done this, and to have reverenced the Son: but here, as well that they may not be curious, nor over busy again, as that He might indicate that this was a rare and precious thing. And see of what great ignorance this saying is indicative, if at least He know not even him that is set over. For He blesses him indeed, "For blessed," saith He, "is that servant;" but He saith not who this is. "For who is he," He saith, "whom His Lord shall set over?" and, "Blessed is he whom He shall find so doing."

But these things are spoken not of money only, but also of speech, and of power, and of gifts, and of every stewardship, wherewith each is entrusted. This parable would suit rulers in the state also, for every one is bound to make full use of what he hath for the common advantage. If it be wisdom thou hast, if power, if wealth, if what it may, let it not be for the hurt of thy fellow-servants, neither for thine own ruin. For this cause, therefore, He requires both things of him, wisdom, and fidelity: for sin arises from folly also. He calls him faithful then, because he hath purloined nothing, neither misspent his Lord's goods without aim or fruit; and wise, because he knew how to dispense the things given him, according as was fit. For indeed we have need of both things, as well not to purloin the goods of our Master, as also to dispense them as is fit. But if the one be wanting, the other halteth. For if he be faithful and steal not, yet were to waste and to spend upon that which concerned him not, great were the blame; and if he should know how to dispense it well, yet were to purloin, again there is no common charge against him.

And let us also that have money listen to these things. For not unto teachers only doth He discourse, but also unto the rich. For either sort were entrusted with riches; those that teach with the more necessary wealth, ye with what is inferior. When then at the time that the teachers are scattering abroad the greater, ye are not willing to show forth your liberality even in the less, or rather not liberality but honesty (for ye give the things of another), what excuse will you have? But now, before the punishment of them that do the contrary things, let us hear the honor of him that approveth himself. "For verily I say unto you, He will set him over all His goods."

What can be equal to this honor? what manner of speech will be able to set forth the dignity, the blessedness, when the King of Heaven, He that possesseth all things, is about to set a man over "all His goods?" Wherefore also He calleth him wise, because he knew, not to give up great things for small, but having been temperate here, hath attained to Heaven.

4. After this, as He ever doth, not by the honor only laid up for the good, but also by the punishment threatened against the wicked, doth He correct the hearers. Wherefore also He added, "But and if the evil servant say in his heart, my Lord delayeth His coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and shall eat and drink with the drunken: the Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for Him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, [2841] and shall cut him asunder, [2842] and shall appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." [2843]

But if any one should say, Seest thou what a thought hath entered into his mind, because of the day's not being known, "my Lord," he saith, "delayeth His coming?" we should affirm, that it was not because the day is not known, but because the servant is evil. Else wherefore came not this thought into the heart of the faithful and wise servant. For what, even though the Lord tarry, O wretched man, surely thou lookest that He will come. Why then dost thou not take care?

Hence then we learn, that He doth not so much as tarry. For this judgment is not the Lord's, but that of the evil servant's mind, wherefore also he is blamed for this. For in proof that He doth not tarry, hear Paul saying, "The Lord is at hand, be careful for nothing;" [2844] and, "He that cometh will come, and will not tarry." [2845]

But do thou hear also what followeth, and learn how continually He reminds them of their ignorance of the day, showing that this is profitable to the servants, and fitted to waken and thoroughly to rouse them. For what though some gained nothing hereby? For neither by other things profitable for them were some profited, but nevertheless He ceaseth not to do His part.

What then is the purport of that which followeth? "For He shall come in a day when he looketh not for Him, and in an hour that he is not aware of;" [2846] and shall inflict upon him extreme punishment. Seest thou how even everywhere He puts this, the fact of their ignorance, indicating that it was profitable, and by this making them always earnest minded? For this is the point at which He labors, that we should be always on the watch; and since it is always in luxury that we are supine, but in afflictions we are braced up, therefore everywhere He saith this, that when there is relaxation, then come the terrors. And as further back He showed this by the example of Noah, even so here He saith it is, when that servant is drunken, when he is beating, and that his punishment shall be intolerable.

But let us not regard only the punishment appointed for him, but let us look to this other point too, lest we ourselves also be un awares to ourselves doing the same things. For to this servant are they like, who have money, and give not to the needy. For thou too art steward of thine own possessions, not less than he who dispenses the alms of the church. As then he has not a right to squander at random and at hazard the things given by you for the poor, since they were given for the maintenance of the poor; even so neither mayest thou squander thine own. For even though thou hast received an inheritance from thy father, and hast in this way all thou possessest: even thus all are God's. And then thou for thy part desirest that what thou hast given should be thus carefully dispensed, and thinkest thou not that God will require His own of us with greater strictness, or that He suffers them to be wasted at random? These things are not, they are not so. Because for this end, He left these things in thine hand, in order "to give them their meat in due season." But what meaneth, "in due season?" To the needy, to the hungry. For like as thou gavest to thy fellow-servant to dispense, even so doth the Lord will thee too to spend these things on what is needful. Therefore though He was able to take them away from thee, He left them, that thou mightest have opportunity to show forth virtue; that bringing us into need one of another, He might make our love for one another more fervent.

But thou, when thou hast received, so far from giving, dost even beat. And yet if not to give be blame, what excuse is there for beating? But this, it seems to me, He speaks, hinting at the insolent, and the covetous, and indicating the charge to be heavy, when they beat them, whom they were commanded to feed.

5. But He seemeth to be here hinting also at those that live in luxury, since for luxury too there is laid up a great punishment. "For He eateth and drinketh," it is said, "with the drunken," pointing at gluttony. For not for this purpose didst thou receive, that thou should spend it on luxury, but that thou shouldest lay it out on alms. What! are they thine own things which thou hast? With the goods of the poor hast thou been entrusted, though thou be possessed of them by honest labor, or though it be by inheritance from thy father. What, could not God have taken away these things from thee? But He doth not this, to give thee power to be liberal to the poor.

But mark thou, I pray thee, how throughout all the parables He punishes them that lay not out their money upon the needy. For neither had the virgins robbed other men's goods, but they had not given their own; neither had he that buried the one talent embezzled, but he had not doubled; neither are they that overlooked the hungry punished, because they seized the possessions of others, but because they did not lay out their own, like as also this servant.

Let us hearken, as many as please the belly, as many as lay out on costly banquets the riches that pertain not at all to us, but belong to the needy. For do not, because out of great love to man thou art commanded to give as of thine, therefore suppose these things to be indeed thine own. He lent them to thee, that thou mightest be able to approve thyself. Do not then suppose them to be thine, when giving Him His own. For neither, if thou hadst lent to any one, that he might go and be able to find means of gain, wouldest thou say the money was his. To thee then also hath God given, that thou mightest traffic for Heaven. Make not then the exceeding greatness of His love to man a cause of ingratitude.

Consider of what prayer it were a worthy object, to be able to find after baptism a way to do away one's sins. If He had not said this, Give alms, how many would have said, Would it were possible to give money, and so be freed from the ills to come! But since this hath become possible, again are they become supine.

"But I give," thou sayest. And what is this? Thou hast not yet given as much as she, who cast in the two mites; or rather not so much as the half, nor a very small part of what she gave, but thou layest out the greater part on useless expenses, on banquets, and drunkenness, and extreme extravagance; now bidding, now bidden; now spending, now constraining others to spend; so that the punishment is even rendered twofold for thee, both from what thyself doest, and what thou movest others to do. See at any rate how He Himself blames His servant for this. "For he eateth," He saith, "and drinketh with the drunken." For not the drunken only, but those that are with them, doth He punish, and very fitly, because (together with corrupting their own selves) they make light also of the salvation of others. But nothing does so much provoke God, as for us to be inclined to overlook the things that concern our neighbor. Wherefore showing His anger, He commands him to be cut asunder. Therefore He also affirmed love to be a distinguishing mark of His disciples, since it is altogether necessary that he who loveth should take thought for the things of his beloved.

To this way then let us hold, for this is especially the way that leads up to Heaven, which renders men followers of Christ, which makes them, as far as possible, like God. See at any rate how these virtues are more needful, which have their dwelling by this way. And, if ye will, let us make an inquiry into them, and let us bring forth the sentences from the judgment of God.

