HOMILIES OF ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE
ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO
ST. MATTHEW
HOMILIES XLIV & XLVIII (MATT. 12 & 13)

HOMILY XLIV.

MATT. XII. 46--49.

"While He yet talked to the people, behold, His mother and His brethren stood without, desiring to speak with Him. Then one said unto Him, Behold, Thy mother and Thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with Thee. But He answered and said unto him that told Him, Who is my mother, and(1) my brethren? And He stretched forth His hand towards His disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren."

That which I was lately saying, that when virtue is wanting all things are vain, this is now also pointed out very abundantly. For I indeed was saying, that age and nature, and to dwell in the wilderness, and all such things, are alike unprofitable, where there is not a good mind; but to-day we learn in addition another thing, that even to have borne Christ in the womb, and to have brought forth that marvellous birth, hath no profit, if there be not virtue.

And this is hence especially manifest. "For while He yet talked to the people," it is said, "one told Him, Thy mother and Thy brethren seek Thee. But He saith, who is my mother, and who are my brethren?" And this He said, not as being ashamed of His mother, nor denying her that bare Him; for if He had been ashamed of her, He would not have passed through that womb; but as declaring that she hath no advantage from this, unless she do all that is required to be done. For in fact that which she had essayed to do, was of superfluous vanity; in that she wanted to show the people that she hath power and authority over her Son, imagining not as yet anything great concerning Him; whence also her unseasonable approach. See at all events both her self-confidence(1) and theirs.(2) Since when they ought to have gone in, and listened with the multitude; or if they were not so minded, to have waited for His bringing His discourse to an end, and then to have come near; they call Him out, and do this before all, evincing a superfluous vanity, and wishing to make it appear, that with much authority they enjoin Him. And this too the evangelist shows that he is blaming, for with this very allusion did he thus express himself, "While He yet talked to the people;" as if he should say, What? was there no other opportunity? Why, was it not possible to speak with Him in private?

And what was it they wished to say? For if it were touching the doctrines of the truth, they ought to have propounded these things publicly, and stated them before all, that the rest also might have the benefit: but if about other matters that concerned themselves, they ought not to have been so urgent. For if He suffered not the burial of a father, lest the attendance on Him should be interrupted, much less ought they to have stopped His discourse to the people, for things that were of no importance. Whence it is clear, that nothing but vainglory led them to do this; which John too declares, by saying, "Neither did His brethren believe on Him;"(3) and some sayings too of theirs he reports, full of great folly; telling us that they were for dragging Him to Jerusalem, for no other purpose, but that they themselves might reap glory from His miracles. "For if thou do these things," it is said, "show Thyself to the world. For there is no man that doeth anything in secret, and seeketh himself to be manifest;"(4) when also He Himself rebuked them, attributing it to their carnal mind. That is, because the Jews were reproaching Him, and saying, "Is not this the carpenter's son, whose father and mother we know? and His brethren, are not they with us?"(5) they, willing to throw off the disparagement caused by His birth, were calling Him to the display of His miracles.

For this cause He quite repels them, being minded to heal their infirmity; since surely, had it been His will to deny His mother, He would have denied her then, when the Jews were reproaching Him. But as it is, we see that He takes so great care of her, as even at the very cross to commit her to the disciple whom He loved most of all, and to give him a great charge concerning her.

But now He doth not so, out of care for her, and for His brethren. I mean, because their regard for Him was as towards a mere man, and they were vainglorious, He casts out the disease, not insulting, but correcting them.

But do thou, I pray, examine not the words only, which contain a moderate reproof, but also the unbecoming conduct of His brethren, and the boldness wherewith they had been bold and who was the person reproving it, no mere man, but the only-begotten Son of God; and with what purpose He reproved; that it was not with intent to drive them to perplexity, but to deliver them from the most tyrannical passion and to lead them on by little and little to the right idea concerning Himself, and to convince her that He was not her Son only, but also her Lord: so wilt thou perceive that the reproof is in the highest degree both becoming Him and profitable to her, and withal having in it much gentleness. For He said not, "Go thy way, tell my mother, thou art not my mother," but He addresses Himself to the person that told Him; saying, "Who is my mother?" together with the things that have been mentioned providing for another object also. What then is that? That neither they nor others confiding in their kindred, should neglect virtue. For if she is nothing profited by being His mother, were it not for that quality in her, hardly will any one else be saved by his kindred. For there is one only nobleness, to do the will of God. This kind of noble birth is better than the other, and more real.

2. Knowing therefore these things, let us neither pride ourselves on children that are of good report, unless we have their virtue; nor upon noble fathers, unless we be like them in disposition. For it is possible, both that he who begat a man should not be his father, and that he who did not beget him should be. Therefore in another place also, when some woman had said, "Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, and the paps which Thou hast sucked;" He said not, "The womb bare me not, neither did I suck the paps," but this, "Yea rather, blessed are they that do the will of my Father."(1) Seest thou how on every occasion He denies not the affinity by nature, but adds that by virtue? And His forerunner too, in saying, "O generation of vipers, think not to say, We have Abraham to our father,"(2) means not this, that they were not naturally of Abraham, but that it profits them nothing to be of Abraham, unless they had the affinity by character; which Christ also declared, when He said, "If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham;"(3) not depriving them of their kindred according to the flesh, but teaching them to seek after that affinity which is greater than it, and more real.

This then He establishes here also, but in a manner less invidious, and more measured, as became Him speaking to His mother. For He said not at all, "She is not my mother, nor are those my brethren, because they do not my will;" neither did He declare and pronounce judgment against them; but He yet left in it their own power to choose, speaking with the gentleness that becomes Him.

"For he that doeth," saith He, "the will of my Father, this is my brother, and sister, and mother."(4)

Wherefore if they desire to be such, let them come this way. And when the woman again cried out, saying, "Blessed is the womb that bare Thee," He said not, "She is not my mother," but, "If she wishes to be blessed, let her do the will of my Father. For such a one is both brother, and sister, and mother."

Oh honor! oh virtue! Unto what a height doth she lead up him that follows after her! How many women have blessed that holy Virgin, and her womb, and prayed that they might become such mothers, and give up all! What then is there to hinder? For behold, He hath marked out a spacious road for us; and it is granted not to women only, but to men also, to be of this rank, or rather of one yet far higher. For this makes one His mother much more, than those pangs did. So that if that were a subject for blessing, much more this, inasmuch as it is also more real. Do not therefore merely desire, but also in the way that leads thee to thy desire walk thou with much diligence.

3. Having then said these words, "He came out of the house." Seest thou, how He both rebuked them, and did what they desired? Which He did also at the marriage.(5) For there too He at once reproved her asking unseasonably, and nevertheless did not gainsay her; by the former correcting her weakness. by the latter showing His kindly feeling toward His mother. So likewise on this occasion too, He both healed the disease of vainglory, and rendered the due honor to His mother, even though her request was unseasonable. For, "in the same day," it is said, "went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side."(6)

Why, if ye desire, saith He, to see and hear, behold I come forth and discourse. Thus having wrought many miracles, He affords again the benefit of His doctrine. And He "sits by the sea," fishing and getting into His net them that are on the land.

But He "sat by the sea," not without a purpose; and this very thing the evangelist has darkly expressed. For to indicate that the cause of His doing this was a desire to order His auditory with exactness, and to leave no one behind His back, but to have all face to face,

"And great multitudes," saith He, "were gathered together unto Him, so that He went into a ship and sat, and the whole multitude stood on the shore."(7)

And having sat down there, He speaks by parables.

"And He spake," it says, "many things unto them in parables."(8)

And yet on the mount, we know, He did no such thing, neither did He weave His discourse with so many parables, for then there were multitudes only, and a simple people; but here are also Scribes and Pharisees.

But do thou mark, I pray thee, what kind of parable He speaks first, and how Matthew puts them in their order. Which then doth He speak first? That which it was most necessary to speak first, that which makes the hearer more attentive. For because He was to discourse unto them in dark sayings, He thoroughly rouses His hearers' mind first by His parable. Therefore also another evangelist saith that He reproved them, because they do not understand; saying, "How knew ye not the parable?"(2) But not for this cause only doth He speak in parables, but that He may also make His discourse more vivid, and fix the memory of it in them more perfectly, and bring the things before their sight. In like manner do the prophets also.

4. What then is the parable? "Behold," saith He, "a sower(2) went forth to sow." Whence went He forth, who is present everywhere, who fills all things? or how went He forth? Not in place, but in condition and dispensation to usward, coming nearer to us by His clothing Himself with flesh. For because we could not enter, our sins fencing us out from the entrance, He comes forth unto us. And wherefore came He forth? to destroy the ground teeming with thorns? to take vengeance upon the husbandmen? By no means; but to till and tend it, and to sow the word of godliness. For by seed here He means His doctrine, and by land, the souls of men, and by the sower, Himself.

What then comes of this seed? Three parts perish, and one is saved.

"And when He sowed, some seeds fell," He saith, "by the way side; and the fowls came and devoured them up."(3)

He said not, that He cast them, but that "they fell."

"And some upon the rock, where they had not much earth; and forthwith they sprang up, because they had no deepness of earth; and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among the thorns, and the thorns sprang up, and choked them. But others fell on the good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear let him hear."(4)

A fourth part is saved; and not this all alike, but even here great is the difference.

Now these things He said, manifesting that He discoursed to all without grudging. For as the sower makes no distinction in the land submitted to him, but simply and indifferently casts his seed; so He Himself too makes no distinction of rich and poor, of wise and unwise, of slothful or diligent, of brave or cowardly; but He discourses unto all, fulfilling His part, although foreknowing the results; that it may be in His power to say, "What ought I to have done, that I have not done?"(5) And the prophets speak of the people as of a vine; "For my beloved," it is said, "had a vineyard;"(6) and, "He brought a vine out of Egypt;"(7) but He, as of seed. What could this be to show? That obedience now will be quick and easier, and will presently yield its fruit.

But when thou hearest, "The sower went forth to sow," think it not a needless repetition. For the sower frequently goes forth for some other act also, either to plough, or to cut out the evil herbs, or to pluck up thorns, or to attend to some such matter; but He went forth to sow.

Whence then, tell me, was the greater part of the seed lost? Not through the sower, but through the ground that received it; that is, the soul that did not hearken.

And wherefore doth He not say, Some the careless received, and lost it; some the rich, and choked it, and some the superficial, and betrayed it? It is not His will to rebuke them severely, lest He should cast them into despair, but He leaves the reproof to the conscience of His hearers.

