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Archive for November 8th, 2012

St John Chrysostom’s Homily on Colossians 3:12-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 8, 2012

The following post contains St John Chrysostom’s homilies 8 and 9 on Colossians, encompassing Col 3:12-17

HOMILY 8 ON COLOSSIANS 3:12-15.

Col 3:12. “Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved.”

(He shows the easiness of virtue, so that they might both possess it continually, and use it as the greatest ornament. The exhortation is accompanied also with praise, for then its force is greatest. For they had been before holy, but not elect; but now both “elect, and holy, and beloved.”

“A heart of compassion.” He said not “mercy,” but with greater emphasis used the two words. And he said not, that it should be as towards brethren, but, as fathers towards children. For tell me not that he sinned, therefore he said “a heart.” And he said not “compassion,” lest he should place them in light estimation, but “a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

Again, he speaks after the class, and he always does it; for from kindness comes humbleness of mind, and from this, longsuffering. “Forbearing,” he saith, “one another,” that is, passing things over And see, how he has shown it to be nothing, by calling it a “complaint,” and saying, “even as Christ forgave you.” Great is the example! and thus he always does; he exhorts them after Christ. “Complaint,” he calls it. In these words indeed he showed it to be a petty matter; but when he has set before us the example, he has persuaded us that even if we had serious charges to bring, we ought to forgive. For the expression, “Even as Christ,” signifies this, and not this only, but also with all the heart; and not this alone, but that they ought even to love. For Christ being brought into the midst, bringeth in all these things, both that even if the matters be great, and even if we have not been the first to injure, even if we be of great, they of small account, even if they are sure to insult us afterwards, we ought to lay down our lives for them, (for the words, “even as,” demand this;) and that not even at death only ought one to stop, but if possible, to go on even after death.

Col 3:14. “And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness.”
Col 3:13  Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

Dost thou see that he saith this? For since it is possible for one who forgives, not to love; yea, he saith, thou must love him too, and he points out a way whereby it becomes possible to forgive. For it is possible for one to be kind, and meek, and humbleminded, and longsuffering, and yet not affectionate. And therefore, he said at the first, “A heart of compassion,” both love and pity. “And above all these things, love, which is the bond of perfectness.” Now what he wishes to say is this; that there is no profit in those things, for all those things fall asunder, except they be done with love; this it is which clenches them all together; whatsoever good thing it be thou mentionest, if love be away, it is nothing, it melts away. And it is as in a ship, even though her rigging be large, yet if there be no girding ropes, it is of no service;and in an house, if there be no tie beams, it is the same; and in a body, though the bones be large, if there be no ligaments, they are of no service. For whatsoever good deeds any may have, all do vanish away, if love be not there. He said not that it is the summit, but what is greater, “the bond”; this is more necessary than the other. For “summit” indeed is an intensity of perfectness, but “bond” is the holding fast together of those things which produce the perfectness; it is, as it were, the root.

Col 3:15. “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful.”

“The peace of God.” This is that which is fixed and steadfast. If on man’s account indeed thou hast peace, it quickly comes to dissolution, but if on God’s account, never. Although he had spoken of love universally, yet again he comes to the particular. For there is a love too which is immoderate; for instance, when out of much love one makes accusations without reason, and is engaged in contentions, and contracts aversions. Not this, saith he, not this do I desire; not overdoing things, but as God made peace with you, so do ye also make it. How made He peace? Of His own will, not having received anything of you. What is this? “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.” If two thoughts are fighting together, set not anger, set not spitefulness to hold the prize, but peace; for instance, suppose one to have been insulted unjustly; of the insult are born two thoughts, the one bidding him to revenge, the other to endure; and these wrestle with one another: if the Peace of God stand forward as umpire, it bestows the prize on that which bids endure, and puts the other to shame. How? by persuading him that God is Peace, that He hath made peace with us. Not without reason he shows the great struggle there is in the matter. Let not anger, he saith, act as umpire, let not contentiousness, let not human peace, for human peace cometh of avenging, of suffering no dreadful ill. But not this do I intend, he saith, but that which He Himself left.

(He hath represented an arena within, in the thoughts, and a contest, and a wrestling, and an umpire. Then again, exhortation, “to the which ye were called,” he saith, that is, for the which ye were called. He has reminded them of how many good things peace is the cause; on account of this He called thee, for this He called thee, so as to receive a worthy prize. For wherefore made He us “one body”? Was it not that she might rule? Was it not that we might have occasion of being at peace? Wherefore are we all one body? and now are we one body? Because of peace we are one body, and because we are one body, we are at peace. But why said he not, “Let the peace of God be victorious,” but “be umpire”? He made her the more honorable. He would not have the evil thought to come to wrestle with her, but to stand below. And the very name “prize” cheered the hearer. For if she have given the prize to the good thought, however impudently the other behave, it is thereafter of no use. And besides, the other being aware that, perform what feats he might, he should not receive the prize; however he might puff, and attempt still more vehement onsets, would desist as laboring without profit. And he well added, “And be ye thankful.” For this is to be thankful, and very effectively, to deal with his fellow-servants as God doth with himself, to submit himself to the Master, to obey; to express his gratitude for all things, even though one insult him, or beat him.

For in truth he that confesses thanks due to God for what he suffers, will not revenge himself on him that has done him wrong, since he at least that takes revenge, acknowledges no gratitude. But let not us follow him (that exacted) the hundred pence, lest we hear, “Thou wicked servant,” for nothing is worse than this ingratitude. So that they who revenge are ungrateful.