Let there be then two ways of most holy life, and let the one secure the goodness of him that practises it, but the other of his neighbor also. Let us see whether is the more approved and leads us to the summit of virtue. Surely he, who seeks his own things only, will receive even from Paul endless blame, and when I say from Paul, I mean from Christ, but the other commendations and crowns. Whence is this evident? Hear what His language is to one, what to the other. "Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth." [2847] Seest thou he rejects the one, and brings in the other? Again, "Let every one of you please his neighbor for good to edification." Then comes also the praise beyond words with an admonition, "For even Christ pleased not Himself." [2848]

Even these judgments then are sufficient to show the victory; but that this may be done even superabundantly, let us see amongst good works, which are confined to ourselves, and which pass over from us to others also. Fasting then, and lying on the bare ground, and keeping virginity, and a self-denying life, these things bring their advantage to the persons themselves who do them; but those that pass from ourselves to our neighbors are almsgiving, teaching, charity. Hear then Paul in this matter also saying, "Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, I am nothing profited." [2849]

6. Seest thou it in itself gloriously celebrated, and crowned?

But if ye be willing, from a third point also let us compare them; and let the one fast, and deny himself, and be a martyr, and be burnt to death, but let another delay his martyrdom for his neighbor's edification; and let him not only delay it, but let him even depart without martyrdom; who will be the more approved after his removal hence? We need not have many words, nor a long circumlocution. For the blessed Paul is at hand, giving his judgment, and saying, "To depart and to be with Christ is better, nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you;" [2850] even to his removal unto Christ did he prefer his neighbor's edification. For this is in the highest sense to be with Christ, even to be doing His will, but nothing is so much His will, as that which is for one's neighbor's good.

Wilt thou that I tell thee a fourth proof also of these things? "Peter, lovest thou me," saith He; "Feed my sheep:" [2851] and having asked him a third time, declared this to be an infallible proof of love. But not to priests only is this said, but to every one of us also, who are also entrusted with a little flock. For do not despise it, because it is a little flock: For "my Father," He saith, "hath pleasure in them." [2852] Each of us hath a sheep, let him lead that to the proper pastures. And let the man, as soon as he has risen from his bed, seek after nothing else, but how he may do and say something whereby he may render his whole house more reverent. The woman again, let her be indeed a good housekeeper; but before attending to this, let her have another more needful care, that the whole household may work the works of Heaven. For if in worldly matters, before attending to the affairs of our household, we labor diligently to pay public dues, that we may not for our undutifulness in these matters be beaten and dragged to the market places, and suffer ten thousand unseemly things; much more ought we to do this in things spiritual, and to render what is due to God, the King of all, first, that we may not come to that place, "where is gnashing of teeth."

And after these virtues let us seek, which together with our own salvation will be able in the greatest degree to profit our neighbor. Such is almsgiving, such is prayer, or rather even this latter is by the former made efficacious, and furnished with wings. "For thy prayers," it is said, "and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God." [2853] But not prayers only, but fasting also hath its strength from hence. Shouldest thou fast without almsgiving; the act is not so much as counted for fasting; but such a one is worse than a gluttonous man and a drunkard; and so much worse, as cruelty is a more grievous thing than luxury. And why do I speak of fasting? Though thou practise self-denial, though thou practise virginity, thou art set without the bridechamber, if thou hast not almsgiving. And yet what is equal to virginity, which not even in the new dispensation hath come under the compulsion of law, on account of its high excellence? but nevertheless it is cast out, when it hath not almsgiving. But if virgins are cast out, because they have not this in due abundance, who will be able without this to obtain pardon? There is no man, but he must quite of necessity perish, who hath not this.

For, if in worldly matters no man lives for himself, but artisan, and soldier, and husbandman, and merchant, all of them contribute to the common good, and to their neighbor's advantage; much more ought we to do this in things spiritual. For this is most properly to live: since he at least who is living for himself only, and overlooking all others, is useless, and is not so much as a human being, nor of our race.

What then, thou wouldest say, if I neglect my own interests, while seeking after the good of the rest? It is not possible, for one who seeks after the good of the rest to overlook his own; for he who seeks after the good of the rest pains no man, but pities all, helps them to the utmost of his powers; will rob no man, will covet the goods of no man, will not steal, will not bear false witness; will abstain from all wickedness, will apply himself to all virtue, and will pray for his enemies, and do good to them that plot against him, and will neither revile any, nor speak ill of them, though he hear from them ten thousand evil things; but will speak the words of the apostle: "Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?" [2854] But when looking to our own good, it is not quite sure that the good of the rest will follow.

By all which things being persuaded that it is not possible for one to be saved, who hath not looked to the common good, and seeing this man that was cut asunder, and him that buried his talent, let us choose this way, that we may also attain unto eternal life, unto which God grant we may all attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory, world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[2806] [R.V., "Now from the fig-tree learn her parable: when her branch is now become tender, and putteth forth its leaves, ye know that the summer is nigh; even so ye also, when ye see all these things, know ye that he (or, it) is nigh, even at the doors."] [2807] [The comment seems to imply a preference for the interpretation: "it is nigh," i.e., the day of the Lord's coming.'R.] [2808] John xii. 24. [2809] [A clause is omitted here: "reasoning with the Corinthians about the resurrection."'R.] [2810] 1 Cor. xv. 36. [2811] Matt. xxiv. 34. [R.V., "pass away" and "accomplished."] [2812] Ps. xxiv. 6. [2813] Matt. xxiv. 6. [2814] Matt. xxiv. 14. [2815] Matt. xxiv. 35. [2816] [R.V., "no man, not even the angels of heaven."] [2817] Matt. xxiv. 36. Comp. Mark xiii. 32. [The received text (and A.V.) omit "neither the Son" in Matthew, but not in Mark. The R.V., with our best mss., inserts the phrase in Matthew. The Fathers vary, but Chrysostom accepts it and comments upon it. Still the last clause, as given above, agrees exactly with Mark xiii. 32, and differs from Matt. xxiv. 36.'R.] [2818] Acts i. 7. [R.V., "set within his own authority."] [2819] 1 Cor. ii. 10. [2820] John i. 3. [Literally rendered.] [2821] ana. [2822] Arians [The word osan, here used, was the current term in the Arian controversy.'R.] [2823] Col. ii. 3. [2824] Matt. xxiv. 38, 39. [The passage is abridged.] [2825] 1 Thess. v. 3. [2826] katholikn. [2827] Matt. xxiv. 40-42. [The citation agrees with the received text, except in the omission of the articles in verse 40. R.V., "is taken," " is left," in verses 40, 41.'R.] [2828] Exod. xi. 5. [LXX., both altered and abridged.] [2829] Luke xvii. 34. [2830] Matt. xxiv. 42. [2831] Matt. xxiv. 43, 44. [R.V., "if the master of the house had known in what watch the thief was coming, to be broken through. in an hour ye think not," etc.] [2832] [The future tense is peculiar to this citation, also the addition of "their."'R.] [2833] See last note. [2834] Matt. xxiv. 45-47. [R.V., "that he will set him over all that he hath." The translator has made a similar change in verse 45.'R.] [2835] John xxi. 16. [2836] John xi. 34. [2837] Gen. iii. 9. [2838] Gen. xviii. 20, 21. [2839] Ezek. ii. 5. [2840] Luke xx. 13. [In Homily LXVIII. this form of the saying is cited as occurring in Matthew (xxi. 37).'R.] [2841] [R.V., "when he expecteth not, and in an hour when he knoweth not."] [2842] [R.V. margin, "severely scourge him."] [2843] Matt. xxiv. 48-51. [The textual variations are slight, and are indicated in the emendations of the A.V. appearing in the above rendering.'R.] [2844] Phil. iv. 5, 6. [2845] Heb. x. 37. [2846] Matt. xxiv. 50. [2847] 1 Cor. x. 24. [2848] Rom. xv. 2, 3. [2849] 1 Cor. xiii. 3. [2850] Philip. i. 23, 24. [2851] John xxi. 15-17. [2852] Luke xii. 32. [2853] Acts x. 4. [2854] 2 Cor. xi. 29. .


Homily LXXVIII.

Matt. XXV. 1-30. [2855]

"Then shall the kingdom of Heaven," He saith, "be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. But five of them were wise, and the other five foolish, which took not," He saith, "oil."

"Then, while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet Him. And the five arose, and being in perplexity, said to the wise, Give us of your oil. But they consented not, saying, Not so, lest there be not enough for us and you; go to them that sell, and buy."

"And while they were gone for this, the bridegroom came, and those went in; but these came afterwards, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But He answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know not the day, nor the hour."

"Then He spake again another parable. A man travelling into a far country, called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods; to one five talents, to another two, to another one, to every man according to his several ability, and took his journey. Then, when the two had brought him the double, he that had been entrusted with the one talent brought it alone, and being blamed saith, I knew that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed; and I was afraid, and hid thy talent; lo! there thou hast that is thine. His Lord answered and said, Thou wicked servant, thou knewest that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not strawed: thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I might have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him that hath ten talents. For to him that hath shall be given, and he shall have more abundantly; but from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

These parables are like the former parable of the faithful servant, and of him that was ungrateful and devoured his Lord's goods. For there are four in all, in different ways admonishing us about the same things, I mean about diligence in almsgiving, and about helping our neighbor by all means which we are able to use, since it is not possible to be saved in another way. But there He speaks more generally of all assistance which should he rendered to one's neighbor; but as to the virgins, he speaketh particularly of mercifulness in alms, and more strongly than in the former parable. For there He punishes him that beats, and is drunken, and scatters and wastes his lord's goods, but here even him that doth not help, nor spends abundantly his goods upon the needy. For they had oil indeed, but not in abundance, wherefore also they are punished.

