Chrysostom hom. on Mt 27
27 Mt 8,14-15
“And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother laid and sick of a fever:1 and He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she arose and ministered unto Him.”2
But Mark adds also, “immediately,”3 meaning to declare the time as well; but this evangelist hath set down only the miracle, without signifying besides the time. And whereas the others say, that she that lay ill did also entreat Him, this too he hath passed over in silence. But this comes not of any dissonance, but the one of brevity, the other of exact narrative. But for what intent did He go into Peter’s house? As it seems to me, to take food. This at least is declared when it is said,
“She arose and ministered unto Him.”4
1 [R. V., “lying sick of a fever.”]
2 A. V., “unto them.” [The Oxford edition has “rec. vers.” here. But the word “received” is now applied, in matters of text, only to the editions of Stephens and Elzevir and the readings they contain. The reference is, of course, to the authorized version, and that version in Mt 8,15 follows the received text.—R;]
3 Mc 1,31. See Lc 4,39). [Mark’s favorite term, eujquv", is rendered “straightway” in the R. V., passim.—R.]
4 Mt 8,15.
For He used to visit His disciples (as Matthew likewise, when He had called him), so honoring them and making them more zealous.
But do thou mark, I pray thee, herein also Peter’s reverence towards Him. For though he had his wife’s mother at home lying ill, and very sick of a fever, he drew Him not into his house, but waited first for the teaching to be finished, then for all the others to be healed; and then when He had come in, besought Him. Thus from the beginning was he instructed to prefer the things of all others to his own.
Therefore neither doth he himself bring Him in, but He entered of His own accord (after the centurion had said, “I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof”s): to show how much favor He bestowed on His disciple. And yet consider of what sort were the houses of these fishermen; but for all that, He disdained not to enter into their mean huts, teaching thee by all means to trample under foot human pride.
And sometimes He heals by words only, sometimes He even stretches forth His hand, sometimes He doeth both these things, to bring into sight His way of healing. For it was not His will always to work miracles in the more surpassing manner: it being needful for Him to be concealed awhile, and especially as concerned His disciples; since they out of their great delight would have proclaimed everything. And this was evident from the fact, that even after coming to the mount, it was needful to charge them that they should tell no man.
Having therefore touched her body, He not only quenched the fever, but also gave her back perfect health. Thus, the disease being an ordinary one, He displayed His power by the manner of healing; a thing which no physician’s art could have wrought. For ye know that even after the departing of fevers, the patients yet need much time to return to their former health. But then all took place at once.
And not in this case only, but also in that of the sea. For neither there did He quiet the winds only and the storm, but He also stayed at once the swelling of the waves; and this also was a strange thing. For even if the tempest should cease, the waves continue to swell for a long time.
But with Christ it was not so, but all at once was ended: and so it befell this woman also. Wherefore also the evangelist, to declare this, said, “She arose and ministered unto Him;”5 which was a sign both of Christ’s power, and of the disposition of the woman, which she showed towards Christ.
And another thing together with these we may hence observe, that Christ grants the healing of some to the faith even of others. Since in this case too, others besought Him, as also in the instance of the centurion’s servant. And this grant He makes, when there is no unbelief in him that is to be healed, but either through disease he cannot come unto Him, or through ignorance imagines nothing great of Him, or because of His immature age.
2. “When the even was come, they brought unto Him many that were possessed with devils: and He cast out the spirits from them with a word, and healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Prophet Esaias, that He took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.”6
Seest thou the multitude, by this time growing in faith? For not even when the time pressed could they endure to depart, nor did they account it unseasonable to bring their sick to Him at eventide.
But mark, I pray thee, how great a multitude of persons healed the evangelists pass quickly over, not mentioning one by one, and giving us an account of them, but in one word traversing an unspeakable sea of miracles. Then lest the greatness of the wonder should drive us again to unbelief, that even so great a people and their various diseases should be delivered and healed by Him in one moment of time, He brings in the prophet also to bear witness to what is going on: indicating the abundance of the proof we have, in every case, out of the Scriptures; such, that from the miracles themselves we have no more; and He saith, that Esaias also spake of these things; “He took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” a He said not, “He did them away,” but “He took and bare them;” which seems to me to be spoken rather of sins, by the prophet, in harmony with John, where he saith, “Behold the Lamb of God, that beareth the sin of the world.”7
How then cloth the evangelist here apply it to diseases? Either as rehearsing the passage in the historical sense,8 or to show that most of our diseases arise from sins of the soul. For if the sum of all, death itself, hath its root and foundation from sin, much more the majority of our diseases also: since our very capability of suffering did itself originate there.
