HOMILIES OF
ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
ON THE GOSPEL
ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN
HOMILIES LXXXVI TO LXXXVIII (JOHN 20 & 21)

HOMILY LXXXVI.

JOHN xx. 10, 11.

"Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. But Mary stood without at the sepulcher, weeping."

[ 1.] FULL of feeling somehow is the female sex, and more(1) inclined to pity. I say this, lest thou shouldest wonder how it could be that Mary wept bitterly at the tomb, while Peter was in no way so affected. For, "The disciples," it saith, "went away unto their own home"; but she stood shedding tears. Because hers was a feeble nature, and she as yet knew not accurately the account of the Resurrection; whereas they having seen the linen clothes and believed, departed to their own homes in astonishment. And wherefore went they not straightway to Galilee, as had been commanded them before the Passion? They waited for the others, perhaps, and besides they were yet at the height of their amazement. These then went their way: but she stood at the place, for, as I have said, even the sight of the tomb tended greatly to comfort her. At any rate, thou seest her, the more to ease her grief, stooping down,(2) and desiring to behold the place where the body lay. And therefore she received no small reward for this her great zeal. For what the disciples saw not, this saw the woman first, Angels(3) sitting, the one at the feet, the other at the head, in white; even the dress(4) was full of much radiance(5) and joy. Since the mind of the woman was not sufficiently elevated to accept the Resurrection from the proof of the napkins, something more takes place, she beholdeth something more; Angels sitting in shining garments, so as to raise her thus awhile from her passionate sorrow, and to comfort her. But they said nothing to her concerning the Resurrection, yet is she gently led forward in this doctrine. She saw countenances bright and unusual; she saw shining garments, she heard a sympathizing voice. For what saith (the Angel)?

Ver. 13. "Woman, why weepest thou?"

By all these circumstances, as though a door was being opened for her, she was led by little and little to the knowledge of the Resurrection. And the manner of their sitting invited her to question them, for they showed that they knew what had taken place; on which account they did not sit together either, but apart from one another. For because it was not likely that she would dare at once to question them, both by questioning her, and by the manner of their sitting, they bring her to converse. What then saith she?She speaks very warmly and affectionately;

"They(6) have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him."

"What sayest thou? Knowest thou not yet anything concerning the Resurrection, but dost thou still form fancies about His being laid 7?" Seest thou how she had not yet received the sublime doctrine?

Ver. 14. "And when she had thus said, she turned herself back."(8)

And by what kind of consequence is it, that she having spoken to them, and not having yet heard anything from them, turned back? Me-thinks that while she was speaking, Christ suddenly appearing behind her, struck the Angels with awe; and that they having beheld their Ruler,(9) showed immediately by their bearing, their look, their movements, that they saw the Lord;(10) and this drew the woman's attention, and caused her to turn herself backwards. To them then He appeared on this wise, but not so to the woman, in order not at the first sight to terrify her, but in a meaner and ordinary form, as is clear from her supposing that He was the gardener. It was meet to lead one of so lowly a mind to high matters, not all at once, but gently. He therefore in turn asketh her,

Ver. 15. "Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?"

This showed that He knew what she wished to ask, and led her to make answer. And the woman, understanding this, doth not again mention the name of Jesus, but as though her questioner knew the subject of her enquiry replies,

"Sir,(11) if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away."

Again she speaks of laying down, and taking away, and carrying, as though speaking of a corpse. But her meaning is this; "If ye have borne him hence for fear of the Jews, tell me, and I will take him." Great is the kindness and loving affection of the woman, but as yet there is nothing lofty with her.(1) Wherefore He now setteth the matter before her, not by appearance, but by Voice. For as He was at one time known to the Jews, and at another time unperceived(2) though present; so too in speaking, He, when He chose, then made Himself known; as also when He said to the Jews, "Whom seek ye?" they knew neither the Countenance nor the Voice until He chose. And this was the case here. And He named her name only,(3) reproaching and blaming her that she entertained such fancies concerning One who lived. But how was it that,

Ver. 16. "She turned herself, and saith,"(4) if so be that He was speaking to her? It seems to me, that after having said, "Where have ye laid him?" she turned to the Angels to ask why they were astonished, and that then Christ, by calling her by name, turned her to Himself from them, and revealed Himself by His Voice; for when He called her "Mary," then she knew Him; so that the recognition was not by His appearance, but by His Voice. And if any say, "Whence is it clear that the Angels were awestruck, and that on this account the woman turned herself," they will in this place say, "whence is it clear that she would have touched Him, and fallen at His feet?" Now as this is clear from His saying, "Touch Me not," so is the other clear from its saying, that she turnedherself. But wherefore, said He,

Ver. 17. "Touch Me not"?

