HOMILIES OF ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE
ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO
ST. MATTHEW
HOMILIES XLIX & LII (MATT. 14 & 15)

HOMILY XLIX.

MATT. XIV. 13.

"But when Jesus heard of it, He departed thence by ship into a desert place apart; and when the multitudes had heard thereof, they followed Him on foot out of all the cities."

SEE Him on every occasion "departing,"(2) both when John was delivered up,(3) and when he was slain, and when the Jews heard that He was making more disciples.(4) For it is His will ordinarily to conduct things after the manner of a man, the time not yet calling Him to reveal His Godhead plainly. Wherefore also He bade His disciples "tell no man that He is the Christ;"(5) for His will was that this should be better known after His resurrection. Wherefore upon those of the Jews that were for a time obstinate in their unbelief He was not very severe, but even disposed to be indulgent to them.

And on retiring, He departs not into a city, but into a wilderness, and in a vessel, so that no man should follow.

But do thou mark, I pray thee, how the disciples of John had now come to be more attached to Jesus. For it was they that told Him of the event; for indeed they have left all, and take refuge henceforth in Him. Thus, besides their calamity, His provision before made in that answer(1) did no small good.

But wherefore did He not retire before they brought Him the tidings, when yet He knew the fact before they reported it? To signify all means the reality of His economy.(2) For not by His appearance only, but by His actions He would have this confirmed, because He knew the devil's craft, and that he would leave nothing undone to destroy this doctrine.

He then for this end retires; but the multitudes not even so withdraw themselves from Him, but they follow, riveted to Him, and not even John's tragical end alarmed them. So great a thing is earnest desire, so great a thing is love; in such wise doth it overcome and dispel all dangers.

Therefore they straightway also received their reward. For "Jesus," it is said, "went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick."(3)

For great as their assiduity was, yet nevertheless His doings exceeded what any diligence could earn. Wherefore He sets forth also His motive for so healing them, His mercy, intense mercy: and He healeth all.

And He requires not faith here. For both by coming to Him, and by leaving their cities, and by diligently seeking Him, and by abiding with Him even when hunger was pressing, they display their own faith.

But He is about to feed them also. And He doth not this of Himself, but waits to be entreated; on every occasion, as I have said, maintaining this rule, not to spring onward to His miracles, preventing them, but upon some call.(4)

And why did none of the multitude come near and speak for them? They reverenced Him exceedingly, and felt not even their hunger, through their longing to stay with Him. Neither indeed do His disciples, when they were come to Him, say, "Feed them;" for as yet they were rather in an imperfect state; but what?

"And when it was evening,' it is said, "His disciples came to Him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now passed; send the multitude away, that they may go and buy themselves victuals."(5)

For if even after the miracle they forgot what had been done, and after the baskets, supposed Him to be speaking of loaves, when He gave the name of "leaven" to the doctrine of the Pharisees;(6) much less, when they had never yet had experience of such a miracle, would they have expected any such thing. And yet He had made a beginning by actually healing many sick; but nevertheless, not even from this did they expect the miracle of the loaves; so imperfct were they as yet.

But mark thou, I pray, the Teacher's skill, how distinctly He summons them on towards believing. For He said not at once, "I feed them;" which indeed would not have been easily received; but what?

"But Jesus," so it is written, "said unto them, "They need not depart; give ye them to eat."(7)

He said not, "I give them," but, "Give ye them;" for as yet their regard to Him was as to a man. But they not even so are awakened, but still reason as with a man, saying,

"We have but five loaves, and two fishes."(8)

Wherefore Mark also saith, "They understood not the saying, for their heart was hardened."(9)

They continuing therefore to crawl on the ground, then at length He brings in His own part, and saith, "Bring them hither to me." For although the place be desert, yet He that feeds the world is here; and although the time be now past, yet He that is not subject to time is discoursing with you.

But John saith also, that they were "barley loaves,"(10) not mentioning it without object, but teaching us to trample under foot the pride of costly living. Such was the diet of the prophets also.(11)

2. "He took therefore the five loaves, and the two fishes, and commanded the multitude," it is said, "to sit down upon the grass, and looking up to Heaven, He blessed, and brake, and gave to His disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.(12) And they did all eat and were filled, and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

Wherefore did He look up to Heaven, and bless? It was to be believed of Him, both that He is of the Father, and that He is equal to Him. But the proofs of these things seemed to oppose one another. For while His equality was indicated by His doing all with authority, of His origin from the Father they could no otherwise be persuaded, than by His doing all with great lowliness, and with reference to Him, and invoking Him on His works. Wherefore we see that He neither did these actions only, nor those, that both might be confirmed; and now He works miracles with authority, now with prayer.

Then again, that what He did might not seem an inconsistency, in the lesser things He looks up to Heaven, but in the greater doth all with authority; to teach thee in the lesser also, that not as receiving power from elsewhere, but as honoring Him that begat Him, so He acts. For example: when He forgave sins, and opened paradise, and brought in the thief, and most utterly set aside the old law, and raised innumerable dead, and bridled the sea, and reproved the un-uttered thoughts of men, and created an eye;--which are achievements of God only and of none else;--we see Him in no instance praying: but when He provided for the loaves to multiply themselves, a far less thing than all these, then He looks up to Heaven; at once establishing these truths which I have spoken of, and instructing us not to touch a meal, until we have given thanks to Him who giveth us this food.

And why doth He not make it of things that are not? Stopping the mouth of Marcion, and of Manichaens, who alienate His creation from Him, and teaching by His very works, that even all the things that are seen are His works and creatures, and signifying that it is Himself who gives the fruits, who said at the beginning, "Let the earth put forth the herb of grass," and "Let the waters bring forth things moving with living souls."(1)

For this is not at all a less work than the other. For though those were made of things that are not, yet nevertheless were they of water; and it was no greater thing to produce fruits out of the earth, and moving things with life out of the water, than out of five loaves to make so many; and of fishes again, which was a sign that He was ruler both of the earth and of the sea.

Thus, since the sick were constantly the subject of His miracles, He works also a general benefit, that the many might not be spectators only of what befell others, but themselves also partakers of the gift.

And that which in the wilderness seemed to the Jews marvellous, (they said at least, "Can He give bread also? or prepare a table in the wilderness?)"(2) this He shows forth in His works. With this view also He leads them into the wilderness, that the miracle might be very far beyond suspicion, and that no one might think that any village lying near contributed ought to the meal. For this reason He mentions the hour also, not the place only.

And another thing too we learn, the self-restraint of the disciples which they practised in necessary things, and how little they accounted of food. For being twelve, they had five loaves only and two fishes; so secondary to them were the things of the body: so did they cling to the things spiritual only.

And not even that little did they hold fast, but gave up even it when asked. Whereby we should be taught, that though we have but little, this too we ought to give up to them that are in need. Thus, when commanded to bring the five loaves, they say not, "and whence are we to have food? whence to appease our own hunger?" but they obey at once.

And besides what I have mentioned, to this end, as I at least think, He makes it out of the materials which they had, namely, that He might lead them to faith; for as yet they were rather in a weak state.(3)

Wherefore also "He looks up to Heaven." For of the other miracles they had many examples, but of this none.(3)

3. "He took the loaves," therefore, "and brake them, and gave them by His disciples," hereby to honor them; and not in honor to them only, but also that, when the miracle had been done they might not disbelieve it, nor forget it when it had past, their own hands bearing them witness.(3)

Wherefore also He suffers the multitudes first to have a sense of hunger, and waits for these to come to Him first and ask Him, and by them makes the people sit down, and by them distributes; being minded by their own confessions and actions to prepossess them every one.(3)

Therefore also, from them He receives the loaves, that the testimonies of what was doing might be many, and that they might have memorials of the miracle. For if even after these occurrences they forgot,(4) what would not have been their case, had He omitted those provisions?

And He commands them to sit down on the trampled grass, instructing the multitudes in self-denial. For His will was not to feed their bodies only, but also to instruct their souls. As well by the place therefore, as by His giving them nothing more than loaves and fishes, and by setting the same before all, and making it common, and by affording no one more than another, He was teaching them humility, and temperance, and charity, and to be of like mind one towards another, and to account all things common.

"And He brake and gave to the disciples, and the disciples to the multitude." The five loaves He brake and gave, and the five multiplied themselves in the hands of the disciples. And not even here doth He stay the miracle, but He made them even to exceed; to exceed, not as whole loaves, but as fragments; to signify that of those loaves these were remains, and in order that the absent might learn what had been done.

For this purpose indeed He suffered the multitudes to hunger, that no one might suppose what took place to be illusion.

For this also He caused just twelve baskets to remain over, that Judas also might bear one. For He was able indeed to have appeased their hunger, but the disciples would not have known His power, since in Elijah's case also this took place.(1)

At all events, so greatly were the Jews amazed at Him for this, that they wished even to make Him a king,(2) although with regard to the other miracles they did not so m any instance.

What reasoning now may set forth, how the loaves multiplied(3) themselves; how they flowed together in the wilderness; how they were enough for so many (for there were "five thousand men beside women and children;" which was a very great commendation of the people, that both women and men attended Him); how the remnants had their being (for this again is not less than the former), and became so abundant, that the baskets were equal in number to the disciples, and neither more nor less?

Having then taken the fragments, He gave them not to the multitudes, but to the disciples, and that, because the multitudes were m a more imperfect state than the disciples.

And, having wrought the miracle, "straightway He constrained His disciples to get into a ship, and to go before Him unto the other side, while He sent the multitudes away."(4)

For even if He had seemed, when in sight, to be presenting an illusion, and not to have wrought a truth; yet surely not in His absence also. For this cause then, submitting His proceedings to an exact test, He commanded those that had got the memorials, and the proof of the miracles, to depart from Him.

