Anthony_Sermons - (SECOND CLAUSE)
(The theme for preaching on humility: When thou art invited.)
13. There follows, thirdly,
When thou art invited to a wedding, sit not down in the first place, lest perhaps one more honourable than thou be invited by him; and he that invited thee and him come and say to thee: Give this man place. And then thou begin with shame to take the lowest place. (Lc 14,8-9)
The Gloss says: "When by the grace of faith you are called by the preacher, and join yourself to the members of the Church, do not boast about your own merits as if you were better than the rest." In this third part the Lord touches on two things, namely pride, when he says:
They love the first chairs in the synagogues; (Mt 23,6) and humility, when he says:
Sit down in the lowest place.
There is great pride in wanting to sit down in the first place at the wedding (the Church of Jesus Christ), in a position of honour. That is why the Lord says, They love the first chairs in the synagogues, disdaining second place. "Unhappy ambition, knowing not how to achieve true greatness!" " The keen scout," says St Bernard4 , "goes round, crawling on hands and knees, to see if he can gain into the inheritance of the Crucified; and the wretched man does not know that it is bought with blood!" Flesh with blood thou shalt not eat (Gn 9,4), says Genesis. Eating flesh with blood is mis-spending the inheritance of the Crucified on oneself by living carnally. His soul is lost to God’s people. So do not sit down in the first place, because the Lord says in Amos:
I detest the pride of Jacob and I hate his houses. (Am 6,8)
They sacrifice to idols on the high places, whereas the Lord was conceived in the humble place of Nazareth; in Jerusalem he was crucified on a hill. Do not sit down in the first place. St Gregory5 says: "You can never learn humility on a peak, if you do not leave off from pride when you are entrusted with little things." You who love the peak of dignity, you are looking for the death of your soul, the loss of your good name, and peril for your body. The higher the step, the harder the fall. What madness, to run into such danger!
Do not sit down in the first place, because afterwards you will begin with shame to take the lowest- in hell!
(On the sin of simony: Alcimus, who gave money.)
14. There is a concordance to this in the first Book of Maccabees, where it tells how Alcimus, who is said to have given money to buy the honour of the chief priesthood (cf. 1M 7,21)
was struck; and his mouth was stopped and he was taken with a palsy, so that he could no more speak a word nor give order concerning his house. And he died at that time in great torment. (1M 9,55-56)
Alcimus means ‘yeast of bad counsel’, and he represents the simoniac who corrupts those selling the doves which are souls with the yeast of money. Let not my soul come into their counsel, because it is the counsel of the wicked. He who wants to sit down in the place of ecclesiastical dignity, not called by God as Aaron was, will be like the palsied Alcimus, struck down with paralysis, dying unconfessed, intestate and in great torment; he will begin with shame to take the last and lowest place in hell, who wanted to appear first in importance. Go, sit in the lowest place, brother, and you will deserve to hear: Friend, go up higher. The Philosopher6 says, "Attend to little things, so that you do not fall"; for as Solomon says in Proverbs: He that maketh his house high, seeketh a downfall (Pr 17,16). That is why Abraham dwelt in tents with Isaac (He 11,3). Go and sit in the lowest place.
The lowest place is the remembrance of death; he who sits in the first place has no desire for it. St Jerome7 says, "He who always thinks that he is going to die, easily despises everything." In this lowest place, brother, take your place. Sit down there, beholding afar off, and saluting, the heavenly Jerusalem whose builder and maker is God, and confessing yourself a pilgrim and stranger upon earth (cf. He 11,10 He 11,13). This is how to sit down in the lowest place: set yourself above no-one, think yourself lower than aothers, and so you will hear: Friend, go up higher. "From humility, he will recognise you as a friend, who from pride would put you down"8 . Your friend is the keeper of your soul, and humility is the keeper of the virtues. He who has it keeps his soul, so that it does not escape him, nothing being more fleeting. With all watchfulness keep thy heart (Pr 4,23). Do you want to be a friend of God? Keep your heart, or mind; for if it escapes, your soul will pay for it. Every one that humbleth himself shall be exalted
(To religious, on keeping their heart: One of the prophets cried to the king.)