3. “Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave commandment to depart unto the other side.”9
Seest thou again His freedom from ostentation? in that as the others say, “He charged the devils not to say it was He,”10 so this writer saith, He repels the multitudes from Him. Now in so doing, He was at once both training us to be moderate,11 and at the same time allaying the envy of the Jews, and teaching us to do nothing for display. For He was not, we know, a healer to bodies only, but a curer also of the soul, and a teacher of self-restraint; by both disclosing Himself, both by putting away their diseases, and by doing nought for display. Because they indeed were cleaving unto Him, loving Him, and marvelling at Him, and desiring to took upon Him. For who would depart from one who was doing such miracles? Who would not long, were it only to see the face, and the mouth that was uttering such words?
For not by any means in working wonders only was He wonderful, but even when merely showing Himself, He was full of great grace; and to declare this the prophet said, “Fair12 in beauty beyond the children of men.”13 And if Esaias saith, “He hath no form nor comeliness”14 a he affirms it either in comparison of the glory of His Godhead, which surpasses all utterance and description; or as declaring what took place at His passion, and the dishonor which He underwent at the season of the cross, and the mean estate which throughout His life He exemplified in all respects.
Further: He did not first give “commandment to depart unto the other side,” nor until He had healed them. For surely they could not have borne it. As therefore on the mountain they not only continued with Him while exhorting them, but also when it was silence followed Him; so here too, not in His miracles only did they wait on Him, but also when He had ceased again, from His very countenance receiving no small benefit. For if Moses had his face made glorious, and Stephen like that of an angel; consider thou our common Lord, what manner of person it was likely He would appear at such a time.
Many now perchance have fallen into a passionate desire of seeing that form; but if we are willing we shall behold one far better than that. For if we can pass through our present life with Christian boldness,15 we shall receive Him in the clouds, meeting Him in an immortal and incorruptible body.
But observe how He doth not simply drive them away, lest He should hurt them. For He did not say, “withdraw,” but “gave commandment to depart to the other side,” giving them to expect that He would surely come thither.
4. And the multitudes for their part evinced this great love, and were following with much affection; but some one person, a slave of wealth, and possessed with much arrogance, approaches Him, and saith,
“Master, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest.”16
5 Mt 8,8.
6 Mt 8,15.
7 Mt 8,16-17. [R. V. “our diseases.”]
8 Is 53,4. The Evangelist seems to quote the Hebrew, not the LXX. [The explanation given in the Homily agrees with the LXX., “he bare our sins and suffered pain (ojduna`tai) on our behalf.” Hebrew has “sorrows” instead of “sicknesses” or “diseases.”
9 Jn 1,29.
10 kata; ijstorivan th;n marturivan ajnaginwvskwn, “reading the text in that sense, to which the actual knowledge of the facts concerning Christ, apart from what faith teaches, might guide a man.” See Suicer in 5,ijstoriva).
11 Mt 8,18.
12 Mc 1,34 Lc 4,41.
13 i. e., “moderate, as receivers, in what we expect from Him:and averse to all display, when we give in His Name.”
15 Ps 45,2, LXX).
16 Is 53,2, LXX. (So the Hebrew.]
Seest thou how great his arrogance? For as not deigning to be numbered with the multitude, and indicating that he is above the common sort, so he comes near. Because such is the Jewish character; full of unseasonable confidence. So too another afterwards, when all men were keeping silence, of his own accord springs up, and saith, “Which is the first commandment?”17
Yet nevertheless the Lord rebuked not his unseasonable confidence, teaching us to bear even with such as these. Therefore He doth not openly convict them who are devising mischief, but replies to their secret thought, leaving it to themselves only to know that they are convicted, and doubly doing them good, first by showing that He knows what is in their conscience, next by granting unto them concealment after this manifestation, and allowing them to recover themselves again, if they will: which thing He doth in the case of this man also.