And besides this, when He is doing great works, He disposes elsewhere of the multitudes and the disciples, instructing us in nothing to follow after the glory that comes from the people, nor to collect a crowd about us.

Now by saying, "He constrained them," He indicates the very close attendance of the disciples.

And His pretext indeed for dismissing them was the multitude, but He was Himself minded to go up into the mountain; and He did this, instructing us neither to be always in intercourse with multitudes, nor always to fly from the crowd, but each of the two as may be expedient, and giving each duly his turn.

4. Let us learn therefore ourselves also to wait upon Jesus; but not for His bounty in things sensible, lest we be upbraided like the Jews. For "ye seek me," saith He, "not because ye saw the miracles,(5) but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled."(6) Therefore neither doth He work this miracle continually, but a second time only; that they might be taught not to be slaves to their belly, but to cling incessantly to the things of the Spirit.

To these then let us also cling, and let us seek the heavenly bread, and having received it, let us cast away all worldly care. For if those men left houses, and cities, and kinsmen, and all, and abode in the wilderness, and when hunger was pressing, withdrew not; much more ought we, when approaching such a table, to show forth a more abundant self-command, and to set our love on the things of the Spirit, and to seek the things of sense as secondary to these.

Since even they were blamed, not because they sought Him for the bread, but because it was for this only they sought Him, and for this primarily. For should any one despise the great gifts, but cling to the small, and to those which the giver would have him despise. He loses these latter too: as on the other hand, if we love those, He adds these also. For these are but an appendage to the others; so vile are they and trifling, compared with those, although they be great. Let us not therefore spend our diligence on them, but account both the acquisition and loss of them alike indifferent, even as Job also neither clung to them when present, nor sought them absent. For on this account, they are called <greek>krhata</greek>, (1) not that we should bury them in the earth, but that we should use them aright.

And as of artisans every one hath his peculiar skill, even so the rich man, as he knows not how to work in brass, nor to frame ships, nor to weave, nor to build houses, nor any such thing;--let him learn then to use his wealth aright, and to pity the poor; so shall he know a better art than all those.

For indeed this is above all those arts. Its workshop is builded in Heaven. It hath its tools not of iron and brass, but of goodness and of a right will. Of this art Christ is the Teacher, and His Father. "For be ye merciful," saith He, "as your Father which is in Heaven."(2)

And what is indeed marvellous, being so much superior to the rest, it needs no labor, no time for its perfection; it is enough to have willed, and the whole is accomplished.

But let us see also the end thereof, what it is. What then is the end of it? Heaven, the good things in the heavens, that unspeakable glory, the spiritual bride-chambers, the bright lamps, the abiding with the Bridegroom; the other things, which no speech, nor even understanding, is able to set forth.

So that herein likewise great is its difference from all others. For most of the arts profit us for the present life, but this for the life to come also.

5. But if it so far excels the arts that are necessary to us for the present, as medicine, for instance, and house-building, and all others like them: much more the rest, which if any one were nicely to examine, he would not even allow them to be arts. Wherefore I at least would not call those others, as they are unnecessary, so much as arts at all. For wherein is delicate cookery and making sauces profitable to us? Nowhere: yea, they are greatly unprofitable and hurtful, doing harm both to body and soul, by bringing upon us the parent of all diseases and sufferings, luxury, together with great extravagance.(3)

But not these only, but not even painting, or embroidery, would I for one allow to be an art, for they do but throw men into useless expense. But the arts ought to be concerned with things necessary and important to our life, to supply and work them up. For to this end God gave us skill at all, that we might invent methods, whereby to furnish out our life. But that there should be figures(4) either on walls, or on garments, wherein is it useful, I pray thee? For this same cause the sandal-makers too, and the weavers, should have great retrenchments made in their art. For most things in it they have carried into vulgar ostentation,(5) having corrupted its necessary use, and mixed with an honest art an evil craft; which has been the case with the art of building also. But even as to this, so long as it builds houses and not theatres, and labors upon things necessary, and not superfluous, I give the name of an art; so the business of weaving too, as long as it makes clothes, and coverlids, but does not imitate the spiders, and overwhelm men with much absurdity, and unspeakable effeminacy, so long I call it an art.

And the sandal-makers' trade, so long as it makes sandals, I will not rob of the appellation of art; but when it perverts men to the gestures of women, and causes them by their sandals to grow wanton and delicate, we will set it amidst the things hurtful and superfluous, and not so much as name it an art.

And I know well, that to many I seem over-minute in busying myself about these things; I shall not however refrain for this. For the cause of all our evils is this, such faults being at all counted trifling, and therefore disregarded.

And what sin, say you, can be of less account than this, of having an ornamented and glittering sandal, which fits the foot; if indeed it seem right at all to denominate it a sin?

Will ye then that I let loose my tongue upon it, and show its unseemliness, how great it is? and will ye not be angry? Or rather, though ye be angry, I care not much. Nay, for yourselves are to blame for this folly, who do not so much as think it is a sin, and hereby constrain us to enter upon the reproof of this extravagance. Come then, let us examine it, and let us see what sort of an evil it is. For when the silken threads, which it is not seemly should be even inwoven in your garments, these are sewn by you into your shoes, what reproach, what derision do these things deserve?

And if thou despise our judgments, hear the voice of Paul, with great earnestness forbidding these things, and then thou wilt perceive the absurdity of them. What then saith he? "Not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array."(6) Of what favor then canst thou be worthy; when, in spite of Paul's prohibiting the married woman to have costly clothing, thou extendest this effeminacy even to thy shoes, and hast no end of contrivances for the sake of this ridicule and reproach? Yes: for first a ship is built, then rowers are mustered, and a man for the prow, and a helmsman, and a sail is spread, and an ocean traversed, and, leaving wife and children and country, the merchant commits his very life to the waves, and comes to the land of the barbarians, and undergoes innumerable dangers for these threads, that after it all thou mayest take them, and sew them into thy shoes, and ornament the leather. And what can be done worse than this folly?

But the old ways are not like these, but such as become men. Wherefore I for my part expect that in process of time the young men amongst us will wear even women's shoes, and not be ashamed. And what is more grievous, men's fathers seeing these things are not much displeased, but do even account it an indifferent matter.

Would ye that I should add what is still more grievous; that these things are done even when there are many poor? Would ye that I bring before you Christ, an hungered, naked, wandering everywhere, in chains? And how many thunderbolts must ye not deserve, overlooking Him in want of necessary food, and adorning these pieces of leather with so much diligence? And He indeed, when He was giving law to His disciples, would not so much as suffer them to have shoes at all, but we cannot bear to walk, I say not barefooted, but even with feet shod as they ought to be.

7. What then can be worse than this unseemliness, this absurdity? For the thing marks a soul, in the first place effeminate, then unfeeling and cruel, then curious and idly busy. For when will he be able to attend to any necessary matter, who is taken up with these superfluous things? when will such a youth endure to take heed to his soul, or to consider so much as that he hath a soul? Yes, he surely will be a trifler who cannot help admiring such things; he cruel, who for their sake neglects the poor; he void of virtue, who spends all his diligence on them.

For he that is curious about the beauty of threads, and the bloom of colors, and the tendrils made of such woven work, when will he be able to look upon the heaven? when will he admire the beauty there, who is excited about a kind of beauty that belongs to pieces of leather, and who is bending to the earth? And whereas God hath stretched out the Heaven, and lighted up the sun, drawing thy looks upwards; thou constrainest thyself to look downwards, and to the earth, like the swine, and obeyest the devil. For indeed this wicked demon hath devised this unseemliness, to draw thee off from that beauty. For this intent hath he drawn thee this way; and God, showing Heaven, is outvied by a devil showing certain skins, or rather not even skins (for indeed these too are God's works), but effeminacy and a bad kind of skill.

And the young man goes about bending down towards the earth, he that is required to seek wisdom concerning the things in Heaven; priding himself more on these trifles than if he had accomplished some great and good work, and walking on tiptoe in the forum, and hereby begetting to himself superfluous sorrows and distresses, lest he should stain them with the mud when it is winter; lest he should cover them with the dust, when summer is come.

What sayest thou, O man? Hast thou cast thy whole soul into the mire through this extravagance, and dost thou overlook it trailing on the ground, and art thou so anxious about a pair of shoes? Mark their use, and respect the verdict thou passest on them. For to tread on mud and mire, and all the spots on the pavement, for this were thy shoes made. Or if thou canst not bear this, take and hang them from thy neck, or put them on thy head.

And ye indeed laugh at hearing this. But I am inclined to weep for these men's madness, and their earnest care about these matters. For in truth they would rather stain their body with mud, than those pieces of leather.

Triflers then they become in this way, and fond of money again in another way. For he that has been used to be frantic and eager upon such matters, requires also for his clothes and for all other things much expense, and a large income.

And if he have a munificent father, his thraldom becomes worse, his absurd fancy more intense; but if a parsimonious one, he is driven to other unseemliness, by way of getting together a little money for such expenses.

Hence many young men have even sold their manhood, and have become parasites to the rich, and have undertaken other servile offices, purchasing thereby the fulfillment of such desires.

So then, that this man is sure to be at once fond of money, and a trifler, and about important things the most indolent of all men, and that he will be forced to commit many sins, is hereby evident. And that he is cruel and vainglorious, neither this will any one gainsay: cruel, in that when he sees a poor man, through the love of finery he makes as though he did not even see him, but while he is decking out these things with gold, overlooks him perishing of hunger; vainglorious, since even in such little matters he trains himself to hunt after the admiration of the beholders. For I suppose no general prides himself so much on his legions and trophies, as our profligate youths on the decking out of their shoes, on their trailing garments, on the dressing of their hair; yet surely all these are works of other persons, in their trades. But if men do not cease from vain boasting in the works of others, when will they cease from it in their own?