But wherefore doth He set forth this parable in the person of the virgins, and doth not merely suppose any person whatever? Great things had He spoken of virginity, saying, "There are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of Heaven's sake;" and, "He that is able to receive, let him receive it." [2856] He knew also that the generality of men would have a great opinion of it. For indeed the work is by nature great, and is shown so by this, that neither under the old dispensation was it fulfilled by these ancient and holy men, nor under the new was it brought under the compulsion of the law. For He did not command this, but left it to the choice of his hearers. Wherefore Paul also said "Now, concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord." [2857] "For though I praise him that attains thereto, yet I constrain not him that is not willing, neither do I make the thing an injunction." Since then the thing is both great in itself and hath great honor with the multitude, lest any one attaining to this should feel as though he had attained to all, and should be careless about the rest, He putteth forth this parable sufficient to persuade them, that virginity, though it should have everything else, if destitute of the good things arising out of almsgiving, is cast out with the harlots, and He sets the inhuman and merciless with them. And most reasonably, for the one was overcome by the love of carnal pleasure, but these [2858] of money. But the love of carnal pleasure and of money are not equal, but that of carnal pleasure is far keener and more tyrannical. And the weaker the antagonist, the less excusable are these [2859] that are overcome thereby. Therefore also He calls them foolish, for that having undergone the greater labor, they have betrayed all for want of the less. But by lamps here, He meaneth the gift itself of virginity, the purity of holiness; and by oil, humanity, almsgiving, succor to them that are in need.

"Then, while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept." He shows that the time intervening will not be short, leading His disciples away from the expectation that His kingdom was quite immediately to appear. For this indeed they hoped, therefore He is continually holding them back from this hope. And at the same time He intimates this too, that death is a sleep. For they slept, He saith.

"And about midnight there was a cry made." Either He was continuing the parable, or again He shows that the resurrection will be at night. But the cry Paul also indicates, saying, "With a shout, with a voice of an archangel, with the last trump, He shall come down from Heaven." [2860] And what mean the trumpets, and what saith the cry? "The bridegroom cometh." When therefore they had trimmed their lamps, the foolish say unto the wise, "Give us of your oil." Again He calls them foolish, showing that nothing can be more foolish than they who are wealthy here, and depart naked thither, where most of all we have need of humanity, where we want much oil. But not in this respect only were they foolish, but also because they looked to receive it there, and sought it out of season; and yet nothing could be more humane than those virgins, who for this especially were approved. Neither do they seek for it all, for, "Give us," they say, "of your oil;" and the urgency of their need is indicated; "for our lamps," they say, "are going out." But even so they failed, and neither the humanity of those whom they asked, nor the easiness of their request, nor their necessity and want, made them obtain.

But what now do we learn from hence? That no man can protect us there, if we are betrayed by our works, not because he will not, but because he cannot. For these too take refuge in the impossibility. This the blessed Abraham also indicated, saying, "Between us and you there is a great gulf," [2861] so that not even when willing is it permitted them to pass it.

"But go to them that sell, and buy." And who are they that sell? The poor. And where are these? Here, and then should they have sought them, not at that time.

2. Seest thou what great profit arises to us from the poor? shouldest thou take them away, thou wouldest take away the great hope of our salvation. Wherefore here must we get together the oil, that it may be useful to us there, when the time calls us. For that is not the time of collecting it, but this. Spend not then your goods for nought in luxury and vainglory. For thou wilt have need of much oil there.

Having heard these things, those virgins went their way; but they profited nothing. And this He saith, either pursuing the parable, and working it up; or also by these things showing, that though we should become humane after our departure, we shall gain nothing from thence towards our escape. Therefore neither did their forwardness avail these virgins, because they went to them that sell not here, but there; nor the rich man, when he became so charitable, as even to be anxious about his relations. For he that was passing by him that was laid at the gate, is eager to rescue from perils and from hell them whom he did not so much as see, and entreats that some be sent to tell them these things. But nevertheless, he derived no benefit from thence, as neither did these virgins. For when they having heard these things went their way, the bridegroom came, and they that were ready went in with Him, but the others were shut out. After their many labors, after their innumerable toils, and that intolerable fight, and those trophies which they had set up over the madness of natural appetite, disgraced, and with their lamps gone out, they withdrew, bending down their faces to the earth. For nothing is more sullied than virginity not having mercy; so that even the multitude are wont to call the unmerciful dark. Where then was the profit of virginity, when they saw not the bridegroom? and not even when they had knocked did they obtain, but they heard that fearful saying, "Depart, I know you not." [2862] And when He hath said this, nothing else but hell is left, and that intolerable punishment; or rather, this word is more grievous even than hell. This word He speaks to them also that work iniquity. [2863]

"Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour." [2864] Seest thou how continually He adds this, showing how awful our ignorance concerning our departure hence? Where now are they, who throughout all their life are remiss, but when they are blamed by us, are saying, At the time of my death, I shall leave money to the poor. Let them listen to these words, and be amended. For indeed at that time many have failed of this, having been snatched away at once, and not permitted so much as to give charge to their relations touching what they wished to be done.

This parable was spoken with respect to mercy in alms; but the one that comes after this, to them that neither in money, nor in word, nor in protection, nor in any other things whatever, are willing to assist their neighbors, but withhold all.

And wherefore can it be that this parable brings forward a king, but that a bridegroom? That thou mightest learn how close Christ is joined unto the virgins that strip themselves of their possessions; for this indeed is virginity. Wherefore Paul also makes this as a definition of the thing. "The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord;" [2865] such are his words: and, "For that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. These things we advise," he saith.

And if in Luke the parable of the talents is otherwise put, this is to be said, that the one is really different from the other. For in that, from the one capital different degrees of increase were made, for from one pound one brought five, another ten; wherefore neither did they obtain the same recompense; but here, it is the contrary, and the crown is accordingly equal. For he that received two gave two, and he that had received the five again in like manner; but there since from the same beginning one made the greater, one the less, increase; as might be expected, in the rewards also, they do not enjoy the same.

But see Him everywhere, not requiring it again immediately. For in the case of the vineyard, He let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country; and here He committed to them the talents, and took His journey, that thou mightest learn His long-suffering. And to me He seems to say these things, to intimate the resurrection. But here it is no more a vineyard and husbandmen, but all servants. For not to rulers only, nor to Jews, but to all, doth He address His discourse. And they who bring a return unto Him confess frankly, both what is their own, and what their Master's. And the one saith, Lord, "Thou gavest me five talents;" and the other saith, "two," indicating that from Him they received the source of their gain, and they are very thankful, and reckon all to Him.

What then saith the Master? "Well done, thou good" (for this is goodness to look to one's neighbor) "and faithful servant; thou wast faithful over few things, I will set thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord," [2866] meaning by this expression all blessedness.

But not so that other one, but how? "I knew that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou sowedst not, and gathering where thou strawedst not: and I was afraid, and hid thy talent: lo, there thou hast that is thine." [2867] What then the Master? "Thou oughtest to have put my money to the exchangers," [2868] that is, "that oughtest to have spoken, to have admonished, to have advised." But are they disobedient? Yet this is nought to thee.

What could be more gentle than this? For men indeed do not so, but him that hath put out the money at usury, even him do they make also responsible to require it again. But He not so; but, Thou oughtest, He saith, to have put it out, and to have committed the requiring of it again to me. And I should have required it with increase; by increase upon the hearing, meaning the showing forth of the works. Thou oughtest to have done that which is easier, and to have left to me what is more difficult. Forasmuch then as he did not this, "Take," saith He, "the talent from him, and give it to him that hath ten talents. [2869] For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath." [2870] What then is this? He that hath a gift of word and teaching to profit thereby, and useth it not, will lose the gift also; but he that giveth diligence, will gain to himself the gift in more abundance; even as the other loseth what he had received. But not to this is the penalty limited for him that is slothful, but even intolerable is the punishment, and with the punishment the sentence, which is full of a heavy accusation. For "cast ye," saith He, "the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." [2871] Seest thou how not only the spoiler, and the covetous, nor only the doer of evil things, but also he that doeth not good things, is punished with extreme punishment.

Let us hearken then to these words. As we have opportunity, let us help on our salvation, let us get oil for our lamps, let us labor to add to our talent. For if we be backward, and spend our time in sloth here, no one will pity us any more hereafter, though we should wail ten thousand times. He also that had on the filthy garments condemned himself, and profited nothing. He also that had the one talent restored that which was committed to his charge, and yet was condemned. The virgins again entreated, and came unto Him and knocked, and all in vain, and without effect.