[5.] Some assert, that she asked for spiritual grace, because she had heard Him when with the disciples say, "If I go to the Father, 'I will ask Him, and He shall give you another Comforter.'" (c. xiv. 3, 16.) But how could she who was not present with the disciples have heard this? Besides, such an imagination is far from the meaning here. And how should she ask, when He had not yet gone to the Father? What then is the sense? Methinks that she wished still to converse with Him as before, and that in her joy she perceived nothing great in Him, although He had become far more excellent in the Flesh. To lead her therefore from this idea, and that she might speak to Him with much awe, (for neither with the disciples doth He henceforth appear so familiar as before,) He raiseth her thoughts, that she should give more reverent heed to Him. To have said, "Approach Me not as ye did before, for matters are not in the same state, nor shall I henceforth be with you in the same way," would have been harsh and high-sounding; but the saying,

"I am not yet ascended to the(5) Father," though not painful to hear, was the saying of One declaring the same thing. For by saying, "I am not yet ascended," He showeth that He hasteth and presseth thither; and that it was not meet that One about to depart thither, and no longer to converse with men, should be looked on with the same feelings as before. And the sequel shows that this is the case.

"Go and say unto the brethren, that I go(6) unto My Father, and your Father, unto My God and your God."

Yet He was not about to do so immediately, but after forty days. How then saith He this? With a desire to raise their minds, and to persuade them that He departeth into the heavens. But the, "To My Father and your Father, to My God, and your God," belongs to the Dispensation,(7) since the "ascending" also belongs to His Flesh. For He speaketh these words to one who had no high thoughts. "Is then the Father His in one way, and ours in another?" Assuredly then He is. For if He is God of the righteous in a manner different from that in which He is God of other men, much more in the case of the Son and us. For because He had said, "Say to the brethren," in order that they might not imagine any equality from this, He showed the difference. He was about to sit on His Father's throne, but they to stand by.(8) So that albeit in His Subsistence according to the Flesh He became our Brother, yet in Honor He greatly differed from(9) us, it cannot even be told how much.

Ver. 18. "She therefore departeth, beating these tidings to the disciples."(10)

So great a good is perseverance and endurance. But how was it that they did not any more grieve when He was about to depart, nor speak as they had done before? At that time they were affected in such a way, as supposing that He was about to die; but now that He was risen again, what reason had they to grieve? Moreover, Mary reported His appearance and His words, which were enough to comfort them. Since then it was likely that the disciples on hearing these things would either not believe the woman, or, believing, would grieve that He had not deemed them worthy of the vision, though He promised to meet them in Galilee; in order that they might not by dwelling on this be unsettled,(11) He let not a single day pass, but having brought them to a state of longing, by their knowledge that He was risen, and by what they heard from the woman, when they were thirsting to see Him, and were greatly afraid, (which thing itself especially made their yearning greater,) He then, when it was evening, presented(1) Himself before them, and that very marvelously.(2) And why did He appear in the "evening"? Because it was probable that they would then especially be very fearful. But the marvel was, why they did not suppose Him to be an apparition; for He entered, "when the doors were shut," and suddenly. The chief cause was, that the woman beforehand had wrought great faith in them; besides, He showed His countenance to them dear and mild. He came not by day, in order that all might be collected together. For great was the amazement; for neither did He knock at the door but all at once stood in the midst, and showed His side and His hands.(3) At the same time also by His Voice He smoothed their tossing thought, by saying,

Ver. 19. "Peace be unto you."

That is, "Be not troubled"; at the same time reminding them of the word which He spake to them before the Crucifixion, "My peace I leave(4) unto you" (c. xiv. 27); and again, "In me ye have(5) peace, but" "in the world ye shall havetribulation." (c. xvi. 33.)

Ver. 20. "Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord."

Seest thou the words issuing in deeds? For what He said before the Crucifixion, that "I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you" (c. xvi. 22), this He now(6) accomplished in deed; but all these things led them to a most exact faith. For since they had a truceless war with the Jews, He continually repeated the, "Peace be unto you,"(7) giving them, to counterbalance the war, the consolation. And so this was the first word that He spake to them after the Resurrection, (wherefore also Paul continually saith, "Grace be unto you and peace,") and to women He giveth good tidings of joy,(8) because that sex was in sorrow, and had received this as the first curse. Therefore He giveth good tidings suitable respectively, to men, peace, because of their war; joy to women, because of their sorrow. Then having put away all painful things, He telleth of the successes(9) of the Cross, and these were the "peace." "Since then all hindrances have been removed," He saith, "and I have made My(10) victory glorious, and all hath been achieved," (then He saith afterwards,)

Ver. 21. "As My Father hath sent Me, so send I you."

"Ye have no difficulty, owing to what hath already come to pass, and to the dignity of Me who send you." Here He lifteth up their souls, and showeth them their great cause of confidence, if so be that they were about to undertake His work. And no longer is an appeal made to the Father, but with authority He giveth to them the power. For,

Ver. 22, 23. "He breathed on them, and said,(11) Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained."

