Anthony_Sermons - (SECOND CLAUSE)
1 OVID, Remedium amoris, 91
2 VERGIL, Eclogues III,13
3 cf. GREGORY, Moralia XXVI, 18,33; PL 76.368
4 cf. GLOSSA ORDINARIA on Mt 3.6
5 cf. GLOSSA ORDINARIA on Ex 34.30
The copyright in this translation belongs to the author, Revd Dr S.R.P. Spilsbury
Translated by Paul Spilsbury (PROLOGUE FOR SEPTEMBER)
We give thanks to the seven-fold grace, by whose aid we have reached the first Sunday of the seventh month. Note, then, that on this and the following Sundays, the Book of Job is read in Church; and with God’s help we will concord some texts from it with the clauses of this and next Sunday’s Gospels.
(The Gospel for the thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Blessed are the eyes, which is divided into three clauses.)
(First, a theme for a sermon on the usefulness of preaching: The stone that is in the dark.)
1. At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: Blessed are the eyes that see the things which you see. (Lc 10,23)
The stone also that is in the dark and the shadow of death the flood divideth from the people that are on their journey. (Jb 28,3-4)
Let us see what is meant by ‘the stone that is in the dark’, ‘the shadow of death’, ‘the flood’, and ‘the people that are on their journey’.
The flood is preaching. Floods abound in winter, but dry up in summer; (hence the saying: ‘Growth in the rain, withering in the drought’). So preaching abounds, and should abound, in the winter of our present, wretched life. The soul, cast out from God’s face, should drink of this torrent in this way of exile (cf. Ps 109,7), and should hover over it like a dove, and look at itself. Job, however, curses the wretched soul, saying:
Let him not see the streams of the river,
the brooks of honey and of butter. (Jb 20,17)
The stream is the water of compunction, that washes away the sinner’s stains; the brook of honey is Sacred Scripture, which comforts and enlightens (just as honey enlightened the eyes of Jonathan (cf. 1S 14,27)); the brook of butter is the grace of devotion, which enriches the mind. Thus, the soul dedicated to the pleasures of the flesh will not see the streams of the river, because she does not weep for herself; nor the brooks of honey and butter, because she is not enlightened by the sweetness of preaching nor enriched by the grace of devotion. This brook will dry up in the summer, which is the blessedness of eternal life; and so Jeremiah says:
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour,
and every man his brother, saying: Know the Lord.
For all shall know me from the least of them even to the greatest. (Jr 31,34)
In the meantime, Job shows how useful preaching is when he says: The stone that is in the dark... A stone may hurt your foot, and darkness is caused by the density of the air, mainly due to the heat of the air. The ‘stone in the dark’ is the devil’s temptation, who lives in this darkened air and inflicts the darkness of fiery temptation upon the mind, to injure and pervert anyone affected by it.
A shadow is air that lacks sunlight. It arises when a solid body blocks the rays of the sun. Death is bitter; the shadow of death is the darkening of the mind, when some wretch lets riches block the true sun’s light, like a solid obstacle. He is like someone who uses a sunshade to keep cool; but when he is under this shade he is deprived of the knowledge and remembrance of God. Temporal concerns cause forgetfulness of God, as Genesis tells:
The chief butler, when things prospered with him, forgot his interpreter. (Gn 40,23)
The flood of preaching divides ‘the stone in the dark’ (the devil’s temptation) and ‘the shadow of death’ (the mind’s forgetfulness) from the pilgrim people: penitents, the poor in spirit, followers of the apostles who reckon themselves to be poor pilgrims, exiles and guests in this exile. To them, the Lord says in today’s Gospel: Blessed are the eyes that see the things which you see.
2. There are three points to note in this Gospel: first, the blessedness of those who see Christ, as it begins: Blessed are the eyes. Second, the love of God and neighbour, as it goes on: A certain lawyer. Third, the descent of the man from Jerusalem to Jericho, as it concludes: A certain man went down from Jerusalem.