15. It says in the Third Book of Kings that:
One of the prophets cried to the king, and said: Thy servant went out to fight. And when a certain man was run away, one brought him to me, and said: Keep this man; and if he shall slip away, thy life shall be for his life, or thou shalt pay a talent of silver. And whilst I in a hurry turned this way and that, on a sudden he was not to be seen. And the king of Israel said to him: This is thy judgement, which thyself hath decreed. (1R 20,39-40)
Whoever of us has come into religious life, has come out to fight against the evil spirits.
In this fight, ‘one man’ (our soul) runs away from us; but God’s grace brings our soul back to us, when he makes us return to him, and to each of us he says: Keep this man. We keep by caring, we care with our heart. So keep this man: care for him, lest he lose his manhood and run away, prostituting himself and following his lovers. If he shall slip away, thy life shall be for his life. See what the Lord threatens. Note the words, ‘slip
away’. "How suddenly it slips, that was born so long ago!".9 I saw that the people slipt from me (1S 13,11), said Saul. My life is fallen into the pit, said Jeremiah (Lm 3,53). Alas! How many times my soul, the source of my life, falls into into the pit of misery and the mire of dregs (Ps 39,3). Will my soul pay for my soul, my life; or shall I pay a talent of silver? Alas, Lord God! I have a soul, but I cannot weigh a talent of silver, purity of life, in the scales of your judgement. So do not weigh my soul against that which has slipped away! Truly, Lord, your judgements are just, and I deserve to be hanged, because I have not kept my heart, my life, which you have entrusted to me; and I deserve to lose my life.
Whilst I in a hurry turned this way and that, on a sudden he was not to be seen. See how the soul slips away! Take note: I was in a hurry, and I turned this way and that. In a hurry, because involved in earthly concerns. No wonder your soul slips away, when you are hurried by such preoccupations! Do you want to keep your soul? Stay tranquil in mind; and attend to what is meant by ‘this way and that’. This way to the flesh, that way to the world you turn, and lose your soul. You must not turn to right or left, but walk the king’s highway, to have yourself always in sight. Do not judge your life or morality by this man or that; let no-one lead you astray. Suddenly, he was gone! Wherever you turn (if not towards God or towards yourself), suddenly your soul will be gone. So do not turn yourself, have your face set towards Jerusalem, to go up upon your heart. Keep it, and you will be God’s friend. So God says, Go up higher. He who sits in the lowest place, goes up higher, because he who humbles himself will be exalted. Then thou shalt have glory before them that sit at table with thee (Lc 14,10). Luke says:
He will make them sit down, and passing will minister unto them. (Lc 12,37)
How great a glory, when the Lord ministers to his servant.
16. The third part of the Epistle is concordant to this clause:
One Lord, one faith, one baptism. One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all. (Ep 4,5-6)
If you sit down in the lowest place of humility, you will fear the Lord, hold the faith, and keep your baptismal innocence. There are five things mentioned in this part: Lord, God, Father, faith and Baptism. Whoever wants to hear, Friend, go up higher, should pay heed to the Lord’s power, God’s wisdom, the Father’s mercy, the excellence of faith and the virtue of Baptism. Let him pay head to the power, so as to fear; to the wisdom, so as to be wise; to the mercy, so as to trust; to the excellence of faith, so as to despise temporal things; and to the virtue of Baptism, so as to stand strong in war.
Let us ask the Lord Jesus Christ, then, beloved brothers, to make us sit down in the lowest place, keep our soul, and go up to sit with him in the kingdom of glory. May he grant this, who is above all and throughout all, God blessed in all for ever and ever. Let every humble soul say, Amen. Alleluia.