But why did he begin his list with fornication? For having said, “Mortify your members which are upon the earth” (Col 3:5), he immediately says, “fornication”; and so he does almost everywhere. Because this passion hath the greatest sway. For even when writing his Epistle to the Thessalonians he did the same. (1 Thess 4:3) And what wonder? since to Timothy even he saith, “Keep thyself pure” (1 Tim 5:22); and again elsewhere, “Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification,” without which “no man shall see the Lord.” (Heb 12:14). “Put to death,” he says, “your members.” Ye know of what sort that is which is dead, namely, hated, loathed, dropping to decay. If thou put anything to death, it doth not when dead continue dead, but presently is corrupted, like the body. Extinguish then the heat; and nothing that is dead will continue. He shows one having the same thing in hand, which Christ wrought in the Laver; therefore also he calleth them “members,” as though introducing some champion, thus advancing his discourse to greater emphasis. And he well said, “Which are upon the earth,” for here they continue, and here they are corrupted, far rather than these our members. So that not so truly is the body of the earth, as sin is earthly, for the former indeed appears even beautiful at times, but those members never. And those members lust after all things that are upon the earth. If the eye be such, it seeth not the things in the heavens; if the ear, if the hand, if thou mention any other member whatsoever. The eye seeth bodies, and beauties, and riches; these are the things of earth, with these it is delighted: the ear with soft strains, and harp, and pipe, and filthy talking; these are things which are concerned with earth.

When therefore he has placed his hearers above, near the throne, he then says, “Mortify your members which are upon the earth.” For it is not possible to stand above with these members; for there is nothing there for them to work upon. And this clay is worse than that, for that clay indeed becometh gold, “for this corruptible,” he saith, “must put on incorruption” (1 Cor 15:53), but this clay can never be retempered more. So that these members are rather “upon the earth” than those. Therefore he said not, “of the earth,” but, “which are upon the earth,” for it is possible that these should not be upon the earth. For it is necessary that these should be “upon the earth,” but that those should, is not necessary. For when the ear hears nothing of what is here uttered, but only in the heavens, when the eye sees nothing of what is here, but only what is above, it is not “upon the earth”; when the mouth speaketh nothing of the things here, it is not “upon the earth”; when the hand doeth no evil thing—these are not of things “upon the earth,” but of those in the heavens.

(So Christ also saith, “If thy right eye causeth thee to stumble,” that is, if thou lookest unchastely, “cut it out” (Mt 5,29), that is, thine evil thought. And he (Paul) seems to me to speak of “fornication, uncleanness, passion, desire” as the same, namely fornication: by means of all these expressions drawing us away from that thing. For in truth this is “a passion”; and like as the body is subject to any affection, either to fever or to wounds, so also is it with this. And he said not Restrain, but “Mortify” (put to death), so that they never rise up more, and “put them away.” That which is dead, we put away; for instance, if there be callosities in the body, their body is dead, and we put it away. Now, if thou cut into that which is quick, it produces pain, but if into that which is dead, we are not even sensible of it. So, in truth, is it with the passions; they make the soul unclean; they make the soul, which is immortal, passible.

How covetousness is said to be idolatry, we have oftentimes explained. For the things which do most of all lord it over the human race, are these, covetousness, and unchasteness, and evil desire. “For which things’ sake cometh,” he saith, “the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience.” Sons of disobedience, he calls them, to deprive them of excuse, and to show that it was because they would not be obedient, that they were in that condition. “In the which ye also,” he saith, “walked aforetime,” and (afterward) became obedient. He points them out as still in them, and praises them, saying, “But now do ye also put away all these, anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking.” But against others he advanceth his discourse. Under the head of “passion and railing” he means revilings, just as under “wrath” he means wickedness. And in another place, to shame them, he says, “for we are members one of another.” (Eph 4:25). He makes them out to be as it were manufacturers of men; casting away this one, and receiving that. He spoke of a man’s “members” (3:5); here he saith, “all.” He spoke of his heart, wrath, mouth, blasphemy, eyes, fornication, covetousness, hands and feet, lying, the understanding itself, and the old mind. One royal form it hath, that, namely, of Christ. They whom he has in view, appear to me rather to be of the Gentiles. For like as earth, being but sand, even though one part be greater, another less, losing its own previous form, doth afterwards become gold; and like as wool, of whatever kind it be, receiveth another aspect, and hides its former one: so truly is it also with the faithful. “Forbearing,” he saith, “one another”; he showeth what is just. Thou forbearest him, and he thee; and so he says in the Epistle to the Galatians, “Bear ye one another’s burdens.” (Gal 6:2) “And be ye thankful,” he saith. For this is what he everywhere especially seeks; the chiefest of good things.

Give we thanks then in all things; whatever may have happened; for this is thankfulness. For to do so in prosperity indeed, is no great thing, for the nature of the circumstances of itself impels one thereto; but when being in extremities we give thanks, then it is admirable. For when, in circumstances under which others blaspheme, and exclaim discontentedly, we give thanks, see how great philosophy is here. First, thou hast rejoiced God; next, thou hast shamed the devil; thirdly, thou hast even made that which hath happened to be nothing; for all at once, thou both givest thanks, and God cuts short the pain, and the devil departs. For if thou have exclaimed discontentedly, he, as having succeeded to his wish, standeth close by thee, and God, as being blasphemed, leaveth thee, and thy calamity is heightened; but if thou have given thanks, he, as gaining nought, departs; and God, as being honored, requites thee with greater honor. And it is not possible, that a man, who giveth thanks for his evils should be sensible of them. For his soul rejoiceth, as doing what is right; forthwith his conscience is bright, it exults in its own commendation; and that soul which is bright, cannot possibly be sad of countenance. But in the other case, along with the misfortune, conscience also assails him with her lash; whilst in this she crowns, and proclaims him.