As a king sending forth governors, gives power to east(12) into prison and to deliver from it, so in sending these forth, Christ investeth them with the same power. But how saith He, "If I go not away, He(13) will not come" (c. xvi. 7), and yet giveth them the Spirit? Some say that He gave not the Spirit, but rendered them fit to receive It, by breathing on them. For if Daniel when he saw an Angel was afraid, what would not they have suffered when they received that unspeakable Gift, unless He had first made them learners? Wherefore He said not, "Ye have received the Holy Ghost," but, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." Yet one will not be wrong in asserting that they then also received some spiritual power and grace; not so as to raise the dead, or to work miracles, but so as to remit sins. For the gifts of the Spirit are of different kinds; wherefore He added, "Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them," showing what kind of power He was giving. But in the other case,(14) after forty(15) days, they received the power of working miracles. Wherefore He saith, "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come(16) upon you, and ye shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea." (Acts i. 8.) And witnesses they became by means of miracles, for unspeakable is the grace of the Spirit and multiform the gift. But this comes to pass, that thou mayest learn that the gift and the power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, is One. For things which appear to be peculiar to the Father, these are seen also to belong to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. "How then," saith some one, "doth none come to the Son, 'except the Father draw him'?" (c. vi. 44.) Why, this very thing is shown to belong to the Son also. "I," He saith, "am the Way: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me." (c. xiv. 6.) And observe that it belongeth to the Spirit also; for "No man can call Jesus Christ Lord,(1) but by the Holy Ghost." (1 Cor. xii. 3.) Again, we see that the Apostles were given to the Church at one time by the Father, at another by the Son, at another by the Holy Ghost, and that the "diversities of gifts" (1 Cor. xii. 4) belong to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

[4.] Let us then do all we can to have the Holy Spirit with ourselves, and let us treat with much honor those into whose hands its operation hath been committed. For great is the dignity of the priests. "Whosesoever sins," it saith, "ye remit, they are remitted unto them"; wherefore also Paul saith, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves." (Heb. xiii. 17.) And hold them very exceedingly in honor; for thou indeed carest about thine own affairs, and if thou orderest them well, thou givest(2) no account for others, but the priest even if he rightly order his own life, if he have not an anxious care for thine, yea and that of all those around him, will depart with the wicked into hell; and often when not betrayed by his own conduct, he perishes by yours, if he have not rightly performed all his part. Knowing therefore the greatness of the danger, give them a large share of your goodwill; which Paul also implied when he said, "For they watch for your souls," and not simply so, but, "as they that shall give account." (Heb. xiii. 17.) They ought therefore to receive great attention from you; but if you join with the rest in trampling upon them, then neither shall your affairs be in a good condition. For while the steersman continues in good courage, the crew also will be in safety; but if he be tired out by their reviling him and showing ill-will against him, he cannot watch equally well, or retain his skill, and without intending it, throws them into ten thousand mischiefs. And so too the priest, if he enjoy honor(3) from you, will be able well to order your affairs; but if ye throw them into despondency, ye weaken their hands, and render them, as well as yourselves, an easy prey to the waves, although they be very courageous. Consider what Christ saith concerning the Jews. "The Scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; all therefore whatsoever they bid(4) you to do, do ye." (Matt. xxiii. 2, 3.) Now we have not to say, "the priests sit on Moses' seat," but "on that of Christ"; for they have successively received His doctrine. Wherefore also Paul saith, "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us." (2 Cor. v. 20.) See ye not that in the case of Gentile rulers, all bow to them, and oftentimes even persons superior in family, in life, in intelligence, to those who judge them? yet still because of him who hath given them, they consider none of these things, but respect the decision of their governor, whosoever he be that receives the rule over them. Is there then such fear when man appoints, but when God appointeth do we despise him who is appointed, and abuse him, and besmirch him with ten thousand reproaches, and though forbidden to judge our brethren, do we sharpen our tongue against our priests? And how can this deserve excuse, when we see not the beam in our own eye, but are bitterly over-curious about the mote in another's? Knowest thou not that by so judging thou makest thine own judgment the harder? And this I say not as approving of those who exercise their priesthood unworthily, but as greatly pitying and weeping for them; yet do I not on this account allow that it is right that they should be judged by those over whom they are set.(5) And although their life be very much spoken against, thou, if thou take heed to thyself, wilt not be harmed at all(6) in respect of the things committed to them(7) by God. For if He caused a voice to be uttered by an ass, and bestowed spiritual blessings by a diviner, working by the foolish mouth and impure tongue of Balsam, in behalf of the offending Jews, much more for the sake of you the right-minded(8) will He, though the priests be exceedingly vile, work all the things that are His, and will send the Holy Ghost. For neither doth the pure draw down that Spirit by his own purity, but it is grace that worketh all. "For all," it saith, "is for your sake,(9) whether it be Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas." (1 Cor. iii. 25, 23.) For the things which are placed in the hands of the priest it is with God alone to give; and however far human wisdom may reach, it will appear inferior to that grace. And this I say, not in order that we may order our own life carelessly, but that when some of those set over you are careless livers, you the ruled may not often heap up evil for yourselves. But why speak I of priests? Neither Angel nor Archangel can do anything with regard to what is given from God; but the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, dispenseth all, while the priest lends his tongue and affords his hand. For neither would it be just that through the wickedness of another, those who come in faith to the symbols of their salvation should be harmed. Knowing all these things, let us fear God, and hold His priests in honor, paying them all reverence; that both for our own good deeds, and the attention shown to them, we may receive a great return from God, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, dominion, and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

HOMILY LXXXVII.

JOHN xx. 24, 25.

"But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said, Except I shall see in His hands(1)--I will not believe."