1 BERNARD, De diversis, sermon 42,3; PL 183.662
2 cf. P. COMESTOR, Historia Scholastica, Lib. Exodi, 10; PL 198.1147
3 OVID, De arte amandi, I,729
4 cf. GAUFRIDUS, Declamationes, 13,14; PL 184.445
5 GREGORY, Regula pastoralis, I,10; PL 77.22
6 cf. SENECA, Epistola 20: Redige te ad parva, ex quibus cadere non possis
7 JEROME, Epistola 53,10 ad Paulinum; PL 22.549
8 GREGORY, In Evangeliis, hom 27,4; PL 76.1207
9 CATO, Dicta, II,17,2
The copyright in this translation belongs to the author, Revd Dr S.R.P. Spilsbury
(The Gospel for the eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost; The Pharisees being gathered together, Jesus asked them, etc.; which is divided into two clauses.)
(First, the theme for a sermon on the Lord’s Nativity, and on the four seasons of the year, and of the three characteristics of the sun, and the three of the earth and of fire, and their meaning: When the time came that the sun shone out.)
1. At that time: The Pharisees being gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying: What think you of Christ? Whose son is he? They say to him: David’s. (Mt 22,41-42)
The second Book of Maccabees says that
When the time came that the sun shone out, which was before in cloud,
there was a great fire kindled, so that all wondered. (2M 1,22)
There are four times, or seasons, of the year: winter, spring, summer and autumn. Winter consumes, spring sows and plants, summer reaps and threshes, and autumn gathers the vintage. There was winter from Adam to Moses, during which time everything was consumed. As the Apostle says:
Death reigned from Adam unto Moses. (Rm 5,14)
There was spring from Moses to Christ, when the law was sown and planted, and there were only flowers that promised fruit to come. Summer was the Incarnation of Christ, at which time the sun himself, formerly in the cloud of the Father’s bosom, shone upon us. This was the time of reaping and threshing, as he said in John:
Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and see the countries; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto life everlasting. (Jn 4,35-36)
Then shall be the autumn, when the grape-skins are thrown on the dung-heap of hell,
and the clear wine rests in the cellar of the heavenly kingdom. But the trial of threshing must come first, because it is through the chalice that we come to glory. When the fulness of time was come, (Ga 4,4) the sun shone out on those in the land and shadow of death, which was before in cloud, hidden from us, and there was a great fire kindled. He himself said:
I am come to cast fire on the earth; and what will I, but that it be kindled? (Lc 12,49)
It is on earth, be it noted, and nowhere else, that he says he will cast fire; and rightly, because he came to cure by applying contraries.
There are three things in fire: heat, brightness, and lightness. Earth has the three opposite characteristics: cold, darkness and heaviness. The fire is the love of God, having the heat of humility, the brightness of chastity and the lightness of poverty.
Earthly things are cold with pride, dark with lust, and heavy with avarice. He came, then, to cast fire on the earth, opposing the heat of humility to the cold and ice of pride; as the Psalm says: He shall send out his word, that is:
Learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart. (Mt 11,29)
and shall melt them (Ps 147,18), the hearts of the proud. He opposes the brightness of chastity to the darkness of lust, as Acts says:
An angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shined in the room of the prison; and he, striking Peter on the side, raised him up, saying: Arise quickly. And the chains fell off from his hands. (Ac 12,7)
The angel, virginal in nature, stands for the grace of chastity, whose light shines in the prison cell, the heart of the sinner blinded by lust. How it imprisons us on every side! The lustful man hides from himself whatever will quench lust, but when the angel strikes his side with the lance of fear, to release the moisture of lust from him, he wakes him from the sleep of death and bids him rise by contrition, quickly in confession, and then the chains of bad habit fall from his hands, his works.