And this was not the case with the seed only, but also with the net; for that too produced many that were unprofitable.

5. But this parable He speaks, as anointing His disciples, and to teach them, that even though the lost be more than such as receive the word yet they are not to despond. For this was the ease even with their Lord, and He who fully foreknew that these things should be, did not desist from sowing.

And how can it be reasonable, saith one, to sow among the thorns, on the rock, on the wayside? With regard to the seeds and the earth it cannot be reasonable; but in the case of men's souls and their instructions, it hath its praise, and that abundantly. For the husbandman indeed would reasonably be blamed for doing this; it being impossible for the rock to become earth, or the wayside not to be a wayside, or the thorns, thorns; but in the things that have reason it is not so. There is such a thing as the rock changing, and becoming rich land; and the wayside being no longer trampled on, nor lying open to all that pass by, but that it may be a fertile field; and the thorns may be destroyed, and the seed enjoy full security. For had it been impossible, this Sower would not have sown. And if the change did not take place in all, this is no fault of the Sower, but of them who are unwilling to be changed: He having done His part: and if they betrayed what they received of Him, He is blameless, the exhibitor of such love to man.

But do thou mark this, I pray thee; that the way of destruction is not one only, but there are differing ones, and wide apart from one another. For they that are like the wayside are the coarse-minded,(1) and indifferent, and careless; but those on the rock such as fail from weakness only.

For "that which is sown upon the stony places," saith He, "the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it. Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while; but when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended! When any one," so He saith, "heareth the word of truth and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth that which was sown out of his heart. This is he that is sown by the wayside."(2)

Now it is not the same thing for the doctrine to wither away, when no man is evil entreating, or disturbing its foundations, as when temptations press upon one. But they that are likened to the thorns, are much more inexcusable than these.

6. In order then that none of these things may befall us, let us by zeal and continual remembrance cover up the things that are told us. For though the devil do catch them away, yet it rests with us, whether they be caught away; though the plants wither, yet it is not from the heat this takes place (for He did not say, because of the heat it withered, but, "because it had no root"); although His sayings are choked, it is not because of the thorns, but of them who suffer them to spring up. For there is a way, if thou wilt, to check this evil growth, and to make the right use of our wealth. Therefore He said not, "the world," but "the care of the world;" nor "riches," but "the deceitfulness of riches."

Let us not then blame the things, but the corrupt mind. For it is possible to be rich and not to be deceived; and to be in this world, and not to be choked with its cares. For indeed riches have two contrary disadvantages; one, care, wearing us out, and bringing a darkness over us; the other, luxury, making us effeminate.

And well hath He said, "The deceitfulness of riches." For all that pertains to riches is deceit; they are names only, not attached to things. For so pleasure and glory, and splendid array, and all these things, are a sort of vain show, not a reality.

Having therefore spoken of the ways of destruction, afterwards He mentions the good ground, not suffering them to despair, but giving a hope of repentance, and indicating that it is possible to change from the things before mentioned into this.

And yet if both the land be good, and the Sower one, and the seed the same, wherefore did one bear a hundred, one sixty, one thirty? Here again the difference is from the nature of the ground, for even where the ground is good, great even therein is the difference. Seest thou, that not the husbandman is to be blamed, nor the seed, but the land that receives it? not for its nature, but for its disposition. And herein too, great is His mercy to man, that He doth not require one measure of virtue, but while He receives the first, and casts not out the second, He gives also a place to the third.

And these things He saith, least they that followed Him should suppose that hearing is sufficient for salvation. And wherefore, one may say, did He not put the other vices also, such as lust, vainglory? In speaking of "the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches," He set down all. Yea, both vainglory and all the rest belong to this world, and to the deceitfulness of riches; such as pleasure, and gluttony, and envy, and vainglory, and all the like.

But He added also the "way" and the "rock," signifying that it is not enough to be freed from riches only, but we must cultivate also the other parts of virtue. For what if thou art free indeed from riches, yet are soft and unmanly? and what if thou art not indeed unmanly, but art remiss and careless about the hearing of the word? Nay, no one part is sufficient for our salvation, but there is required first a careful hearing, and a continual recollection; then fortitude, then contempt of riches, and deliverance from all worldly things.

In fact, His reason for putting this before the other, is because the one is first required (for "How shall they believe except they hear?"(3) just as we too, except we mind what is said, shall not be able so much as to learn what we ought to do): after that, fortitude, and the contempt of things present.

7. Hearing therefore these things, let us fortify ourselves on all sides, regarding His instructions, and striking our roots deep, and cleansing ourselves from all worldly things. But if we do the one, neglecting the other, we shall be nothing bettered; for though we perish not in one way, yet shall we in some other. For what signifies our not being ruined by riches, if we are by indolence: or not by indolence, if we are by softness. For so the husbandman, whether this way or that way he lose his crop, equally bewails himself. Let us not then soothe ourselves upon our not perishing in all these ways, but let it be our grief, in whichever way we are perishing.

And let us burn up the thorns, for they choke the word. And this is known to those rich men, who not for these matters alone, but for others also prove unprofitable. For having become slaves and captives of their pleasures, they are useless even for civil affairs, and if for them, much more for those of Heaven. Yea, and in two ways hereby our thoughts are corrupted; both by the luxury, and by the anxiety too. For either of these by itself were enough to overwhelm the bark; but when even both concur, imagine how high the billow swells.

And marvel not at His calling our luxury, "thorns." For thou indeed art not aware of it, being intoxicated with thy passion, but they that are in sound health know that it pricks sharper than any thorn, and that luxury wastes the soul worse than care, and causes more grievous pains both to body and soul. For one is not so sorely smitten by anxiety, as by surfeiting. Since when watchings, and throbbings of the temples, and heaviness in the head, and pangs of the bowels, lay hold of such a man, you may imagine how many thorns these surpass in grievousness. And as the thorns, on whichever side they are laid hold of, draw blood from the hands that seize them, just so doth luxury plague both feet, and hands, and head, and eyes, and in general all our members; and it is withered also, and unfruitful, like the thorn, and hurts much more than it, and in our vital parts. Yea, it brings on premature old age, and dulls the senses, and darkens our reasoning, and blinds the keen-sighted mind, and makes the body tumid,(1) rendering excessive the deposition of that which is cast away, and gathering together a great accumulation of evils; and it makes the burden too great, and the load overwhelming; whence our falls are many and continual, and our shipwrecks frequent.

For tell me, why pamper thy body? What? are we to slay thee in sacrifice, to set thee on the table? The birds it is well for thee to pamper: or rather, not so well even for them; for when they are fattened, they are unprofitable for wholesome food. So great an evil is luxury, that its mischief is shown even in irrational beings. For even them by luxury we make unprofitable, both to themselves and to us. For their superfluous flesh is indigestible, and the moister kind of corruption is engendered by that kind of fatness. Whereas the creatures that are not so fed, but live, as one may say, in abstinence, and moderate diet, and in labor and hardship, these are most serviceable both to themselves and to others, as well for food, as for everything else. Those, at any rate, who live on them, are in better health; but such as are fed on the others are like them, growing dull and sickly, and rendering their chain more grievous. For nothing is so hostile and hurtful to the body, as luxury; nothing so tears it in pieces, and overloads and corrupts it, as intemperance.

Wherefore above all may this circumstance make one amazed at them for their folly, that not even so much care as others show towards their wine skins, are these willing to evince towards themselves. For those the wine merchants do not allow to receive more than is fit, lest they should burst; but to their own wretched belly these men do not vouchsafe even so much forethought, but when they have stuffed it and distended it, they fill all, up to the ears, up to the nostrils, to the very throat itself, thereby pressing into half its room the spirit, and the power that directs the living being. What? was thy throat given thee for this end, that thou shouldest fill it up to the very mouth, with wine turned sour, and all other corruption? Not for this, O man, but that thou shouldest above all things sing to God, and offer up the holy prayers, and read out the divine laws, and give to thy neighbors profitable counsel. But thou, as if thou hadst received it for this end, dost not suffer it to have leisure for that ministry, so much as for a short season, but for all thy life subjectest it to this evil slavery. And as if any man having had a lyre given him with golden strings, and beautifully constructed, instead of awakening with it the most harmonious music, were to cover it over with much dung and clay; even so do these men. Now the word, dung, I use not of living, but of luxurious living, and of that great wantonness. Because what is more than necessary is not nourishment, but merely injurious. For in truth the belly alone was made merely for the reception of food; but the month, and the throat, and tongue, for other things also, far more necessary than these: or rather, not even the belly for the reception of food simply, but for the reception of moderate food. And this it makes manifest by crying out loudly against us, when we tease it by this greediness; nor doth it clamor against us only, but also avenging that wrong exacts of us the severest penalty. And first it punishes the feet, that bear and conduct us to those wicked revels, then the hands that minister to it, binding them together for having brought unto it such quantities and kinds of provisions; and many have distorted even their very mouth, and eyes, and head. And as a servant receiving an order beyond his power, not seldom out of desperation becomes insolent to the giver of the order: so the belly too, together with these members, often ruins and destroys, from being over-strained, the very brain itself. And this God hath well ordered, that from excess so much mischief should arise; that when of thine own will thou dost not practise self-restraint, at least against thy will, for fear of so great ruin, thou mayest learn to be moderate.

Knowing then these things, let us flee luxury, let us study moderation, that we may both enjoy health of body, and having delivered our soul from all infirmity, may attain unto the good things to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might forever and ever. Amen.

HOMILY XLV.

MATT. XIII. 10, II.

"And the disciples came and said unto Him, Why speakest Thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you' to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given."

We have good cause to admire the disciples, how, longing as they do to learn, they know when they ought to ask. For they do it not before all: and this Matthew shows by saying, "And they came." And, as to this assertion not being conjecture, Mark hath expressed it more distinctly, by saying, that "they came to Him privately."(2) This then His brethren and His mother should also have done, and not have called Him out, and made a display.

But mark their kindly affection also, how they have much regard for the others, and seek their good first, and then their own. "For why," it is said, "speakest Thou unto them in parables?" They did not say, why speakest thou-unto us in parables? Yea, and on other occasions also their kindliness towards men appears in many ways; as when they say, "Send the multitude away;"3 and, "Knowest thou that they were offended ?"(4)

What then saith Christ? "Because it is given unto you," so He speaks, "to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given."(5) But this He said, not bringing in necessity, or any allotment(6) made causelessly and at random, but implying them to be the authors of all their own evils, and wishing to represent that the thing is a gift, and a grace bestowed from above.