Knowing then these things, let us contribute alike wealth, and diligence, and protection, [2872] and all things for our neighbor's advantage. For the talents here are each person's ability, whether in the way of protection, or in money, or in teaching, or in what thing soever of the kind. Let no man say, I have but one talent, and can do nothing; for thou canst even by one approve thyself. For thou art not poorer than that widow; thou art not more uninstructed than Peter and John, who were both "unlearned and ignorant men;" [2873] but nevertheless, since they showed forth a zeal, and did all things for the common good, they attained to Heaven. For nothing is so pleasing to God, as to live for the common advantage.

For this end God gave us speech, and hands, and feet, and strength of body, and mind, and understanding, that we might use all these things, both for our own salvation, and for our neighbor's advantage. For not for hymns only and thanksgivings is our speech serviceable to us, but it is profitable also for instruction and admonition. And if indeed we used it to this end, we should be imitating our Master; but if for the opposite ends, the devil. Since Peter also, when he confessed the Christ, was blessed, as having spoken the words of the Father; but when he refused the cross, and dissuaded it, he was severely reproved, as savoring the things of the devil. But if where the saying was of ignorance, so heavy is the blame, when we of our own will commit many sins, what favor shall we have?

Such things then let us speak, that of themselves they may be evidently the words of Christ. For not only if I should say, "Arise, and walk;" [2874] neither if I should say, "Tabitha, arise," [2875] then only do I speak Christ's words, but much more if being reviled I bless, if being despitefully used I pray for him that doeth despite to me. Lately indeed I said, that our tongue is a hand laying hold on the feet of God; but now much more do I say, that our tongue is a tongue imitating the tongue of Christ, if it show forth the strictness that becometh us, if we speak those things which He wills. But what are the things which He wills us to speak? Words full of gentleness and meekness, even as also He Himself used to speak, saying to them that were insulting Him, "I have not a devil;" [2876] and again, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil." [2877] If thou also speak in this way; if thou speak for thy neighbor's amendment, thou wilt obtain a tongue like that tongue. And these things God Himself saith; "For he that bringeth out the precious from the vile, shall be as my mouth;" [2878] such are His words.

When therefore thy tongue is as Christ's tongue, and thy mouth is become the mouth of the Father, and thou art a temple of the Holy Ghost, then what kind of honor could be equal to this? For not even if thy mouth were made of gold, no nor even of precious stones, would it shine like as now, when lit up with the ornament of meekness. For what is more lovely than a mouth that knoweth not how to insult, but is used to bless and give good words? But if thou canst not bear to bless him that curses thee, hold thy peace, and accomplish but this for the time; and proceeding in order, and striving as thou oughtest, thou wilt attain to that other point also, and wilt acquire such a mouth, as we have spoken of.

4. And do not account the saying to be rash. For the Lord is loving to man, and the gift cometh of His goodness. It is rash to have a mouth like the devil, to have a tongue resembling that of an evil demon, especially for him that partakes of such mysteries, and communicates of the very flesh of the Lord. Reflecting then on these things, become like Him, to the utmost of thy power. No longer then will the devil be able so much as to look thee in the face, when thou art become such a one as this. For indeed he recognizes the image of the King, he knows the weapons of Christ, whereby he was worsted. And what are these? Gentleness and meekness. For when on the mountain Christ overthrew and laid low the devil who was assaulting him, it was not by making it known that He was Christ, but He entrapped him by these sayings, He took him by gentleness, he turned him to flight by meekness. Thou also must do this; shouldest thou see a man become a devil, and coming against thee, even so do thou likewise overcome. Christ gave thee also power to become like Him, so far as thy ability extends. Be not afraid at hearing this. The fear is not to be like Him. Speak then after His manner, and thou art become in this respect such as He, so far as it is possible for one who is a man to become so.

Wherefore greater is he that thus speaks, than he that prophecies. For this is entirely a gift, but in the other is also thy labor and toil. Teach thy soul to frame thee a mouth like to Christ's mouth. For it can create such things, if it will; it knows the art, if it be not remiss. And how is such a mouth made? one may ask. By what kind of colorings? by what kind of material? By no colorings, indeed, or material; but by virtue only, and meekness, and humility.

Let us see also how a devil's mouth is made; that we may never frame that. How then is it made? By curses, by insults, by envy, by perjury. For when any one speaks his words, he takes his tongue. What kind of excuse then shall we have; or rather, what manner of punishment shall we not undergo; when this our tongue, wherewith we are allowed to taste of the Lord's flesh, when this, I say, we overlook, speaking the devil's words?

Let us not overlook it, but let us use all diligence, in order to train it to imitate its Lord. For if we train it to this, it will place us with great confidence at Christ's judgment seat. Unless any one know how to speak thus, the judge will not so much as hear him. For like as when the judge chances to be a Roman, he will not hear the defense of one who knows not how to speak thus; so likewise Christ, unless thou speak after His fashion, will not hear thee, nor give heed.

Let us learn therefore to speak in such wise as our Judge is wont to hear; let it be our endeavor to imitate that tongue. And shouldest thou fall into grief, take heed lest the tyranny of despondency pervert thy tongue, but that thou speak like Christ. For He too mourned for Lazarus and Judas. Shouldest thou fall into fear, seek again to speak even as He. For He Himself fell into fear for thy sake, with regard to His manhood. [2879] the other sheep, that He might indicate the unfruitfulness of the one, for no fruit will come from kids; and the great profit from the other, for indeed from sheep great is the profit, as well from the milk, as from the wool, and from the young, of all which things the kid [2880] is destitute.

But while the brutes have from nature their unfruitfulness, and fruitfulness, these have it from choice, wherefore some are punished, and the others crowned. And He doth not punish them, until He hath pleaded with them; wherefore also, when He hath put them in their place, He mentions the charges against them. And they speak with meekness, but they have no advantage from it now; and very reasonably, because they passed by a work so much to be desired. For indeed the prophets are everywhere saying this, "I will have mercy and not sacrifice," [2881] and the lawgiver by all means urged them to this, both by words, and by works; and nature herself taught it.

But mark them, how they are destitute not of one or two things only, but of all. For not only did they fail to feed the hungry, or clothe the naked; but not even did they visit the sick, which was an easier thing.

And mark how easy are His injunctions. He said not, "I was in prison, and ye set me free; I was sick, and ye raised me up again;" but, "ye visited me," and, "ye came unto me." And neither in hunger is the thing commanded grievous. For no costly table did He seek, but what is needful only, and His necessary food, and He sought in a suppliant's garb, so that all things were enough to bring punishment on them; the easiness of the request, for it was bread; the pitiable character of Him that requesteth, for He was poor; the sympathy of nature, for He was a man; the desirableness of the promise, for He promised a kingdom; the fearfulness of the punishment, for He threatened hell. The dignity of the one receiving, for it was God, who was receiving by the poor; the surpassing nature of the honor, that He vouchsafed to condescend so far; His just claim for what they bestowed, for of His own was He receiving. But against all these things covetousness once for all blinded them that were seized by it; and this though so great a threat was set against it.

For further back also He saith, that they who receive not such as these shall suffer more grievous things than Sodom; and here He saith, "Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not unto me." [2882] What sayest Thou? they are Thy brethren; and how dost Thou call them least. Why, for this reason they are brethren, because they are lowly, because they are poor, because they are outcast. For such doth He most invite to brotherhood, the unknown, the contemptible, not meaning by these the monks only, and them that have occupied the mountains, but every believer; though he be a secular person, yet if he be hungry, and famishing, and naked, and a stranger, His will is he should have the benefit of all this care. For baptism renders a man a brother, and the partaking of the divine mysteries.

2. Then, in order that thou mayest see in another way also the justice of the sentence, He first praises them that have done right, and saith, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat," and all that follows. [2883] For that they may not say, we had it not, He condemns them by their fellow-servants; like as the virgins by the virgins, and the servant that was drunken and gluttonous by the faithful servant, and him that buried his talent, by them that brought the two, and each one of them that continue in sin, by them that have done right.

And this comparison is sometimes made in the case of an equal, as here, and in the instance of the virgins, sometimes of him that hath advantage, as when he said, "The men of Nineveh shall rise up and shall condemn this generation, because they believed at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here;" and, "The queen of the south shall condemn this generation, because she came to hear the wisdom of Solomon;" [2884] and of an equal again, "They shall be your judges;" [2885] and again of one at advantage, "Know ye not, that we shall judge angels, how much more things that pertain to this life?" [2886]

And here, however, it is of an equal; for he compares rich with rich, and poor with poor. And not in this way only doth He show the sentence justly passed, by their fellow-servants having done what was right when in the same circumstances, but also by their not being obedient so much as in these things in which poverty was no hindrance; as, for instance, in giving drink to the thirsty, in looking upon him that is in bonds, in visiting the sick. And when He had commended them that had done right, He shows how great was originally His bond of love towards them. For, "Come," saith He, "ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." To how many good things is this same equivalent, to be blessed, and blessed of the Father? And wherefore were they counted worthy of such great honors? What is the cause? "I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink;" and what follows.