8. Shall I mention yet other things more grievous than these? or are even these enough for you? Well then; I must end my speech here; since even this have I said, because of the disputatious, who maintain the thing not to be so very wrong.

And although I know that many of the young will not so much as attend to what I have said, being once for all intoxicated with this fancy, I yet ought not therefore to keep silence. For such fathers as have understanding, and are as yet sound, will be able to force them, even against their will, to a becoming decency.

Say not then, "this is of no consequence, that is of no consequence;" for this, this hath ruined all. For even hereby ought you to train them, and by the things which seem trifling to make them grave, great of soul, superior to outward habiliments; so shall we find them approved in the great things also. For what is more ordinary than the learning of letters? nevertheless thereby do men become rhetoricians,(1) and sophists, and philosophers, and if they know not their letters, neither will they ever have that knowledge.

And this we have spoken not to young men only, but to women also, and to young damsels. For these too are liable to the like charges, and much more, inasmuch as seemliness is a thing appropriate to a virgin.

What has been said therefore to the others; do ye account to have been said to you also, that we may not repeat again the same things.

For it is full time now to close our discourse with prayer. All of you then pray with us, that the young men of the church above all things may be enabled to live orderly, and to attain an old age becoming them. Since for those surely who do not so live, it were well not to come to old age at all. But for them that have grown old even in youth, I pray that they may attain also to the very deep of gray hairs, and become fathers of approved children, and may be a joy to them that gave them birth, and above all surely to the God that made them, and may exterminate every distempered fancy, not that about their shoes, nor about their clothes only, but every other kind also.

For as untilled land, such is also youth neglected, bringing forth many thorns from many quarters. Let us then send forth on them the fire of the Spirit, and burn up these wicked desires, and let us break up our fields, and make them ready for the reception of the seed, and the young men amongst us let us exhibit with soberer minds than the old elsewhere. For this in fact is the marvellous thing, when temperance shines forth in youth; since he surely that is temperate in old age cannot have a great reward, having in perfection the security from his age. But what is wonderful, is to enjoy a calm amidst waves, and in a furnace not to be burnt, and in youth not to run wanton.

With these things then in our minds, let us emulate that blessed Joseph, who shone through all these trials, that we may attain unto the same crowns with him; unto which may we all attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom be glory unto the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, now and always, and world without end. Amen.

HOMILY L.

MATT. XIV. 23, 24.

"And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into the mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, He was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves:(1) for the wind was contrary."

For what purpose doth He go up into the mountain? To teach us, that loneliness and retirement is good, when we are to pray to God. With this view, you see, He is continually withdrawing into the wilderness, and there often spends the whole night in prayer, teaching us earnestly to seek such quietness in our prayers, as the time and place may confer. For the wilderness is the mother of quiet; it is a calm and a harbor, delivering us from all turmoils.

He Himself then went up thither with this object, but the disciples are tossed with the waves again, and undergo a storm, equal even to the former. But whereas before they had Him in the ship when this befell them, now they were alone by themselves. Thus gently and by degrees He excites and urges them on for the better, even to the bearing all nobly. Accordingly we see, that when they were first near that danger, He was present, though asleep, so as readily to give them relief; but now leading them to a greater degree of endurance, He doth not even this, but departs, and in mid sea permits the storm to arise, so that they might not so much as look for a hope of preservation from any quarter; and He lets them be tempest-tost all the night, thoroughly to awaken, as I suppose, their hardened heart.

For such is the nature of the fear, which the time concurs with the rough weather in producing. And together with the compunction, He cast them also into a greater longing for Himself, and a continual remembrance of Him.

Accordingly, neither did He present Himself to them at once. For, "in the fourth watch," so it is said, "of the night, He went unto them, walking upon the sea;"(2) instructing them not hastily to seek for deliverance; from their pressing dangers, but to bear all occurrences manfully. At all events, when they looked to be delivered, then was their fear again heightened. For,

"When the disciples," it is said, "saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit: and they cried out for fear."(3)

Yea, and He constantly doth so; when He is on the point of removing our terrors, He brings upon us other worse things, and more alarming: which we see took place then also. For together with the storm, the sight too troubled them, no less than the storm. Therefore neither did He remove the darkness, nor straightway make Himself manifest, training them, as I said, by the continuance of these fears, and instructing them to be ready to endure. This He did in the case of Job also; for when He was on the point of removing the terror and the temptation, then He suffered the end to grow more grievous; I mean not for his children's death, or the words of his wife, but because of the reproaches, both of his servants and of his friends. And when He was about to rescue Jacob from his affliction in the strange land, He allowed his trouble to be awakened and aggravated: in that his father-in-law first overtook him and threatened death, and then his brother coming immediately after, suspended over him the extremest danger.

For since one cannot be tempted both for a long time and severely; when the righteous are on the point of coming to an end of their conflicts, He, willing them to gain the more, enhances their struggles. Which He did in the case of Abraham too, appointing for his last conflict that about his child. For thus even things intolerable will be tolerable, when they are so brought upon us, as to have their removal near, at the very doors.

So did Christ at that time also, and did not discover Himself before they cried out. For the more intense their alarm, the more did they welcome His coming. Afterward when they had exclaimed, it is said,

"Straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid."(1)

This word removed their fear, and caused them to take confidence. For as they knew Him not by sight, because of His marvellous kind of motion, and because of the time, He makes Himself manifest by His voice.

2. What then saith Peter, everywhere ardent, and ever starting forward before the rest?

"Lord, if it be Thou," saith he, "bid me come unto Thee on the water."(2)

He said not, "Pray and entreat," but, "bid." Seest thou how great his ardor, how great his faith? Yet surely he is hereby often m danger, by seeking things beyond his measure. For so here too he required an exceedingly great thing, for love only, not for display. For neither did he say, "Bid me walk on the water," but what? "Bid me come unto Thee." For none so loved Jesus.

This he did also after the resurrection; he endured not to come with the others, but leapt forward.(3) And not love only, but faith also doth he display. For he not only believed that He was able Himself to walk on the sea, but that He could lead upon it others also; and he longs to be quickly near Him.

"And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, and came(4) to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous,(5) he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand and caught him, and saith unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"(6)

This is more wonderful than the former. Therefore this is done after that. For when He had shown that He rules the sea, then He carries on the sign to what is yet more marvellous. Then He rebuked the winds only; but now He both walks Himself, and permits another to do so; which thing if He had required to be done at the beginning, Peter would not have so well received it, because he had not yet acquired so great faith.

Wherefore then did Christ permit him? Why, if He had said, "thou canst not," Peter being ardent would have contradicted Him again. Wherefore by the facts He convinces him, that for the future he may be sobered.

But not even so doth he endure. Therefore having come down, he becomes dizzy; for he was afraid. And this the surf caused, but his fear was wrought by the wind.

But John saith, that "they willingly received Him into the ship; and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went,"(7) relating this same circumstance. So that when they were on the point of arriving at the land, He entered the ship.

Peter then having come down from the ship went unto Him, not rejoicing so much in walking on the water, as in coming unto Him. And when he had prevailed over the greater, he was on the point of suffering evil from the less, from the violence of the wind, I mean, not of the sea. For such a thing is human nature; not seldom effecting great things, it exposes itself in the less; as Elias felt toward Jezebel, as Moses toward the Egyptian, as David toward Bathsheba. Even so then this man also; while their fear was yet at the height, he took courage to walk upon the water, but against the assault of the wind he was no longer able to stand; and this, being near Christ. So absolutely nothing doth it avail to be near Christ, not being near Him by faith.

And this also showed the difference between the Master and the disciple, and allayed the feelings of the others. For if in the case of the two brethren they had indignation, much more here; for they had not yet the Spirit vouchsafed unto them.

But afterwards they were not like this. On every occasion, for example, they give up the first honors to Peter, and put him forward in their addresses to the people, although of a rougher vein than any of them.(8)

And wherefore did He not command the winds to cease, but Himself stretched forth His hand and took hold of him? Because in him faith was required. For when our part is wanting, then God's part also is at a stand.

Signifying therefore that not the assault of the wind, but his want of faith had wrought his overthrow, He saith, "Wherefore didst thou doubt, O thou of little faith?" So that if his faith had not been weak, he would have stood easily against the wind also. And for this reason, you see, even when He had caught hold of Him, He suffers the wind to blow, showing that no hurt comes thereby, when faith is steadfast.

And as when a nestling has come out of the nest before the time, and is on the point of falling, its mother bears it on her wings, and brings it back to the nest; even so did Christ.

"And when they were come into the ship, then the wind ceased."(1)

Whereas before this they had said, "What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him!"(2) now it is not so. For "they that were in the ship," it is said, "came and worshipped Him, saying, Of a truth Thou art Son of God."(3) Seest thou, how by degrees he was leading them all higher and higher? For both by His walking on the sea, and by His commanding another to do so, and preserving him in jeopardy; their faith was henceforth great. For then indeed He rebuked the sea, but now He rebukes it not, in another way signifying His power more abundantly. Wherefore also they said, "Of a truth Thou art Son of God."

What then? Did He rebuke them on their so speaking? Nay, quite the contrary, He rather confirmed what they said, with greater authority healing such as approached Him, and not as before.

"And when they were gone over," so it is said, "they came into the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place had knowledge of Him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto Him all that were diseased; and besought Him that they might touch the hem of His garment; and as many as touched were made perfectly whole."(4)

For neither did they approach Him as before, dragging Him into their houses, and seeking a touch of His hand, and directions from Him in words; but in a far higher strain, and with more of self-denial, and with a more abundant faith did they try to win themselves a cure; for she that had the issue of blood taught them all to be severe in seeking wisdom.