For he, seeing the many signs, and many drawn after Him, thought to make a gain out of such miracles; wherefore also he was forward to follow Him. And whence is this manifest? From the answer which Christ makes, meeting not the question, as it stands verbally, but the temper shown in its meaning. For, “What?” saith He. “dost thou look to gather wealth by following me? Seest thou not then that I have not even a lodging, not even so much as the birds have?”
For “the foxes,” saith He, “have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head.”18
Now these were not the words of one turning Himself away, but of one who while putting to the proof his evil disposition, yet permitted him (if he were willing with such a prospect) to follow Him. And to convince thee of his wickedness, when he had heard these things, and had been proved, he did not say, “I am ready to follow Thee.”
5. And in many other places also Christ is clearly doing this; He doth not openly convict, but by His answer He manifests the purpose of them that are coming unto Him. Thus to him again that said, “Good Master,” and had thought by such flattery to gain His favor, according to his purpose He made answer, saying, “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.”19
And when they said unto Him, “Behold, Thy mother and Thy brethren seek Thee;”20 forasmuch as these were under the influence of some human infirmity, not desiring to hear something profitable, but to make a display of their relationship to Him, and therein to be vainglorious; hear what He saith: “Who is my mother, and who are my brethren?”
And again to His brethren themselves, saying unto Him, “Show thyself to the world,”21 and wishing thence to feed their vainglory, He said, “Your time” (so He speaks) “is always ready, but my time is not yet come.”
And in the opposite cases too He doth so; as in that of Nathanael, saying, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.”22 And again, “Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see.”23 For neither in this did He reply to the words, but to the intention of him that sent them. And with the people again in like manner, He addresses His discourse unto their conscience, saying, “What went ye out into the wilderness to see?24 That is because they were probably feeling about John, as though he had been a sort of easy and wavering person; to correct this their suspicion, He saith, “What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?” or, “a man clothed with soft raiment?” by both these figures declaring, that he was neither of himself a waverer, nor would be softened by any luxury. Thus then in the present case also He makes His answer to their meaning.
And see how in this also He shows forth great moderation: in that He said not, “I have it indeed, but despise it,” but “I have it not.” Seest thou what exact care goes along with His condescension? Even as when He eats and drinks, when He seems to be acting in an opposite way to John, this too He doeth for the sake of the Jews’ salvation, or rather for that of the whole world, at once both stopping the mouths of the heretics,25 and desiring to win also more abundantly those of that day to Himself.
6. But a certain other one, we read, said unto Him,
“Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.”26
17 meta; parjrJhsiva").
18 Mt 8,19.
19 Mt 22,36 Lc 10,25. [The passage in Lc tells of an entirely different incident. The citation from Matthew is not exact, though “first” occurs in the answer of our Lord.—R.]
20 Mt 8,20.
21 Mt 19,16-17 Lc 18,18-19. [The citation agrees more exactly with Mc 10,18. In Matthew, according to the best Mss. authorities, and also the Latin versions and fathers. another form of the answer occurs. Even in Homily LXIII., where the incident is commented upon, Chrysostom does not directly attribute this language, as given above, to Matthew’s Gospel.—R.]
22 Mt 12,47-48.
23 Jn 7,4 Jn 7,6.
24 Jn 1,47.
25 Mt 11,4.
26 Mt 11,7.
Didst thou mark the difference? how one impudently saith, “I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest;” but this other, although asking a thing of sacred duty,27 saith, “Suffer me.” Yet He suffered him not, but saith, “Let the dead bury their dead, but do thou follow me.” For in every case He had regard to the intention. And wherefore did He not suffer him? one may ask. Because, on the one hand, there were those that would fulfill that duty, and the dead was not going to remain unburied; on the other, it was not fit for this man to be taken away from the weightier matters. But by saying, “their own dead,” He implies that this is not one of His dead. And that because he that was dead, was, at least as I suppose, of the unbelievers.
Now if thou admire the young man, that for a matter so necessary he besought Jesus, and did not go away of his own accord; much rather do thou admire him for staying also when forbidden.