It by no means follows, however, because it is a gift, that therefore free will is taken away; and this is evident from what comes after. To this purpose, in order that neither the one sort may despair, nor the other grow careless, upon being told that "it is given," He signifies the beginning to be with ourselves.

"For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away, even that which he seemeth to have." (7)

And although the saying be full of much obscurity, yet it indicates unspeakable justice. For what He saith is like this: When any one hath forwardness and zeal, there shall be given unto him all things on God's part also: but if he be void of these, and contribute not his own share, neither are God's gifts bestowed. For even "what he seemeth to have," so He saith, "shall be taken away from him;" God not so much taking it away, as counting him unworthy of His gifts. This we also do; when we see any one listening carelessly, and when with much entreaty we cannot persuade him to attend, it remains for us to be silent. For if we are still to go on, his carelessness is aggravated. But him that is striving to learn, we lead on, and pour in much.

And well said He, "Even that which he seemeth to have." For he hath not really even this.

Then He also made what He had said more distinct, pointing out the meaning of, "To him that hath, shall be given, but from him that hath not, even that which he seemeth to have, shall be taken away."

"Therefore," saith He, "speak I to them in parables; because they seeing see not."(1)

"It were meet then," one may say, "to have opened their eyes, if they see not." Nay, if the blindness were natural, it were meet to open them; but because it was a voluntary and self-chosen blindness, therefore He said not simply, "They see not," but, "seeing, they see not;" so that the blindness is of their own wickedness. For they saw even devils cast out, and said, "By Beelzebub, prince of the devils, He casteth out the devils."(2) They heard Him guiding them unto God, and evincing His great unanimity with Him, and they say, "This man is not of God."(3) Since then the judgment they pronounced was contrary both to their sight and hearing, therefore, saith He, the very hearing do I take away from them. For they derive thence no advantage, but rather greater condemnation. For they not only disbelieved, but found fault also, and accused, and laid snares. However, He saith not this, for it is not His will to give disgust in accusing them. Therefore neither at the beginning did He so discourse to them, but with much plainness; but because they perverted themselves, thenceforth He speaks in parables.

2. After this, lest any one should suppose His words to be a mere accusation, and lest men should say, Being our enemy He is bringing these charges and calumnies against us; He introduces the prophet also, pronouncing the same judgment as Himself.

"For in them is fulfilled," saith He, "the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand, and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive."(4)

Seest thou the prophet likewise, accusing them with this same accuracy? for neither did He say, Ye see not, but "Ye shall see and not perceive;" nor again, Ye shall not hear, but "Ye shall hear and not understand." So that they first inflicted the loss on themselves, by stopping their ears, by closing their eyes, by making their heart fat. For they not only failed to hear, but also "heard heavily," and they did this, He saith,

"Lest at any time they should be converted, and I should heal them;"(5) describing their aggravated wickedness, and their determined defection from Him. And this He saith to draw them unto Him, and to provoke them, and to signify that if they would convert(6) He would heal them: much as if one should say, "He would not look at me, and I thank him; for if he had vouchsafed me this, I should straightway have given in:" and this he saith, to signify how he would have been reconciled. Even so then here too it is said, "Lest at any time they should convert,(7) and I should heal them;" implying that both their conversion was possible, and that upon their repentance they might be saved, and that not for His own glory, but for their salvation, He was doing all things.

For if it had not been His will that they should hear and be saved, He ought to have been silent, not to have spoken in parables; but now by this very thing He stirs them up, even by speaking under a veil. "For God willeth not the death of the sinner, but that he should turn unto Him and live."(8)

For in proof that our sin belongs not to nature, nor to necessity and compulsion, hear what He saith to the apostles, "But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear;"(9) not meaning this kind of sight nor hearing, but that of the mind. For indeed these too were Jews, and brought up in the same circumstances; but nevertheless they took no hurt from the prophecy, because they had the root of His blessings well settled in them, their principle of choice, I mean, and their judgment.

Seest thou that, "unto you it is given," was not of necessity? For neither would they have been blessed, unless the well-doing had been their own. For tell me not this, that it was spoken obscurely; for they might have come and asked Him, as the disciples did: but they would not, being careless and supine. Why say I, they would not? nay, they were doing the very opposite, not only disbelieving, not only not hearkening, but even waging war, and disposed to be very bitter against all He said: which He brings in the prophet laying to their charge, in the words, "They heard heavily."

But not such were these; wherefore He also blessed them. And in another way too He assures them again, saying,

"For verily I say unto you, many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them, and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them;"(1) my coming, He means; my very miracles, my voice, my teaching. For here He prefers them not to these depraved only, but even to such as have done virtuously; yea, and He affirms them to be more blessed even than they. Why can this be? Because not only do these see what the Jews saw not, but even what those of old desired to see. For they indeed beheld by faith only: but these by sight too, and much more distinctly.

Seest thou how again He connects the old dispensation with the new, signifying that those of old not only knew the things to come but also greatly desired them? But had they pertained to some strange and opposing God, they would never have desired them.

"Hear ye therefore the parable of the sewer,"(2) saith He; and He speaks what we before mentioned, of carelessness and attention, of cowardice and fortitude, of wealth and voluntary poverty; pointing out the hun from the one, and the benefit from the other.

Then of virtue also He brings forward different forms. For being full of love to man, He marked out not one only way, nor did He say, "unless one bring forth an hundred, he is an outcast;" but he that brings forth sixty is saved also, and not he only, but also the producer of thirty. And this He said, making out salvation to be easy.

3. And thou then, art thou unable to practise virginity? Be chaste in marriage. Art thou unable to strip thyself of thy possessions? Give of thy substance. Canst thou not bear that burden? Share thy goods with Christ. Art thou unwilling to yield Him up all? Give Him but the half, but the third part. He is thy brother, and joint-heir, make Him joint-heir with thee here too. Whatsoever thou givest Him, thou wilt give to thyself. Hearest thou not what saith the prophet? "Them that pertain to thy seed thou shalt not overlook."(3) But if we must not overlook our kinsmen, much less our Lord, having towards thee, together with His authority as Lord, the claim also of kindred, and many more besides. Yea, for He too hath made thee a sharer in His goods, having received nothing of thee, but having begun with this unspeakable benefit. What then can it be but extreme senselessness, not even by this gift to be made kind towards men, not even to give a return for a free gift, and less things for greater? Thus whereas He hath made thee heir of Heaven, impartest thou not to Him even of the things on earth? He, when thou hadst done no good work, but wert even an enemy, reconciled thee: and dost thou not requite Him, being even a friend and benefactor?

Yet surely, even antecedently to the kingdom, and to all the rest, even for the very fact of His giving, we ought to feel bound to Him. For so servants too, when bidding their masters to a meal, account themselves not to be giving but receiving; but here the contrary hath taken place: not the servant the Lord, but the Lord hath first bidden the servant unto His own table; and dost thou not bid Him, no not even after this? He first hath introduced thee under His own roof; dost thou not take Him in, so much as in the second place? He clad thee, being naked; and dost thou not even after this receive Him being a stranger? He first gave thee to drink out of His own cup, and dost thou not impart to Him so much as cold water? He hath made thee drink of the Holy Spirit, and dost thou not even soothe His bodily thirst? He hath made thee drink of the Spirit, when thou wast deserving of punishment; and dost thou neglect Him even when thirsty, and this when it is out of His own, that thou art to do all these things? Dost thou not then esteem it a great thing, to hold the cup out of which Christ is to drink, and to put it to His lips? Seest thou not that for the priest alone is it lawful(4) to give the cup of His blood? But I am by no means strict about this, saith He; but though thyself should give, I receive; though thou be a layman, I refuse it not. And I do not require such as I have given: for not blood do I seek, but cold water. Consider to whom thou art giving drink, and tremble. Consider, thou art become a priest of Christ, giving with thine own hand, not flesh but bread, not blood, but a cup of cold water. He clothed thee with a garment of salvation, and clothed thee by Himself; do thou at least by thy servant clothe Him. He made thee glorious in Heaven, do thou deliver Him from shivering, and nakedness, and shame. He made thee a fellow-citizen of angels, do thou impart to Him at least of the covering of thy roof, give house-room to Him at least as to thine own servant. "I refuse not this lodging and that, having opened to thee the whole Heaven. I have delivered thee from a most grievous prison; this I do not require again, nor do I say, deliver me; but if thou wouldest look upon me only, when I am bound, this suffices me for refreshment. When thou wert dead, I raised thee; I require not this again of thee, but I say, visit me only when sick."

Now when His gifts are so great, and His demands exceeding easy, and we do not supply even these; what deep of hell must we not deserve? Justly shall we depart into the fire that is prepared for the devil and his angels, being more insensible than any rock. For how great insensibility is it, tell me, for us, who have received, and are to receive so much, to be slaves of money, from which we shall a little while hence be separated even against our will? And others indeed have given up even their life, and shed their blood; and dost thou not even give up thy superfluities for Heaven's sake, for the sake of so great crowns?

And of what favor canst thou be worthy? of what justification? who in thy sowing of the earth, gladly pourest forth all, and in lending to men at usury sparest nothing; but in feeding thy Lord through His poor art cruel and inhuman?

Having then considered all these things, and calculated what we have received, what we are to receive, what is required of us, let us show forth all our diligence on the things spiritual. Let us become at length mild and humane, that we may not draw down on ourselves the intolerable punishment. For what is there that hath not power to condemn us? Our having enjoyed so many and such great benefits; our having no great thing required of us; our having such things required, as we shall leave here even against our will; our exhibiting so much liberality in our worldly matters. Why each one of these, even by itself, were enough to condemn us; but when they all meet together, what hope will there be of salvation?

In order then that we may escape all this condemnation, let us show forth some bounty towards those who are in need. For thus shall we enjoy all the good things, both here, and there; unto which may we all attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might forever and ever. Amen.

HOMILY XLVI.

MATT. XIII. 24--30.

"Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field. But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay, lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both therefore grow together until the harvest."(1)

What is the difference between this, and the parable before it? There He speaks of them that have not at all holden with Him, but have started aside, and have thrown away the seed; but here He means the societies of the heretics. For in order that not even this might disturb His disciples, He foretells it also, after having taught them why He speaks in parables. The former parable then means their not receiving Him; this, their receiving corrupters. For indeed this also is a part of the devil's craft, by the side of the truth always to bring in error, painting thereon many resemblances, so as easily to cheat the deceivable. Therefore He calls it not any other seed, but tares; which in appearance are somewhat like wheat.