And the evangelist, implying also that at long intervals He visited the several neighborhoods, saith, "The men of that place took knowledge of Him, and sent out into the country round about, and brought unto Him them that were diseased." But yet the interval, so far from abolishing their faith, made it even greater, and preserved it in vigor.

3. Let us also then touch the hem of His garment, or rather, if we be willing, we have Him entire. For indeed His body is set before us now, not His garment only, but even His body; not for us to touch it only, but also to eat, and be filled. Let us now then draw near with faith, every one that hath an infirmity. For if they that touched the hem of His garment drew from Him so much virtue, how much more they that possess Him entire? Now to draw near with faith is not only to receive the offering, but also with a pure heart to touch it; to be so minded, as approaching Christ Himself. For what, if thou hear no voice? Yet thou seest Him laid out; or rather thou dost also hear His voice, while He is speaking by the evangelists.

Believe, therefore, that even now it is that supper, at which He Himself sat down. For this is in no respect different from that. For neither doth man make this and Himself the other; but both this and that is His own work. When therefore thou seest the priest delivering it unto thee, account not that it is the priest that doeth so, but that it is Christ's hand that is stretched out.

Even as when he baptizes, not he doth baptize thee, but it is God that possesses thy head with invisible power, and neither angel nor archangel nor any other dare draw nigh and touch thee; even so now also. For when God begets, the gift is His only. Seest thou not those who adopt to themselves sons here, how they commit not the act to slaves, but are themselves present at the judgment-seat? Even so neither hath God committed His gift to angels, but Himself is present, commanding and saying, "Call no man Father on earth;"(5) not that thou shouldest dishonor them that gave thee birth, but that thou shouldest prefer to all those Him that made thee, and enrolled thee amongst His own children. For He that hath given the greater, that is, hath set Himself before thee, much more will He not think scorn to distribute unto thee of His body. Let us hear therefore, both priests and subjects, what we have had vouchsafed to us; let us hear and tremble. Of His own holy flesh He hath granted us our fill; He hath set before us Himself sacrificed.

What excuse shall we have then, when feeding on such food, we commit such sins? when eating a lamb, we become wolves? when feeding on a sheep, we spoil by violence like the lions?

For this mystery He directs to be always clear, not from violence only, but even from bare enmity. Yea, for this mystery is a mystery of peace; it allows us not to cling to wealth. For if He spared not Himself for us, what must we deserve, sparing our wealth, and being lavish of a soul, in behalf of which He spared not Himself?

Now upon the Jews God every year bound in their feasts a memorial of His peculiar favors to them: but for thee, every day, as I may say, through these mysteries.

Be not therefore ashamed of the cross: for these are our venerable things, these our mysteries; with this gift do we adorn ourselves, with this we are beautified.

And if I say, He stretched out the heaven, He spread out the earth and the sea, He sent prophets and angels, I say nothing in comparison. For the sum of His benefits is this, that "He spared not His own Son,"(1) in order to save His alienated servants.

4. Let no Judas then approach this table, no Simon; nay, for both these perished through covetousness. Let us flee then from this gulf; neither let us account it enough for our salvation, if after we have stripped widows and orphans, we offer for this table a gold and jewelled cup. Nay, if thou desire to honor the sacrifice, offer thy soul, for which also it was slain; cause that to become golden; but if that remain worse than lead or potter's clay, while the vessel is of gold, what is the profit?

Let not this therefore be our aim, to offer golden vessels only, but to do so from honest earnings likewise. For these are of the sort that is more precious even than gold, these that are without injuriousness. For the church is not a gold foundry nor a workshop for silver, but an assembly of angels. Wherefore it is souls which we require, since in fact God accepts these for the souls' sake.

That table at that time was not of silver nor that cup of gold, out of which Christ gave His disciples His own blood; but precious was everything there, and awful, for that they were full of the Spirit.(2)

Wouldest thou do honor to Christ's body Neglect Him not when naked; do not while here thou honorest Him with silken garments, neglect Him perishing without of cold and nakedness. For He that said, "This is my body," and by His word confirmed the fact, "This same said, "Ye saw me an hungered, and fed me not;" and, "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."(3) For This indeed needs not coverings, but a pure soul; but that requires much attention.

Let us learn therefore to be strict in life, and to honor Christ as He Himself desires. For to Him who is honored that honor is most pleasing, which it is His own will to have, not that which we account best. Since Peter too thought to honor Him by forbidding Him to wash his feet, but his doing so was not an honor, but the contrary.

Even so do thou honor Him with this honor, which He ordained, spending thy wealth on poor people. Since God hath no need at all of golden vessels, but of golden souls.

And these things I say, not forbidding such offerings to be provided; but requiring you, together with them, and before them, to give alms. For He accepts indeed the former, but much more the latter. For in the one the offerer alone is profited, but in the other the receiver also. Here the act seems to be a ground even of ostentation; but there all is mercifulness, and love to man.

For what is the profit, when His table indeed is full of golden cups, but He perishes with hunger? First fill Him, being an hungered, and then abundantly deck out His table also. Dost thou make Him a cup of gold, while thou givest Him not a cup of cold water? And what is the profit? Dost thou furnish His table with cloths bespangled with gold, while to Himself thou affordest not even the necessary covering? And what good comes of it? For tell me, should you see one at a loss for necessary food, and omit appeasing his hunger, while you first overlaid his table with silver; would he indeed thank thee, and not rather be indignant? What, again, if seeing one wrapped in rags, and stiff with cold, thou shouldest neglect giving him a garment, and build golden columns, saying, "thou weft doing it to his honor," would he not say that thou wert mocking, and account it an insult, and that the most extreme?

Let this then be thy thought with regard to Christ also, when He is going about a wanderer, and a stranger, needing a roof to cover Him; and thou, neglecting to receive Him, deckest out a pavement, and walls, and capitals of columns, and hangest up silver chains by means of lamps,(4) but Himself bound in prison thou wilt not even look upon.

5. And these things I say, not forbidding munificence in these matters, but admonishing you to do those other works together with these, or rather even before these. Because for not having done these no one was ever blamed, but for those, hell is threatened, and unquenchable fire, and the punishment with evil spirits. Do not therefore while adorning His house overlook thy brother in distress, for he is more properly a temple than the other.

And whereas these thy stores will be subject to alienations both by unbelieving kings, and tyrants, and robbers; whatever thou mayest do for thy brother, being hungry, and a stranger, and naked, not even the devil will be able to despoil, but it will be laid up in an inviolable treasure.

Why then doth He Himself say, "The poor always ye have with you, but me ye have not always?"(1) Why, for this reason most of all should we give alms, that we have Him not always an hungered, but in the present life only. But if thou art desirous to learn also the whole meaning of the saying, understand that this was said not with a view to His disciples, although it seem so, but to the woman's weakness. That is, her disposition being still rather imperfect, and they doubting about her; to revive her He said these things. For in proof that for her comfort He said it, He added, "Why trouble ye the woman?"(2) And with regard to our having Him really always with us, He saith, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."(3) From all which it is evident, that for no other object was this said, but that the rebuke of the disciples might not wither the faith of the woman, just then budding.

Let us not then bring forward these things now, which were uttered because of some economy, but let us read all the laws, those in the New and those in the Old Testament, that are set down about almsgiving, and let us be very earnest about this matter. For this cleanses from sin. For "give alms, and all things will be clean unto you."(4) This is a greater thing than sacrifice. "For I will have mercy, and not sacrifice."(5) This opens the heavens. For "thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God."(6) This is more indispensable than virginity: for thus were those virgins cast out of the bridechamber; thus were the others brought in.

All which things let us consider, and sow liberally, that we may reap in more ample abundance, and attain unto the good things to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

HOMILY LI.

MATT. XV. 1.

"Then came to Jesus Scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do Thy disciples," etc.(1)

THEN; when? when He had wrought His countless miracles; when He had healed the infirm by the touch of the hem of His garment. For even with this intent doth the evangelist mark the time, that He might signify their unspeakable wickedness, by nothing repressed.

But what means, "The Scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem?"(2) In every one of the tribes were they scattered abroad, and divided into twelve parts; but they who occupied the chief city were worse than the others, as both enjoying more honor, and having contracted much haughtiness.

But mark, I pray thee, how even by the question itself they are convicted; in not saying, "Why do they transgress the law of Moses," but, "the tradition of the elders." Whence it is evident that the priests were inventing many novelties, although Moses, with much terror and with much threatening, had enjoined neither to add nor take away. "For ye shall not add," saith he, "unto the word which I command you this day, and ye shall not take away from it."(3)

But not the less were they innovating; as in this instance, that one ought not to eat with unwashen hands, that we must wash cups and brazen vessels, that we must wash also ourselves. Thus, when men were henceforth, as time advanced, to be freed from their observances, at that very time they bound them with the same in more and more instances, fearing lest any one should take away their power, and wishing to strike more dread, as though they were themselves also lawgivers. The thing in fact proceeded so far in enormity, that while their own commandments were kept, those of God were transgressed; and they so far prevailed, that the matter had actually become a ground of accusation. Which was a twofold charge against them, in that they both invented novelties, and were so strict exactors on their own account, while of God they made no reckoning.

And omitting to speak of the other things, the pots and the brazen vessels (for it was too ridiculous), what seemed more reasonable than the rest, that they bring forward, wishing, as seems at least to me, in that way to provoke Him to anger. Wherefore also they made mention of the elders, in order that He, as setting them at nought, might give occasion against Himself.

But it were meet first to inquire, why the disciples ate with unwashen hands. Wherefore then did they so eat? Not as making a point of it, but as overlooking henceforth the things that are superfluous, and attending to such as are necessary; having no law to wash or not to wash, but doing either as it happened. For they that despised even their own necessary food, how were they to hold these things worth much consideration? This then having often happened unintentionally,--for instance, when they ate in the wilderness, when they plucked the ears of corn,--is now put forward as a charge by these persons, who are always transgressing in the great things, and making much account of the superfluous.