Nothing is holier than that tongue, which in evils giveth thanks to God; truly in no respect doth it fall short of that of martyrs; both are alike crowned, both this, and they. For over this one also stands the executioner to force it to deny God, by blasphemy; the devil stands over it, torturing it with executioner thoughts, darkening it with despondencies. If then one bear his griefs, and give thanks, he hath gained a crown of martyrdom. For instance, is her little child sick, and doth she give God thanks? this is a crown to her. What torture so bad that despondency is not worse? still it doth not force her to vent forth a bitter word. It dies: again she hath given thanks. She hath become the daughter of Abraham. For if she sacrificed not with her own hand, yet was she pleased with the sacrifice, which is the same; she felt no indignation when the gift was taken away.

Again, is her child sick? She hath made no amulets. It is counted to her as martyrdom, for she sacrificed her son in her resolve. For what, even though those things are unavailing, and a mere cheat and mockery, still there were nevertheless those who persuaded her that they do avail: and she chose rather to see her child dead, than to put up with idolatry. As then she is a martyr, whether it be in her own case, or in her son’s, that she hath thus acted; or in her husband’s, or in any other’s of her dearest; so is that other one an idolatress. For it is evident that she would have done sacrifice, had it been allowed her to do sacrifice; yea, rather, she hath even now performed the act of sacrifice. For these amulets, though they who make money by them are forever rationalizing about them, and saying, “we call upon God, and do nothing extraordinary,” and the like; and “the old woman is a Christian,” says he, “and one of the faithful”; the thing is idolatry. Art thou one of the faithful? sign the Cross; say, this I have for my only weapon; this for my remedy; and other I know none. Tell me, if a physician should come to one, and, neglecting the remedies belonging to his art, should use incantation, should we call that man a physician? By no means: for we see not the medicines of the healing art; so neither, in this case, do we see those of Christianity.

Other women again tie about them the names of rivers, and venture numberless things of like nature. Lo, I say, and forewarn you all, that if any be detected, I will not spare them again,whether they have made amulet, or incantation, or any other thing of such an art as this. What then, saith one, is the child to die? If he have lived through this means, he did then die, but if he have died without this, he then lived. But now, if thou seest him attaching himself to harlots, thou wishest him buried, and sayest, “why, what good is it for him to live?” but when thou seest him in peril of his salvation, dost thou wish to see him live? Heardest thou not Christ saying, “He that loseth his life, shall find it; and he that findeth it, shall lose it”? (Matt 16:25). Believest thou these sayings, or do they seem to thee fables? Tell me now, should one say, “Take him away to an idol temple, and he will live”; wouldest thou endure it? No! she replies. Why? “Because,” she saith, “he urges me to commit idolatry; but here, there is no idolatry, but simple incantation:” this is the device of Satan, this is that wiliness of the devil to cloak over the deceit, and to give the deleterious drug in honey. After he found that he could not prevail with thee in the other way, he hath gone this way about, to stitched charms, and old wives’ fables; and the Cross indeed is dishonored, and these charms preferred before it. Christ is cast out, and a drunken and silly old woman is brought in. That mystery of ours is trodden under foot, and the imposture of the devil dances.

Wherefore then, saith one, doth not God reprove the aid from such sources? He hath many times reproved, and yet hath not persuaded thee; He now leaveth thee to thine error, for It saith, “God gave them up unto a reprobate mind.” (Rom 1:28). These things, moreover, not even a Greek who hath understanding could endure. A certain demagogue in Athens is reported once to have hung these things about him: when a philosopher who was his instructor, on beholding them, rebuked him, expostulated, satirized, made sport of him. For in so wretched a plight are we, as even to believe in these things!

Why, saith one, are there not now those who raise the dead, and perform cures? Yes, then, why, I say: why are there not now those who have a contempt for this present life? Do we serve God for hire? When man’s nature was weaker, when the Faith had to be planted, there were even many such; but now he would not have us to hang upon these signs, but to be ready for death. Why then clingest thou to the present life? why lookest thou not on the future? and for the sake of this indeed canst bear even to commit idolatry, but for the other not so much as to restrain sadness? For this cause it is that there are none such now; because that (future) life hath seemed to us honorless, seeing that for its sake we do nothing, whilst for this there is nothing we refuse to undergo. And why too that other farce, ashes, and soot, and salt? and the old woman again brought in? A farce truly, and a shame! And then, “an eye,” say they, “hath caught the child.”

Where will these satanical doings end? How will not the Greeks laugh? how will they not gibe when we say unto them, “Great is the virtue of the Cross”; how will they be won, when they see us having recourse to those things, which themselves laugh to scorn? Was it for this that God gave physicians and medicines? What then? Suppose they do not cure him, but the child depart? Whither will he depart? tell me, miserable and wretched one! Will he depart to the demons? Will he depart to some tyrant? Will he not depart to heaven? Will he not depart to his own Lord? Why then grievest thou? why weepest thou? why mournest thou? why lovest thou thine infant more than thy Lord? Is it not through Him that thou hast this also? Why art thou ungrateful? Dost thou love the gift more than the Giver? “But I am weak,” she replies, “and cannot bear the fear of God.” Well, if in bodily evils the greater covers the less, much rather in the soul, fear destroyed fear, and sorrow, sorrow. Was the child beautiful? But be it what it may, not more beauteous is he than Isaac: and he too was an only one. Was it born in thine old age? So too was he. But is it fair? Well: however fair it may be, it is not lovelier than Moses (Acts 7:20), who drew even barbarian eyes unto a tender love of him, and this too at a time of life when beauty is not yet disclosed; and yet this beloved thing did the parents cast into the river. Thou indeed both seest it laid out, and deliverest it to the burying, and goest to its monument; but they did not so much as know whether it would be food for fishes, or for dogs, or for other beasts that prey in the sea; and this they did, knowing as yet nothing of the Kingdom, nor of the Resurrection.