Of what honor, of what blessedness are these words? And He said not, Take, but, "Inherit," as one's own, as your Father's, as yours, as due to you from the first. For, before you were, saith He, these things had been prepared, and made ready for you, forasmuch as I knew you would be such as you are.

And in return for what do they receive such things? For the covering of a roof, for a garment, for bread, for cold water, for visiting, for going into the prison. For indeed in every case it is for what is needed; and sometimes not even for that. For surely, as I have said, the sick and he that is in bonds seeks not for this only, but the one to be loosed, the other to be delivered from his infirmity. But He, being gracious, requires only what is within our power, or rather even less than what is within our power, leaving to us to exert our generosity in doing more.

But to the others He saith, "Depart from me, ye cursed," (no longer of the Father; for not He laid the curse upon them, but their own works), "into the everlasting fire, prepared," not for you, but "for the devil and his angels." For concerning the kingdom indeed, when He had said, "Come, inherit the kingdom," He added, "prepared for you before the foundation of the world;" but concerning the fire, no longer so, but, "prepared for the devil." I, saith He, prepared the kingdom for you, but the fire no more for you, but "for the devil and his angels;" but since ye cast yourselves therein, impute it to yourselves. And not in this way only, but by what follows also, like as though He were excusing Himself to them, He sets forth the causes.

"For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat." For though He that came to thee had been thine enemy, were not His sufferings enough to have overcome and subdued even the merciless? hunger, and cold, and bonds, and nakedness, and sickness, and to wander everywhere houseless? These things are sufficient even to destroy enmity. But ye did not these things even to a friend, being at once friend, and benefactor, and Lord. Though it be a dog we see hungry, often we are overcome; and though we behold a wild beast, we are subdued; but seeing the Lord, art thou not subdued? And wherein are these things worthy of defense?

For if it were this only, were it not sufficient for a recompense? (I speak not of hearing such a voice, in the presence of the world, from Him that sitteth on the Father's throne, and of obtaining the kingdom), but were not the very doing it sufficient for a reward? But now even in the presence of the world, and at the appearing of that unspeakable glory, He proclaims and crowns thee, and acknowledges thee as His sustainer and host, and is not ashamed of saying such things, that He may make the crown brighter for thee.

So for this cause, while the one are punished justly, the others are crowned by grace. For though they had done ten thousand things, the munificence were of grace, that in return for services so small and cheap, such a heaven, and a kingdom, and so great honor, should be given them.

"And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, [2887] He said unto His disciples, Ye know that after two days is the passover, and the Son of Man is betrayed to be crucified." [2888] In good season again doth He speak of the passion, when He had reminded them of the kingdom, and of the recompense there, and of the deathless punishment; as though He had said, Why are ye afraid at the dangers that are for a season, when such good things await you?

3. But mark thou, I pray thee, how He hath in all His first sayings after a new manner worked up and thrown into the shade what was most painful to them. For He said not, Ye know that after two days I am betrayed, but, "Ye know that after two days is the passover," [2889] to show that what is done is a mystery and that a feast and celebration is being kept for the salvation of the world, and that with foreknowledge He suffered all. So then, as though this were sufficient consolation for them, He did not even say anything to them now about a resurrection; for it was superfluous, after having discoursed so much about it, to speak of it again. And moreover, as I said, He shows that even His very passion is a deliverance from countless evils, having by the passover reminded them of the ancient benefits in Egypt.

"Then were assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill Him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people." [2890]

Seest thou the unspeakable corruption of the Jewish state? Attempting unlawful acts, they come to the high priest, desiring to obtain their authority from that quarter, whence they ought to have found hindrance.

And how many high priests were there? For the law wills there should be one, but then there were many. Whence it is manifest, that the Jewish constitution had begun to dissolve. For Moses, as I said, commanded there should be one, and that when he was dead there should be another, and by the life of this person He measured the banishment of them that had involuntarily committed manslaughter. How then were there at that time many high priests? They were afterwards made for a year. And this the evangelist declared, when he was speaking of Zacharias, saying, that he was of the course of Abia. Those therefore doth he here call high priests, who had been high priests.

What did they consult together? That they might seize Him secretly, or that they might put Him to death? Both; for they feared the people. Wherefore also they waited for the feast to be past; for "they said, Not on the feast day." [2891] For the devil, lest he should make the passion conspicuous, was not willing it should take place at the passover; but they, lest there should be an uproar. Mark them then ever fearing, not the ills from God, neither lest any greater pollution should arise to them from the season, but in every case the ills from men.

Yet for all this, boiling with anger, they changed their purpose again. For though they had said, "Not at the feast time;" when they found the traitor, they waited not for the time, but slew Him at the feast. But why did they take Him then? They were boiling with rage, as I said; and they expected then to find Him, and all things they did as blinded. For though He Himself made the greatest use of their wickedness for His own dispensation, they were not surely for this guiltless, but deserving of inflictions without number for their temper of mind. At least when all should be set free, even the guilty, then these men slew the guiltless, Him that had conferred on them countless benefits, and who for a time had neglected the Gentiles for their sake. But O loving-kindness! them that were thus depraved, them that were thus froward, and [2892] full of countless evils, He again saves, and sends the apostles to be slain in their behalf, and by the apostles makes entreaty. "For we are ambassadors for Christ." [2893]

Having then such patterns as these, I say not, let us die for our enemies, for we ought to do even this; but since we are too feeble for this, I say for the present, at least let us not look with an evil eye upon our friends, let us not envy our benefactors. I say not for the present, let us do good to them that evil entreat us, for I desire even this; but since you are too gross for this, at least avenge not yourselves. What is our condition, a scene, and acting? Wherefore can it be that ye set yourselves directly against the acts enjoined? It is not for nought that all else hath been written and how many things He did at the very cross sufficient to recall them to Him; but that thou mightest imitate His goodness, that thou mightest emulate His lovingkindness. For indeed He cast them to the ground, and restored the servant's ear, and discoursed with forbearance; and great miracles did He show forth, when lifted up, turning aside the sunbeams, bursting the rocks, raising the dead, frightening by dreams the wife of him that was judging Him, at the very judgment showing forth all meekness (which was of power not less than miracles to gain them over), forewarning them of countless things in the judgment hall; on the very cross crying aloud, "Father, forgive them their sin." [2894] And when buried, how many things did He show forth for their salvation? And having risen again, did he not straightway call the Jews? did He not give them remission of sins? did He not set before them countless blessings? What can be more strange than this? They that crucified Him, and were breathing murder, after they crucified Him, became sons of God.

What can be equal to this tenderness? On hearing these things let us hide our faces, to think that we are so far removed from Him whom we are commanded to imitate. Let us at least see how great the distance, that we may at any rate condemn ourselves, for warring with these, in behalf of whom Christ gave His life, and not being willing to be reconciled to them, whom that He might reconcile He refused not even to be slain; unless this too be some expense, and outlay of money, which ye object in almsgiving.

4. Consider of how many things thou art guilty; and so far from being backward to forgive them that have injured thee, thou wilt even run unto them that have grieved thee, in order that thou mayest have a ground for pardon, that thou mayest find a remedy for thine own evil deeds.

The sons of the Greeks, who look for nothing great, have often shown self-command toward these: and thou who art to depart hence with such hopes, shrinkest, and art slow to act; and that which time effects, this thou endurest not to do before the time for God's law, but willest this passion to be quenched without reward, rather than for a reward? For neither, if this should have arisen from the time, wilt thou have any advantage, but rather great will be the punishment, because, what time hath effected, this the law of God persuaded thee not to do.

But if thou sayest that thou burnest with the memory of the insult; call to mind if any good hath been done thee by him that hath offended thee, and how many ills thou hast occasioned to others.

Hath he spoken ill of thee, and disgraced thee? Consider also that thou hast spoken thus of others. How then wilt thou obtain pardon, which thou bestowest not on others? But hast thou spoken ill of no one? But thou hast heard men so speaking, and allowed it. Neither is this guiltless.