Then He mentions also the manner of his device. For "while men slept," saith He. It is no small danger, which He hereby suspends over our rulers, to whom especially is entrusted the keeping of the field; and not the rulers only, but the subjects too.

And He signifies also that the error comes after the truth, which the actual event testifies. For so after the prophets, were the false prophets; and after the apostles, the false apostles; and after Christ, Antichrist For unless the devil see what to imitate, or against whom to plot, he neither attempts, nor knows how. Now then also, having seen that "one brought forth a hundred, another sixty, another thirty," he proceeds after that another way. That is, not having been able to carry away what had taken root, nor to choke, nor to scorch it up, he conspires against it by another craft, privily casting in his own inventions.

And what difference is there, one may say, between them that sleep, and them that resemble the wayside? That in the latter case he immediately caught it away; yea, he suffered it not even to take root; but here more of his craft was needed.

And these things Christ saith, instructing us to be always wakeful. For, saith He, though thou quite escape those harms, there is yet another harm. For as in those instances "the wayside," and "the rock," and "the thorns," so here again sleep occasions our ruin; so that there is need of continual watchfulness. Wherefore He also said, "He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved."(1)

Something like this took place even at the beginning. Many of the prelates, I mean, bringing into the churches wicked men, disguised heresiarchs, gave great facility to the laying that kind of snare. For the devil needs not even to take any trouble, when he hath once planted them among us.

And how is it possible not to sleep? one may say. Indeed, as to natural sleep, it is not possible; but as to that of our moral faculty, it is possible. Wherefore Paul also said, "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith."(2)

After this He points out the thing to be superfluous too, not hurtful only; in that, after the land hath been tilled, and these is no need of anything, then this enemy sows again; as the heretics also do, who for no other cause than vainglory inject their proper venom.

And not by this only, but by what follows likewise, He depicts exactly all their acting. For, "When the blade was sprung up, saith He, "and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also;" which kind of thing these men also do. For at the beginning they disguise themselves; but when they have gained much confidence, and some one imparts to them the teaching of the word, then they pour out their poison.

But wherefore doth He bring in the servants, telling what hath been done? That He may pronounce it wrong to slay them.

And He calls him "an enemy," because of his harm done to men. For although the despite is against us, in its origin it sprang from his enmity, not to us, but to God. Whence it is manifest, that God loves us more than we love ourselves.

And see from another thing also, the malicious craft of the devil. For he did not sow before this, because he had nothing to destroy, but when all had been fulfilled, that he might defeat the diligence of the Husbandman; in such enmity against Him did he constantly act.

And mark also the affection of the servants. I mean, what haste they are in at once to root up the tares, even though they do it indiscreetly; which shows their anxiety for the crop, and that they are looking to one thing only, not to the punishment of that enemy, but to the preservation of the seed sown. For of course this other is not the urgent consideration.

Wherefore how they may for the present extirpate the mischief, this is their object. And not even this do they seek absolutely, for they trust not themselves with it, but await the Master's decision, saying, "Wilt Thou?"

What then doth the Master? He forbids them, saying, "Lest haply ye root up the wheat with them." And this He said, to hinder wars from arising, and blood and slaughter. For it is not right to put a heretic to death, since an implacable war would be brought into the world. By these two reasons then He restrains them; one, that the wheat be not hurt; another, that punishment will surely overtake them, if incurably diseased. Wherefore, if thou wouldest have them punished, yet without harm to the wheat, I bid thee wait for the proper season.

But what means, "Lest ye root up the wheat with them?" Either He means this, If ye are to take up arms, and to kill the heretics, many of the saints also must needs be overthrown with them; or that of the very tares it is likely that many may change and become wheat. If therefore ye root them up beforehand, ye injure that which is to become wheat, slaying some, in whom there is yet room for change and improvement. He doth not therefore forbid our checking heretics, and stopping their mouths, and taking away their freedom of speech, and breaking up their assemblies and confederacies, but our killing and slaying them.

But mark thou His gentleness, how He not only gives sentence and forbids, but sets down reasons.

What then, if the tares should remain until the end? "Then I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them."(1) He again reminds them of John's words,(2) introducing Him as judge; and He saith, So long as they stand by the wheat, we must spare them, for it is possible for them even to become wheat but when they have departed, having profiled nothing, then of necessity the inexorable punishment will overtake them. "For I will say to the reapers," saith He, "Gather ye together first the tares." Why, "first?" That these may not be alarmed, as though the wheat were carried off with them. "And bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."(3)

2. "Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed."(4)

That is, since He had said, that of the crop three parts are lost, and but one saved, and in the very part again which is saved so great damage ensues; lest they should say, "And who, and how many will be the faithful?" this fear again He removes, by the parable of the mustard seed leading them on to belief, and signifying that in any case the gospel(5) shall be spread abroad.

Therefore He brought forward the similitude of this herb, which has a very strong resemblance to the subject in hand; "Which indeed is the least," He saith, "of all seeds, but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."(6)

Thus He meant to set forth the most decisive sign of its greatness. "Even so then shall it be with respect to the gospel too," saith He. Yea, for His disciples were weakest of all, and least of all; but nevertheless, because of the great power that was in them, It hath been unfolded(7) in every part of the world.

After this He adds the leaven to this similitude, saying,

"The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures ofmeal, until the whole was leavened."(8)

For as this converts the large quantity of meal into its own quality,(9) even so shall ye convert the whole world.

And see His wisdom, in that He brings in things natural, implying that as the one cannot fail to take place, so neither the other. For say not this to me: "What shall we be able to do, twelve men, throwing ourselves upon so vast a multitude?" Nay, for this very thing most of all makes your might conspicuous, that ye mix with the multitude and are not put to flight. As therefore the leaven then leavens the lump when it comes close to the meal, and not simply close, but so as to be actually mixed with it (for He said not, "put," simply, but "hid"); so also ye, when ye cleave to your enemies, and are made one with them, then shall ye get the better of them. And as the leaven, though it be buried, yet is not destroyed, but by little and little transmutes all into its own condition; of like sort will the event be here also, with respect to the gospel. Fear ye not then, because I said there would be much injurious dealing: for even so shall ye shine forth, and get the better of all.

But by "three measures," here, He meant many. for He is wont to take this number for a multitude.

And marvel not, if discoursing about the kingdom, He made mention of a little seed and of leaven; for He was discoursing with men inexperienced and ignorant, and such as needed to be led on by those means. For so simple were they, that even after all this, they required a good deal of explanation.

Where now are the children of the Greeks? Let them learn Christ's power, seeing the verity of His deeds, and on either ground let them adore Him, that He both foretold so great a thing, and fulfilled it. Yea, for it is He that put the power into the leaven. With this intent He mingled also with the multitude those who believe on Him, that we might impart unto the rest of our wisdom. Let no one therefore reprove us for being few. For great is the power of the gospel, and that which hath been once leavened, becomes leaven again for what remains. And as a spark, when it hath caught in timber, makes what hath been burnt up already increase the flame, and so proceeds to the rest; even so the gospel likewise. But He said not fire, but "leaven." Why might this be? Because in that case the whole effect is not of the fire, but partly of the timber too that is kindled, but in this the leaven doth the whole work by itself.

3. Now if twelve men leavened the whole world, imagine how great our baseness, in that when we being so many are not able to amend them that remain; we, who ought to be enough for ten thousand worlds, and to become leaven to them. "But they," one may say, "were apostles." And what then? Were they not partakers with thee? Were they not brought up in cities? Did they not enjoy the same benefits? Did they not practise trades? What, were they angels? What, came they down from Heaven.?

"But they had signs," it will be said. It was not the signs that made them admirable. How long shall we use those miracles as cloaks for our own remissness? Behold the choir of the Saints, that they shone not by those miracles.(1) Why, many who had actually cast out devils, because they wrought iniquity, instead of being admired, did even incur punishment.

And what can it be then, he will say, that showed them great? Their contempt of wealth, their despising glory, their freedom from worldly things. Since surely, had they wanted these qualities, and been slaves of their passions, though they had raised ten thousand dead, so far from doing any good, they would even have been accounted deceivers. Thus it is their life, so bright on all sides, which also draws down the grace of the Spirit.

What manner of miracle did John work, that he fixed on himself the attention(2) of so many cities? For as to the fact that he did no wondrous works, hear the evangelist, saying, "John did no miracle."(3) And whence did Elias become admirable? Was it not from his boldness towards the king? from his zeal towards God? from his voluntary poverty? from his garment of sheep's skin, and his cave, and his mountains? For his miracles He did after all these. And as to Job, what manner of miracle did he work in sight of the devil, that he was amazed at him? No miracle indeed, but a life that shone and displayed an endurance firmer than any adamant. What manner of miracle did David, yet being young, that God should say, "I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart?"(4) And Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, what dead body did they raise? what leper did they cleanse? Knowest thou not that the miracles, except we be sober, do even harm in many cases? Thus many of the Corinthians were severed one from another; thus many of the Romans were carried away with pride; thus was Simon cast out. Thus he, who at a certain time had a desire to follow Christ, was rejected, when he had been told, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests."(5) For each of these, one aiming at the wealth, another at the glory, which the miracles bring, fell away and perished. But care of practice, and love of virtue, so far from generating such a desire, doth even take it away when it exists.

And Himself too, when He was making laws for His own disciples, what said He? "Do miracles, that men may see you"? By no means. But what? "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven."(6) And to Peter again He said not, "If thou lovest me," "do miracles," but "feed my sheep."(7) And whereas He everywhere distinguishes him with James and John above all the rest, for what, I pray thee, did He distinguish them? For their miracles? Nay, all alike cleansed the lepers, and raised the dead; and to all alike He gave that authority.

Whence then had these the advantage? From the virtue in their soul. Seest thou how everywhere practice is required, and the proof by works? "For by their fruits," saith He, "ye shall know them."(8) And what commends our own life? Is it indeed a display of miracles, or the perfection of an excellent conversation? Very evidently it is the second; but as to the miracles, they both have their origin from hence, and terminate herein. For both He that shows forth an excellent life, draws to Himself this gift, and he that receives the gift, receives it for this end, that he may amend other men's lives. Since even Christ for this end wrought those miracles, that having made Himself thereby credible, and drawn men unto Him, He might bring virtue into our life. Wherefore also He lays more stress of the two on this. For He is not at all satisfied with the signs only, but He also threatens hell, and promises a kingdom, and lays down those startling laws, and all things He orders to this end, that He may make us equal to the angels.