The Introit of today’s Mass is: Look on us, God our protector. The Epistle is taken from that of St. Paul the Apostle to the Galatians, which we will divide into three parts and concord with the three clauses of the Gospel. The first part is: To Abraham were the
promises made. The second: Now this I say. The third: Now a mediator, etc. The reason for reading this Epistle with this Gospel is that the sum of the two (the Epistle and the Gospel) is concordant with the Law given to Moses.
(On the Nativity and the Passion of the Lord: Happy shall I be; and: I have sewed sack-cloth upon my skin.)
3. Let us say, then:
Blessed are the eyes that see the things you see. For I say to you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see the things that you see, and have not seen them; and to hear the things that you hear, and have not heard them. (Lc 10,23-24)
Even so Tobias said:
Happy shall I be if there remain of my seed, to see the glory of Jerusalem, (Tb 13,20)
that is to say, to see the humanity of Jesus Christ. The remnant of the seed of Tobias is the apostles, the seed which the Lord has blessed (cf. Is 61,9), of whom Isaiah says:
That which shall stand therein shall be a holy seed. (Is 6,13)
They were the seed of Tobias in virtue of their faith and patience, and so they merited to see the glory of Jerusalem. That is why they are told, Blessed are the eyes that see the things which you see. They saw a man, but they believed in God. Blessed are the eyes of the clean of heart, who see Jesus Christ! As Job said, Now my eye seeth thee (Jb 42,5). Blessed are the eyes not blinded by the dung of riches, nor clouded by the inflammation of care, for they shall see the Son of God, wrapped in swaddling bands, lying in the manger, fleeing into Egypt, riding on a donkey, stripped, and hanging on the Cross. That is what the apostles saw. That is what diseased eyes cannot see. As the Psalm says:
Fire hath fallen upon them, and they shall not see the sun. (Ps 57,9)
Inflamed eyes cannot look at the sun.
4. The sun is Christ, who, that he might be looked on, covered himself with cloud. He himself says, in Job:
I have sewed sack-cloth upon my skin,
and have covered my face with ashes.
My face is swollen with weeping; and my eyelids are dim.
These things I have suffered without the iniquity of my hand, when I offered pure prayers to God.
O earth, cover not thou my blood:
neither let my cry find a hiding place in thee. (Jb 16,16-19)
Sackcloth and ashes stand for the roughness and lowliness of human nature. Jesus Christ made a tunic for himself from the sackcloth of our nature, sewing it with the needle of the Holy Spirit’s subtle operation, and the thread of the blessed Virgin’s faith; and he put it on and sprinkled it with the ashes of lowliness and poverty. Diseased and accursed eyes cannot see this. Alas! The face of Jesus Christ was swollen with blows and tears. He bore them without iniquity in his hand, having done no iniquity, nor was there deceit in his mouth (Is 53,9). He offered pure prayers to his Father for the impure and the defiled. As Isaiah says, He prayed for the transgressors (Is 53,12), saying, Father, forgive them.. (Lc 23,34). O earth (that is, O sinner), do not cover my blood with the love of earthly things. It was the price of your redemption. I beg you, let it make you fruitful. I have written TAU on your forehead in my own blood, lest the destroying angel destroy you (cf. Ez 9,4-5). I beg you, do not cover it with earth. Do not erase the writing of the inscription that Pilate would not change. He confirmed it, saying, What I have written, I have written (Jn 19,22).
Neither let my cry find a hiding place in thee. The cry of our Redeemer is the Blood of redemption, which (as the Apostle says to the Hebrews) speaketh better than the blood of Abel (He 12,24). The blood of Abel sought the death of the fratricide, but the blood of the Lord intercedes for the life of his persecutors. His cry finds a hiding place in us, if our tongue is silent about what our mind believes. The blinded eyes do not see this sackcloth or these ashes. The deaf ears do not hear this cry. So the Lord adds: I say to you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see...
The prophets stand for the prelates of the Church, kings for the powerful of the world. Both would like to see Christ in heaven, but they are unwilling to behold him hanging on the Cross. They want both to reign with Christ and to rejoice with the world. They say with Balaam: Let my soul die the death of the just (Nb 23,10). They want to behold the glory of the divinity, which the Apostles saw, but not to bear the shame of the Passion or the poverty of Jesus Christ, which his disciples bore; and so they will not see him with
the Apostles, they will gaze with the wicked on him they have pierced (cf. Jn 19,37).