[1.] As to believe carelessly and in a random way, comes of an over-easy temper; so to be beyond measure curious and meddlesome, marks a most gross understanding. On this account Thomas is held to blame. For he believed not the Apostles when they said, "We have seen the Lord"; not so much mistrusting them, as deeming the thing to be impossible, that is to say, the resurrection from the dead. Since he saith not, "I do not believe you," but, "Except I put my hand--I do not(2) believe." But how was it, that when all were collected together, he alone was absent? Probably after the dispersion which had lately taken place, he had not returned even then. But do thou, when thou seest the unbelief of the disciple, consider the lovingkindness of the Lord, how for the sake of a single soul He showed Himself with His wounds, and cometh in order to save even the one, though he was grosser than the rest; on which account indeed he sought proof from the grossest of the senses, and would not even trust his eyes. For he said not, "Except I see," but, "Except I handle," he saith, lest what he saw might somehow be an apparition. Yet the disciples who told him these things, were at the time worthy of credit, and so was He that promised; yet, since he desired more, Christ did not deprive him even of this.

And why doth He not appear to him straightway, instead of" after eight days"?(3) (Ver. 26.) In order that being in the mean time continually instructed by the disciples, and hearing the same thing, he might be inflamed to more eager desire, and be more ready to believe for the future. But whence knew he that His side had been opened? From having heard it from the disciples. How then did he believe partly, and partly not believe? Because this thing was very strange and wonderful. But observe, I pray you, the truthfulness of the disciples, how they hide no faults, either their own or others', but record them with great veracity.

Jesus again presenteth himself to them, and waiteth not to be requested by Thomas, nor to hear any such thing, but before he had spoken, Himself prevented him, and fulfilled his desire; showing that even when he spake those words to the disciples, He was present. For He used the same words, and in a manner conveying a sharp rebuke, and instruction for the future. For having said,

Ver. 26. "Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side"; He added,

"And be not faithless, but believing."

Seest thou that his doubt proceeded from unbelief? But it was before he had received the Spirit; after that, it was no longer so, but, for the future, they were perfected.

And not in this way only did Jesus rebuke him, but also by what follows; for when he, being fully satisfied, breathed again, and cried aloud,

Ver. 28. "My Lord, and my God," He saith,

Ver. 29. "Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed; blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed."

For this is of faith, to receive things not seen; since," Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Heb. xi. 1.) And here He pronounceth blessed not the disciples only, but those also who after them should believe. "Yet," saith some one, "the disciples saw and believed." Yes, but they sought nothing of the kind, but from the proof of the napkins, they straightway received the word concerning the Resurrection, and before they saw the body, exhibited all faith. When therefore any one in the present day say, "I would that I had lived in those times, and had seen Christ working miracles," let them reflect, that, "Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed."

It is worth enquiring, how an incorruptible body showed the prints of the nails, and was tangible by a mortal hand. But be not thou disturbed; what took place was a matter of condescension. For that which was so subtle and light as to enter in when the doors were shut, was free from all density(1); but this marvel was shown, that the Resurrection might be believed, and that men might know that it was the Crucified One Himself, and that another rose not in His stead. On this account He arose(2) bearing the signs of the Cross, and on this account He eateth. At least the Apostles everywhere made this a sign of the Resurrection, saying, "We, who did eat and drink with Him." (Acts x. 41.) As therefore when we see Him walking on the waves before the Crucifixion, we do not say, that that body is of a different nature, but of our own; so after the Resurrection, when we see Him with the prints of the nails, we will no more say, that he is therefore(3) corruptible. For He exhibited these appearances on account of the disciple.

Ver. 30. "And many other signs truly did Jesus."

[2.] Since this Evangelist hath mentioned fewer than the others, he tells us that neither have all the others mentioned them all, but as many as were sufficient to draw the hearers to belief. For, "If," it saith, "they should be written every' one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books." (c. xxi. 25.) Whence it is clear, that What they have mentioned they wrote not for display, but only for the sake of what was useful. For how could they who omitted the greater part, write these others(4) for display? But why went they not through them all? Chiefly on account of their number; besides, they also considered, that he who believed not those they had mentioned, would not give heed to a greater number; while he who received these, would have no need of another in order to believe. And here too he seems to me to be for the time speaking of the miracles after the Resurrection. Wherefore He saith,

"In the presence of His disciples."(5)

For as before the Resurrection it was necessary that many should be done, in order that they might believe that He was the Son of God, so was it also after the Resurrection, in order that they might admit that He had arisen. For another reason also he has added, "In the presence of His disciples," because He conversed with them alone after the Resurrection; wherefore also He said, "The world seeth Me no more." (c. xiv. 19.) Then, in order that thou mayest understand that what was done was done only for the sake of the disciples, he added,

Ver. 31. "That believing ye might have life in His Name."(6)

Speaking generally to mankind, and showing that not on Him who is believed on, but on ourselves, he bestows a very great favor. "In His Name," that is, "through Him"; for He is the Life.