And why say I, that Christ doth all for this object? Why, even thou, should one give thee thy choice, to raise dead men by His name, or to die for His name; which I pray thee, of the two wouldest thou rather accept? Is it not quite plain, the latter? and yet the one is a miracle, the other but a work. And what, if one offered thee to make grass gold, or to be able to despise all wealth as grass, wouldest thou not rather accept this latter? and very reasonably. For mankind would be attracted by this more than any way. For if they saw the grass changed into gold, they would covet themselves also to acquire that power, as Simon did, and the love of money would be increased in them; but if they saw us all contemning and neglecting gold, as though it were grass, they would long ago have been delivered from this disease.

4. Seest thou that our practice has more power to do good? By practice I mean, not thy fasting, nor yet thy strewing sackcloth and ashes under thee, but if thou despise wealth, as it ought to be despised; if thou be kindly affectioned, if thou give thy bread to the hungry, if thou control anger, if thou cast out vainglory, if thou put away envy. So He Himself used to teach: for, "Learn of me," saith He, "for I am meek and lowly in heart."(1) He did not say, "for I fasted," although surely He might have spoken of the forty days, yet He saith not this; but, "I am meek and lowly in heart." And again, when sending them out, He said not, "Fast," but, "Eat of all that is set before you."(2) With regard to wealth, however, He required of them great strictness, saying, "Provide not gold, or silver, or brass, in your purses."(3)

And all this I say, not to depreciate fasting, God forbid, but rather highly to commend it. But I grieve when other duties being neglected, ye think it enough for salvation, having but the last place in the choir of virtue. For the greatest thing is charity, and moderation, and almsgiving; which hits a higher mark even than virginity.

Wherefore, if thou desire to become equal to the apostles, there is nothing to hinder thee. For to have arrived at this virtue only suffices for thy not at all falling short of them. Let no one therefore wait for miracles.(4) For though the evil spirit is grieved, when he is driven out of a body, yet much more so, when he sees a soul delivered from sin. For indeed this is his great power.(5) This power caused Christ to die, that He might put an end to it. Yea, for this brought in death; by reason of this all things have been turned upside down. If then thou remove this, thou hast cut out the nerves of the devil, thou hast "bruised his head," thou hast put an end to all his might, thou hast scattered his host, thou hast exhibited a sign greater than all signs.

The saying is not mine, but the blessed Paul's. For when he had said, "Covet earnestly the best gifts, and yet show I unto you a more excellent way;"(6) he did not speak next of a sign, but of charity, the root of all our good things. If then we practise this, and all the self-denial that flows from it. we shall have no need of signs; even as on the other hand, if we do not practise it, we shall gain nothing by the signs.

Bearing in mind then all this, let us imitate those things whereby the apostles became great. And whereby did they become great? Hear Peter, saying, "Behold we have forsaken all. and followed Thee; what shall we have therefore?"(7) Hear also Christ saying to them, Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones," and, "every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or father, or mother, shall receive an hundredfold in this world, and shall inherit everlasting life."(8) From all worldly things, therefore, let us withdraw ourselves, and dedicate ourselves to Christ, that we may both be made equal to the apostles according to His declaration, and may enjoy eternal life; unto which may we all attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ to whom be glory and might forever and ever. Amen.

HOMILY XLVII.

MATT. XIII. 34, 35.

All these things spake Jesus unto the multitudes in parables, and without a parable spake He not(1) unto them; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things that have been kept secret(2) from the foundation of the world."(3)

But Mark saith, "As they were able to hear it, He spake the word unto them in parables."(4)

Then pointing out that He is not making a new thing, He brings in the Prophet also, proclaiming beforehand this His manner of teaching. And to teach us the purpose of Christ, how He discoursed in this manner, not that they might be ignorant, but that He might lead them to inquiry, he added, "And without a parable spake He nothing unto them." Yet surely He did say many things without a parable; but then nothing. And for all this no man asked Him questions, whereas the Prophets, we know, they were often questioning: as Ezekiel,(5) for instance; as many others: but these did no such thing. Yet surely His sayings were enough to cast them into perplexity, and to stir them up to the inquiry; for indeed a very sore punishment was threatened by those parables: however, not even so were they moved.

Wherefore also He left them and went away. For,

"Then," saith he, "Jesus sent the multitudes away,(6) and went into His house."(7)

And not one of the Scribes follows Him; whence it is clear that for no other purpose did they follow, than to take hold of Him.(8) But when they marked not His sayings, thenceforth He let them be.

"And His disciples come unto Him, asking Him concerning the parable of the tares;"(9) although at times wishing to learn, and afraid(10) to ask. Whence then arose their confidence in this instance? They had been told, "To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven;" and they were emboldened. Wherefore also they ask in private; not as grudging the multitude, but observing their Master's law. For, "To these," saith He, "it is not given."

And why may it be that they let pass the parable of the leaven, and of the mustard seed, and inquire concerning this? They let those pass, as being plainer; but about this, as having an affinity to that before spoken, and as setting forth something more than it, they are desirous to learn (since He would not have spoken the same to them a second time); for indeed they saw how severe was the threatening therein uttered.(11) Wherefore neither doth He blame them, but rather completes His previous statements.

And, as I am always saying, the parables must not be explained throughout word for word, since many absurdities will follow; this even He Himself is teaching us here in thus interpreting this parable. Thus He saith not at all who the servants are that came to Him, but, implying that He brought them in, for the sake of some order, and to make up the picture, He omits that part, and interprets those that are most urgent and essential, and for the sake of which the parable was spoken; signifying Himself to be Judge and Lord of all.

"And He answered," so it is said, "and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, the good seed, these are the children of the kingdom, but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that soweth them is the devil; and the harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are angels. As there fore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of Man shall send His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;(12) and shall cast them into the furnace of fire, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father."(1)

For whereas He Himself is the sower, and that of His own field, and out of His own kingdom He gathers, it is quite clear that the present world also is His.

But mark His unspeakable love to man, and His leaning to bounty, and His disinclination to punishment; in that, when He sows, He sows in His own person, but when He punishes, it is by others, that is, by the angels.

"Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." Not because it will be just so much only, but because this star is surpassed in brightness by none that we know. He uses the comparisons that are known to us.

And yet surely elsewhere He saith, the harvest is already come; as when He saith of the Samaritans, "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest"(2) And again, "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few."(3) How then saith He there, that the harvest is already come, while here He said, it is yet to be? According to another signification.

And how having elsewhere said, "One soweth, and another reapeth,"(4) doth He here say, it is Himself that soweth? Because there again, He was speaking, to distinguish the apostles, not from Himself, but from the prophets, and that in the case of the Jews and Samaritans. Since certainly it was He who sowed through the prophets also.

And at times He calls this self-same thing both harvest and sowing, naming it with relation, now to one thing, now to another. Thus when He is speaking of the conviction and obedience of His converts,(5) He calls the thing "a harvest," as though He had accomplished all; but when He is seeking after the fruit of their hearing, He calls it seed, and the end, harvest.

And how saith He elsewhere, that "the righteous are caught up first?"(6) Because they are indeed caught up first, but Christ being come, those others are given over to punishment, and then the former depart into, the kingdom of heaven. For because they must be in heaven, but He Himself is to come and judge all men here; having passed sentence upon these, like some king He rises with His friends, leading them to that blessed portion. Seest thou that the punishment is twofold, first to be burnt up, and then to fall from that glory?

2. But wherefore cloth He still go on, when the others have withdrawn, to speak to these also in parables? They had become wiser by His sayings, so as even to understand. At any rate, to them He saith afterwards,

"Have ye understood all these things? They say unto Him, Yea, Lord."(7) So completely, together with its other objects, did the parable effect this too, that it made them more clear sighted. What then saith He again?

"The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field, the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a merchant man seeking goodly pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it."(8)

Much as in the other place, the mustard seed and the leaven have but some little difference from each other, so here also these two parables, that of the treasure and that of the pearl. This being of course signified by both, that we ought to value the gospel above all things. And the former indeed, of the leaven and of the mustard seed, was spoken with a view to the power of the gospel, and to its surely prevailing over the world; but these declare its value, and great price. For as it extends itself like mustard seed, and prevails like leaven, so it is precious like a pearl, and affords full abundance like a treasure. We are then to learn not this only, that we ought to strip ourselves of everything else, and cling to the gospel, but also that we are to do so with joy; and when a man is dispossessing himself of his goods, he is to know that the transaction is gain, and not loss.

Seest thou how both the gospel is hid in the world, and the good things in the gospel?

Except thou sell all, thou buyest not; except thou have such a soul, anxious and inquiring, thou findest not. Two things therefore are requisite, abstinence from worldly matters, and watchfulness. For He saith "One seeking goodly pearls, who when he had found one of great price, sold all and bought it." For the truth is one, and not in many divisions.

And much as he that hath the pearl knows indeed himself that he is rich, but others know not, many times, that he is holding it in his hand (for there is no corporeal bulk); just so also with the gospel, they that have hold of it know that they are rich, but the unbelievers, not knowing of this treasure, are in ignorance also of our wealth.

3. After this, that we may not be confident in the gospel merely preached, nor think that faith only suffices us for salvation, He utters also another, an awful parable. Which then is this? That of the net.

"For the kingdom of Heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind; which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away."(1)

And wherein doth this differ from the parable of the tares? For there too the one are saved the other perish; but there, for choosing of wicked doctrines; and those Before this again, for not giving heed to His sayings, but these for wickedness of life; who are the most wretched of all, having attained to His knowledge, and being caught, but not even so capable of being saved.

Yet surely He saith elsewhere, that the shepherd Himself separates them, but here He saith the angels do this;(2) and so with respect to the tares. How then is it? At one time He discourses to them in a way more suited to their dullness,(3) at another time in a higher strain.

And this parable He interprets without so much as being asked, but of His own motion He explained it by one part of it, and increased their awe. For lest, on being told, "They east the bad away," thou shouldest suppose that ruin to be without danger; by His interpretation He signified the punishment, saying, "They will cast them into the furnace."(4) And He declared the gnashing of teeth, and the anguish, that it is unspeakable.

Seest thou how many are the ways of destruction? By the rock, by the thorns, by the wayside, by the tares, by the net. Not without reason therefore did He say, "Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go away(5) by it." (6)

4. Having then uttered all this, and concluded His discourse in a tone to cause fear, and signified that these are the majority of cases (for He dwelt more on them). He saith,

"Have ye understood al! these things? They say unto Him, Yea, Lord."(7)

Then because they understood, He again praises them, saying,

"Therefore every Scribe, which is instructed in the Kingdom of Heaven,(8) is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old."(9)

Wherefore elsewhere also He saith, "I will send you wise men and scribes."(10) Seest thou how so far from excluding the Old Testament, He even commends it, and speaks publicly in favor of it, calling it "a treasure"?