They will not hear the gentle whisper, Come, ye blessed of my Father, only the thunder: Depart, ye cursed.
5. Regarding this, Job says:
Who shall be able to behold the thunder of his greatness? (Jb 26,14) and:
Thou didst hold the exttremities of the earth, shaking them; and thou hast shaken the ungodly out of it. (cf. Jb 36,13)
The Lord held the extremities of the earth when he chose the weak and contemptible things of the world to confound the strong (cf. 1Co 1,27-28). A father holds his son with one hand, while he chastises him with the other. He holds him, lest he should fall headlong; but he chastises him, lest he grow proud and insolent. In this way the Lord holds the just man with the hand of mercy, lest he fall into sin; but he chastises him, lest he raise himself above the Father’s grace- as the Apostle says; Lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me... (2Co 12,7).
Then follows: And thou hast shaken the ungodly out of it. In the day of judgement, the Lord will shake the wicked out of our earth, in which they have sinned, into hell: as one might shake the dust out of a bag. The earth itself, irritated by the weight of their sins, will shake the wicked into hell, wherein there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (cf.
Mt 8.12) for those who wander in vanity and pillage the goods of the poor. The eyes of such will not see Jesus in heaven, but a multitude of demons in hell. They will not hear the song of the angels, but only the gnashing of teeth.
6. To this clause, the Introit of today’s Mass is concordant:
Behold, O God our protector; and look upon the face of thy Christ.
For better is one day in thy courts above thousands. (Ps 83,10-11)
Blessed are the eyes which will see, in bitterness of heart, the face of Jesus Christ, swollen with blows and smeared with spittle; for they will see that on which the angels long to gaze (cf. 1P 1,12), glorious in the courts of the heavenly Jerusalem. Job says:
He shall see his face with joy (Jb 33,26), as if to say, if a man will first see here, in bitterness of heart, the face of Jesus Christ as it was in his Passion; then later he will see it in joyfulness of mind such as can neither be expressed nor restrained, as it is in eternal blessedness. The brightness of this countenance is the ‘one day’ which lightens the city of Jerusalem without interruption, and which exceeds every other brightness. It is this we
pray the Father that we may be found fit to attain, saying: Behold, O God our protector. If God’s protection were always to hand, we would believe less that we needed it; it is useful if it is sometimes withdrawn, that a man may be shown that he is nothing without it. Behold, O God our protector: and look upon the face of thy Christ. Do not look upon our sins, Father, but look upon the face of thy Christ, which because of our sins was swollen with blows and tears, and smeared with spittle, to reconcile us sinners to you. So that you may spare us, he shows you his face bruised with blows, that you may look upon it, and, as you look, have mercy on us who were the cause of his Passion.
(A theme for the Nativity of the Lord on: If there shall be an angel for him; and:
Like a grain of mustard-seed.)
7. There is a concordance to this in Job:
If there shall be an angel speaking for him,
one among thousands, to declare man’s uprightness,
he shall have mercy on him, and shall say:
Deliver him, that he may not go down to corruption.
I have found wherein I may be merciful to him.
His flesh is consumed with punishments:
let him return to the days of his youth. (Jb 33,23-25)
This angel means Christ. He speaks for us to the Father, as one like us. While he surpasses us in all his operations by his immense power, in one thing at least he is not unlike us: in the reality of his form. He who speaks for us to the Father by the nature which shows his likeness to us, speaks to the Father by the very thing that constitutes that likeness. His speaking is itself ‘showing himself as a man for us’, a man to whom no equal is to be found, a man who, being without sin, intercedes for sinners.
He shall have mercy on him, and shall say... Being a mediator, he has pity on man, because he took human form. He says: Deliver him, that he may not go down to corruption. His ‘saying’ consists in freeing man by taking human nature to show it as free. Indeed, by the very flesh he took, he shows that what he redeemed is free. I
I have found wherein I may be merciful to him; as if to say clearly, because there was not a single man who might appear before God as a righteous intercessor for mercy, I made myself man, to intercede for men. And while showing myself as man, I found in man that whereby I might be merciful to man.