2. What then saith Christ? He did not set Himself against it, neither made He any defense, but straightway blames them again, plucking down their confidence, and signifying that he who commits great sins ought not to be strict with others concerning small matters. "What? when you ought to be blamed," saith He, "do ye even blame?"

But do thou observe, how when it is His will to set aside any of the things enjoined by the law, He does it in the form of an apology; and so He did in that case. For by no means doth He proceed at once to transgress it, nor doth He say, "It is nothing;" for surely He would have made them more audacious; but first He clean cuts away their boldness, bringing forward the far heavier charge, and directing it upon their head. And He neither saith, "they do well in transgressing it," lest He should give them a hold on Him; nor doth He speak ill of their proceeding, lest He should confirm the law: nor again, on the other hand, doth He blame the elders, as lawless and unholy men; for doubtless they would have shunned Him as a reviler and injurious: but all these things He gives up, and proceeds another way. And He seems indeed to be rebuking the persons themselves who had come to Him, but He is reprehending them that enacted these laws; nowhere indeed making mention of the elders, but by His charge against the Scribes casting down them also, and signifying that their sin is twofold, first in disobeying God, next in doing so on men's account; as though He had said, "Why this, this hath ruined you, your obeying the elders in all things."

Yet He saith not so, but this is just what He intimates, by answering them as follows:

"Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by(1) your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honor thy father and thy mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me, and(2) honor not his father or his mother(3)--And ye have made void the commandment(4) of God by your tradition.(5)

And He said not, "the eiders' tradition," but "your own." And, "ye say;" again He said not, "the elders say:" in order to make His speech less galling. That is, because they wanted to prove the disciples transgressors of the law, He signifies that they themselves are doing so, but that these are free from blame. For of course that is not a law, which is enjoined by men (wherefore also He calls it "a tradition"), and especially by men that are transgressors of the law.

And since this had no shade of contrariety to the law, to command men to wash their hands, He brings forward another tradition, which is opposed to the law. And what He saith is like this. "They taught the young, under the garb of piety, to despise their fathers." How, and in what way? "If one of their parents said to his child, Give me this sheep that thou hast, or this calf, or any such thing, they used to say, 'This is a gift to God, whereby thou wouldest be profited by me, and thou canst not have it.' And two evils hence arose: on the one hand they did not bring them to God, on the other they defrauded their parents under the name of the offering, alike insulting their parents for God's sake, and God for their parents' sake." But He doth not say this at once, but first rehearses the law, by which He signifies His earnest desire that parents should be honored. For, "honor," saith He, "thy father and thy mother, that thou mayest live long upon the earth."(1) And again, "He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death."(2)

But He, omitting the first, the reward appointed for them that honor their parents, states that which is more awful, the punishment, I mean, threatened to such as dishonor them; desiring both to dismay them, and to conciliate such as have understanding; and He implies them to be for this worthy of death. For if he who dishonors them in word is punished, much more ye, who do so in deed, and who not only dishonor, but also teach it to others. "Ye then who ought not so much as to live, how find ye fault with the disciples?"

"And what wonder is it, if ye offer such insults to me, who am as yet unknown, when even to the Father ye are found doing the like?" For everywhere He both asserts and implies, that from Him they began with this their arrogance.

But some do also otherwise interpret, "It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;" that is, I owe thee no honor, but it is a free gift from me to thee, if indeed I do honor thee. But Christ would not have mentioned an insult of that sort.

And Mark again makes this plainer, by saying, "It is Corban, by whatsoever thou mightest be profiled by me;"(3) which means, not a gift and present, but properly an offering.

Having then signified that they who were trampling on the law could not be justly entitled to blame men for transgressing a command of certain elders, He points out this same thing again from the prophet likewise. Thus, having once laid hold of them severely, He proceeds further: as on every occasion He doth, bringing forward the Scriptures, and so evincing Himself to be in accordance with God.

And what saith the prophet? "This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."(4)

Seest thou a prophecy in exact accordance with His sayings, and from the very first proclaiming beforehand their wickedness? For what Christ laid to their charge now, of this Isaiah also spake from the very first; that the words of God they despise, "for in vain do they worship me," saith He; but of their own they make much account, "teaching," saith He, "for doctrines the commandments of men." Therefore with reason the disciples keep them not.

3. Having, you see, given them their mortal blow; and from the facts first, then from their own suffrage, then from the prophet having aggravated the charge, with them indeed He discourses not at all, incorrigibly disposed as they are now come to be, but directs His speech to the multitudes, so as to introduce His doctrine, great and high, and full of much strictness; and taking occasion from the former topic, He proceeds to insert that which is greater, casting out also the observance of meats.

But see when. When He had cleansed the leper, when He had repealed the Sabbath, when He had shown Himself King of earth and sea, when He had made laws, when He had remitted sins, when He had raised dead men, when He had afforded them many proofs of His Godhead, then He discourses of meats.

For indeed all the religion of the Jews is comprised in this; if thou take this away, thou hast even taken away all. For hereby He signifies, that circumcision too must be abrogated. But of Himself He doth not prominently introduce this (forasmuch as that was older than the other commandments, and had higher estimation), but He enacts it by His disciples. For so great a thing was it, that even the disciples after so long a time being minded to do it away, first practise it, and so put it down.(5)

But see how He introduces His law: how "He called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear and understand."(6)

Thus He doth by no means simply reveal it to them, but by respect and courtesy, first, He makes His saying acceptable (for this the evangelist declares by saying, "He called them unto Him"): and secondly, by the time also; in that after their refutation, and His victory over them, and the accusation by the prophet, then He begins His legislation, when they too would more easily receive His sayings.

And He doth not merely call them unto Him, but also makes them more attentive. For "understand," saith He, that is, "consider, rouse yourselves; for of that sort is the law now about to be enacted. For if they set aside the law, even unseasonably, for their own tradition, and ye hearkened; much more ought ye to hearken unto me, who at the proper season am leading you unto a higher rule of self restraint."

And He did not say, "The observance of meats is nothing, neither that Moses had given wrong injunctions, nor that of condescension He did so;" but in the way of admonition and counsel, and taking His testimony from the nature of the things, He saith: "Not the things that go into the mouth, defile the man, but the things that go out of the mouth;"(1) resorting to nature herself both in His enactment and in His demonstration. Yet they hearing all this, made no reply, neither did they say, "What sayest Thou? When God hath given charges without number concerning the observance of meats, dost thou make such laws?" But since He had utterly stopped their mouths, not by refuting them only, but also by publishing their craft, and exposing what was done by them in secret, and revealing the secrets of their mind; their mouths were stopped, and so they went away.

But mark, I pray thee, how He doth not yet venture distinctly to set Himself with boldness against the meats. Therefore neither did He say "the meats," but, "the things that enter in defile not the man;" which it was natural for them to suspect concerning the unwashen hands also. For He indeed was speaking of meats, but it would be understood of these matters too.

Why, so strong was the feeling of scruple about the meats, that even after the resurrection Peter said, "Not so, Lord, for I have never eaten anything common or unclean."(2) For although it was for the sake of others that He said this, and in order to leave Himself a justification against his censurers, by pointing out that he actually remonstrated, and not even so was excused, nevertheless it implies the depth of their impression on that point.

Wherefore you see He Himself also at the beginning spake not openly concerning meats, but, "The things that go into the mouth;" and again, when He had seemed afterwards to speak more plainly, He veiled it by His conclusion, saying, "But to eat with unwashen hands defileth not the man:"(3) that He might seem to have had His occasion from thence, and to be still discoursing of the same. Therefore He said not, "To eat meats defileth not a man," but is as though He were speaking on that other topic; that they may have nothing to say against it.

4. When therefore they had heard these things, "the Pharisees," it is said, "were offended,"(4) not the multitudes. For "His disciples," so it is said, "came and said unto Him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, when they heard the saying?" Yet surely nothing had been said unto them.

What then saith Christ? He did not remove the offense in respect of them, but reproved them, saying, "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up."(5) For He is wont both to despise offenses, and not to despise them. Elsewhere, for example, He saith, "But lest we should offend them, cast an hook into the sea:"(6) but here He saith, "Let them alone, they be blind leaders of the blind: and if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."(7)

But these things His disciples said, not as grieving for those men only, but as being themselves also slightly perplexed. But because they durst not say so in their own person, they would fain learn it by their telling Him of others. And as to its being so, hear how after this the ardent and ever-forward Peter came to Him, and saith, "Declare unto us this parable,"(8) discovering the trouble in his soul, and not indeed venturing to say openly, "I am offended," but requiring that by His interpretation he should be freed from his perplexity; wherefore also he was reproved.

What then saith Christ? "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up."

This, they that are diseased with the Manichaean pest affirm to be spoken of the law; but their months are stopped by what had been said before. For if He was speaking of the law, how doth He further back defend it, and fight for it, saying, "Why do ye transgress the commandments of God for your tradition?" And how doth He bring forward the prophet? But of themselves and of their traditions He so speaks. For if God said, "Honor thy father and thy mother," how is not that of God's planting, which was spoken by God?

And what follows also indicates, that of themselves it was said, and of their traditions. Thus He added, "They are blind leaders of the blind." Whereas, had He spoken it of the law, He would have said, "It is a blind leader of the blind." But not so did He speak, but, "They are blind leaders of the blind:" freeing it from the blame, and bringing it all round upon them.

Then to sever the people also from them, as being on the point of falling into a pit by their means, He saith, "If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."

It is a great evil merely to be blind, but to be in such a case and have none to lead him, nay, to occupy the place of a guide, is a double and triple ground of censure. For if it be a dangerous thing for the blind man not to have a guide, much more so that he should even desire to be guide to another.