He opposes the weight of avarice with the lightness of poverty. If thou wilt be perfect, go sell, etc. (Mt 19,21), and, as Jeremiah says: A swift runner pursuing his course (Jr 2,23). The swift runner is the poor in spirit, running like a giant of two-fold substance1 . What a weight he frees himself from, when he loves to have nothing, and pursues his course! Wisdom speaks in Proverbs:
I will shew thee the way of wisdom: I will lead thee by the paths of equity (that is, of poverty), which when thou shalt have entered, thy steps (affections) shall not be straitened: and when thou runnest thou shalt not meet a stumbling block. (Pr 4,11-12)
Well said, then: I am come to cast fire on the earth. When the Lord does this, it is truly marvellous in our eyes! So we say again, When the time came that the sun shone out, which was before in cloud, there was a great fire kindled, so that all wondered. It is of this sun, Jesus Christ, that today’s Gospel asks: What think you of Christ? Whose son is he?
2. There are two clauses in today’s Gospel. The first treats of the love of God and of neighbour, and we will not deal with it here, because it has already been explained in the Gospel; Blessed are the eyes that see what you see (Pentecost XIII). The second treats of Christ, and we would like to offer some thoughts on this.
In the Introit of today’s Mass we sing: I am the salvation of the people. The Epistle is taken from that of the blessed Apostle Paul to the Corinthians: I give thanks to my God always for you, which goes with this Gospel because both speak of Christ in a special and particular way.
3. Let us say, then:
The Pharisees being gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying; What think you of Christ? Whose son is he? They say to him; David’s. He saith to them; How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying; The Lord said to my Lord... (Mt 22,41-44)
In this clause is contained the summit of our faith, our belief that the Lord Jesus Christ is true God and true man, sitting at the right hand of the Father. We confess him as Lord and as son of David: Lord, who made everything, including David; whose son he is by descent according to the flesh. The Jews are not reproved for calling him son of David, but for not believing him to be son of God. The Son himself says to them: How is it that David, speaking in the Holy Spirit, not in his own heart, calls him ‘Lord’? He says, The Lord (that is, the Father) said to my Lord (that is, the Son). The Gloss explains, "This implies the generation of a son equal to himself. He is not Lord in virtue of being born from him, but in virtue being always from the Father." Sit on my right, that is in those good things that are to be preferred, while (or until) I make your enemies, the disobedient, a footstool for your feet, subjecting them whether they will or no.
That it is the Father who subjects the enemies betokens the Son’s unity of nature, not his weakness; for the Son also subjects enemies to the Father, by glorifying the Father upon the earth. If David calls him Lord, how is he his son? In other words, you think of the Christ to come as a mere man; so that in David’s lifetime the Christ did not yet exist, nor was he David’s Lord. Did David lie, then? We speak rather of fathers being, and being called, lords to their sons, not sons to their fathers. Let us reject the unbelief of the Jews, and confess with Peter: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God (Mt 16,16), who went forth with his Christ for the salvation of his people, as Habakkuk says (cf. Ha 3,13).
4. So Christ himself says in the Introit of today’s Mass, I am the salvation of the people. From whatever trouble they cry to me, I will hear them, and I will be their Lord for ever. How well the Introit of the Mass is concordant with the story of the Maccabees, which shows clearly how the Lord was the saviour of his people, and heard and helped them in all their troubles. Note the words: ‘Saviour of the people’, ‘I will hear them’ and ‘I will be their Lord.’
There are three concordances to this in today’s Epistle. The first is when the Apostle says:
I give thanks to my God for you in the grace of God, which is given you in Christ Jesus, (1Co 1,4) who says, I am the Saviour of the people, who by grace alone saved his people from their sins.
The second is when he adds: That in all things you are made rich in him, in all utterance and in all knowledge. (1Co 1,5); this is: From whatever trouble they cry to me, I will hear them. Note ‘trouble’, ‘cry’ and ‘hear’. If from ‘trouble’ (from a troubled and contrite heart) they ‘cry’ (in confession), he will ‘hear’ (by granting forgiveness). So ‘in all utterance’ of every kind of confession, and ‘in all knowledge’ of full satisfaction, you are made rich in him, because you are poor and humble in in yourselves. The soul’s riches are remission of sins and bestowal of grace.