So that as many as are ignorant of the divine Scriptures cannot be "householders;" such as neither have of themselves, nor receive of others, but neglect their own case, perishing with famine. And not these only, but the heretics too,(11) are excluded from this blessing. For they bring not forth things new and old. For they have not the old things, wherefore neither have they the new; even as they who have not the new, neither have they the old, but are deprived of both. For these are bound up and interwoven one with another.

Let us then hear, as many of us as neglect the reading of the Scriptures, to what harm we are subjecting ourselves, to what poverty. For when are we to apply ourselves to the real practice of virtue, who do not so much as know the very laws according to which our practice should be guided? But while the rich, those who are mad about wealth, are constantly shaking out, their garments, that they may not become moth-eaten; dost thou, seeing forgetfulness worse than any moth wasting thy soul, neglect conversing with books? dost thou not thrust away from thee the pest, adorn thy soul, look continually upon the image of virtue, and acquaint thyself with her members and her head? For she too hath a head and members more seemly than any graceful and beautiful body.

What then, saith one, is the head of virtue? Humility. Wherefore Christ also begins with it, saying, "Blessed are the poor."(12) This head hath not locks and ringlets, but beauty, such as to gain God's favor. For, "Unto whom shall I look," saith He, "but unto him that is meek and humble, and trembleth at my words?"(13) And, "Mine eyes are upon the meek of the earth."(14) And, "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a contrite heart."(15) This head, instead of locks, and flowing hair, bears sacrifices acceptable to God. It is a golden altar, and a spiritual place of sacrifice;(1) "For a contrite spirit is a sacrifice to God."(2) This is the mother of wisdom. If a man have this, he will have the rest also.

Hast thou seen a head such as thou hadst never seen? Wilt thou see the face too, or rather mark it? Mark then for the present its color, how ruddy, and blooming, and very engaging; and observe what are its ingredients. "Well, and what are they?" Shame-facedness and blushing. Wherefore also some one saith, "Before a shamefaced man shall go favor."(3) This sheds much beauty over the other members also. Though thou mix ten thousand colors, thou wilt not produce such a bloom.

And if thou wilt see the eyes also, behold them exactly delineated with decency and temperance. Wherefore they become also so beautiful and sharpsighted, as to behold even the Lord Himself. For, "Blessed," saith He, "are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."(4)

And her mouth is wisdom and understanding, and the knowledge of spiritual hymns. And her heart, acquaintance with Scripture, and maintenance of sound doctrines, and benevolence, and kindness. And as without this last there is no living, so without that other is never any salvation. Yea, for from that all her excellencies have birth. She hath also for feet and hands the manifestations of her good works. She hath a soul too, godliness. She hath likewise a bosom of gold, and firmer than adamant, even fortitude; and all may be taken captive more easily than that bosom may be riven asunder. And the spirit that is in the brain and heart, is charity(5)

5. Wilt thou that in her actual deeds also I show thee her image? Consider, I pray thee, this very evangelist: although we have not his whole life in writing, nevertheless even from a few facts one may see his image shine forth.

First, as to his having been lowly and contrite, hear him, after his gospel, calling himself a publican; for his being also merciful, see him stripping himself of all and following Jesus; and as to his piety, it is evident from his doctrines. And his wisdom again it is easy to see from the gospel which he composed, and his charity(6) (for he cared for the whole world); and the manifestation of his good works, from the throne on which he is to sit;(7) and his courage too, "by his departing with joy from the presence of the council."(8)

Let us imitate then this virtue, and most of all his humility and almsgiving, without which one cannot be saved. And this is shown by the five virgins, and together with them by the Pharisee. For without virginity indeed it is possible to see the kingdom, but without almsgiving it cannot be. For this is among the things that are essential, and hold all together. Not unnaturally then have we called it the heart of virtue. But this heart, unless it supply breath to all, is soon extinguished. In the same way then as the fountain also, if it confine its streams to itself, grows putrid; so it is with the rich also, when they keep their possessions to themselves. Wherefore even in our common conversation we say, "great is the consumption(9) of wealth with such a man;" instead of saying, "great is the abundance, great the treasure." For in truth there is a consumption, not of the possessors only, but of the riches themselves. Since both garments laid by spoil, and gold is cankered, and corn is eaten up, and the soul too of their owner is more than they all cankered and corrupted by the cares of them.

And if thou be willing to produce in the midst a miser's soul; like a garment eaten by innumerable worms, and not having any sound part, even so wilt thou find it, perforated on all sides by cares; rotted, cankered by sins.

But not such the poor man's soul, the soul of him, I mean, that is voluntarily poor; but it is resplendent as gold, it shines like a pearl, and it blooms like a rose. For no moth is there, no thief is there, no worldly care, but as angels converse, so do they.

Wouldest thou see the beauty of this soul? Wouldest thou acquaint thyself with the riches of poverty? He commands not men, but he commands evil spirits. He stands not at a king's side, but he hath taken his stand near to God. He is the comrade, not of men, but of angels. He hath not chests, two, or three, or twenty, but such an abundance as to account the whole world as nothing. He hath not a treasure, but heaven. He needs not slaves, or rather hath his passions for slaves, hath for slaves the motives(10) that rule over kings. For that which commands him who wears the purple, that motive shrinks before him.(11) And royalty, and gold, and all such things, he laughs at, as at children's toys; and like hoops, and dice, and heads, and balls, so doth he count all these to be contemptible. For he hath an adorning, which they who play with these things cannot even see.

What then can be superior to this poor man? He hath at least heaven for his pavement; but if the pavement be like this, imagine the roof! But hath he not horses and chariots? Why, what need hath he of these, who is to be borne upon the clouds, and to be with Christ?

Having these things then impressed on our minds, let us, both men and women, seek after that wealth, and the plenty that cannot be rifled; that we may attain also unto the kingdom of heaven, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might forever and ever. Amen.

HOMILY XLVIII.

MATT. XIII. 53.

"And it came to pass, that, when Jesus had finished these parables, He departed thence."

Wherefore said He, "these"? Because He was to speak others besides. And wherefore, again, doth He depart? Desiring to sow the word everywhere.

"And when He was come into His own country, He taught them in their synagogue."(1)

And what doth he now call His country? As it seems to me, Nazareth. "For He did not many mighty works there,"(2) it is said, but in Capernaum He did miracles: wherefore He said also, "And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto Heaven, shalt be brought down to hell; for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day."(3)

But having come there, while He slackens somewhat in His miracles; so as not to inflame them unto more envy, nor to condemn them more grievously, by the aggravation of their unbelief: He yet puts forth a doctrine, having no less of wonder in it than the miracles. For these utterly senseless men, when they ought to have marvelled, and to have been amazed at the power of His words, they on the contrary hold Him cheap, because of him who seemed to be His father; yet we know they had many examples of these things in the former times, and from fathers of no note had seen illustrious children. For so David was the son of a certain mean husbandman, Jesse; and Amos, the child of a goatherd, and himself a goatherd;(4) and Moses too, the lawgiver, had a father very inferior to himself. When they therefore, for this especially, ought to adore and be amazed, that being of such parents He spake such things, it being quite manifest, that so it was not of man's care, but of God's grace: yet they, what things they should admire Him for, for those they despise Him.

He is moreover continually frequenting the synagogues, lest if He were always abiding in the wilderness, they should the more accuse Him as making a schism, and fighting against their polity. Being amazed therefore, and in perplexity, they said, "Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these powers?"(5) either calling the miracles powers, or even the wisdom itself. "Is not this the carpenter's son?"(6) The greater then the marvel, and the more abundant the ground of amaze. "Is not His mother called Mary, and His brethren James, and Joses,(7) and Simon, and Judas? and His sisters, are they not all with us? Whence hath this man these things? And they were offended in Him."(8)

Seest thou that Nazareth was where He was discoursing? "Are not his brethren," it is said, "such a one, and such a one?" And what of this? Why, by this especially you ought to have been led on to faith. But envy you see is a poor base thing, and often falls foul of itself. For what things were strange and marvellous, and enough to have gained them over, these offended them.

What then saith Christ unto them? "A prophet," saith He, "is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house: and He did not," it is said, "many mighty works, because of their unbelief."(1) But Luke saith, "And He did not there many miracles."(2) And yet it was to be expected He should have done them. For if the feeling of wonder towards Him was gaining ground (for indeed even there He was marvelled at), wherefore did He not do them? Because He looked not to the display of Himself, but to their profit. Therefore when this succeeded not, He overlooked what concerned Himself, in order not to aggravate their punishment.

And yet see after how long a time He came to them, and after how great a display of miracles: but not even so did they endure it, but were inflamed again with envy.

Wherefore then did He yet do a few miracles? That they might not say, "Physician, heal thyself."(3) That they might not say, "He is a foe and an enemy to us, and overlooks His own;" that they might not say, "If miracles had been wrought, we also should have believed." Therefore He both wrought them, and stayed: the one, that He might fulfill His own part; the other, that He might not condemn them the more.

And consider thou the power of His words, herein at least, that possessed as they were by envy, they did yet admire. And as with regard to His works, they do not find fault with what is done, but feign causes which have no existence, slaying, "In Beelzebub He casteth out the devils;" even so here too, they find no fault with the teaching, but take refuge in the meanness of His race.

But mark thou, I pray thee, the Master's gentleness, how He reviles them not, but with great mildness saith, "A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country." And neither here did He stop, but added, "And in his own house." To me it appears, that with covert reference to His very own brethren, He made this addition.

But in Luke He puts examples also of this, saying, that neither did Elias come unto His own, but to the stranger widow; neither by Eliseus was any other leper healed, but the stranger Naaman;(4) and Israelites neither received benefit, nor conferred benefit, but the foreigners. And these things He saith, signifying in every instance their evil disposition, and that in His case nothing new is taking place.

2. "At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus."(5) For Herod the king, this man's father, he that slew the children, was dead.

But not without a purpose doth the evangelist signify the time, but to make thee observe also the haughtiness of the tyrant, and his thoughtlessness, in that not at the beginning did he inform himself about Christ, but after a very long time.(6) For such are they that are in places of power, and are encompassed with much pomp, they learn these things late, because they do not make much account of them.

But mark thou, I pray thee, how great a thing virtue is, that he was afraid of him even when dead, and out of his fear he speaks wisely even concerning a resurrection.