What then saith Peter? He saith not, "What can this be which Thou hast said?" but as though it were full of obscurity, he puts his question. And he saith not, "Why hast thou spoken contrary to the law?" for he was afraid, lest he should be thought to have taken offense, but asserts it to be obscure. However, that it was not obscure, but that he was offended, is manifest, for it had nothing of obscurity.

Wherefore also He rebukes him, saying, "Are ye also yet without understanding?"(1) For as to the multitude, they did not perhaps so much as understand the saying; but themselves were the persons offended. Wherefore, whereas at first, as though asking in behalf of the Pharisees, they were desirous to be told; when they heard Him denouncing a great threat, and saying, "Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up," and," They are blind leaders of the blind," they were silenced. But he, always ardent, not even so endures to hold his peace, but saith, "Declare unto us this parable."(2)

What then saith Christ? With a sharp rebuke He answers, "Are ye also yet without understanding? Do ye not yet understand?"

But these things He said, and reproved them, in order to cast out their prejudice; He stopped not however at this, but adds other things also, saying, "That whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught; but those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart, and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, blasphemies, false-witnessings: and these are the things that defile the man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not the man."(3)

Seest thou how sharply He deals with them, and in the way of rebuke?

Then He establishes His saying by our common nature, and with a view to their cure. For when He saith, "It goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught," he is still answering according to the low views of the Jews. For He saith, "it abides not, but goes out:" and what if it abode? it would not make one unclean. But not yet were they able to hear this.

And one may remark, that because of this the lawgiver allows just so much time, as it may be remaining within one, but when it is gone forth, no longer. For instance, at evening He bids you wash yourself, and so be clean; measuring the time of the digestion, and of the excretion.(4) But the things of the heart, He saith, abide within, and when they are gone forth they defile, and not when abiding only. And first He puts our evil thoughts, a kind of thing which belonged to the Jews; and not as yet doth He make His refutation from the nature of the things, but from the manner of production from the belly and the heart respectively, and from the fact that the one sort remains, the other not; the one entering in from without, and departing again outwards, while the others are bred(5) within, and having gone forth they defile, and then more so, when they are gone forth. Because they were not yet able, as I said, to be taught these things with all due strictness.

But Mark saith, that "cleansing the meats,"(6) He spake this. He did not however express it, nor at all say, "but to eat such and such meats defileth not the man," for neither could they endure to be told it by Him thus distinctly. And accordingly His conclusion was, "But to eat with unwashen hands defileth not the man."(1)

5. Let us learn then what are the things that defile the man; let us learn, and let us flee them. For even in the church we see such a custom prevailing amongst the generality, and men giving diligence to come in clean garments, and to have their hands washed; but how to present a clean soul to God, they make no account.

And this I say, not forbidding them to wash hands or mouth; but willing men so to wash as is meet, not with water only, but instead of water, with all virtues. For the filth of the mouth is evil speaking, blasphemy, reviling, angry words, filthy talking, laughter, jesting: if then thou art conscious to thyself of uttering none of them, neither of being defiled with this filth, draw near with confidence; but if thou hast times out of number received these stains, why dost thou labor in vain, washing thy tongue indeed with water, but bearing about on it such deadly and hurtful filth? For tell me, hadst thou dung on thy hands, and mire, wouldest thou indeed venture to pray? By no means. And yet this were no hurt; but that is ruin. How then art thou reverential in the different things, but in the forbidden remiss?

What then? should not we pray? saith one. We should indeed, but not while defiled, and having upon us mire of that sort.

"What then, if I have been overtaken?" saith one. Cleanse thyself. "How, and in what way?" Weep, groan, give alms, apologize to him that is affronted, reconcile him to thyself hereby, wipe clean thy tongue, lest thou provoke God more grievously. For so if one had filled his hands with dung, and then should lay hold of thy feet, entreating thee, far from hearing him, thou wouldest rather spurn him with thy foot; how then durst thou in such sort draw nigh to God? Since in truth the tongue is the hand of them that pray, and by it we lay hold on the knees of God. Defile it not therefore, lest to thee also He say, "Though ye make many prayers, I will not hearken."(2) Yea, and "in the power of the tongue are death and life;"(3) and, "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."(4)

I bid thee then watch thy tongue more than the apple of thine eye. The tongue is a royal steed. If then thou put a bridle on it, and teach it to pace orderly, the King will rest and take His seat thereon; but if thou suffer it to rush about unbridled and leap wantonly, it becomes a beast for the devil and bad spirits to ride on. And while thou, fresh from the company of thine own wife, darest not pray, although this is no blame at all; dost thou lift up thine hands, fresh from reviling and insult, which brings after it no less than hell, before thou hast well cleansed thyself? And how dost thou not shudder? tell me. Hast thou not heard Paul, saying, "Marriage is honorable, and the bed undefiled?"(5) But if on rising from the undefiled bed, thou darest not draw nigh in prayer, how dost thou coming from the bed of the devil call on that awful and terrible name? For it is truly the devil's bed, to wallow in insults and reviling. And like some wicked adulterer, wrath dailies with us in great delight, casting into us deadly seed, and making us give birth to diabolical enmity, and doing all things in a way opposite to marriage. For whereas marriage causes the two to become one flesh, wrath severs into many parts them that were united, and cleaves and cuts in pieces the very soul.

That thou mayest therefore with confidence draw nigh to God, receive not wrath, when it comes in upon thee, and desires to be with thee, but drive it away like a mad dog.

For so Paul too commanded: his phrase being, "lifting up holy hands without wrath and disputing."(6) Dishonor not then thy tongue, for how will it entreat for thee, when it hath lost its proper confidence? but adorn it with gentleness, with humility, make it worthy of the God who is entreated, fill it with blessing, with much almsdoing. For it is possible even with words to do alms. "For a word is a better thing than a gift,"(7) and "answer the poor man peaceably with meekness."(8) And all the rest of thy time too adorn it with the rehearsing of the laws of God; "Yea, let all thy communication be in the law of the Most High."(9)

Having thus adorned ourselves, let us come to our King, and fall at His knees,(10) not with the body only, but also with the mind. Let us consider whom we are approaching, and on whose behalf, and what we would accomplish. We are drawing nigh unto God, whom the seraphim behold and turn away their faces, not bearing His brightness; at sight of whom the earth trembles. We draw nigh unto God, "who dwelleth in the light, which no man can approach unto."(11) And we draw nigh unto Him for deliverance from hell, for remission of sins, for escape from those intolerable punishments, for attaining to the Heavens, and to the good things that are there. Let us, I say, fall down before Him both in body and in mind, that He may raise us up when we are down; let us converse with all gentleness and meekness.

And who is so wretched and miserable, one may say, as not to become gentle in prayer? He that prays with an imprecations and fills himself with wrath, and cries out against his enemies.

6. Nay, if thou wilt accuse, accuse thyself. If thou wilt whet and sharpen thy tongue, let it be against thine own sins. And tell not what evil another hath done to thee, but what thou hast done to thyself; for this is most truly an evil; since no other will really be able to injure thee, unless thou injure thyself. Wherefore, if thou desire to be against them that wrong thee, approach as against thyself first; there is no one to hinder; since by coming into court against another, thou hast but the greater injury to go away with.

And what injury at all hast thou really to mention? That such an one insulted and spoiled thee by violence, and encompassed thee with dangers? Nay, this is receiving not injury, but if we be sober, the very greatest benefit; the injured being he that did such things, not he that suffered them. And this is more than any one thing the cause of all our evils, that we do not so much as know at all who is the injured, and who the injurious person. Since if we knew this well, we should not ever injure ourselves, we should not pray against another, having learnt that it is impossible to suffer ill of another. For not to be spoiled, but to spoil, is an evil. Wherefore, if thou hast spoiled, accuse thyself; but if thou hast been spoiled, rather pray for him that spoiled thee, because he hath done thee the greatest good. For although the intent of the doer was not such, yet thou hast received the greatest benefit, if thou hast endured it nobly. For him, both men, and the laws of God declare to be wretched, but thee, the injured party, they crown, and proclaim thy praise.

For so if any one sick of a fever had violently taken from any other a vessel containing water, and had had his fill of his pernicious desire, we should not say that the despoiled had been injured, but the spoiler; for he has aggravated his fever, and made his disease more grievous. Now in this way I bid thee reason concerning him also that loves wealth and money. For he too, having a far worse fever than the other, has by this rapine fanned the flame in himself.

Again,were some madman to snatch a sword from any one, and destroy himself, which again is the injured? He that hath been robbed, or the robber? It is quite clear, he that did the robbery.

Well then, in the case of seizing property also, let us give the same suffrage. For what a sword is to a madman, much the same is wealth to a covetous man; nay, it is even a worse thing. For the madman, when he has taken the sword, and thrust it through himself, is both delivered from his madness, and hath no second blow to receive; but the lover of money receives daily ten thousand wounds more grievous than his, without delivering himself from his madness, but aggravating it more exceedingly: and the more wounds he receives, the more doth he give occasion for other more grievous blows.

Reflecting then on these things, let us flee this sword; let us flee the madness; though late, let us become temperate. For this virtue too ought to be called temperance, not less than that which is used to be so called among all men. For whereas there the dominion of one lust is to be struggled against, here we have to master many lusts, and those of all kinds.

Yea, nothing, nothing is more foolish(1) than the slave of wealth. He thinks he overcomes when he is overcome. He thinks he is master, when he is a slave, and putting bonds on himself, he rejoices; making the wild beast fiercer, he is pleased; and becoming a captive, he prides himself, and leaps for joy; and seeing a dog rabid and flying at his soul, when he ought to bind him and weaken him by hunger, he actually supplies him with abundance of food, that he may leap upon him more fiercely, and be more formidable.