His flesh is consumed with punishments. The human race was oppressed with innumerable punishments for its vices and guilt, but when the Redeemer came it returned to the days of its youth; that is, it was renewed in the integrity of its former life, that the cause of its fall might not remain in it, but, being redeemed, it might return to what it was created to attain.
8. To this first clause the first part of today’s Epistle is concordant:
To Abraham were the promises made and to his seed. He saith not, And to his seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. (Ga 3,16)
He was like the grain of mustard seed, planted in the garden of the blessed Virgin. By his poverty and humility, he was the smallest of all seeds (that is, of all men) in his Nativity; he grew in his preaching and miracles, wherein he was greater than all herbs (the fathers of the Old Testament); he became a tree in his Resurrection, and spread his branches in the preaching of the Apostles; so that the birds of the air (the Church’s faithful) come by faith, and live by hope and charity, in its branches- his teaching and example (cf. Mt 13,31-32)
Therefore, blessed are those who see him now by faith, in whom all the nations are blessed, for they shall see him hereafter face to face in heavenly glory, and shall hear: Come, you blessed of my Father. May the blessed Christ himself vouchsafe to bring us to that vision, and to the sound of that voice; he who is God, blessed for ever. Amen.
(A theme for a sermon on the love of God, and on the position of the human heart, on: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.)
9. There follows, secondly:
And behold a certain lawyer stood up, tempting him, and saying, Master, what must I do to possess eternal life? But he said to him, What is written in the law? How readest thou? He answering said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said to him: Thou hast answered rightly; this do, and thou shalt live. (Lc 10,25-28)
This text includes every perfection, of this life and the next. Each and every word is of great power and utility, and we will treat briefly of them all.
Love binds together, and so implies two terms. Love is based on two precepts, the love of God and of neighbour, and is to be found only in the good. Love binds two together. The Lord is master of all creation, head of all the cosmic household, the judge of all. God
(in Hebrew: El) is the Awesome, the One who sees all. The Greek theos is related to the word for ‘run’, for he runs through all things. Love binds us to God and to our neighbour. It is the ‘line’ that the Lord speaks of in Job:
Who hath stretched the line upon it?
Upon what are its bases grounded? (Jb 38,5-6)
The Lord has stretched the line of his love upon the soul, so that it may in turn stretch itself out to love of neighbour. On what, other than Jesus Christ, are its ‘bases’ (the pure intentions of the soul, upon which the whole fabric of virtues rests) grounded? If ever the intention is not firmly grounded upon Christ, the whole structure collapses, and great is the fall thereof (cf. Mt 7,27). Therefore, Love the Lord thy God.
Note these two terms, ‘Lord’ and ‘God’. He is Lord, as master of all creation; he is God, who sees all things and runs through all things. So Sophar the Naamathite says of him:
He is higher than heaven, and what wilt thou do?
He is deeper than hell, and how wilt thou know?
The measure of him is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.
If he shall overturn all things, or shall press them together,
who shall contradict him?...
Or, who can say: Why dost thou so? (Jb 11,8-10 Jb 9 Jb 12)
‘Heaven’ means the angels; ‘hell’, the demons; ‘earth’, just men; ‘the sea’, sinners. The angels cannot scale his height; he judges the wiles of the demons, being far subtler than they think; his patience surpasses the long-suffering of the just; and he is present everywhere, even in the deeds of sinners.
Also: man is ‘heaven’ by contemplation; ‘hell’ by the darkness of temptation; ‘earth’ when he bears fruit; and ‘sea’ when he is troubled and changeable. But man’s contemplation falls short of God, and when he struggles with temptation he fears God’s keener judgements. In the end, his reward exceeds his works. However much his mind tosses as it seeks, it cannot fathom what the future holds. Again: God’s ‘breadth’ is measured by his love; his ‘length’ by his forbearance; his ‘height’ in surpassing our intellectual desires; and his ‘depth’ in judging the unlawful movements of the flesh. He overturns heaven when he destroys man’s contemplation; hell, when he allows the timid in temptation to fall into worse things; earth, when he uproots the fruit of good works by adversity; and the sea, when he confounds our stumbling with the terror of judgement.