Chap. xxi. Ver. 1. "After these things, Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberins."(7)

Seest thou that He remaineth not with them continually, nor as before? He appeared, for instance, in the evening, and flew away; then after eight days again once, and again flew away; then after these things by the sea, and again with great terror. But what is the, "showed"? From this it is clear that He was not seen unless He condescended, because His body was henceforth incorruptible, and of unmixed purity.(8) But wherefore hath the writer mentioned the place? To show that he had now taken away the greater part of their fear, so that they now ventured forth from their dwelling, and went about everywhere. For they were no longer shut up at home, but had gone into Galilee, avoiding the danger from the Jews. Simon, therefore, comes to fish. For since neither was He with them continually, nor was the Spirit yet given, nor they at that time yet entrusted with anything, having nothing to do, they went after their trade.

Ver. 2. "There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas,(9) and Nathanael,"(10) (he that was called by Philip,) "and the sons of Zebedee, and two others."(11)

Having then nothing to do, they went to their fishing,(12) and this same they did by night, because they were greatly afraid. This Luke also mentions;(13) but this is not the same occasion, but a different one. And the other disciples followed, because they were henceforth bound to one another, and at the same time desired to see the fishing, and to bestow(14) their leisure well. As they then were laboring and wearied, Jesus presenteth Himself before them, and doth not at once reveal Himself, so that they enter into converse with Him. He therefore saith to them,

Ver. 5. "Have ye(15) any meat(16)?"

For a time He speaketh rather after a human manner, as if about to buy somewhat of them. But when they made signs that they had none, He bade them cast their nets to the right; and on casting they obtained a haul.(1) But when they recognized Him, the disciples Peter and John again exhibited the peculiarities of their several tempers. The one was more fervent, the other more lofty; the one more keen, the other more clear-sighted. On this account John first recognized Jesus, Peter first came to Him.(2) For no ordinary signs were they which had taken place. What were they? First, that so many fish were caught; then, that the net did not break;(3) then, that before they landed, the coals had been found, and fish laid thereon, and bread.(4) For He no longer made things out of matter already subsisting, as, through a certain dispensation, He did before the Crucifixion. When therefore Peter knew Him, he threw down all, both fish and nets, and girded himself. Seest thou his respect and love? Yet they were only two hundred cubits off; but not even so could Peter wait to go to Him in the boat, but reached the shore by swimming. What then doth Jesus?

Ver. 12. "Come," He saith, "dine." "And none of them durst ask Him."(5)

For they no longer had the same boldness, nor were they so confident, nor did they now approach Him with speech, but with silence and great fear and reverence, sat down giving heed to Him.

"For they knew that(6) it was the Lord."

And therefore they did not ask Him, "Who art Thou?" But seeing that His form was altered, and full of much awfulness, they were greatly amazed, and desired to ask somewhat concerning it; but fear, and their knowledge that He was not some other, but the Same, checked the enquiry, and they only ate what He created for them(7) with a greater exertion of power than before. For here He no more looketh to heaven, nor performeth those human acts, showing that those also which He did were done by way of condescension. And to show that He remained not with them continually, nor in like manner as before, It saith that,

Ver. 14. "This was the third time that Jesus appeared to them,(8) after that He arose from the dead."

And He biddeth them "to bring of the fish," to show that what they saw was no appearance. But here indeed it saith not that He ate with them, but Luke, in another place, saith that He did; for "He was eating together with them."(9) (Acts i. 4.) But the, "how," it is not ours to say; for these things came to pass in too strange a manner, not as though His nature now needed food, but from an act of condescension, in proof of the Resurrection.

[3.] Perhaps when ye heard these things, ye glowed, and called those happy who were then with Him, and those who shall be with Him at the day of the general Resurrection. Let us then use every exertion that we may see that admirable Face. For if when now we hear we so burn, and desire to have been in those days which He spent upon earth, and to have heard His Voice, and seen His face, and to have approached, and touched, and ministered unto Him; consider how great a thing it is to see Him no longer in a mortal body, nor doing human actions, but with a body guard of Angels, being ourselves also in a form of unmixed purity, and beholding Him, and enjoying the rest of that bliss which passes all language. Wherefore, I entreat, let us use every means, so as not to miss such glory. For nothing is difficult if we be willing, nothing burdensome if we give heed. "If we endure, we shall also reign with Him." (2 Tim. ii. 12.) What then is, "If we endure"? If we bear tribulations, if persecutions, if we walk in the strait way. For the strait way is by its nature laborious, but by our will it is rendered light, from the hope of things to come. "For our present light affliction worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at those which are not seen." (5 Cor. iv. 17, 18.) Let us then transfer our eyes to heaven, and continually imagine "those" things, and behold them. For if we always spend our time. with them, we shall not be moved to desire the pleasures of this world, nor find it hard to bear its sorrows; but we shall laugh at these and the like, and nothing will be able to enslave or lift us up, if only we direct our longing thither,(10) and look to that love.(11) And why say I that we shall not grieve at present troubles? We shall henceforth not even appear to see them. Such a thing is strong desire.(12) Those, for instance, who are not at present with us, but being absent are loved, we image every day. For mighty is the sovereignty of love,(1) it alienates the soul from all things else, and chains to the desired object. If thus we love Christ, all things here will seem to be a shadow, an image, a dream. We too shall say, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress?" (Rom. viii. 35.) He said not, "money, or wealth, or beauty," (these are very mean and contemptible,) but he hath put the things which seem to be grievous, famines, persecutions, deaths. He then spat on these even, as being nought; but we for the sake of money separate ourselves from our life, and cut ourselves off from the light. And Paul indeed prefers "neither death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, nor any other creature," to the love which is towards Him; but we, if we see a little portion of gold, are fired, and trample on His laws. And if these things are intolerable when spoken of, much more are they so when done.(2) For the terrible thing is this, that we shudder to hear, but do not shudder to do: we swear readily, and perjure ourselves, and plunder, and exact usury, care nothing for sobriety, desist from exactness in prayer, transgress most of the commandments, and for the sake of money make no account of our own members.(3) For he that loves wealth will work ten thousand mischiefs to his neighbor, and to himself as well. He will easily be angry with him, and revile him, and call him fool, and swear and perjure himgelf, and does not(4) even preserve the measures of the old law. For he that loves gold will not love his neighbor; yet we, for the Kingdom's sake, are bidden to love even our enemies. Now if by fulfilling the old commandments, we shall not be able to enter the Kingdom of heaven, unless our righteousness exceed and go beyond them, when we transgress even these, what excuse shall we obtain? He that loves money, not only will not love his enemies, but will even treat his friends as enemies.