The third is: Waiting for the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who also will confirm you unto the end. This is: and I will be their Lord for ever.
So, dearest brothers, let us ask that Lord Jesus, in whose hand, nailed to the Cross, is our salvation, to save us from the assault of the enemy, to hear us by bestowing remission of sins, and to strengthen us to the end, so that we may attain to him, the Lord, who is seated at the right hand of the Father. May he grant this, who is blessed. Amen.
(A moral sermon for religious on the ornament of virtue, on the nature and properties of balsam, where it comes from and what it is like; and on how honey is corrupted by a spider, and what all these things, and others connected with them, mean.)
5. What think you of Christ? Whose son is he? They say to him: David’s.
The Book of Maccabees says:
And they adorned the front of the temple with crowns of gold... and they dedicated an altar to the Lord. (1M 4,57)
Let us see what is meant by the temple, its front, the golden crown, the altar and its dedication. A ‘temple’ suggests ‘contemplation’, or perhaps an ‘ample’ roof. The Apostle says:
The temple of God is holy, which you are. (1Co 3,17)
We are the temple of God, and holy, if we contemplate, and if we are amply roofed. We are contemplatives with respect to God, renouncing temporal things. The Apostle speaks of us contemplating not the things that are seen, but the things that are not seen (2Co 4,18). We are ‘roofed’ as to ourselves, by mortifying the flesh. It says in Matthew: He that is on the housetop, let him not come down to take anything out of his house (Mt 24,17). The Gloss says: "He who goes beyond the flesh, should not return in mind to any of his former behaviour." That is, he should not lean down towards the flesh by any affection. We should be ‘ample’ towards our neighbour, by compassion for him. ‘Ample’ suggests more all round. You should expend more on contemplation of God and compassion for your neighbour, than on your own flesh. If that is the sort of temple you are, you will truly be holy. Thus, they adorned the front of the temple.
The ‘front’ is that which is most known to us. It signifies our works, of which the Lord says: By their fruits ye shall know them (Mt 7,16). The golden crown on the front of the temple is the pure intention of our work. Let us adorn our works with the golden crown of a pure intention, like true Maccabees; not with stibic stone like the harlot Jezebel, who painted her eyes with stibic stone, and adorned her head, and looked out of a window, as the fourth book of Kings says (2R 9,30). Jezebel is said to mean ‘dunghill’, a place full of dung, smeared and defiled with dung. She represents the hypocrite, smeared with the dung of vainglory, where dying flies gather when they can find no sweet ointment. Stibic is white lead, or of a blue colour, and women paint their eyelids with it. It represents popular praise, with which the hypocrite paints his eyes. When he is praised by people, his eyes laugh, his face smiles. He adorns his head, when he praises his own good points, and he looks out of the window both to see and to be seen. "They come to gaze; they come to be gazed on"2 . I pray you, adorn the temple with golden crowns, not with stibic stone!
And they dedicated an altar to the Lord. To dedicate is to give to God. The altar, the ‘high altar’, is our heart, which should be raised up by love, and an altar by our contrition; and so we should dedicate it, give it to God, who says in Proverbs, My son, give me thy heart (Pr 23,26). Whoever gives God his heart is a true ‘Christ’, anointed with grace, and the son of David. Thus it is said in today’s Gospel: What think you of Christ? Whose son is he? They say to him: David’s. We would like to say something of a moral nature on these two words, Christ and David.