He presses heaven and hell together, when contemplation uplifts, and temptation blinds the very same mind. He presses earth and sea together, when in the same mind there is a sure faith in what is eternal to strengthen it, and a wind of doubt to blow on it with indecision. Because he is like this, and so great, he is to be loved: therefore, Love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart.
It says, ‘thy’ God: and so he is to be loved all the more. We love what is ours more than what is someone else’s. He deserves your love, who, being your Lord and God, made himself your servant; so that you might be his, and might not be ashamed to serve him. As Isaiah says:
Thou hast made me to serve with my sins. (Is 43,24)
For thirty-three years your God was made your slave becuse of your sins, so that he might free you from slavery to the devil. Therefore, you shall love the Lord your God who made you, who subjected himself for your sake, who gave himself wholly to you, that you might give yourself wholly to him. Love the Lord your God, then. In his first work, when you were not, he gave himself to you; in his second work, when you were faring ill, he gave himself to you that you might be well; and when he gave himself to you, he gave you back to yourself. Given and restored, you owe him yourself; you owe him double; and you owe him totally. Therefore, love the Lord your God with all your heart. When he says ‘all’, he does not exempt some part of you; he commands you to offer your whole self to him. ‘By his whole self, he redeemed your whole self’, that he alone might possess you wholly. Therefore, love the Lord your God with all your heart. Do not withhold part of yourself, like Ananias and Saphira, lest you perish wholly with them (cf. Ac 5,1-10). Love wholly, not in part. God has no parts, he is everywhere wholly, and so he does not want just some part in what is yours, being wholly in what is his. If you keep back some part of you for yourself, you are yours and not his. Do you want to have him wholly? Then give him what is yours, and he will give you what is his. Then you will have nothing of your own, because you will have all of him with all of yourself. Therefore, love the Lord your God.
(On the Passion: A bundle of myrrh.)
10. Take note of these four things: heart, soul, strength and mind. The heart is situated in the middle of the human chest, a little to the left hand side, just off the dividing line between the breasts. It inclines towards the left breast, in the upper part of the chest. It is not large, nor elongated in shape, but it is more or less round, and somewhat narrow and pointed at the end. O man, the very position and shape of your heart tells you how you should love the Lord your God. Your heart is in the middle of your chest, between your two breasts. These two breasts offer a double reminder: of the Lord’s Incarnation, and of his Passion, from which the soul is nourished as by two breasts. The right breast is the reminder of his Incarnation, the left of his Passion. Your heart should be set between these two breasts, so that whatever you think and whatever you do aright, you should refer wholly to the poverty and humility of the Incarnation, and to the bitterness of the Lord’s Passion. Thus the Bride says in Canticles:
A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me; he shall abide between my breasts. (Ct 1,12)
The soul, the Bride of Jesus Christ, beloved Son of God the Father, makes for herself a bundle of myrrh from the whole life of her beloved. She remembers how he was laid in the manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes and driven into Egypt, a poor and homeless exile; how frequently he was hurt by the injuries and blasphemies of the Jews; how he was betrayed by his disciple, bound by the guards and led before Annas and Caiphas, tied to a pillar and flogged by Pontius Pilate, crowned with thorns, struck with blows and smeared with spittle, and crucified between thieves and murderers. From all these things, gathered into one and firmly tied with the band of devotion, she makes for herself a bundle of myrrh, that is, of bitterness and sorrow, and she puts it between her breasts, where the heart is situated. Such a bundle of myrrh should always be upon the Bride’s heart.
And note that just as the heart inclines somewhat towards the left breast, so compassion and devotion of heart should incline towards the bitterness of the Lord’s Passion. Thus, Magdalene first poured tears and ointment upon the Lord’s feet, which denote his Passion. Whoever suffers with the Lord in his suffering, weeps over his feet; and whoever gives thanks for the benefit of his Passion, anoints them. We owe both, sorrow and devotion, to the Passion of Jesus Christ. And as your heart is in the upper part of your chest, so its thoughts and will should be set upon the glory above. Where your treasure is- Jesus Christ, the manna in the gold vessel- there your heart should be too (cf. Mt 6,21). And as your heart is not large, nor elongated in shape, but tends rather to roundness: so you too should not swell up with pride, or stretch out by desire, but live a rounded and perfect life. A round object suffers no diminution. And as the end of your heart is narrow and comes to a point, so you should always recollect how the end of your life will be narrow and sharp. Narrow, because you needs must pass through the very narrow gate of death, through which you will not be able to carry anything with you save your sins, which are worthless; sharp, because fear of the Judge will pierce you, and horror of punishment will sting you. Therefore, while you have your heart in your own power, love the Lord your God with all your heart.