[4.] But why speak I of friends? the lovers of money have often ignored nature itself. Such a one knows not kindred, remembers not companionship, reverences not age, has no friend, but will be ill-disposed towards all, and above all others to himself, not only by destroying his soul, but by racking himself with ten thousand cares, and toils, and sorrows. For he will endure foreign travels, hatreds, dangers, plots, anything whatever, only that he may have in his house the root of all evil, and may count much gold. What then can be more grievous than this disease? It is void of any luxury or pleasure, for the sake of which men often sin, it is void of honor or glory. For the lover of money aspects that he has tens of thousands, and really has many, who accuse, and envy, and slander, and plot against him. Those whom he has wronged hate him as having been ill-used; those who have not yet suffered, fearing least they may suffer, and sympathizing with those who have, manifest the same hostility; while the greater and more powerful, being stung and indignant on account of the humbler sort, and at the same time also envying him, are his enemies and haters. And why speak I of men? For when one hath God also made his enemy, what hope shall there then be for him? what consolation? what comfort? He that loves riches will(5) never be able to use them; he will be their slave and keeper, not their master. For, being ever anxious to make them more, he will never be willing to spend them; but he will cut short himself, and be in poorer state than any poor man, as nowhere stopping in his desire. Yet riches are made not that we should keep, but that we should use them; but if we are going to bury them for others, what can be more miserable than we, who run about desiring to get together the possessions of all men,(6) that we may shut them up within, and cut them off from common use? But there is another malady not less than this. Some men bury their money in the earth, others in their bellies, and in pleasure and drunkenness; together with injustice adding to themselves the punishment of wantonness. Some minister with their substance to parasites and flatterers, others to dice and harlots, others to different expenses of the same kind, cutting out for themselves ten thousand roads that lead to hell, but leaving the right and sanctioned road which leads to heaven. And yet it hath not greater gain only, but greater pleasure than the things we have mentioned. For he who gives to harlots is ridiculous and shameful, and will have many quarrels, and brief pleasure; or rather, not even brief, because, give what he will to the women his mistresses, they will not thank him for it; for, "The house of a stranger is a cask with holes." (Prov. xxiii. 27, LXX.) Besides, that sort of persons is impudent,(7) and Solomon hath compared their love to the grave; and then only do they stop, when they see their lover stripped of all. Or rather, such a woman doth not stop even then, but tricks herself out the more, and tramples on him when he is down, and excites much laughter against him, and works him so much mischief, as it is not possible even to describe by words. Not such is the pleasure of the saved; for neither hath any there a rival, but all rejoice and are glad, both they that receive blessings, and they that look on. No anger, no despondency, no shame, no disgrace, besiege the soul of such a one, but great is the gladness of his conscience, and great his hope of things to come; bright his glory, and great his distinction; and more than all is the favor and safety which is from God, and not one precipice, nor suspicion, but a waveless harbor, and calm. Considering therefore all these things, and comparing pleasure with pleasure, let us choose the better,(6) that we may obtain the good things to come, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

HOMILY LXXXVIII.

JOHN xxi. 15.

"So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee."

[1.] There are indeed many other things which are able to give us boldness towards God, and to show us bright and approved, but that which most of all brings good will from on high, is tender care for our neighbor. Which therefore Christ requireth of Peter. For when their eating was ended, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee." "He saith unto him, Feed My sheep."(1)

And why, having passed by the others, doth He speak with Peter on these matters? He was the chosen one of the Apostles, the mouth of the disciples, the leader of the band; on this account also Paul went up upon a time to enquire of him rather than the others. And at the same time to show him that he must now be of good cheer, since the denial was done away,(2) Jesus putteth into his hands the chief authority(3) among the brethren; and He bringeth not forward the denial, nor reproacheth him with what had taken place, but saith, "If thou lovest Me, preside over thy brethren, and the warm love which thou didst ever manifest, and in which thou didst rejoice, show thou now; and the life which thou saidst thou wouldest lay down for Me, now give for My sheep."