"For he said," it is mentioned, "unto his servants, This is John, whom I slew, he is risen from the dead, and therefore the mighty powers do work in him."(7) Seest thou the intensity of his fear? for neither then did he dare to publish it abroad, but he still speaks but to his own servants.

But yet even this opinion savored of the soldier, and was absurd. For many besides had risen from the dead, and no one had wrought anything of the kind. And his words seem to me to be the language both of vanity, and of fear. For such is the nature of unreasonable souls, they admit often a mixture of opposite passions.

But Luke affirms that the multitudes said, "This is Elias, or Jeremias, or one of the old prophets,"(8) but he, as uttering forsooth something wiser than the rest, made this assertion.

But it is probable that before this, in answer to them that said He was John (for many had said this too), he had denied it, and said, "I slew him," priding himself and glorying in it. For this both Mark and Luke report that he said, "John I beheaded."(9) But when the rumor prevailed, then he too saith the same as the people.

Then the evangelist relates to us also the history. And what might his reason be for not introducing it as a subject by itself?(1) Because all their labor entirely was to tell what related to Christ, and they made themselves no secondary work besides this, except it were again to contribute to the same end. Therefore neither now would they have mentioned the history were it not on Christ's account, and because Herod said, "John is risen again."

But Mark saith, that Herod exceedingly honored the man, and this, when reproved.(2) So great a thing is virtue.

Then his narrative proceeds thus: "For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison, for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the people, because they counted him as a prophet."(3)

And wherefore doth he not address his discourse at all to her, but to the man? Because it depended more on him.

But see how inoffensive he makes his accusation, as relating a history rather than bringing a charge.

4. "But when Herod's birth-day was kept,"(4) saith he, "the daughter of Herodias danced before them,(5) and pleased Herod."(6) O diabolical revel! O satanic spectacle! O lawless dancing! and more lawless reward for the dancing. For a murder more impious than all murders was perpetrated, and he that was worthy to be crowned and publicly honored, was slain in the midst, and the trophy of the devils was set on the table.

And the means too of the victory were worthy of the deeds done. For,

"The daughter of Herodias," it is said, "danced in the midst, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he swore(7) with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she being before instructed of(8) her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger."(9)

Her reproach is twofold; first, that she danced, then that she pleased him, and so pleased him, as to obtain even murder for her re ward.

Seest thou how savage he was? how senseless? how foolish? in putting himself under the obligation of an oath, while to her he gives full power over her request. But when he saw the evil actually ensuing, "he was sorry,"(10) it is said; and yet in the first instance he had put him in bonds. Wherefore then is he sorry? Such is the nature of virtue, even amongst the wicked admiration and praises are its due. But alas for her madness! When she too ought to admire, yea, to bow down to him, for trying to redress her wrong, she on the contrary even helps to arrange the plot, and lays a snare, and asks a diabolical favor.

But he was afraid "for the oath's sake," it is said, "and them that sat at meat with him." And how didst thou not fear that which is more grievous? Surely if thou wast afraid to have witnesses of thy perjury, much more oughtest thou to fear having so many witnesses of a murder so lawless.

But as I think many are ignorant of the grievance itself, whence the murder had its origin, I must declare this too, that ye may learn the wisdom of the lawgiver. What then was the ancient law, which Herod indeed trampled on, but John vindicated? The wife of him that died childless was to be given to his brother.(11) For since death was an incurable ill, and all was contrived for life's sake; He makes a law that the living brother should marry her, and should call the child that is born by the name of the dead, so that his house should not utterly perish. For if the dead were not so much as to leave children, which is the greatest mitigation of death, the sorrow would be without remedy. Therefore you see, the lawgiver devised this refreshment for those who were by nature deprived of children, and commanded the issue to be reckoned as belonging to the other.

But when there was a child, this marriage was no longer permitted. "And wherefore?" one may say, "for if it was lawful for another, much more for the brother." By no means. For He will have men's consanguinity extended, and the sources multiplied of our interest in each other.

Why then, in the case also of death without offspring, did not another marry her? Because it would not so be accounted the child of the departed; but now his brother begetting it, the fiction became probable. And besides, any other man had no constraining call to build up the house of the dead, but this had incurred the claim by relationship.

Forasmuch then as Herod had married his brother's wife, when she had a child, therefore John blames him, and blames him with moderation, showing together with his boldness, his consideration also.

But mark thou, I pray thee, how the whole theatre was devilish. For first, it was made up of drunkenness and luxury, whence nothing healthful could come. Secondly, the spectators in it were depraved, and he that gave the banquet the worst transgressor of all. Thirdly, there was the irrational pleasure. Fourthly, the damsel, because of whom the marriage was illegal, who ought even to have hid herself, as though her mother were dishonored by her, comes making a show, and throwing into the shade all harlots, virgin as she was.

And the time again contributes no little to the reproof of this enormity. For when he ought to be thanking God, that on that day He had brought him to light, then he ventures upon those lawless acts. When one in chains ought to have been freed by him, then he adds slaughter to bonds.

Hearken, ye virgins, or rather ye wives also, as many as consent to such unseemliness at other person's weddings, leaping, and bounding, and disgracing our common nature. Hearken, ye men too, as many as follow after those banquets, full of expense and drunkenness, and fear ye the gulf of the evil one. For indeed so mightily did he seize upon that wretched person just then, that he sware even to give the half of his kingdom: this being Mark's statement, "He sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom."(1)

Such was the value he set upon his royal power; so was he once for all made captive by his passion, as to give up his kingdom for a dance.(2)

And why marvel at these things so happening then, since even now, after the coming in of so high a wisdom, for a dance' sake many of these effeminate young men give up their very souls, and that without constraint of any oath? For being made captive by the pleasure, they are led like sheep, wheresoever the wolf may drag them; which was then the case with that frenzied man, who was guilty of two extreme acts of madness; first, in making it depend on her that was so maddened, and intoxicated with her passion, and shrinking from nothing; next, in making the deed fast with the constraint of an oath.

5. But albeit he was so wicked, that base woman was more wicked than all of them, both the damsel and the tyrant. For she was the very first contriver of all the mischiefs, and the framer of the whole plot (she who most of all ought to have been thankful to the prophet); since it was in obedience to her that her daughter both disgraced herself, and danced, and sought the murder; and Herod was entrapped by her.

Seest thou how justly Christ said, "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me."(3) For had she kept this law, she would not have trangressed so many laws, she would not have perpetrated this foul murder.

For what could be worse than this brutal fierceness? to ask a murder by way of a favor, a lawless murder, a murder in the midst of a banquet, a murder publicly, and without shame? Since she went not unto him privately to speak of these things, but publicly, and with her mask thrown off, barefaced, and having got the devil to plead with her, in this guise she saith whatever she saith. Yea, and he it was that caused her at all to get credit by her dancing, and to catch Herod at that moment. For where dancing is, there is the evil one. For neither did God give us feet for this end, but that we may walk orderly: not that we may behave ourselves unseemly, not that we may jump like camels (for even they too are disagreeable when dancing, much more women), but that we may join the choirs of angels.

For if the body is base, thus making itself unseemly, much more the soul. Like this is the dancing of the demons, like this, the jesting of such as are servants of the demons.

And mark too the very mode of asking. "Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger." Dost thou see her lost to all shame, become altogether the devil's? She mentions his very office, and not even so does she hide her face, but as if it were some viand she is speaking of, just so doth she ask for that sacred and blessed head to be brought in in a charger.

And she doth not so much as assign a cause, for neither had she one to mention, but she claims simply to be complimented by the calamities of others. And she said not, "Bring him in here, and slay him," for she could not have endured his bold language even when he was about to die. Yea, and she dreaded to hear his awful voice, even when enduring slaughter; for not on the very point of being beheaded would he have kept silence. Therefore she saith, "Give me here in a charger," for "I long to see that tongue silent:" her object being, not simply to be rid of his reproofs, but also to trample upon him, and deride him when fallen.

Yet God endured it, and neither discharged His thunderbolt from above to scorch her shameless countenance, nor commanded the earth to open, and receive that wicked revel; at once both crowning the righteous man more signally, and leaving much consolation to them that hereafter suffer anything unjustly.

6. Let us hearken therefore, as many as suffer ill, living in virtue, at the hands of wicked men. For then too God endured that even he in the wilderness, he in the leathern girdle, in the garment of hair, the prophet, the man greater than all prophets, who had no superior among those born of women, should actually be murdered, and that by an immodest damsel, and a corrupt harlot, and all in vindicating the laws of God. These things then let us consider, and bear all nobly, whatever we may suffer.

For then too this bloodthirsty and lawless woman, as far as she desired to take vengeance on him that had grieved her, so far did she prevail, and satiated all her anger, and God permitted it. And yet to her he had said nothing, nor had he accused her, but he found fault with the man only. But her conscience was a bitter accuser. Wherefore also she was led on in frenzy to greater evils, being grieved, and stung, and she disgraced all at once, herself, her daughter, her departed husband, her living paramour, and tried to surpass her former acts. For "if thou art vexed," saith she, "at his committing adultery, I make him a murderer also, and cause him to be the slayer of his reprover."

Hearken, as many as are unduly excited about women.

Hearken, as many as proffer oaths about things uncertain, and give others power for your own destruction, and dig a pit for your selves.

Yea, for so came this man's ruin. I mean, he surely expected her to ask some request suitable to the feast, and that being a damsel, and asking a favor at a banquet, and revel, and solemn assembly, she would ask something cheerful, and gracious, and surely not a head; and he was deceived.

But nevertheless none of these things will be a plea for him. And what if she had attained the spirit of the men that fight with wild beasts? nevertheless he ought not to have been deceived, nor to have ministered to such tyrannical injunctions.

For, in the first place, who would not have shuddered to see that sacred head, dropping blood, set forth at the feast? But not so the lawless Herod, nor the woman more accursed than he. For such is the nature of the unchaste among women; none so audacious and so savage as they.

For if we shudder at hearing these things, what must we suppose of the effect of that sight at the time? what of the feeling of those who sat with him at meat, on seeing blood dropping from a newly-severed head in the midst of the revel? But as for that blood-thirsty woman, and fiercer than furies, she had no feeling at that spectacle, but even took delight in it, yet if nothing else, surely the mere sight, it was to be expected, would effectually turn her cold. But no such feeling had she, the murderess, and full of thirst after prophets' blood.

For such is the nature of whoredom. It makes men not wanton only, but murderous also. Those women at all events, who desire to commit adultery, are prepared even for the slaying of their injured husbands, and not one only, nor two, but ten thousand murders are they ready to venture upon. And of this sort of tragic plots there are many witnesses.