(On the soul and its powers: With all your soul)
11. And with all your soul. The soul is an incorporeal substance, intellectual, rational, invisible, of unknown origin, and with nothing of earth mixed in it. The etymology may refer to that which is the principle of its own movement (anemos), and the cause of motion in bodies; or from ‘recollection’ (ana-mneia); or from that which gives (an-iemi) life to a body, as a kind of superior ‘life-blood’ (ana-ema). Therefore, love the Lord your God with all your soul, that all your movement, thought and life may be related to love of him.
(Against carnal folk: Sweet to the gravel.)
And with all your strength. The soul has three powers: the rational, the concupiscible and the irascible. By the rational power we distinguish good from bad; by the concupiscible we desire the good, and by the irascible we detest the bad. Weak people who have lost these powers are like those of whom Job says:
He hath been sweet to the gravel of Cocytus,
and he shall draw every man alter him. (Jb 21,33)
By ‘gravel’ we understand the small stones in rivers, which the current drags along with it. Cocytus, in mythology, was supposed to be formed from the tears of women and weaklings. The philosophers say that the river Cocytus flows in hell, meaning that the tears of the wicked flow there. The love of transitory things is ‘sweet to the gravel of Cocytus’, to those who will not stand firm against false pleasures, and who by their daily falls are drawn towards eternal sorrow. The delight of earthly love draws ‘every man’, meaning ‘the whole man’, rational, concupiscible and irascible. Worldly prudence draws the rational power, pleasure of the flesh draws the concupiscible, and vainglory the irascible.
(On the four friends of Job and their meaning: Eliphaz.)
12. These are the three friends of Job: Eliphaz the Themanite, Baldad the Suhite and Sophar the Naamathite (cf. Jb 2,11, that, despite the ‘theme’, Eliu is not mentioned by Antony)
‘Eliphaz’ means ‘contempt of the Lord’, and ‘Themanite’ means ‘of the south wind’. He represents worldly prudence, which proceeds from the hot south wind of worldly desire- for the children of this world are wiser in their generation, etc. (cf. Lc 16,8). It despises the wisdom of the Lord, and so is despised by it; whence Isaiah says:
When being wearied thou shalt cease to despise, thou shalt be despised. (Is 33,1)
‘Baldad’ means ‘antiquity alone’, and ‘Suhite’ means ‘speaking’. He represents the pleasure of the flesh which began from our first parents, and which by succeeding generations makes old the skin of the children. The old Adam passed on this inheritance to us; this ageing arose from the serpent’s words. So in the psalm the penitent says:
Through the voice of my groaning my bone hath cleaved to my flesh, (Ps 101,6)
that is, from the temptations of pleasure, which are the cause of my groaning, my reason and virtue cleave to my carnality.
‘Sophar’ means ‘the scattering of the look-out’, and ‘Naamathite’ means ‘beauty’- the vainglory which arise from the false appearance of religion, and scatters the look-out of contemplation and every good work: They have received their reward. (Mt 6,5)
By these three, the three virtues of the soul are destroyed; and so it is necessary for blessed Job (‘mourning’), the penitent who mourns in order to be free of grief, not to listen to or heed these three friends (of whom he himself says, My friends are full of words (Jb 16,21)), so that he may love the Lord his God with all his strength.