But suppose it is not an only child; but that after thou hast lost many, this also hath departed. But not so sudden is thy calamity as was Job’s, and (his was) of sadder aspect? It is not when a roof has fallen in, it is not as they are feasting the while, it is not following on the tidings of other calamities.

But was it beloved by thee? But not more so than Joseph, the devoured of wild beasts; but still the father bore the calamity, and that which followed it, and the next to that. He wept; but acted not with impiety; he mourned, but he uttered not discontent, but stayed at those words, saying, “Joseph is not, Simeon is not, and will ye take Benjamin away? all these things are against me.” (Gen 42:36). Seest thou how the constraint of famine prevailed with him to be regardless of his children? and doth not the fear of God prevail with thee as much as famine?

Weep: I do not forbid thee: but aught blasphemous neither say nor do. Be thy child what he may, he is not like Abel; and yet nought of this kind did Adam say; although that calamity was a sore one, that his brother should have killed him. But I am reminded of others also that have killed their brothers; when, for instance, Absalom killed Amnon the eldest born (2 Sam 13), and King David loved his child, and sat indeed in sackcloth and ashes, but he neither brought soothsayers, nor enchanters, (although there were such then, as Saul shows,) but he made supplication to God. So do thou likewise: as that just man did, so do thou also; the same words say thou, when thy child is dead, “I shall go to him, but he will not come to me.” (2 Sam 12:23) This is true wisdom, this is affection. However much thou mayst love thy child, thou wilt not love so much as he did then. For even though his child were born of adultery, yet that blessed man’s love of the mother was at its height, and ye know that the offspring shares the love of the parents. And so great was his love toward it, that he even wished it to live, though it would be his own accuser, but still he gave thanks to God. What, thinkest thou, did Rebecca suffer, when his brother threatened Jacob, and she grieved not her husband, but bade him send her son away? (Gen 27:46 Gen 28:1). When thou hast suffered any calamity, think on what is worse than it; and thou wilt have a sufficient consolation; and consider with thyself, what if he had died in battle? what if in fire? And whatsoever our sufferings may be, let us think upon things yet more fearful, and we shall have comfort sufficient, and let us ever look around us on those who have undergone more terrible things, and if we ourselves have ever suffered heavier calamities. So doth Paul also exhort us; as when he saith, “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin” (Heb 12:4): and again, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear.” (1 Cor 10:13). Be then our sufferings what they may, let us look round on what is worse; (for we shall find such,) and thus shall we be thankful. And above all, let us give thanks for all things continually; for so, both these things will be eased, and we shall live to the glory of God, and obtain the promised good things, whereunto may all we attain, through the grace and love toward man, &c.

POST 9 ON COLOSSIANS 3:16-17.

Col 3:16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Col 3:17  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him

Having exhorted them to be thankful, he shows also the way, that, of which I have lately discoursed to you. And what saith he? “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly”; or rather not this way alone, but another also. For I indeed said that we ought to reckon up those who have suffered things more terrible, and those who have undergone sufferings more grievous than ours, and to give thanks that such have not fallen to our lot; but what saith he? “Let the word of Christ dwell in you”; that is, the teaching, the doctrines, the exhortation, wherein He says, that the present life is nothing, nor yet its good things. If we know this, we shall yield to no hardships whatever. (Matt 6:25, &c) “Let it dwell in you,” he saith, “richly,” not simply dwell, but with great abundance. Hearken ye, as many as are worldly, and have the charge of wife and children; how to you too he commits especially the reading of the Scriptures and that not to be done lightly, nor in any sort of way, but with much earnestness. For as the rich in money can bear fine and damages, so he that is rich in the doctrines of philosophy will bear not poverty only, but all calamities also easily, yea, more easily than that one. For as for him, by discharging the fine, the man who is rich must needs be impoverished, and found wanting, and if he should often suffer in that way, will no longer be able to bear it, but in this case it is not so; for we do not even expend our wholesome thoughts when it is necessary for us to bear aught we would not choose, but they abide with us continually. And mark the wisdom of this blessed man. He said not, “Let the word of Christ” be in you, simply, but what? “dwell in you,” and “richly.”

“In all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another.” “In all,” says he. Virtue he calls wisdom, and lowliness of mind is wisdom, and almsgiving, and other such like things, are wisdom; just as the contraries are folly, for cruelty too cometh of folly. Whence in many places it calleth the whole of sin folly. “The fool,” saith one, “hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Ps 14:1); and again, “My wounds stink and are corrupt from the face of my foolishness.” (Ps 38:5, Sept). For what is more foolish, tell me, than one who indeed wrappeth himself about in his own garments, but regardeth not his brethren that are naked; who feedeth dogs, and careth not that the image of God is famishing; who is merely persuaded that human things are nought, and yet clings to them as if immortal. As then nothing is more foolish than such an one, so is nothing wiser than one that achieveth virtue. For mark; how wise he is, says one. He imparteth of his substance, he is pitiful, he is loving to men, he hath well considered that he beareth a common nature with them; he hath well considered the use of wealth, that it is worthy of no estimation; that one ought to be sparing of bodies that are of kin to one, rather than of wealth. He that is a despiser of glory is wholly wise, for he knoweth human affairs; the knowledge of things divine and human, is philosophy. So then he knoweth what things are divine, and what are human, and from the one he keeps himself, on the other he bestoweth his pains. And he knows how to give thanks also to God in all things, he considers the present life as nothing; therefore he is neither delighted with prosperity, nor grieved with the opposite condition.