Which thing she also did at that time, looking to be concealed after this, and to hide her crime. The very contrary whereunto was the result; for John's cry was heard more loudly after these things. But wickedness looks to the present only, like fevered persons unseasonably asking for cold water. For in fact, if she had not slain her accuser, her crime would not have been so completely discovered. His disciples at least, when she had thrown him into prison, said nothing of the kind; but when she had slain him, then they were compelled to mention the cause also. For willing as they were to have concealed the adulteress, and not inclined to expose their neighbor's calamities; yet when they found themselves compelled to give an account of it, then they tell the whole crime. For lest any one should suspect that the cause of his slaughter was a discreditable one, as in the case of Theudas and Judas,(1) they are constrained to tell the occasion also of the murder. So that the more thou wouldest dissemble a sin in this way, so much the more dost thou expose it. For sin is not hidden by the addition of sin, but by repentance and confession.

7. But see the evangelist, how he relates all without invidiousness, and as far as he can, absolutely makes out an excuse. Thus first in behalf of Herod he saith, "For the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat," and that "he was sorry;" then of the damsel, "Being before instructed of her mother," and that "she brought the head to her mother;" as though he had said, it was her command that she was fulfilling. Since not for the sufferers but for the wrongdoers do all righteous men grieve, since in fact these are they who properly speaking suffer ill. For neither was John injured, but these the centrivers of such proceedings.

Them let us also imitate, and not trample upon our neighbors' sins, but so far as is right, shadow them over. Let us take to ourselves a soul severe in goodness. For so the very evangelist, speaking of a harlot and a blood-stained woman, avoided harshness, as far as might be. For neither did he say, "by the blood-stained and accursed woman," but "being before instructed of her mother,"(1) using such names as have rather an innocent sound.

But thou dost even insult and revile thy neighbor, and couldest never endure to make mention of a brother that had grieved thee in such terms, as he hath done of the harlot, but with much brutal fierceness, and re-preaches, calling him the wicked one, the malefactor, the crafty, the feel, and many other names more grievous than these. For so we make ourselves more and more like wild beasts, and talk of him as of a man of monstrous origin,(2) vilifying, reviling, insulting. But not so the saints; they on the contrary mourn for such as sin, rather than curse them.

8. This then let us also do, and let us weep for Herodias, and for them that imitate her. For many such revels now also take place, and though John be not slain, yet the members of Christ are, and in a far more grievous way. For it is not a head in a charger that the dancers of our time ask, but the souls of them that sit at the feast. For in making them slaves, and leading them to unlawful loves, and besetting them with harlots, they do not take off the head, but slay the soul, making them adulterers, and effeminate, and whoremongers.

For thou wilt not surely tell me, that when full of wine, and drunken, and looking at a woman who is dancing and uttering base words, thou dost not feel anything towards her, neither art hurried on to profligacy, overcome by thy lust. Nay, that awful thing befails thee, that thou "makest the members of Christ members of an harlot."(3)

For though the daughter of Herodias be not present, yet the devil, who then danced in her person, in theirs also holds his choirs now, and departs with the souls of those guests taken captive.

But if ye are able to keep clear of drunkenness, yet are ye partakers of another most grievous sin; such revels being also full of much rapine. For look not, I pray thee, on the meats that are set before them, nor on the cakes; but consider whence they are gathered, and thou wilt see that it is of vexation, and covetousness, and violence, and rapine.

"Nay, ours are not from such sources," one may say. God forbid they should be: for neither do I desire it. Nevertheless, although they be clear of these, not even so are our costly feasts freed from blame. Hear, at all events, how even apart from these things the prophet finds fault with them, thus speaking, "Woe to them that drink wine racked off, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments."(4) Seest thou how He censures luxury too? For it is not covetousness which He here lays to their charge, but prodigality only.

And thou eatest to excess, Christ not even for need; thou various cakes, He not so much as dry bread; thou drinkest Thasian wine, but on Him thou hast not bestowed so much as a cup of cold water in His thirst. Thou art on a soft and embroidered bed, but He is perishing with the cold.

Wherefore, though the banquets be clear from covetousness, yet even so are they accursed, because, while for thy part thou doest all in excess, to Him thou givest not even His need; and that, living in luxury upon things that belong to Him. Why, if thou wert guardian to a child, and having taken possession of his goods, were to neglect him in extremities, thou wouldest have ten thousand accusers, and wouldest suffer the punishment appointed by the laws; and now having taken possession of the goods of Christ, and thus consuming them for no purpose, dost thou not think thou wilt have to give account?

9. And these things I say not of those who introduce harlots to their tables (for to them I have nothing to say, even as neither have I to the dogs), nor of those who cheat some, and pamper others (for neither with them have I anything to do, even as I have not with the swine and with the wolves); but of those who enjoy indeed their own property, but do not impart thereof to others; of those who spend their patrimony at random. For neither are these clear from reprehension. For how, tell me, wilt thou escape reproving and blame, while thy parasite is pampered, and the dog that stands by thee, but Christ's worth appears to thee even not equal to theirs? when the one receives so much for laughter's sake, but the other for the Kingdom of Heaven not so much as the smallest fraction thereof. And while the parasite, on saying something witty, goes away filled; this Man, who hath taught us, what if we had not learnt we should have been no better than the dogs,--is He counted unworthy of even the same treatment with such an one?

Dost thou shudder at being told it? Shudder then at the realities. Cast out the parasites, and make Christ to sit down to meat with thee. If He partake of thy salt, and of thy table, He will be mild in judging thee: He knows how to respect a man's table.(1) Yea, if robbers know this, much more the Lord. Think, for instance, of that harlot, how at a table He justified her, and upbraids Simon, saying, "Thou gavest me no kiss."(2) I say, if He feed thee, not doing these things, much more will He reward thee, doing them. Look not at the poor man, that he comes to thee filthy and squalid, but consider that Christ by him is setting foot in thine house, and cease from thy fierceness, and thy relentless words, with which thou art even aspersing such as come to thee, calling them impostors, idle, and other names more grievous than these.

And think, when thou art talking so, of the parasites; what kind of works do they accomplish? in what respect do they profit thine house? Do they really make thy dinner pleasant to thee? pleasant, by their being beaten and saying foul words? Nay, what can be more unpleasing than this, when thou smitest him that is made after God's likeness, and from thine insolence to him gatherest enjoyment for thyself, making thine house a theatre, and filling thy banquet with stage-players, thou who art well born and free imitating the actors with their heads shaven?(3) For among them too is laughter, and rude blows.

These things then dost thou call pleasure, I pray thee, which are deserving of many tears, of much mourning and lamentation? And when it were fit to urge them to a good life, to give timely advice, dost thou lead them on to perjuries, and disorderly language, and call the thing a delight? and that which procures hell, dost thou account a subject of pleasure? Yea, and when they are at a loss for witty sayings, they pay the whole reckoning wits oaths and false swearing. Are these things then worthy of laughter, and not of lamentations and tears? Nay, who would say so, that hath understanding?

And this I say, not forbidding them to be fed, but not for such a purpose. Nay, let their maintenance have the motive of kindness, not of cruelty; let it be compassion, not insolence. Because he is a poor man, feed him; because Christ is fed, feed him; not for introducing satanical sayings, and disgracing his own life. Look not at him outwardly laughing, but examine his conscience, and then thou wilt see him uttering ten thousand imprecations against himself, and groaning, and wailing. And if he do not show it, this also is due to thee.

10. Let the companions of thy meals then be men that are poor and free, not perjured persons, nor stage-players. And if thou must needs ask of them a requital for their food, enjoin them, should they see anything done that is amiss, to rebuke, to admonish, to help thee in thy care over thine household, in the government of thy servants. Hast thou children? Let these be joint fathers to them, let them divide thy charge with thee, let them yield thee such profits as God loveth. Engage them in a spiritual traffic. And if thou see one needing protection, bid them succor, command them to minister. By these do thou track the strangers out, by these clothe the naked, by these send to the prison, put an end to the distresses of others.

Let them give thee, for their food, this requital, which profits both thee and them, and carries with it no condemnation.

Hereby friendship also is more closely riveted. For now, though they seem to be loved, yet for all that they are ashamed, as living without object in thy house; but if they accomplish these purposes, both they will be more pleasantly situated, and thou wilt have more satisfaction in maintaining them, as not spending thy money without fruit; and they again will dwell with thee in boldness and due freedom, and thy house, instead of a theatre, will become to thee a church, and the devil will be put to flight, and Christ will enter, and the choir of the angels. For where Christ is, there are the angels too, and where Christ and the angels are, there is Heaven, there is a light more cheerful than this of the sun.

And if thou wouldest reap yet another consolation through their means, command them, when thou art at leisure, to take their books and read the divine law. They will have more pleasure in so ministering to you, than in the other way. For these things add respect both to thee and to them, but those bring disgrace upon all together; upon thee as an insolent person and a drunkard, upon them as wretched and gluttonous. For if thou feed in order to insult them, it is worse than if thou hadst put them to death; but if for their good and profit, it is more useful again than if thou hadst brought them back from their way to execution. And now indeed thou dost disgrace them more than thy servants, and thy servants enjoy more liberty of speech, and freedom of conscience, than they do; but then thou wilt make them equal to the angels.

Set free therefore both them and thine own self, and take away the name of parasite, and call them companions of thy meals;(1) cast away the appellation of flatterers, and bestow on them that of friends. With this intent indeed did God make our friendships, not for evil to the beloved and loving, but for their good and profit.

But these friendships are more grievous than any enmity. For by our enemies, if we will, we are even profiled; but by these we must needs be harmed, no question of it. Keep not then friends to teach thee harm; keep not friends who are enamored rather of thy table than of thy friendship. For all such persons, if thou retrench thy good living, retrench their friendship too; but they that associate with thee for virtue's sake, remain continually, enduring every change.

And besides, the race of the parasites doth often take revenge upon thee, and bring upon thee an ill fame. Hence at least I know many respectable persons to have got bad characters, and some have been evil reported of for sorceries, some for adulteries and corrupting of youths. For whereas they have no work to do, but spend their own life unprofitably; their ministry is suspected by the multitude as being the same with that of corrupt youths.

Therefore, delivering ourselves both from evil report, and above all from the hell that is to come, and doing the things that are well-pleasing to God, let us put an end to this devilish custom, that "both eating and drinking we may do all things to the glory of God,"(2) and enjoy the glory that cometh from Him; unto which may we all attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

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