13. And with all your mind. ‘The mind is that part of the soul by which all reason and understanding is perceived.’ It is called ‘mind’, because it is eminent in the soul, and because it is mindful. The mind is not the soul as such, but the higher part, from which understanding proceeds. Whence it is because of his mind that man is called the image of God. But all these things are so joined in the soul that it is a single entity. The soul is allotted various names, according to the effects it produces. As it animates the body, it is ‘life’; as it chooses, it is ‘the will’; as it thinks, it is ‘the mind’; as it judges what is right, it is ‘the reason’; as it breathes, it is ‘the spirit’; when it senses, it is ‘feeling’. Therefore: Love the Lord your God with all your mind, so that whatever you think, know or understand, you refer to the love of God.
There follows: And thy neighbour as thyself. (Regarding this, see the first part of the Gospel: There was a certain rich man who was clad in purple and fine linen (Pentecost I)). There is a concordance to this in Job, where he says:
Visiting thy species thou shalt not sin, (Jb 5,24)
regarding which, see the second clause of the first sermon: In the beginning God created heaven and earth (Septuagesima).
14. To this second clause, the second part of the Epistle is concordant:
This I say, that the testament which was confirmed by God... (Ga 3,17)
A testament is a will, written, witnessed and confirmed. God’s will is love of him and of our neighbour, written in the law of nature and confirmed by the witness of Scripture and grace, whereby he said;
This is my commandment, that you love one another. (Jn 15,12)
This testament came into force on the death of the testator; so John says:
Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end, (Jn 13,1) that is, to death: not because his love was ended by death, but because he loved so
much that his love led him even to death.
We ask you then, Lord Jesus, to bind us with love of you and of our neighbour, whereby we may love you with all our heart (that is, strongly, so that we may not be drawn away), with all our soul (that is, wisely, lest we be deceived), with all our strength and with all our mind (that is, steadily, lest we be tempted and diverted from your love); and our neighbour as ourselves. Grant this, you who are blessed for ever and ever. Amen.
(A moral sermon on the life of the prelate or preacher: The lamp shined.)
15. Do this, and thou shalt live. Job says:
The lamp of God shined over my head...
I washed my feet in butter:
and the rock poured me out rivers of oil. (cf. Jb 29,3 Jb 29,6)
The lamp denotes preaching, the head is the mind; the butter is compunction leading to tears, the feet are the affections of the heart; the rock is Christ, and the oil is the grace of the Holy Spirit. So, when the light of preaching shines on the mind of a sinner, he washes the stains from his feet (the affections of his heart) with the butter of compunction flowing from the richness of his love. Thus the rock of Jesus Christ pours out upon him rivers of oil, the abundant grace of the Holy Spirit, whereby he is enlightened here and now, and will live in glory in the world to come. Whence the Lord says: This do, and thou shalt live.
(On the life of the just man: There was a man in the land of Hus, named Jb 1)
Take note of the three words, ‘this’, ‘do’ and ‘live’. They refer to teaching, life and glory. ‘This’ is the teaching, ‘do’ is your life, and ‘live’ is glory. O man, what you hear in preaching, put into practice in your life. When the lamp shines on your head, wash your feet with butter; and so you will live, because the rock will pour rivers of oil upon you, the very thing you hear: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God (with all thy heart, soul, strength and mind). These four are concordant to the four qualities ascribed to Job at the beginning of the book:
There was a man in the land of Hus, whose name was Job: and that man was simple, and upright, and fearing God, and avoiding evil. (Jb 1,1)
The ‘Land of Hus’ is counsel. Therein lives the just man who keeps the counsels and commandments of the Lord. He is simple in the purity of his heart, upright in the affection of his soul, God-fearing in the ordered expression of his natural strength, and he avoids evil with firmness of mind.
(Against those who seek human praise: If I beheld the sun.)
Do this, and you will be simple, without deviousness or deceit, seeking God’s praise, not your own, and saying with Job:
If I beheld the sun when it shined,
and the moon going in brightness:
and my heart in secret hath rejoiced,
and I have kissed my hand with my mouth:
(which very great iniquity,
and a denial against the most high God). (Jb 31,26-28)
‘The sun when it shines’ means good deeds being shown off. ‘The moon in brightness’ is reputation, which as it shines in the night of this life derives its strength from good deeds. ‘The heart rejoicing in secret’ refers to those who are puffed up with self-praise, and rejoice over themselves. ‘Kissing the hand with the mouth’ is to praise one’s own work (hand) with the speech of one’s mouth. That is ‘a great iniquity and a denial against God’, because whoever takes credit to himself for the good he does is convicted of denying the grace of his maker. Do this, then, in such wise as you do not gaze on the sun of your good works or the moon of your reputation, and take pride in them. Do not praise yourself, but give all the credit to your Creator.