Wilt thou learn how good a thing it is not to remember injuries, and how this more than anything pleases God? Them that exult over persons, justly chastised by Himself, He punishes. And yet they are justly chastised; but thou shouldest not rejoice over them. So the prophet having brought many accusations, added this also, saying, "They felt nothing for the affliction of Joseph;" [2895] and again, "She that inhabiteth Enan, came not forth to lament for the place near her." [2896] And yet both Joseph (that is, the tribes that were sprung from him), and the neighbors of these others, were punished according to the purpose of God; nevertheless, it is His will that we sympathize even with these. For if we, being evil, when we are punishing a servant, if we should see one of his fellow slaves laughing, we at the same time are provoked the more, and turn our anger against him; much more will God punish them that exult over those whom He chastises. But if upon them that are chastised by God it is not right to trample, but to grieve with them, much more with them that have sinned against us. For this is love's sign; love God prefers to all things. For as in the royal purple, those are precious amongst the flowers and dyes, which make up this robing; so here too, these virtues are the precious ones, which preserve love. But nothing maintains love so much as the not remembering them that have sinned against us.

"Why? did not God guard the other side also? Why? did He not drive him that hath done the wrong to him that is wronged? Doth He not send him from the altar to the other, and so after the reconciliation invite him to the table?" But do not therefore wait for the other to come, since thus thou hast lost all. For to this intent most especially doth He appoint unto thee an unspeaka ble reward, that thou mayest prevent the other, since, if thou art reconciled by his entreaties, the amity is no longer the result of the divine command, but of the other party's diligence. Wherefore also thou goest away uncrowned, while he receives the rewards.

What sayest thou? Hast thou an enemy, and art thou not ashamed? Why is not the devil enough for us, that we bring upon ourselves those of our own race also? Would that not even he had been minded to war against us; would that not even he were a devil!

Knowest thou not how great the pleasure after reconciliation? For what, though in our enmity it appear not great? For that it is sweeter to love him that doth us wrong than to hate him, after the enmity is done away thou shalt be able to learn full well.

5. Why then do we imitate the mad, devouring one another, warring against our own flesh?

Hear even under the Old Testament, how great regard there was for this, "The ways of revengeful men are unto death. [2897] One man keepeth anger against another, and doth he seek healing of God?" [2898] "And yet He allowed, 'eye for eye,' and 'tooth for tooth,' how then doth He find fault?" Because He allowed even those things, not that we should do them one to another, but that through the fear of suffering, we might abstain from the commission of crime. And besides, those acts are the fruits of a short-lived anger, but to remember injuries is the part of a soul that practises itself in evil.

But hast thou suffered evil? yet nothing so great, as thou wilt do to thyself by remembering injuries. And besides, it is not so much as possible for a good man to suffer any evil. For suppose there to be any man, having both children and a wife, and let him practise virtue, and let him have moreover many occasions of being injured, as well abundance of possessions, as sovereign power, and many friends, and let him enjoy honor; only let him practise virtue, for this must be added, and let us in supposition lay plagues upon him. And let some wicked man come unto him, and involve him in losses. What then is that to him who accounts money nothing? Let him kill his children. What this to him, who learns to be wise touching the resurrection? Let him slay his wife; what is this to him who is instructed not to sorrow for them that are fallen asleep? let him cast him into dishonor. What this to him who accounts the things present, the flower of the grass? If thou wilt, let him also torture his body, and cast him into prison, what this to him that hath learnt, "Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed;" [2899] and that "tribulation worketh approval?" [2900]

Now I had undertaken that he should receive no harm; but the account as it proceeded hath shown that he is even advantaged, being renewed, and becoming approved.

Let us not then vex ourselves with others, injuring ourselves, and rendering our soul weak. For the vexation is not so much from our neighbors' wickedness, as from our weakness. Because of this, should any one insult us, we weep, and frown; should any one rob us, we suffer the same like those little children, which the more clever of their companions provoke for nothing, grieving them for small causes; but nevertheless these too, if they should see them vexed, continue to tease them, but if laughing, they on the contrary leave off. But we are more foolish even than these, lamenting for these things, about which we ought to laugh.

Wherefore I entreat, let us let go this childish mind, and lay hold of Heaven. For indeed, Christ willeth us to be men, perfect men. On this wise did Paul also command, "Brethren, be not children in understanding," he saith, "howbeit in malice be ye children." [2901]

Let us therefore be children [2902] in malice, and flee wickedness, and lay hold on virtue, that we may attain also to the good things eternal, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might, world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[2855] [The passage, as here given, corresponds with that prefixed to the Homily in Field's text. There are some omissions, and some variations from the received text. It seemed unnecessary to annotate it to any extent, since the variations appear in the rendering. In Migne's edition, the citation ends with the words, "while the bridegroom tarried."'R.] [2856] Matt. xix. 12. [2857] 1 Cor. vii. 25. [2858] a d. [2859] a nikēthesai. [2860] 1 Thess. iv. 16 (comp. 1 Cor. xv. 52). [2861] Luke xvi. 26. [2862] Matt. xxv. 12. [2863] See Matt. vii. 23. [2864] Matt. xxv. 13. [2865] 1 Cor. vii. 34, 35. [2866] Matt. xxv. 23. [2867] Matt. xxv. 24, 25. [2868] Matt. xxv. 27. [R.V., "bankers."] [2869] [R.V., "the ten talents."] [2870] Matt. xxv. 28, 29. [2871] Matt. xxv. 30. [R.V., "cast ye out," etc.] [2872] prostasan . [2873] Acts iv. 13. [2874] Matt. ix. 5. [2875] Acts ix. 40. [2876] John viii. 49. [Greek, "demon."] [2877] John xviii. 23. [2878] Jer. xv. 19. [2879] kat tn t okonoma lgonerphia, hædos, not capras; St. Jerome. [2880] eripho. [2881] Hosea vi. 6. [2882] Matt. xxv. 45; comp. verse 40. ["My brethren" is added here from verse 40. The order of words varies from that found in that verse.'R.] [2883] Matt. xxv. 34-40. [2884] Matt. xii. 41, 42. [2885] Matt. xii. 27. [2886] 1 Cor. vi. 3. [2887] [R.V., "words;" the word "all" is omitted.'R.] [2888] Matt. xxvi. 1, 2. [2889] [A clause is omitted here: "and then He brings in 'is delivered up to be crucified.'" But some editors read: "'And the Son of Man is delivered up,' and then He brings in 'to be crucified.'" For the latter reading there is no good authority.'R.] [2890] Matt. xxvi. 3-5. [This passage contains some peculiar variations: in verse 3, "in the palace" (court) is substituted for "unto;" in verse 4, the more probable reading should be rendered, "were consulting" (or taking counsel together). Verse 5 shows no variations but should be rendered as in the R.V., "Not during the feast, lest a tumult arise among the people." The comments show that Chrysostom understood the verse as referring to the entire festival.'R.] [2891] ["Not during the feast."] [2892] [The words in italics are not sustained by the mss. collated by Field.'R.] [2893] 2 Cor. v. 20. [R.V., "on behalf of Christ."] [2894] Luke xxiii. 34. [Freely cited.] [2895] Amos vi. 6. [2896] Micah i. 11, LXX. [2897] Prov. xii. 28, LXX. [2898] Ecclus. xxviii. 3. [2899] 2 Cor. iv. 16. [R.V., "our outward man is decaying."] [2900] Rom. v. 4. [R.V., "probation;" dokimn cannot be accurately rendered by any single English term.'R.] [2901] 1 Cor. xiv. 20. [R.V., "be not children in mind; howbeit in malice be ye babes."] [2902] ["babes."] .


Homily LXXX.

Matt. XXVI. 6, 7.

"Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, there came unto Him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on His head, as He sat at meat."

This woman seems indeed to be one and the same with all the evangelists, yet she is not so; but though with the three she doth seem to me to be one and the same, [2903] yet not so with John, but another person, one much to be admired, the sister of Lazarus.

But not without purpose did the evangelist mention the leprosy of Simon, but in order that He might show whence the woman took confidence, and came unto Him. For inasmuch as the leprosy seemed a most unclean disease, and to be abhorred, and yet she saw Jesus had both healed the man (for else He would not have chosen to have tarried with a leper), and had gone into his house; she grew confident, that He would also easily wipe off the uncleanness of her soul. And not for nought doth He name the city also, Bethany, but that thou mightest learn, that of His own will He cometh to His passion. For He who before this was fleeing through the midst of them; then, at the time when their envy was most kindled, comes near within about fifteen furlongs; so completely was His former withdrawing Himself a part of a dispensation. [2904]

The woman therefore having seen Him, and having taken confidence from thence came unto Him. For if she that had the issue of blood, although conscious to herself of nothing like this, yet because of that natural seeming uncleanness, approached Him trembling and in fear; much more was it likely this woman should be slow, and shrink back because of her evil conscience. Wherefore also it is after many women, the Samaritan, the Canaanite, her that had the issue of blood, and other besides, that she cometh unto Him, being conscious to herself of much impurity; and then not publicly but in a house. And whereas all the others were coming unto Him for the healing of the body alone, she came unto Him by way of honor only, and for the amendment of the soul. For neither was she at all afflicted in body, so that for this most especially one might marvel at her.