Was it not then, one may say, extreme ingratitude, not to be present at the burial of his father? If indeed he did so out of negligence, it was ingratitude, but if in order not to interrupt a more needful work, his departing would most surely have been of extreme inconsideration. For Jesus forbad him, not as commanding to think lightly of the honor due to our parents, but signifying that nothing ought to be to us more urgent than the things of Heaven, and that we ought with all diligence to cleave to these, and not to put them off for ever so little, though our engagements be exceeding indispensable and pressing. For what can be more needful than to bury a father? what more easy? since it would not even consume any long time.
But if one ought not to spend even as much time as is required for a father’s burial, nor is it safe to be parted even so long from our spiritual concerns; consider what we deserve, who all our time stand off from the things that pertain to Christ, and prefer things very ordinary to such as are needful, and are remiss, when there is nothing to press on us?
And herein too we should admire the instructiveness28 of His teaching, that He nailed him fast to His word, and with this freed him from those endless evils, such as lamentations, and mournings, and the things that follow thereafter. For after the burial he must of necessity proceed to inquire about the will, then about the distribution of the inheritance, and all the other things that follow thereupon; and thus waves after waves coming in succession upon him, would bear him away very far from the harbor of truth. For this cause He draws him, and fastens him to Himself.
27 i e., of those heretics who “commanded to abstain from meats.” as though possessed with some evil principle: the Manich’an and Marcionite schools. Comp. St. Chrys. on 1Tm 5,5.
28 Mt 8,21.
But if thou still marvellest, and art perplexed, that he was not permitted to be present at his father’s burial; consider that many suffer not the sick, if it be a father that is dead, or a mother, or a child, or any other of their kinsmen, to know it, nor to follow him to the tomb; and we do not for this charge them with cruelty nor inhumanity: and very reasonably. For, on the contrary, it were cruelty to bring out to the funeral solemnity men in such a state.
But if to mourn and be afflicted in mind for them that are of our kindred is evil, much more our being withdrawn from spiritual discourses. For this same cause He said elsewhere also, “No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of Heaven.”29 And surely it is far better to proclaim the kingdom, and draw back others from death, than to bury the dead body, that is nothing advantaged thereby; and especially, when there are some to fulfill all these duties.
7 Nothing else then do we learn hereby, but that we must not wantonly lose any, no not the smallest time, though there be ten thousand things to press on us; but to set what is spiritual before all, even the most indispensable matters, and to know both what is life, and what is death. Since many even of them that seem to live are nothing better than dead men, living as they do in wickedness; or rather these. are worse than the dead; “For he that is dead,” it is said, “is freed from sin,”30 but this man is a slave to sin. For tell me not of this, that he is not eaten of worms, nor lies in a coffin, nor hath closed his eyes, nor is bound in graveclothes. Nay, for these things he undergoes more grievously than the dead, no worms devouring him, but the passions of his soul tearing him to pieces more fiercely than wild beasts.
And if his eyes be open, this too again is far worse than having closed them. For those of the dead see no evil thing, but this man is gathering unto himself diseases without number, while his eyes are open. And whereas the other lies in a coffin, unmoved by anything, this one is buried in the tomb of his innumerable distempers.
But thou seest not his body in a state of decay. And what of that? Since before his body, his soul is corrupted and destroyed, and undergoes greater rottenness. For the other stinketh a few31 days, but this for the whole of his life exhales evil odors, having a mouth more foul than sewers.
And so the one differs from the other, by just so much as this, that the dead indeed undergoes that decay only which comes of nature, but this man together with that, brings in also that rottenness which is from intemperance, devising each day unnumbered causes of corruption.
But is he borne on horseback? And what of that? Why, so is the other on a couch. And what is very hard, while the other is seen by no one in his dissolution and decay, but hath his coffin for a veil, this man is going about everywhere with his evil savor, bearing about a dead soul in his body as in a tomb.
And if one could but once see a man’s soul who is living in luxury and vice, thou wouldest perceive that it is far better to lie bound in a grave than to be rivetted by the chains of our sins; and to have a stone laid over thee, than that heavy cover32 of insensibility. Wherefore above all things it behooves the friends of these dead men, seeing that they are past feeling, to come near to Jesus in their behalf, as Mary then did in the case of Lazarus. Though he “stinketh,” though he be “dead four days,” do not despair, but approach, and remove the stone first. Yea, for then thou shalt see him lying as in a tomb, and bound in his grave clothes.