6. The word ‘Christ’ is derived from ‘chrism’, which is made from oil and balsam. Balsam is a vine-like tree, supported like a vine. It stands two cubits high, and is distinguished by its evergreen foliage. It is cut with glass or with bone knives, because the touch of iron harms it, and it quickly dies. It secretes drops of beautiful perfume. Its finest features are these ‘tears’, secondly its seed, thirdly its bark, and lastly its wood. It preserves youth, and prevents decay. If its drop is mixed with honey, it is spoiled, but it is proved to be without honey if it is congealed with milk. When the sun is shining bright, it cannot be held in the hand. Let us dwell on each of these characteristics, and say something about them.
The balsam tree is the life of the just man, which should resemble the vine, and be supported in the same way. A vine is dug round, pruned, and supported with stakes. The just man should likewise be dug round with the hoe of contrition, pruned with the knife of confession, and sustained by the stakes of satisfaction. The first is in Luke: Leave it this year, and I will dig round it, and apply dung (cf. Lc 13,8). The second is in Canticles: The time of pruning is here; the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land (the penitent’s confession) (Ct 2,12). The stakes (which are small ones) represent the humility of satisfaction, with which the life of the just is upheld, as the Lord says in Isaiah: I shall fasten him as a stake in the place of the faithful (Is 22,23). The stake is fixed in the place of the faithful, when the life of the just man is kept in humility, in Holy Church.
It stands two cubits high. These two cubits are the two precepts of charity, whereby the just man is raised above earthly things. Of the first cubit, the love of God, the Lord says to Noah in Genesis:
Thou shalt make a window in the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish the top of it. (Gn 6,16)
An ark conceals from a thief, or from sight; it is the life of the just, who hides himself from every sin. The window, which looks on the outside, is devotion of mind, through which the dove which is the soul goes in and out. It goes out to contemplate God, it goes in to consider itself. The window in the ark is therefore devotion in the life of the just, which is topped in a cubit, the love of God. Blessed are those who die in the Lord, says John in the Apocalypse (Ap 14,13), and Stephen fell asleep in the Lord (Ac 7,60). Regarding the second cubit, love of neighbour, Moses gave this command, to dig a trench of one cubit round the altar (cf. Ez 43,13). The trench of one cubit around the altar represents compassion for his neighbour in the mind of the just.
It is distinguished by its evergreen foliage., representing the perseverance of the just; of which Job says:
At the scent of water a tree shall spring, and bring forth leaves. (Jb 14,7 Jb 14,9)
Scent is of the air; what is it but an attractive air? The ‘scent’ is the infusion of grace, and when you draw it in you send forth the shoot of good work, and so make the foliage of perseverance.
It is cut by glass or by bone knives, because iron is harmful to it, and it quickly dies.
Glass represents the transparency of eternal life, as John says in the Apocalypse: The city was of pure gold, like to clear glass (Ap 21,18). In a glass, whatever liquid it contains is seen from outside. In gold and glass we understand the company of the saints in their heavenly home, shining with the glory of blessedness, and which grossness of body does not hide from the eyes of another. To those who gaze on God’s glory, nothing which happens in God’s creation is invisible. The ‘bones’ represent the examples of the saints, which support our frailty as bones support the flesh. The balsam tree, then, is cut by glass or bone knives when the life or mind of the just is opened to compunction by desire for heavenly glory, or by the example of the saints. But if it is cut by iron (mortal sin), it dies at once, because the soul that sins shall surely die (Ez 18,4).