When then having been asked once and again, he called Him to witness who knoweth the secrets of the heart,(4) and then was asked even a third time,(5) he was troubled, fearing a repetition of what had happened before, (for then, having been strong in assertion, he was afterwards convicted,) and therefore he again betaketh himself to Him. For the saying,

Ver. 17. "Thou knowest all things," meaneth, "things present, and things to come." Seest thou how he had become better and more sober, being no more self-willed, or contradicting? For on this account he was troubled, "lest perchance I think that I love, and love not, as before when I thought and affirmed much, yet I was convicted at last." But Jesus asketh him the third time, and the third time giveth him the same injunction, to show at what a price He setteth the care(7) of His own sheep, and that this especially is a sign of love towards Him. And having spoken to him concerning the love towards Himself, He foretelleth to him the martyrdom which he should undergo, showing that He said not to Him what he said as distrusting, but as greatly trusting him; wishing besides to point out a proof of love towards Him, and to instruct us in what manner especially we ought to love Him. Wherefore He saith,

Ver. 18. "When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest; but when thou art old, others shall gird thee,(8) and carry thee whither thou wiliest not."

Arid yet this he did will, and desired; on which account also He hath revealed it to him. For since Peter had continually said, "I will lay down my life for Thee" (c. xiii. 37), and, "Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee" (Matt. xxvi. 35): He hath given him back(9) his desire. What then is the, "Whither thou willest not"? He speaketh of natural feeling, and the necessity of(10) the flesh, and that the soul is unwillingly torn away from the body. So that even though the will were firm, yet still even then nature would be found in fault. For no one lays aside the body without feeling, God, as I said before, having suitably ordained this, that violent deaths might not be many. For if, as things are, the devil has been able to effect this, and has led ten thousand to precipices and pits; had not the soul felt such a desire for the body, the many would have rushed to this under any common discouragement. The, "whither thou willest not," is then the expression of one signifying natural feeling.

But how after having said, "When thou wast young," doth He again say, "When thou art old"? For this is the expression of one declaring that he was not then young; (nor was he; nor yet old, but a man of middle age.(1) Wherefore then did He recall to his memory his former life? Signifying, that this is the nature of what belongeth to Him. In things of this life the young man is useful, the old useless; "but in Mine," He saith, "not so; but when old age hath come on, then is excellence brighter, then is manliness more illustrious, being nothing hindered by the time of life." This He said not to terrify, but to rouse Him; for He knew his love, and that he long had yearned for this blessing. At the same time He declareth the kind of death. For since Peter ever desired to be in the dangers which were for His sake, "Be of good cheer," He saith, "I will so satisfy thy desire, that, what thou sufferedst not when young, thou must suffer when thou art old." Then the Evangelist, to rouse the hearer, has added,

Ver. 19. "This spake He, signifying by what death he should glorify God."

He said not, "Should die," but, "Should glorify God," that thou mayest learn, that to suffer for Christ, is glory and honor to the sufferer.

"And when He had spoken this, He saith,(2) Follow Me."

Here again He alludeth to his tender carefulness, and to his being very closely attached to Himself. And if any should say, "How then did James receive the chair at Jerusalem?" I would make this reply, that He appointed Peter(3) teacher, not of the chair, but of the world.

Ver. 20, 21. "Then Peter turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; who also leaned on His breast at supper; and saith,(4) Lord, and what shall this man do?"

[2.] Wherefore hath he reminded us of that reclining? Not without cause or in a chance way, but to show us what boldness Peter had after the denial. For he who then did not dare to question Jesus, but committed the office to another, was even entrusted with the chief authority over the brethren, and not only doth not commit to another what relates to himself, but himself now puts a question to his Master concerning another. John is silent, but Peter speaks. He showeth also here the love which he bare towards him; for Peter greatly loved John, as is clear from what followed, and their close union is shown through the whole Gospel, and in the Acts. When therefore Christ had foretold great things to him, and committed the world to him, and spake beforehand of his martyrdom, and testified that his love was greater than that of the others, desiring to have John also to share with him, he said, "And what shall this man do?" "Shall he not come the same way with us?" And as at that other time not being able himself to ask, he puts John forward, so now desiring to make him a return, and supposing that he would desire to ask about the matters pertaining to himself, but had not courage, he himself undertook the questioning. What then saith Christ?

Ver. 22. "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?"(5)

Since he spake from strong affection, and wishing not to be torn away from him,(6) Christ, to show that however much he might love, he could not go beyond His love, saith, "If I will that he tarry--what is that to thee?" By these words teaching us not to be impatient, nor curious beyond what seemeth good to Him. For because Peter was ever hot, and springing forward to enquiries such as this, to cut short his warmth, and to teach him not to enquire farther, He saith this.

Ver. 23. "Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die; yet Jesus said not(7) that he shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?"