And not as to a mere man did she come unto Him; for then she would not have wiped His feet with her hair, but as to one greater than man can be. Therefore that which is the most honorable member of the whole body, this she laid at Christ's feet, even her own head.

"But when His disciples saw it, they had indignation," such are the words, "saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. But when Jesus understood it, He said, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me? For ye have the poor always with you, but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her." [2905]

And whence had they this thought? They used to hear their Master saying, "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice," [2906] and blaming the Jews, because they omitted the weightier matters, judgment, and mercy, and faith, and discoursing much on the mount concerning almsgiving, and from these things they inferred with themselves, and reasoned, that if He accepts not whole burnt offerings, neither the ancient worship, much more will He not accept the anointing of oil.

But though they thus thought, He knowing her intention suffers her. For indeed great was her reverence, and unspeakable her zeal; wherefore of this exceeding condescension, He permitted the oil to be poured even on His head.

For if He refused not to become man, and to be borne in the womb, and to be fed at the breast, why marvellest thou, if He doth not utterly reject this? For like as the Father suffered a savor of meat, and smoke, even so did He the harlot, accepting, as I have already said, her intention. For Jacob too anointed a pillar to God, and oil was offered in the sacrifices, and the priests were anointed with ointment.

But the disciples not knowing her purpose found fault unseasonably, and by the things they laid to her charge, they show the woman's munificence. For saying, that it might have been sold for three hundred pence, they showed how much this woman had spent on the ointment, and how great generosity she had manifested. Wherefore He also rebuked them, saying, "Why trouble ye the woman?" And He adds a reason, as it was His will again to put them in mind of His passion, "For she did it," He said, "for my burial." And another reason. "For ye have the poor always with you, but me ye have not always;" and, "Wheresoever the gospel shall be preached, that shall be told also which this woman hath done."

Seest thou how again He declares beforehand the going forth unto the Gentiles, in this way also consoling them for His death, if after the cross His power was so to shine forth, that the gospel should be spread abroad in every part of the earth.

Who then is so wretched as to set his face against so much truth? For lo! what He said is come to pass, and to whatever part of the earth thou mayest go, thou wilt see her celebrated.

And yet neither was the person that did it distinguished, nor had what was done many witnesses, neither was it in a theatre, but in a house, that it took place, and this a house of some leper, the disciples only being present.

2. Who then proclaimed it, and caused it to be spread abroad? It was the power of Him who is speaking these words. And while of countless kings and generals the noble exploits even of those whose memorials remain have sunk into silence; and having overthrown cities, and encompassed them with walls, [2907] and set up trophies, and enslaved many nations, they are not known so much as by hearsay, nor by name, though they have both set up statues, and established laws; yet that a woman who was a harlot poured out oil in the house of some leper, in the presence of ten men, this all men celebrate throughout the world; and so great a time has passed, and yet the memory of that which was done hath not faded away, but alike Persians and Indians, Scythians and Thracians, and Sarmatians, and the race of the Moors, and they that dwell in the British Islands, spread abroad that which was done secretly in a house by a woman that had been a harlot. [2908]

Great is the loving-kindness of the Lord. He endureth an harlot, an harlot kissing his feet, and moistening them with oil, and wiping them with her hair, and He receives her, and reproves them that blame her. For neither was it right that for so much zeal the woman should be driven to despair.

But mark thou this too, how far they were now raised up above the world, and forward in almsgiving. And why was it He did not merely say, "She hath wrought a good work," but before this, "Why trouble ye the woman?" That they might learn not at the beginning to require too high principles of the weaker sort. Therefore neither doth He examine the act merely itself by itself, but taking into account the person of the woman. And indeed if He had been making a law, He would not have brought in the woman, but that thou mightest learn that for her sake these things were said, that they might not mar her budding faith, but rather cherish it, therefore He saith it, teaching us whatever good thing may be done by any man, though it be not quite perfect, to receive it, and encourage it, and advance it, and not to seek all perfection at the beginning. For, that at least He Himself would rather have desired this, is manifest from the fact, that He required a bag to be borne, who had not where to lay His head. But then the time demanded not this, that He should correct the deed, but that He should accept it only. For even as, if any one asked Him, without the woman's having done it, He would not have approved this; so, after she had done it, He looks to one thing only, that she be not driven to perplexity by the reproof of the disciples, but that she should go from His care, having been made more cheerful and better. For indeed after the oil had been poured out, their rebuke had no seasonableness.

Do thou then likewise, if thou shouldest see any one provide sacred vessels and offer them, and loving to labor upon any other ornament of the church, about its walls or floor; do not command what has been made to be sold, or overthrown, lest thou spoil his zeal. But if, before he had provided them, he were to tell thee of it, command it to be given to the poor; forasmuch as He also did this not to spoil the spirit of the woman, and as many things as He says, He speaks for her comfort.

Then because He had said, "She hath done it for my burial;" that He might not seem to perplex the woman, by making mention of such a thing as this, His burial and death, I mean; see how by that which follows He recovers her, saying, "What she hath done shall be spoken of in the whole world."

And this was at once consolation to His disciples, and comfort and praise to her. For all men, He saith, shall celebrate her hereafter; and now too hath she announced beforehand my passion, by bringing unto me what was needed for a funeral, let not therefore any man reprove her. For I am so far from condemning her as having done amiss, or from blaming her as having not acted rightly, that I will not suffer what hath been done to lie hid, but the world shall know that which has been done in a house, and in secret. For in truth the deed came of a reverential mind, and fervent faith, and a contrite soul.

And wherefore did He promise the woman nothing spiritual; but the perpetual memory? From this He is causing her to feel a confidence about the other things also. For if she hath wrought a good work, it is quite evident she shall receive a due reward.

"Then went one of the twelve, he that was called Judas Iscariot, unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver Him unto you?" [2909] Then. When? When these things were spoken, when He had said, it is for my burial, and not even thereby was he moved to compunction, neither when he heard that the Gospel should be preached everywhere did he fear (and yet it was the language of unspeakable power), but when women showed so much honor, and women that had been harlots, then he wrought the devil's works.

But what can be the reason they mention his surname? Because there was also another Judas. And they do not shrink from saying, He was of the twelve; so entirely do they hide none of those things which seem to be matters of reproach. And yet they might have said merely this, that he was one of the disciples, for there were others besides. But now they add, of the twelve, as though they had said, of the first company of those selected as the best, of them with Peter and John. Because for one thing did they care, for truth alone, not for concealing what things were done.

For this cause many of the signs they pass by, but of the things that appear to be matters of reproach they conceal nothing; but though it be word, though it be deed, though it be what you will of this kind, they proclaim it with confidence.

3. And not these only, but even John himself, who utters the higher doctrines. For he most of all tells us of the affronts and the reproachful things that were done unto Him.

And see how great is the wickedness of Judas, in that he comes unto them of his own accord, in that he does this for money, and for such a sum of money.

But Luke saith, that he conferred with the chief captains. [2910] For after that the Jews became seditious, the Romans set over them those that should provide for their good order. For their government had now undergone a change according to the prophecy.

To these then he went and said, "What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you. And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him." [2911] For indeed he was afraid of the multitude, and desired to seize him alone.

Oh madness! how did covetousness altogether blind him! For he that had often seen Him when He went through the midst, and was not seized, and when He afforded many demonstrations of His Godhead and power, looked to lay hold on Him; and this while He was using like a charm for him so many, both awful and soothing words, to put an end to this evil thought. For not even at the supper did He forbear from this care of him, but unto the last day discoursed to him of these things. But he profited nothing. Yet not for that did the Lord cease to do His part.

Knowing this, then, let us also not intermit to do all things unto them that sin and are remiss, warning, teaching, exhorting, admonishing, advising, though we profit nothing. For Christ indeed foreknew that the traitor was incorrigible, yet nevertheless He ceased not to supply what could be done by Himself, as well admonishing as threatening and bewailing over him, and nowhere plainly, nor openly, but in a concealed way. And at the very time of the betrayal, He allowed him even to kiss Him, but this benefited him nothing. So great an evil is covetousness, this made him both a traitor, and a sacrilegious robber.