It secretes drops of beautiful perfume. It is extremely beautiful; and it represents the sweet influence of a holy life. The Apostle says that we are the good odour of Christ to God in every place (cf. 2Co 2,14), and Ecclesiasticus says: My odour is as the purest balm (Si 24,21). The odour of the hypocrite is impure, corrupt, because while holiness appears outwardly, wickedness hides within. The odour of the just is pure, because the purity of his conscience is concordant with the odour of his reputation. Its finest features are these ‘tears’, secondly its seed, thirdly its bark, and lastly its wood. Note these four: the ‘tear’ of balsam is the sweetness of contemplation; its seed is the word of preaching; its bark is the roughness of penance; its wood is this mortal body. Of the first, the book of Judges says that Axa, sitting upon her ass, wept for the water above (cf. Jg 1,14-15). This comes about when the soul, restraining the flesh, looks towards the sweetness of contemplation with devout desire. Of the second, Luke says that the sower went out to sow his seed (Lc 8,5). Of the third, we know that bark covers the outside, as the roughness of penance covers our sins. Blessed are those whose sins are covered (Ps 31,1). Of the fourth, Job says:
A tree hath hope. If it be cut, it groweth green again. (Jb 14,7)
Just so a man has, and should have, hope that his ‘wood’ (his body) after being cut down by the pruning of death, will flourish again in the general resurrection. Little thanks, and almost no care, is due to this wood, as to a useless servant; but great thanks are due to the bark of penance, because it is greatly effective. To the seed of preaching still more is due, because by it we get to the bark; but most of all, and in the first place, thanks are due for the tear of contemplation, which has in itself the greatest and best sweetness.
It preserves youth. The sweetness of the contemplative life keeps the soul in the youthfulness of grace: You will renew your youth like the eagle (Ps 102,5). It prevents decay. The mind anointed with that sweetness is kept uncorrupted by consent to sin. On the contrary, however, as the Lord says by Jeremiah:
I will make the pride of Juda and the great pride of Jerusalem to rot. (Jr 13,9)
This refers to clergy and laity. If its drop is mixed with honey, it is spoiled, but it is proved to be without honey if it is congealed with milk. Anyone who mixes it with the honey of temporal things, adulterates the sweetness of contemplation.
7. Natural History tells that spiders reproduce in honey-comb, and corrupt what is in the comb. Little worms are produced in the hives of bees, and they get little wings and fly.
The spider weaves its web in the air. The spider of poisonous pride reproduces in temporal delight, and it spreads its web in the air, as it walks in wonderful things above itself (cf. Ps 130,1). The worms of gluttony and lust are produced, which make a man fly to the desire of what is not his. No wonder if with such a mixture the balm of contemplative life, or of pure conscience, is adulterated! Morals come from convictions. "One grape can develop mould at the sight of another."3 You will prove yourself to be without the honey of transitory sweetness, if you are ‘coagulated’, set in the spirit of poverty by the admixture of the milk of the Lord’s Incarnation. "The bread of Angels has been made milk for little ones", says Saint Augustine,4 so that the little ones are nourished by it.
When the sun is shining bright, it cannot be held in the hand. Balm in the hand is purity of conscience in work. When the burning sun of divine love enlightens and sets fire to the mind of the just man, and shows him what he is, every work and virtue fails. As Daniel says:
I saw this great vision: and there remained no strength in me, and the appearance of my countenance was changed in me, and I fainted away and retained no strength. (Da 10,8)
When the sun of grace is joined to the balm of a pure conscience, there remains no confidence in one’s own works. This is the balm more precious than gold or topaz (cf. Ps 118,127). If only the Queen of Sheba would come, and give us just a little root of balsam, so that we could plant a balsam vine for ourselves! Josephus5 says that when the Queen of Sheba came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, she gave him a root of balsam, from which were propagated the balsam-vines in Engeddi.
8. And so from such balsam, mixed with the oil of mercy, the chrism is made to anoint the just man and make him a christ, and son of David, of whom is said: What think you of Christ? Whose son is he? They say to him: David’s. Truly, the just man anointed with chrism made of oil and balsam is the son of David. David means ‘strong of hand’, or ‘desirable to behold’. A boxer about to fight an opponent anoints his head; and in the same way the just man is anointed with balsam and oil so that he may become strong in hand, and cast down his enemy the devil; then he will be son of David (strength) here and now, and son of glory hereafter, desirable to behold because he will see face to face him on whom the angels desire to gaze (cf. 1P 1,12).
May Jesus Christ himself, the son of David, lead us to the glory of this beauty; who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.
Anthony_Sermons - (SECOND CLAUSE)