Reflecting then on all these things, let us loose the bonds, let us slay the monster, let us drive away the disease, let us cast out this madness; that we may enjoy a calm and pure health, and having with much pleasure sailed into the serene haven, may attain unto the eternal blessings; 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 always, and world without end. Amen.

HOMILY LII.

MATT. XV. 21, 22.

"And Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto Him,(1) saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil."

BUT Mark saith, that "He could not behid,"(2) though He had entered into the house. And why did He go at all into these parts? When He had set them free from the observance of meats, then to the Gentiles also He goes on to open a door, proceeding in due course; even as Peter, having been first directed to annul this law, is sent to Cornelius.(3)

But if any one should say, "How then, while saying to His disciples, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles,"(4) doth He Himself admit her?" first, this would be our reply, that what He enjoined upon His disciples, He was not Himself also tied to; secondly, that not in order to preach did He depart; which indeed Mark likewise intimating said, He even hid Himself, yet was not concealed.

For as His not hastening to them first was a part of the regular course of His proceedings, so to drive them away when coming to Him was unworthy of His love to man. For if the flying ought to be pursued, much more ought the pursuing not to be avoided.

See at any rate how worthy this woman is of every benefit. For she durst not even come to Jerusalem, fearing, and accounting herself unworthy. For were it not for this, she would have come there, as is evident both from her present earnestness, and from her coming out of her own coasts.

And some also taking it as an allegory say, that when Christ came out of Judea, then the church ventured to approach Him, coming out herself also from her own coasts. For it is said, "Forget thine own people and thy father's house."(5) For both Christ went out of His borders, and the woman out of her borders, and so it became possible for them to fall in with each other: thus He saith, "Behold a woman of Canaan coming out of her own coasts."

The evangelist speaks against the woman, that he may show forth her marvellous act, and celebrate her praise the more. For when thou hearest of a Canaanitish woman, thou shouldest call to mind those wicked nations, who overset from their foundations the very laws of nature. And being reminded of these, consider also the power of Christ's advent. For they who were cast out, that they might not pervert any Jews, these appeared so much better disposed than the Jews, as even to come out of their coasts, and approach Christ; while those were driving Him away, even on His coming unto them.

2. Having then come unto Him, she saith nothing else, but "Have mercy on me," and by her cry brings about them many spectators. For indeed it was a pitiful spectacle to see a woman crying aloud in so great affliction, and that woman a mother, and entreating for a daughter, and for a daughter in such evil case: she not even venturing to bring into the Master's sight her that was possessed, but leaving her to lie at home, and herself making the entreaty.

And she tells her affliction only, and adds nothing more; neither doth she drag the physician to her house, like that nobleman, saying, "Come and lay thy hand upon her," and, "Come down ere my child die."(6)

But having described both her calamity, and the intensity of the disease, she pleads the Lord's mercy, and cries aloud; and she saith not, "Have mercy on my daughter," but, "Have mercy on me." For she indeed is insensible of her disease, but it is I that suffer her innumerable woes; my disease is with consciousness, my madness with perception of itself.

2. "But He answered her not a word."(7)

What is this new and strange thing? the Jews in their perverseness He leads on, and blaspheming He entreats them, and tempting Him He dismisses them not; but to her, running unto Him, and entreating, and beseeching Him, to her who had been educated neither in the law, nor in the prophets, and was exhibiting so great reverence; to her He doth not vouchsafe so much as an answer.

Whom would not this have offended, seeing the facts so opposite to the report? For whereas they had heard, that He went about the villages healing, her, when she had come to Him, He utterly repels. And who would not have been moved by her affliction, and by the supplication she made for her daughter in such evil case? For not as one worthy, nor as demanding a due, not so did she approach Him, but she entreated that she might find mercy, and merely gave a lamentable account of her own affliction; yet is she not counted worthy of so much as an answer.

Perhaps many of the hearers were offended, but she was not offended. And why say I, of the hearers? For I suppose that even the very disciples must have been in some degree affected at the woman's affliction, and have been greatly troubled, and out of heart.

Nevertheless not even in this trouble did they venture to say, "Grant her this favor," but, "His disciples came and besought Him, saying, Send her away, for she crieth after us." For we too, when we wish to persuade any one, oftentimes say the contrary.

But Christ saith, "I am not sent, but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel."(1)

What then did the woman, after she heard this? Was she silent, and did she desist? or did she relax her earnestness? By no means, but she was the more instant. But it is not so with us; rather, when we fail to obtain, we desist; whereas it ought to make us the more urgent.

And yet, who would not have been driven to perplexity by the word which was then spoken? Why His silence were enough to drive her to despair, but His answer did so very much more. For together with herself, to see them also in utter perplexity that were pleading with her, and to hear that the thing is even impossible to be done, was enough to cast her into unspeakable perplexity.

Yet nevertheless the woman was not perplexed, but on seeing her advocates prevail nothing, she made herself shameless with a goodly shamelessness.

For whereas before this she had not ventured so much as to come in sight (for "she crieth," it is said, "after us"), when one might expect that she should rather depart further off in utter despair, at that very time she comes nearer, and worships, saying, "Lord, help me."(2)

What is this, O woman? Hast thou then greater confidence than the apostles? more abundant strength? "Confidence and strength," saith she, "by no means; nay, I am even full of shame. Yet nevertheless my very shamelessness do I put forward for entreaty; He will respect my confidence." And what is this? Heardest thou not Him saying, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel? "I heard," saith she, "but He Himself is Lord." Wherefore neither did she say, "Entreat and beseech," but, "Help me."

3. What then saith Christ? Not even with all this was He satisfied, but He makes her perplexity yet more intense again, saying,

"It is not meet to take the children's bread and to cast it to the dogs."(3)

And when He vouchsafed her a word, then He smote her more sharply than by His silence. And no longer doth He refer the cause to another, nor say, "I am not sent," but the more urgent she makes her entreaty, so much the more doth He also urge His denial. And He calls them no longer "sheep," but "children," and her "a dog."

What then saith the woman? Out of His own very words she frames her plea. "Why, though I be a dog," said she, "I am not an alien."

Justly did Christ say, "For judgment am I come."(4) The woman practises high self-command, and shows forth all endurance and faith, and this, receiving insult; but they, courted and honored, requite it with the contrary.

For, "that food is necessary for the children," saith she, "I also know; yet neither am I forbidden, being a dog. For were it unlawful to receive, neither would it be lawful to partake of the crumbs; but if, though in scanty measure, they ought to be partakers, neither am I forbidden, though I be a dog; nay, rather on this ground am I most surely a partaker, if I am a dog."

With this intent did Christ put her off, for He knew she would say this; for this did He deny the grant, that He might exhibit her high self-command.

For if He had not meant to give, neither would He have given afterwards, nor would He have stopped her mouth again. But as He doth in the case of the centurion, saying, "I will come and heal him,"(5) that we might learn the godly fear of that man, and might hear him say, "I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof;"(1) and as He doth in the case of her that had the issue of blood, saying, "I perceive that virtue hath gone out of me,"(2) that He might make her faith manifest; and as in the case of the Samaritan woman, that He might show how not even upon reproof she desists:(3) so also here, He would not that so great virtue in the woman should be hid. Not in insult then were His words spoken, but calling her forth, and revealing the treasure laid up in her.

But do thou, I pray thee, together with her faith see also her humility. For He had called the Jews "children," but she was not satisfied with this, but even called them "masters;" so far was she from grieving at the praises of others.

"Why, the dogs also,"(4) saith she, "eat of the crumbs that fall from their master's table."(5)

Seest thou the woman's wisdom, how she did not venture so much as to say a word against it, nor was stung by other men's praises, nor was indignant at the reproach? Seest thou her constancy? He said, "It is not meet," and she said, "Truth, Lord;" He called them "children," but she "masters;" He used the name of a dog, but she added also the dog's act. Seest thou this woman's humility?

Hear the proud language of the Jews. "We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man;"(6) and, "We be born of God."(7) But not so this woman, rather she calls herself a dog, and them masters; so for this she became a child. What then saith Christ? "O woman, great is thy faith."(8)

Yea, therefore did He put her off, that He might proclaim aloud this saying, that He might crown the woman.

"Be it unto thee even as thou wilt." Now what He saith is like this: "Thy faith indeed is able to effect even greater things than these; nevertheless, Be it unto thee even as thou wilt."

This was akin to that voice that said, "Let the Heaven be, and it was."(9)

"And her daughter was made whole from that very hour."

Seest thou how this woman too contributed not a little to the healing of her daughter? For to this purpose neither did Christ say, "Let thy little daughter be made whole," but, "Great is thy faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt;" to teach thee that the words were not used at random, nor were they flattering words, but great was the power of her faith.

The certain test, however, and demonstration thereof, He left to the issue of events. Her daughter accordingly was straightway healed.

But mark thou, I pray thee, how when the apostles had failed, and had not succeeded, this woman had success. So great a thing is assiduity in prayer. Yea, He had even rather be solicited by us, guilty as we are, for those who belong to us, than by others in our behalf. And yet they had more liberty to speak; but she exhibited much endurance.

And by the issue He also excused Himself to His disciples for the delay, and showed that with reason He had not assented to their request.

4. "And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into the mountain, and sat down there. And great multitudes came unto Him, having with them those that were lame, blind, maimed, dumb; and cast them(10) at His feet; and He healed them, insomuch that the multitudes wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see, and they glorified the God of Israel."(11)

Now He goes about Himself, now sits awaiting the diseased, and hath the lame brought up unto the mountain. And no longer do they touch so much as His garment, but advance a higher step, being cast at His feet: and they showed their faith doubly, first, by going up into the mountain though lame, then by wanting nothing else but to be cast at His feet only.

And great was the marvel and strange, to see them that were carried walking, the blind needing not any to lead them by the hand. Yea, both the multitude of the healed, and the facility of their cure amazed them.