Tarry not, I entreat, for another to teach thee; thou hast the oracles of God. No man teacheth thee as they; for he indeed oft grudgeth much for vainglory’s sake and envy. Hearken, I entreat you, all ye that are careful for this life, and procure books that will be medicines for the soul. If ye will not any other, yet get you at least the New Testament, the Apostolic Epistles, the Acts, the Gospels, for your constant teachers. If grief befall thee, dive into them as into a chest of medicines; take thence comfort of thy trouble, be it loss, or death, or bereavement of relations; or rather dive not into them merely, but take them wholly to thee; keep them in thy mind.

This is the cause of all evils, the not knowing the Scriptures. We go into battle without arms, and how ought we to come off safe? Well contented should we be if we can be safe with them, let alone without them. Throw not the whole upon us! Sheep ye are, still not without reason, but rational; Paul committeth much to you also. They that are under instruction, are not for ever learning; for then they are not taught. If thou art for ever learning, thou wilt never learn. Do not so come as meaning to be always learning; (for so thou wilt never know;) but so as to finish learning, and to teach others. In the arts do not all persons continue for set times, in the sciences, and in a word, in all the arts? Thus we all fix definitely a certain known time; but if ye are ever learning, it is a certain proof that ye have learned nothing.

This reproach God spake against the Jews. “Borne from the belly, and instructed even to old age.” (Isa 46:3-4), Sept). If ye had not always been expecting this, all things would not have gone backward in this way. Had it been so, that some had finished learning, and others were about to have finished, our work would have been forward; ye would both have given place to others, and would have helped us as well. Tell me, were some to go to a grammarian and continue always learning their letters, would they not give their teacher much trouble? How long shall I have to discourse to you concerning life? In the Apostles’ times it was not thus, but they continually leaped from place to place, appointing those who first learned to be the teachers of any others that were under instruction. Thus they were enabled to circle the world, through not being bound to one place. How much instruction, think ye, do your brethren in the country stand in need of, [they] and their teachers? But ye hold me riveted fast here. For, before the head is set right, it is superfluous to proceed to the rest of the body. Ye throw everything upon us. Ye alone ought to learn from us, and your wives from you, your children from you; but ye leave all to us. Therefore our toil is excessive.

“Teaching,” he saith, “and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” Mc also the considerateness of Paul. Seeing that reading is toilsome, and its irksomeness great, he led them not to histories, but to psalms, that thou mightest at once delight thy soul with singing, and gently beguile thy labors. “Hymns,” he saith, “and spiritual songs.” But now your children will utter songs and dances of Satan, like cooks, and caterers, and musicians; no one knoweth any psalm, but it seems a thing to be ashamed of even, and a mockery, and a joke. There is the treasury house of all these evils. For whatsoever soil the plant stands in, such is the fruit it bears; if in a sandy and salty soil, of like nature is its fruit; if in a sweet and rich one, it is again similar. So the matter of instruction is a sort of fountain. Teach him to sing those psalms which are so full of the love of wisdom; as at once concerning chastity, or rather, before all, of not companying with the wicked, immediately with the very beginning of the book; (for therefore also it was that the prophet began on this wise, “Blessed is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly”; (Ps 1:1), and again, “I have not sat in the council of vanity”; (Ps 26:4), Sept., and again, “in his sight a wicked doer is contemned, but he honoreth those that fear the Lord,” (Ps 15:4, Sept.,) of companying with the good, (and these subjects thou wilt find there in abundance,) of restraining the belly, of restraining the hand, of refraining from excess, of not overreaching; that money is nothing, nor glory, and other things such like.

When in these thou hast led him on from childhood, by little and little thou wilt lead him forward even to the higher things. The Psalms contain all things, but the Hymns again have nothing human. When he has been instructed out of the Psalms, he will then know hymns also, as a diviner thing. For the Powers above chant hymns, not psalms. For “a hymn,” saith one, “is not comely in the mouth of a sinner” (Sirach 15:9); and again, “Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they sit together with me” (Ps 101:6-7, Sept).; and again, “he that worketh haughtiness hath not dwelt in the midst of my house”; and again, “He that walketh in a blameless way, he ministered unto me.” (Ps 101:6, Sept).

(So that ye should safely guard them from intermixing themselves, not only with friends, but even with servants. For the harm done to the free is incalculable, when we place over them corrupt slaves. For if when enjoying all the benefit of a father’s affection and wisdom, they can with difficulty be preserved safe throughout; when we hand them over to the unscrupulous- ness of servants, they use them like enemies, thinking that they will prove milder masters to them, when they have made them perfect fools, and weak, and worthy of no respect.

More then than all other things together, let us attend seriously to this. “I have loved,” saith he,“ those that love thy law.” (Ps 119:165, not exact quote). This man then let us too emulate, and such let us love. And that the young may further be taught chastity, let them hear the Prophet, saying, “My loins are filled with illusions” (Ps 38:7, Sept).; and again let them hear him saying, “Thou wilt utterly destroy every one that goeth a whoring from Thee.” (Ps 73:27, Sept). And, that one ought to restrain the belly, let them hear again, “And slew,” he saith, “the more part of them while the meat was yet in their mouths.” (Ps 78:30, Sept). And that they ought to be above bribes, “If riches become abundant, set [not] your heart upon them” (Ps 62:10); and that they ought to keep glory in subjection, “Nor shall his glory descend together after him.” (Ps 49:17). And not to envy the wicked, “Be not envious against them that work unrighteousness.” (Ps 37:1). And to count power as nothing, “I saw the ungodly in exceeding high place, and lifting himself up as the cedars of Libanus, and I passed by, and lo! he was not.” (Ps 37:35). And to count these present things as nothing, “They counted the people happy, that are in such a case; happy are the people, whose helper is the Lord their God.” (Ps 144:15, Sept). That we do not sin without notice, but that there is a retribution, “for,” he saith, “Thou shalt render to every man according to his works.” (Ps 62:12, Sept). But why doth he not so requite them day by day? “God is a judge,” he says, “righteous, and strong, and longsuffering.” (Ps 7:11). That lowliness of mind is good, “Lord,” he saith, “my heart is not lifted up” (Ps 131:1): that pride is evil, “Therefore,” he said, “pride took hold on them wholly” (Ps 73:6, Sept).; and again, “The Lord resisteth the proud”; and again, “Their injustice shall come out as of fatness.” That almsgiving is good, “He hath dispersed, he hath given to the needy, his righteousness endureth for ever.” (Prov 3:34). And that to pity is praiseworthy, “He is a good man that pitieth, and lendeth.” (Ps 73:7, Sept). And thou wilt find there many more doctrines than these, full of true philosophy; such as, that one ought not to speak evil, “Him that privily slandereth his neighbor, him did I chase from me.” (Ps 112:9).