"Do not thou on any account suppose," He saith, "that I order your matters after a single rule." And this He did to withdraw them from(8) their unseasonable sympathy for each other; for since they were about to receive the charge of the world, it was necessary that they should no longer be closely associated together; for assuredly this would have been a great loss to the world. Wherefore He saith unto him, "Thou hast had a work entrusted to thee, look to it, accomplish it, labor and struggle. What if I will that he tarry here? Look thou to and care for thine own matters." And observe, I pray thee, here also the absence of pride in the Evangelist; for having mentioned the opinion of the disciples, he corrects it, as though they had not comprehended what Jesus meant. "Jesus said not," he tells us, "that 'he shall not die, but, If I will that he tarry.'"

Ver. 24. "This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true."

Why is it, that then, when none of the others do so, he alone uses these words, and that for the second time, witnessing to himself? for it seems to be offensive to the hearers. What then is the cause? He is said to have been the last who came to writing, Christ(1) having moved and roused him to the work; and on this account he continually sets forth his love, alluding to the cause by which he was impelled to write. Therefore also he continually makes mention of it, to make his record trustworthy, and to show, that, moved from thence,(2) he came to this work. "And I know," he saith, "that the things are true which he saith. And if the many believe not, it is permitted them to believe from this." "From what?" From that which is said next.

Ver. 25. "There are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written."

"Whence it is clear that I could not have written to court favor; for I who, when the miracles were so many, have not even related so many as the others have, but omitting most of them, have brought forward the plots of the Jews, the stonings, the hatred, the insults, the revilings, and have shown how they called Him a demoniac and a deceiver, certainly could not have acted to gain favor. For it behooved one who courted favor to do the contrary, to reject(3) the reproachful, to set forth the glorious." Since then he wrote what he did from full assurance, he does not decline to produce his own testimony, challenging men separately to enquire into and scrutinize the circumstances. For it is a custom with us, when we think that we are speaking exactly true, never to refuse our testimony; and if we do this, much more would he who wrote by the Spirit. What then the other Apostles when they preached declared, he also saith; "We are witnesses of the things spoken,(4) and the Spirit which He hath given(5) to them that obey Him." (Acts v. 32.) And besides, he was present at all, and did not desert Him even when being crucified, and had His mother entrusted to him; all which things are signs of his love for Him, and of his knowing all things exactly. And if he has said that so many miracles had taken place, marvel thou not, but, considering the ineffable power of the Doer, receive with faith what is spoken. For it was as easy for Him to do whatever He would, as it is for us to speak, or rather much easier; for it sufficed that He should will only, and all followed.

[3.] Let us then give exact heed to the words, and let us not cease to unfold and search them through, for it is from continual application that we get some advantage. So shall we be able to cleanse our life, so to cut up the thorns; for such a thing is sin and worldly care, fruitless and painful. And as the thorn whatever way it is held pricks the holder, so the things of this life, on whatever side they be laid hold of, give pain to him who hugs and cherishes them. Not such are spiritual things; they resemble a pearl, whichever way thou turn it, it delights the eyes. As thus. A man hath done a deed of mercy; he not only is fed with hopes of the future, but also is cheered by the good things here, being everywhere full of confidence, and doing all with much boldness. He hath got the better of an evil desire; even before obtaining the Kingdom, he hath already received the fruit here, being praised and approved,(6) before all others,(7) by his own conscience. And every good work is of this nature; just as conscience also punishes wicked deeds here, even before the pit. For if, after sinning, thou considerest the future, thou becomest afraid and tremblest, though no man punish thee; if the present, thou hast many enemies, and livest in suspicion, and canst not henceforth even look in the face those who have wronged thee, or rather, those who have not wronged thee.(8) For we do not in the case of those evil deeds reap so much pleasure, as we do despondency, when conscience cries out against us, men, without, condemn us, God is angered, the pit travailing to receive us, our thoughts not at rest. A heavy, a heavy and a burdensome thing is sin, harder to bear than any lead. He at least who hath any sense of it will not be able to look up ever so little, though he be very dull. Thus, for instance, Ahab, though very impious, when he felt this, walked bending downwards, crushed and afflicted. On this account he clothed himself in sackcloth, and shed fountains of tears. (1 Kings xxi. 27.) If we do this, and grieve as he did, we shall put off our faults as did Zacchaeus, and we too shall obtain some pardon. (Luke xix. 9.) For as in the case of tumors,(9) and fistulous ulcers,(10) if one stay not first the discharge which runs over and inflames the wound, how many soever remedies he applies, while the source of the evil is not stopped, he doth all in vain; so too if we stay not our hand from covetousness, and check not that evil afflux of wealth, although we give alms, we do all to no purpose. For that which was healed by it,(1) covetousness coming after is wont to overwhelm(2) and spoil, and to make harder to heal than before. Let us then cease from rapine, and so do alms. But if we betake ourselves to precipices, how shall we be able to recover ourselves?(3) for if one party (that is, alms-doing) were to pull at a falling man from above, while another was forcibly dragging him from below, the only result of such a struggle would be, that the man would be tom asunder. That we may not suffer this, nor, while covetousness weighs us down from below, alms-doing depart and leave us, let us lighten ourselves, and spread our wings,(4) that having been perfected by the riddance of evil things, and the practice of good,(5) we may obtain the goods everlasting, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, dominion, and honor, now and ever and world without end. Amen.

Return to Volume 23 Index