Hearken, all ye covetous, ye that have the disease of Judas; hearken, and beware of the calamity. For if he that was with Christ, and wrought signs, and had the benefit of so much instruction, because he was not freed from the disease, was sunk into such a gulf; how much more shall ye, who do not so much as listen to the Scripture, who are constantly riveted to the things present, become an easy prey to this calamity, unless ye have the advantage of constant care. Every day was that man with Him, who had not where to lay His head, and every day was he instructed by deeds, and by words, not to have gold, nor silver, nor two coats; and yet he was not taught self restraint; and how dost thou expect to escape the disease, if thou hast not the benefit of earnest attention, and dost not use much diligence? For terrible, terrible is the monster, yet nevertheless, if thou be willing, thou wilt easily get the better of him. For the desire is not natural; and this is manifest from them that are free from it. For natural things are common to all; but this desire has its origin from remissness alone; hence it takes its birth, hence it derives its increase, and when it has seized upon those who look greedily after it, it makes them live contrary to nature. For when they regard not their fellow countrymen, their friends, their brethren, [2912] in a word all men, and with these even themselves, this is to live against nature. Whence it is evident that the vice and disease of covetousness, wherein Judas, being entangled, became a traitor, is contrary to nature. And how did he become such a one, you may say, having been called by Christ? Because God's call is not compulsory, neither does it force the will of them who are not minded to choose virtue, but admonishes indeed, and advises, and does and manages all things, so as to persuade men to become good; but if some endure not, it does not compel. But if thou wouldest learn from what cause he became such as he was, thou wilt find him to have been ruined by covetousness.

And how was he taken by this calamity? one may say. Because he grew remiss. For hence arise such changes, as on the other hand, those for the better from diligence. How many for instance that were violent, are now more gentle than lambs? how many lascivious persons have become afterwards continent? how many, heretofore covetous, yet now have cast away even their own possessions? And the contrary again has been the result of remissness. For Gehazi also lived with a holy man, and he too became depraved from the same disease. For this calamity is the most grievous of all. Hence come robbers of tombs, hence menslayers, hence wars and fightings, and whatsoever evil thou mayest mention, it cometh hence. And in every respect is such a one useless, whether it be requisite to lead an army or to guide a people: or rather not in public matters only, but also in private. If he is to marry a wife, he will not take the virtuous woman, but the vilest of all; if he have to buy a house, not that which becomes a free man, but what can bring much rent; if he is to buy slaves, or what else it may be, he will take the worst.

And why do I speak of leading an army, and guiding a people, and managing households; for should he be a king, he is the most wretched of all men, and a pest to the world, and the poorest of all men. For he will feel like one of the common sort, not accounting all men's possessions to be his, but himself to be one of all; and when spoiling all men's goods, thinks himself to have less than any. For measuring the things present by his desire for those whereof he is not yet possessed, he will account the former nothing compared to the latter. Wherefore also one saith, "There is not a more wicked thing than a covetous man." [2913]

4. For such a one both setteth himself to sale, and goeth about, a common enemy of the world, grieving that the earth doth not bear gold instead of the corn, and the fountains instead of streams, and the mountains instead of stone; vexed at the fruitfulness of the seasons, troubled at common benefits; shunning every means whence one cannot obtain money; undergoing all things whence one can scrape together so much as two farthings; hating all men, the poor and the rich; the poor, lest they should come and beg of him; the rich, because he hath not their possessions. All men he accounts to be possessed of what is his, and as though he had been injured by all, so is he displeased with all. He knows not plenty, he has no experience of satiety, he is more wretched than any, even as, on the other hand, he that is freed from these things, and practises self-restraint, is the most enviable. For the virtuous man, though he be a servant, though a prisoner, is the most happy of all men. For no one shall do him ill, no not though all men should come together out of the world, setting in motion arms and camps, and warring with him. But he that is depraved and vile, and such as we have described, though he be a king, though he have on a thousand diadems, will suffer the utmost extremities, even from a common hand. So feeble is vice, so strong is virtue.

Why then dost thou mourn, being in a state of poverty. Why wailest thou keeping a feast, for indeed it is an occasion of feasting. Why weepest thou, for poverty is a festival, if thou be wise. Why lamentest thou, thou little child; for such a one we should call a little child. Did such a person strike thee? What is this, he made thee more able to endure? But did he take away thy money? He hath removed the greater part of thy burden. But hath he cut off thine honor? Again thou tellest me of another kind of freedom. Hear even those without teaching wisdom touching these things, and saying, "Thou hast suffered no ill, if thou show no regard to it." But hath he taken away that great house of thine, which hath enclosures about it? But behold the whole earth is before thee, the public buildings, whether thou wouldest have them for delight, or for use. And what is more pleasing or more beautiful than the firmament of Heaven.

How long are ye poor and needy? It is not possible for him to be rich, who is not wealthy in his soul; like as it is not possible for him to be poor, who hath not the poverty in his mind. For if the soul is a nobler thing than the body, the less noble parts have not power to affect it after themselves; but the noble part draws over unto herself, and changes those that are not so noble. For so the heart, when it has received any hurt, affects the whole body accordingly; if its temperament be disordered, it mars all, if it be rightly tempered, it profits all. And if any of the remaining parts should have become corrupt, while this remains sound, it easily shakes off what is evil in them also.

And that I may further make what I say more plain, what is the use, I pray thee, of verdant branches, when the root is withering? and what is the harm of the leaves being withered above, while this is sound? So also here there is no use of money, while the soul is poor; neither harm from poverty, when the soul is rich. And how can a soul, one may say, be rich, being in want of money? Then above all times might this be; for then also is it wont to be rich.

For if, as we have often shown, this is a sure proof of being rich, to despise wealth, and to want nothing; and of poverty again, to want, and any one would more easily despise money in poverty than in wealth, it is quite evident that to be in poverty rather makes one to be rich. For indeed that the rich man sets his heart on money more than the poor man, is surely plain to every one; like as the drunken man is thirsty, rather than he that hath partaken of drink sufficiently. For neither is his desire such as to be quenched by too much; but, on the contrary, it is its nature to be inflamed by this. For fire likewise, when it has received more food, then most of all waxes fierce; and the tyranny of wealth, when thou hast cast into it more gold, then most especially is increased.

If then the desiring more be a mark of poverty; and he that is in the possession of riches is like this; he is especially in poverty. Seest thou that the soul then most of all is poor, when it is rich; and then is rich, when it is in poverty?

And if thou wilt, let us exercise our reasoning in persons also, and let there be two, the one having ten thousand talents, the other ten, and from both let us take away these things. Who then will grieve the most? He that hath lost the ten thousand. But he would not have grieved more, unless he had loved it more; but if he loves more, he desires more; but if he desires more, he is more in poverty. For this do we most desire, of which we are most in want, for desire is from want. For where there is satiety, there cannot be desire. For then are we most thirsty, when we have most need of drink.

And all these things have I said, to show that if we be vigilant, no one shall harm us; and that the harm arises not from poverty but from ourselves. Wherefore I beseech you with all diligence to put away the pest of covetousness, that we may both be wealthy here, and enjoy the good things eternal, unto which God grant we may all attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory world without end. Amen.

Footnotes

[2903] St. Augustin, on St. John, Hom. XLIX. sec. 3, speaks of the identity as doubtful. See also Greswell, vol. ii., Diss. XVII., and vol. iii. Diss. III. It seems that the occasion recorded in Luke vii. 37 must have been different, whether the person were the same or not. St. Chrysostom supposes two unctions at Bethany. See note at the end of "Sermons preached at St. Saviour's Church, Leeds." [Augustin discusses the question more fully in his Harmony of the Gospels, see Nicene Fathers, vol. vi. pp. 173, 174. He holds that there were two occasions, one named by Luke, and the other by Matthew, Mark and John, but that Mary was the person anointing on both occasions. This leads to the identification of Mary, the sister of Lazarus, with Mary Magdalene. But there is no proof that Luke refers to the latter. The opinion of Chrysostom seems to be that Matthew, Mark and Luke refer to the same person, and John to another on a different occasion. But to this there are insuperable objections.'R.] [2904] Lit, an economy. [2905] Matt. xxvi. 8-13. [The Greek text agrees with the received with the exception of a change of order in the first clause of verse 11. In verse 12, the R.V. renders, "to prepare me for burial," and in verse 12, "bespoken of" for "be told."'R.] [2906] See ix. 13, and xii. 7. [2907] [A clause is omitted here: "and conquered in wars."'R.] [2908] [This accords with the assumed identity with the woman spoken of in Luke vii. But there seems to be no proof that Chrysostom identified the woman with Mary Magdalene. Compare p. 41, Homily VI. 8.'R.] [2909] Matt. xxvi. 14, 15. [R.V., "Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said, What are ye willing to give me," etc.] [2910] Luke xxii. 4. [The explanation is untenable. The "captains" (stratēgo) were not "chiliarchs," but the officers of the temple guard; comp. Luke xxii. 52, where the same word occurs. [2911] Matt. xxvi. 15, 16. [R.V., "And they weighed unto him thirty," etc. to deliver Him unto them. The same word as in verse 15.'R.] [2912] [The words "their kinsmen" should be inserted here.'R.] [2913] Ecclus. x. 9.


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