What is the hymn of those above? The Faithful know. What say the cherubim above? What say the Angels? “Glory to God in the highest.” (Ps 112:5). Therefore after the psalmody come the hymns, as a thing of more perfection. “With psalms,” he saith, “with hymns, with spiritual songs, with grace singing in your hearts to God.” (Ps 101:5, Sept). He means either this, that God because of grace hath given us these things; or, with the songs in grace; or, admonishing and teaching one another in grace; or, that they had these gifts in grace; or, it is an epexegesis and he means, from the grace of the Spirit. “Singing in your hearts to God.” Not simply with the mouth, he means, but with heedfulness. For this is to “sing to God,” but that to the air, for the voice is scattered without result. Not for display, he means. And even if thou be in the market-place, thou canst collect thyself, and sing unto God, no one hearing thee. For Moses also in this way prayed, and was heard, for He saith, “Why criest thou unto Me?” (Ex 14:15) albeit he said nothing, but cried in thought—wherefore also God alone heard him—with a contrite heart. For it is not forbidden one even when walking to pray in his heart, and to dwell above.

“And whatsoever ye do,” he saith, “in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col 3:17)

For if we thus do, there will be nothing polluted, nothing unclean, wherever Christ is called on. If thou eat, if thou drink, if thou marry, if thou travel, do all in the Name of God, that is, calling Him to aid thee: in everything first praying to Him, so take hold of thy business. Wouldest thou speak somewhat? Set this in front. For this cause we also place in front of our epistles the Name of the Lord. Wheresoever the Name of God is, all is auspicious. For if the names of Consuls make writings sure, much more doth the Name of Christ. Or he means this; after God say ye and do everything, do not introduce the Angels besides. Dost thou eat? Give thanks to God both before and afterwards. Dost thou sleep? Give thanks to God both before and afterwards. Launchest thou into the forum? Do the same—nothing worldly, nothing of this life. Do all in the Name of the Lord, and all shall be prospered to thee. Whereonsoever the Name is placed, there all things are auspicious. If it casts out devils, if it drives away diseases, much more does it render business easy.

And what is to “do in word or in deed”? Either requesting or performing anything whatever. Hear how in the Name of God Abraham sent his servant; David in the Name of God slew Goliath. Marvelous is His Name and great. Again, Jacob sending his sons saith, “My God give you favor in the sight of the man.” (Gwn 43:14). For he that doeth this hath for his ally, God, without whom he durst do nothing. As honored then by being called upon, He will in turn honor by making their business easy. Invoke the Son, give thanks to the Father. For when the Son is invoked, the Father is invoked, and when He is thanked, the Son has been thanked.

These things let us learn, not as far as words only, but to fulfill them also by works. Nothing is equal to this Name, marvelous is it everywhere. “Thy Name,” he saith, “is ointment poured forth.” (Son 1:3). He that hath uttered it is straightway filled with fragrance. “No man,” it is said, “can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” (1 Cor 12:3). So great things doth this Name Work. If thou have said, In the Name of Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost, with faith, thou hast accomplished everything. See, how great things thou hast done! Thou hast created a man, and wrought all the rest (that cometh) of Baptism! So, when used in commanding diseases, terrible is The Name. Therefore the devil introduced those of the Angels, envying us the honor. Such incantations are for the demons. Even if it be Angel, even if it be Archangel, even if it be Cherubim, allow it not; for neither will these Powers accept such addresses, but will even toss them away from them, when they have beheld their Master dishonored. “I have honored thee,” He saith, “and have said, Call upon Me”; and dost thou dishonor Him? If thou chant this incantation with faith, thou wilt drive away both diseases and demons, and even if thou have failed to drive away the disease, this is not from lack of power, but because it is expedient it should be so. “According to Thy greatness,” he saith, “so also is Thy praise.” (Ps 48:10). By this Name hath the world been converted, the tyranny dissolved, the devil trampled on, the heavens opened. We have been regenerated by this Name. This if we have, we beam forth; This maketh both martyrs and confessors; This let us hold fast as a great gift, that we may live in glory, and be well-pleasing to God, and be counted worthy of the good things promised to them that love Him, through the grace and lovingkindness, &c.

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Cornelus a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 13:24-30

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 8, 2012

Mat 13:24  Another parable he proposed to them, saying: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a man that sowed good seed in his field.

Another parable he proposed to them, & c.  The Syriac adds, enigmatically. This means it is done in the kingdom of Heaven in the same way that it is done in a field—when a man sows his seed, and his enemy sows tares over it. Wherefore Mark 4:26 has: So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the earth, &c. For the whole parable is compared with the whole of the things signified, not part with part: for otherwise the sower would not be like to a kingdom but to a king, the King of Heaven.

Mat 13:25  But while men were asleep, his enemy came and oversowed cockle among the wheat and went his way.