Seest thou, how the woman indeed He healed with so much delay, but these immediately? not because these are better than she is, but because she is more faithful than they. Therefore, while in her case He defers and delays, to manifest her constancy; on these He bestows the gift immediately, stopping the mouths of the unbelieving Jews, and cutting away from them every plea. For the greater favors one hath received, so much the more is he liable to punishment, if he be insensible, and the very honor make him no better. Therefore you see the rich also proving wicked, are more punished than the poor, for not being softened even by their prosperity. For tell me not that they gave alms. Since if they gave not in proportion to their substance, not even so shall they escape; our alms being judged not by the measure of our gifts, but by the largeness(1) of our mind. But if these suffer punishment, much more they that are eager about unnecessary things; who build houses of two and three stories, but despise the hungry; who give heed to covetousness, but neglect alms-giving.

5. But since the discourse hath fallen on almsgiving, come then, let us resume again to-day that argument, which I was making three days ago concerning benevolence, and left unfinished. Ye remember, when lately I was speaking of vanity about your shoes, and of that empty trouble, and the luxury of the young, that it was from almsgiving that our discourse passed on to those charges against you. What were the matters then at that time brought forward? That almsgiving is a kind of art, having its workshop in Heaven, and for its teacher, not man, but God. Then inquiring what is an art, and what not an art, we came upon fruitless labors, and evil devices, amongst which we made mention also of this art concerning men's shoes.

Have ye then recalled it to mind? Come now, let us to-day also resume what we then said, and let us show how almsgiving is an art, and better than all arts. For if the peculiarity of art is to issue in something useful, and nothing is more useful than almsgiving, very evidently this is both an art, and better than all arts. For it makes for us not shoes, nor doth it weave garments, nor build houses that are of clay; but it procures life everlasting, and snatches us from the hands of death, and in either life shows us glorious, and builds the mansions that are in Heaven, and those eternal tabernacles.

This suffers not our lamps to go out, nor that we should appear at the marriage having filthy garments, but washes them, and renders them purer than snow. "For though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow."(2) It suffers us not to fall, where that rich man fell, nor to hear those fearful words, but it leads us into the bosom of Abraham.

And indeed of the arts of this life, each severally takes and keeps one good work; as agriculture the feeding us; weaving the clothing us; or rather not so much as this; for it is in no wise sufficient alone to contribute to us its own part. And, if thou wilt, let us try agriculture first. Why, if it hath not the smith's art, that it may borrow from it spade, and ploughshare, and sickle, and axe, and other things besides; and that of the carpenter, so as both to frame a plough, and to prepare a yoke and a cart to bruise the ears; and the currier's, to make also the leathern harness; and the builder's, to build a stable for the bullocks that plough, and houses for the husbandmen that sow; and the woodman's, to cut wood; and the baker's after all these, it is found nowhere.

So also the art of weaving, when it produces anything, calls many arts, together with itself, to assist it in the works set before it; and if they be not present and stretch forth the hand, this too stands, like the former, at a loss. And indeed every one of the arts stands in need of the other.

But when alms is to be given, we want nothing else, but the disposition only is required. And if thou say that money is needed, and houses and clothes and shoes; read those words of Christ, which He spake concerning the widow,(3) and cease from this anxiety. For though thou be exceedingly poor, and of them that beg, if thou cast in two mites, thou hast effected all; though thou give but a barley cake, having only this, thou art arrived at the end of the art.

This science then let us receive, and bring to perfection. For truly it is a better thing to know this, than to be a king, and to wear a diadem. For this is not its only advantage, that it needs not other things, but it is also able to accomplish a variety of objects, both many and of all kinds. Thus, it both builds houses that continue forever in Heaven; and teaches them that have brought it to perfection, how they may escape the never-dying death; and bestows on thee treasures that are never spent, but escape all injury, both from robbers, and from worms, and from moths, and from time.

And yet, were it but for the preservation of wheat that any one had taught thee this, what wouldest thou not have given, to be able to preserve thy grain unconsumed for many years? But behold, this teaches thee the same not concerning wheat only, but concerning all things, and shows how both thy goods and thy soul and thy body may remain unconsumed.

And why should we rehearse particularly all the good effects of this art? For this teaches thee how thou mayest become like God, which is the sum of all good things whatsoever.

Seest thou how the work thereof is not one, but many? Without needing any other art, it builds houses, it weaves garments, it stores up treasures which cannot be taken from us, it makes us get the better of death, and prevail over the devil; it renders us like God.

What now can be more profitable than this art? For while the other arts, as well as what I have mentioned, both end with our present life, and when the artists are diseased, are found nowhere; and their works have no power to endure, and they need much labor and time, and innumerable other things; this one, when the world hath passed away, then it becomes more than ever conspicuous; when we are dead, then it shines out brighter than ever, and exhibits the works which it hath accomplished. And neither time nor labor, nor any such travail, doth it need; but is active even in thy sickness, and in thine old age, and migrates with thee into the life to come, and never forsakes thee. This makes thee to surpass in ability both sophists and rhetoricians. For such as are approved in those arts have many to envy them, but they who shine in this have thousands to pray for them. And those indeed stand at men's judgment seat, pleading for them that are wronged, and often too for them that do wrong; but this virtue stands by the judgment seat of Christ, not only pleading, but persuading the judge Himself to plead for him that is judged, and to give sentence in his favor: though his sins have been very many, almsgiving doth both crown and proclaim him. For "give alms, and all things shall be clean."(1)

And why do I speak of the things to come? Since in our present life, should we ask men which they would rather, that there should be many sophists and rhetoricians, or many that give alms, and love their fellow men, thou wilt hear them choose the latter; and very reasonably. For if oratory were taken away, our life will be nothing the worse; for indeed even before this, it had continued a long time; but if thou take away the showing of mercy, all is lost and undone. And as men could not sail on the sea, if harbors and roadsteads were blocked up; so neither could this life hold together, if thou take away mercy, and compassion, and love to man.

6. Therefore God hath not at all left them to reasoning only, but many parts thereof He hath implanted by the absolute power of nature herself. Thus do fathers pity children, thus mothers, thus children parents; and not in the case of men only, but of all the brutes also; thus brothers pity brothers, and kinsmen, and connexions; thus man pities man. For we have somewhat even from nature prone to mercy.

Therefore also we feel indignation in behalf of them that are wronged, and seeing men killed we are overcome, and beholding them as they mourn, we weep. For because it is God's will that it should be very perfectly performed, He commanded nature to contribute much hereunto, signifying that this is exceedingly the object of His care.

Considering then these things, let us bring both ourselves and our children and them that pertain to us unto the school of mercy, and this above all things let man learn, since even this is man. "For a man is a great thing, and a merciful man a precious thing;"(2) so that unless one hath this, one hath fallen away even from being a man. This renders them wise. And why marvel at this being man? This is God. For, "be ye," saith He, "merciful as your Father?"(3)

Let us learn therefore to be merciful on all accounts, but chiefly, because we too need much mercy. And let us reckon ourselves as not even living, at such time as we are not showing mercy. But by mercy, I mean that which is free from covetousness. For if he that is contented with his own, and imparts to no man, is not merciful, how is he that takes the goods of other men merciful, though he give without limit? For if merely to enjoy one's own be inhumanity, much more to defraud others. If they that have done no wrong are punished, because they imparted not, much more they, who even take what is others.

Say not therefore this, "One is injured, another receives mercy." For this is the grievous thing. Since it were meet that the injured should be the same with the receiver of the mercy: but now, while wounding some, thou art healing them whom thou hast not wounded, when thou oughtest to heal the same; or rather not so much as to wound them. For he is not humane who smites and heals, but he that heals such as have been smitten by others. Heal therefore thine own evil acts, not another's; or rather do not smite at all, nor cast down (for this is the conduct of a mocker), but raise up them that are cast down.

For neither is it possible by the same measure of almsgiving to cure the evil result of covetousness. For if thou hast unjustly gotten a farthing, it is not a farthing that thou needest again for almsgiving, to remove the sin that comes of thine unjust gain, but a talent. Therefore the thief being taken pays fourfold, but he that spoils by violence is worse than he that steals. And if this last ought to give fourfold(1) what he stole, the extortioner should give tenfold and much more; and it is much if even so he can make atonement for his injustice; for of almsgiving not even then will he receive the reward. Therefore saith Zacchaeus, "I will restore what I have taken by false accusation fourfold, and the half of my goods I will give to the poor."(2) And if under the law one ought to give fourfold, much more under grace; if he that steals, much more he that spoils by violence. For besides the damage, in this case the in-suit too is great. So that even if thou give an hundredfold, thou hast not yet given the whole.

Seest thou how not without cause I said, If thou take but a farthing by violence, and pay back a talent, scarcely even so dost thou remedy it? But if scarcely by doing this; when thou reversest the order, and hast taken by violence whole fortunes, yet bestowest but little, and not to them either that have been wronged, but to others in their stead; what kind of plea wilt thou have? what favor? what hope of salvation?

Wouldest thou learn how bad a deed thou doest in so giving alms? Hear the Scripture that saith, "As one that killeth the son before his father's eyes, so is he that bringeth a sacrifice of the goods of the poor."(3)

This denunciation then let us write in our minds before we depart, this let us write on our walls, this on our hands, this in our conscience, this everywhere; that at least the fear of it being vigorous in our minds, may restrain our hands from daily murders. For extortion is a more grievous thing than murder, consuming the poor man by little and little.

In order then that we may be pure from this pollution, let us exercise ourselves in these thoughts, both by ourselves and to one another. For so shall we both be more forward to show mercy, and receive undiminished the reward for it, and enjoy the eternal good things, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ; to whom be glory and might with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, now and always, and world without end. Amen.

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