(A theme for a sermon for penitents: If thou wilt arise early.)
16. Do this, also, that you may be upright; as Bildad the Suhite says:
If thou wilt arise early to God,
and wilt beseech the Almighty:
If thou wilt walk clean and upright:
he will presently awake unto thee,
and will make the dwelling of thy justice peaceable.
In so much, that if thy former things were small,
thy latter things would be multiplied exceedingly. (Jb 8,5-7)
If you arise, in mind and heart together, early in contrition of heart, to God; and beseech the Almighty by confessing your sin and his praise; and walk clean and upright in penitential satisfaction: he will awake to you in the morning of contrition, and make the dwelling of your justice peaceable in the confession of your sin. He who, by justly accusing himself, judges himself in confession, will possess his bodily dwelling in peace, with a tranquil mind. In so much, that if thy former things were small: that is, penance here and now increases grace, and heaps up glory hereafter. Do this, then, and you will live.
Do this, too, that you may be God-fearing, so as to say with Job:
I have always feared God as waves swelling over me; and his weight I was not able to bear. (Jb 31,23)
When the waves crash down, sailors take no heed of temporal concerns, nor does carnal pleasure occupy their minds! They even cast overboard the very things for which they had taken large vessels. The God-fearing man, when he is, as it were, tossed about by the waves, desires true life and despises all the things he carries as earthly possessions. Alternatively, the tossing waves may be understood as the final cataclysm, when all the elements are shaken, and the heavenly Judge comes to bring about the end of all: as the saints dread daily. His weight I was not able to bear, because if you consider the final judgement with an attentive mind, you will see that the impending terror is so great that you will be afraid even to think about it, let alone see it! Do this, then, and you will live.
17. Do this, too, that you may avoid evil. Sophar the Naamathite says:
If thou wilt put away from thee the iniquity that is in thy hand, and let not injustice remain in thy tabernacle: then mayest thou lift up thy face without spot; and thou shalt be steadfast and shalt not fear.
Thou shalt also forget misery,
and remember it only as waters that are passed away.
And brightness, like that of the noonday, shall arise to thee at evening;
and when thou shalt think thyself consumed, thou shalt rise as the day-star.
And thou shalt have confidence, hope being set before thee: and being buried thou shalt sleep secure.
Thou shalt rest, and there shall be none to make thee afraid. (Jb 11,14-19)
St Gregory1 says: "Iniquity in the hand is sinful action; injustice in the tabernacle is wickedness in the mind. The mind is called a tabernacle, in which we are hidden within ourselves, when we are not seen outwardly in action. To lift up the face is to raise up the mind to God by the practice of prayer; a spot disfigures that face when conscience accuses him of his sin. Thou shalt be steadfast and not fear, for the more one is firmly established in good deeds, the less one fears judgement. Thou shalt forget misery, for the more the mind neglects the good that is to come, the harder it feels the evils of this present life; but if it fixes the heart’s eye on the things that last, it recks nothing of whatever leads to its goal. Brightness like the noon-day: the noon-day brightness in the evening is the renewal of virtue in temptation."
And when thou shalt think thyself consumed. Often, so many temptations beset us that we are inclined almost to fall into despair; but our Maker looks upon our darkness, and restores the rays of lost light. Then you will have confidence, with the hope of divine mercy set before you.
And being buried thou shalt sleep secure. They sleep secure, being buried, who enter watchfully into their inmost parts, and hide themselves from the laborious burdens of this world under the stillness of rest: Thou shalt rest, and none shall make thee afraid. Whoever has an unshakeable desire for eternity will desire nothing in the world, and so will fear nothing of the world.
Do this, then, and you will live; with the life of grace now, and the life of glory hereafter. May he who is life and glory lead you to it, he who is blessed for ever and ever. Amen.
Anthony_Sermons - (SECOND CLAUSE)