While men slept, &c. That is to say by night, whilst men were sleeping, his enemy came unknown to everyone. He was envious of the prosperous crops of his rival, and in order to ruin them, he sowed tares among them. The expression, while men slept, adds to the elegance of the parable: for those who are envious are accustomed to frame such plots against those who sleep.

Symbolically: S. Jerome and S. Augustine understand this sleeping to mean negligence and carelessness on the part of bishops and pastors of the Church. Or they understand it of the death of the Apostles, on which the heretics took occasion to sow the tares of their heresies and wickednesses. Hence let pastors learn to watch over their flocks. “The life of mortals is a watch.” For as Augustine says, “To sleep more than to watch is the life of dormice rather than of men.”

Cockle, the Hebrew Gospel reads, הרולים charulim i.e., nettles, thistles. The word in Greek is zizania, a word peculiar to the Gospels, unknown to Cicero and Demosthenes, and signifying every kind of worthless and noxious weed. All impurity in seed is called zizania, as S. Augustine says. Tertullian (de prescript. hæret. c. 31) interprets zizania to mean wild oats. “In the parable,” he says, “The Lord first sowed his good seed, and it was afterwards that the devil sowed the spurious seed of his barren crop.” Whence he gathers that the fact of heresy being later in time is a mark of falsehood. Hence too (l. de arima c 16.) he calls the sower of cockle “the nocturnal interpolator of evil seed.”

Zizania then, or cockle (also translated as tares) are whatsoever is injurious to the crops, or inimical to wheat, as darnel, for instance. Hear Pliny (l 18. c. 17.) “I should reckon darnel and thistles and thorns and burrs, no less than brambles, among the diseases of the crops rather than among the pests of the ground.” Some are of opinion that zizania is a Syriac word. Others derive it from the Chaldee zyz, an appearance, a figure. For it has the appearance of nourishing corn, but is not. The Germans call zizania, droncacert, because it makes people drunk: it also gives vertigo and stupefaction to those who eat it. Hence zizania signifies mystically heretics and sinners, especially those who corrupt others by word or example, as SS. Augustine, Chrysostom, and Gregory teach. For zizania injure the wheat, and choke and kill it, because they draw away nourishment from it, and so as it were corrupt and strangle the wheat. This is Christ’s second parable of the tares, by which He tacitly rebukes the Scribes and Pharisees, His adversaries, who sowed the tares of their false accusations over the seed of the Word of God, i.e., His preaching of the Gospel, by saying that Jesus was opposed to Moses, that He had a familiar spirit, and so on; by which they inferred that Jesus was not the Messiah, but a magician and an impostor. By this means they turned away the people from Him and His Gospel, and choked and destroyed the good seeds and desires of faith and piety which Christ had scattered in their hearts. Therefore they were tares, i.e., the evil seed of the devil

Mat 13:26  And when the blade was sprung up, and had brought forth fruit, then appeared also the cockle.

When the blade was sprung up, &c. For the first sprouts of zizania and of wheat are alike, so that one cannot be discerned from the other; but when they are grown up, they are easily distinguished.

Mat 13:27  And the servants of the good man of the house coming said to him. Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? Whence then hath it cockle?
Mat 13:28  And he said to them: An enemy hath done this. And the servants said to him: Wilt thou that we go and gather it up?
Mat 13:29  And he said: No, lest perhaps gathering up the cockle, you root up the wheat also together with it.
Mat 13:30  Suffer both to grow until the harvest, and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers: Gather up first the cockle, and bind it into bundles to burn, but the wheat gather ye into my barn.

Servants of the good man of the house, &c. Lest…you root up the wheat also together with it. For the cockle are intertwined and interwoven among the roots of the wheat, so that if you were to pull up the former, you must root up the latter also. This parable Christ will expound, verse 31.

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Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Philippians 4:10-19

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 8, 2012

10. And I rejoiced vehemently in the Lord, that at length at some time or other you flourished again to feel for me, as also you used to feel, but you were occupied.

The Greek has: I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that now at any rate your care and sympathy for me has sprung up again; as to which, you did care for me, but had not the power or opportunity of showing it. The meaning is, your care for me, shown in the mission of Epaphroditus, afforded me the greatest joy, in the Lord, not so much for the evidence of personal regard for me, as for the proof of your love for Christ. And it is a renewal or springing up again of the old feelings of regard and reverence you manifested for me when I was at Philippi. This affection I have no doubt you continued to feel for me during the interval occupied by my journey to the East and two years’ imprisonment at Csesarea, and I am certain that only want of means, or want of opportunity, or difficulty of communication, prevented your supplying my wants at that time. Some interpreters have, however, seen in the words sicut et sentiebatis (“as you sued to feel”) an implied rebuke or complaint, as if he felt he had been neglected in the interval. You cared for my welfare once, when I was among you years ago. I am dehghted that this feeling has flourished again, as a tree which has lost it foliage in winter will renew it in the spring, and I am willing to believe that it was not so much forgetfulness or inattention which prevented your sending to me before, as want of opportunity; which the Vulgate renders by occupati eratis. If any such rebuke is intended, it is administered with extreme gentleness and delicacy; and in the next verse the Apostle goes on to protest that it is not on his own account, but on theirs, that he experienced such keen satisfaction in receiving the supply they sent him, and the expression of their sympathy.

11. Not that I speak as if in want: for I have learned to be content in whatever condition I am.

Not that I speak as if in want. I am not complaining of my poverty, or rejoicing that you have relieved it. Poverty and abundance have long since become matters of absolute indifference to me. I have learned, under the teaching of long and arduous experience, the lesson of content, wherever I may be, in prison or free, however I may be circumstanced, in poverty or wealth. I have learned to be αυταρκης (“content”), independent or sufficient for myself. This idea he repeats and expands in the next verse.

12. I know both how to be humbled, and how to abound, I have experience everywhere and in all things, both to be satisfied, and to hunger, to abound, and to suffer penury.

I know what it is to be humiliated, and I know what it is to abound; and I know  how to bear humiliation, and how to bear exaltation. I have been initiated, μεμυημαι (“experienced”), into the whole mystery of the endurance of every change of fortune. To have all that I require, and to have less than will satisfy hunger, to have more than I want, and less, all this I know by long experience.

13. I can do all things in him who strengthens me.

I can do all things in him who strengthens me. The Greek
has, in Christ who strengthens me.

I can do all things. παντα ισχυω. I have all power of endurance, and am become independent of outward circumstances, so constant, so invigorating, so adequate to all my wants is the eternal strength with which Christ our Lord, whom I receive in the daily Sacrifice, continually supplies me. The life of the Apostle had become, as nearly as is possible consistently with the laws of physical existence, like that life in the spiritual body of which he speaks in 1 Cor 15:4, independent of passing circumstances and unaffected by change. The reason he makes this statement probably is, lest they should feel too great remorse or regret at having so long neglected to provide for him, and having in a sense forgotten him, when he left them, as if such neglect might possibly have in some degree hindered his work, or occasioned him unnecessary privation or humiliation. And he adds, that the supplies with which they had now furnished him, though not absolutely necessary for him, were not on that account any the less acceptable, and that he had received them with genuine satisfaction and gratitude. You have done well, in communicating to my trouble (verse 14), none the less, that I am long since become independent in Christ (αυταρκης, see 4:11 above), nor does my independence and sufficiency diminish my gratitude to you.

15. And you also know, Philippians, that in the beginning of the Gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, no Church communicated to me on account of gift and receipt, unless you only;

You also know, Philippians. In order more emphatically to express the sincerity of his gratitude to the Philippians, the Apostle recalls to their memory the liberal assistance they had rendered to him on the occasion of his first visit to their town, some seven years before. The circumstances under which he left Macedonia at that time are related in the seventeenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. The beginning of the Gospel, means: the time when I first preached the Gospel of Christ in your country. St. Paul had accepted these gifts from the Philippians, but he protests, and calls them to witness as to a fact within their knowledge, that they were the only Christian congregation from whom he had accepted money. Had he acted otherwise, he would have been rich. From the Christians of Corinth he would take nothing, as is evident to every reader of the two Epistles he addressed to them, especially 1 Cor 4; 1 Cor 9:7. &c. In 2 Cor 11:8-9, he expressly says that all his supplies were drawn from Philippi, and he had taken nothing from the Corinthians, even while in Greece. Communicated to me in account of given and received, you only opened with me a debtor and creditor account, having on one side the material advantages they bestowed on me, on the other the spiritual blessings they received themselves. Almsgiving, St. Chrysostom remarks, is a negotiation or exchange, in which by means of earthly goods, heaven is bought, and the giver gets very much more than the receiver, because the alms given in this life is consumed, but the price received for it is inexhaustible. No better investment for money can be found anywhere, for while the purchasers are still on earth, the value received is eternal in the heavens. Yet those who are too poor to give alms need not despair, for it is not the money which buys celestial happiness, but the mind and disposition with which it is given, the humanity and mercy that prompt the gift, and what is required is goodwill, not wealth. With this you may effect in two minutes the purchase of the kingdom of the heavens. He who offers to God goodwill, offers himself. He who offers himself, offers a human sacrifice, and there is nothing in the material universe more valuable than man.

16. Because you sent money once and twice to Thessalonica for my use.

You sent money more than once to Thessalonica to supply my wants. A still greater instance of their care and affection, for it extended to him even in his absence.

17. Not that I seek a gift, but I seek abundant fruit on your account.

Not that I seek a gift. His reminder in verse 15 that they were the only Christian community which supplied him with money, was intended as a suggestion that their bounty should not cease, and that a time might come when further supplies would be acceptable. I am not seeking a gift; but I do seek abundant fruit, a large balance on your side of the account, in the abundance of the eternal reward you will receive.

18. But I have all things and abound: I am filled with the gifts you sent by Epaphroditus, an odour of sweetness, a victim accepted, pleasing to God.

But for the present I have all things, and more than I want. Your bishop Epaphroditus has faithfully and honourably handed over to me the sums you entrusted to him, which are in reahty offered, not to me, but to God, and God has accepted them through me, from your hands, as the fragrant smoke of incense, as a victim slain on his altar, and favourably received by the Divine Majesty to whom the gift is brought. But as it is not the smoke of the incense which renders the sacrifice acceptable, but the intention and disposition of the sacrificer, so it is not the money, but the goodwill of the giver, with which God is well pleased.

19. And may my God fufil every desire of yours, according to his riches, in glory in Christ Jesus.

May my God fulfil every desire of yours. The Greek has shall fulfil. Every desire. The Greek text has three different readings, joy, grace, and desire (χρειαν), i.e., need or necessity. Saint Chrysostom understands this last one, and supposes the Apostle to refer to the temporary pressure or poverty which had prevented the Philippians sending him for some time their usual supply, as in verse 10, you were occupied, or prevented by want of means or opportunity. This necessity God shall supply. But as the Apostle adds, according to his riches, in glory, in Christ Jesus, it seems easier to understand God shall fulfil all your joy, accomplish all you wish for and desire, out of, and in proportion to, his infinite bounty and infinite resources, in the glory of his presence, in Christ Jesus, who is the glory of God, the riches of God, and the joy and reward of the saints for eternity. In anticipation of which the Apostle adds the prayer in verse 20, To God our Father be glory for ever.

 

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