And if ye will, let it be some one of them that are great and distinguished, whom we bring before you. Nay, fear not, for I will state the example without a name: or rather, though I should mention the name, not even so need there be any fear: for who ever fears a dead man? seeing that whatever one may do, he continues dead, and the dead cannot injure the living either little or much.
Let us then behold their head bound up. For indeed, when they are for ever drunken, even as the dead by their many wrappers and grave-clothes, so are all their organs of sense closed and bound up. And if thou wilt look at their hands too, thou shall see these again bound to their belly, like those of the dead, and fastened about not with grave-clothes, but what is far more grievous, with the bands of covetousness: obtaining as they do no leave from her to be stretched out for alms-giving, or for any other of such like good deeds; rather she renders them more useless than those of the dead. Wouldest thou also see their feet bound together? See them again fastened about with cares, and for this cause never able to run unto the house of God.
Hast thou seen the dead? behold also the embalmer. Who then is the embalmer of these? The devil, who carefully fastens them about, and suffers not the man any longer to appear a man, but a dry stock. For where there is no eye, nor hands, nor feet, nor any other such thing, how can such an one appear a man? Even so may we see their soul also swaddled up, and rather an image33 than a soul.
Forasmuch then as they are in a sort of senseless state, being turned to dead men, let us in their behalf draw nigh unto Jesus, let us entreat Him to raise them up, let us take away the stone, let us loosen the grave clothes. For if thou take away the stone, that is, their insensibility to their own miseries, thou wilt quickly be able to bring them also out of the tomb; and having brought them out, thou wilt more easily rid them of their bonds. Then shall Christ know thee, when thou art risen, when unbound; then will He call thee even unto His own supper.34 As many therefore of you as are friends of Christ, as many as are disciples, as many as love him that is gone, draw near unto Jesus, and pray. For even though his ill savor abound and be ever so intense, nevertheless not even so should we, his friends, forsake him, but so much the rather draw near; even as the sisters of Lazarus then did; neither should we leave interceding, beseeching, entreating, until we have received Him alive.
For if we thus order our own affairs, and those of our neighbors, we shall also attain speedily unto the life to come; unto which may we all attain, by the grace and love to man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
31 Lc 9,62, ejn th`/ bassileiva/). [The citation is peculiar: (1) e[ is not found in any of our Mss. of the New Testament, the received text is eij" th;n basilevian, while the dative alone is better supported. (20) tw`n oujranw`n is substituted for tou`qeou` the former occurring in Matthew only in connection with basileiva.—R.]
32 Rm 6,7.
33 [More exactly, “ten days.”—R.]
34 pw`ma, the lid of a coffer of any kind: here of a sarcophagus).
28 Mt 8,23-34
“And when He was entered into a ship, Hi disciples followed Him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves, but He was asleep.”
Now Luke,1 to free himself from having the order of time required of Him, saith thus, “And if came to pass on a certain day that He went into a ship with His disciples;” and Mark in like manner.2 But this evangelist not so, but he maintains the order in this place also. For they did not all of them write all things in this way. And these things I have mentioned before, let any one from the omission should suppose there was a discordance.
The multitudes then He sent on, but the disciples He took with Himself: for the others mention this too. And He took them with Him, not for nought, nor at hazard, but in order to make them spectators of the miracle that was to take place. For like aa most excellent trainer, He was anointing them with a view to both objects; as well to be undismayed in dangers, a to be modest in honors. Thus, that they might not be high minded, because having sent away the ret, He retained them, He suffers them to be tossed with the tempest; at once correcting this, and disciplining them to bear trials nobly.
For great indeed were the former miracles too, but this contained also in it a king of discipline, and that no inconsiderable one, and was a sign akin to that of old.3 For this cause He takes the disciples only with Himself. For as, when there was a display of miracles, He suffers the people also to be present; so when trial and terrors were rising up against Him, then He takes with Him none but the champions of the whole world, whom He was to disciple.
And while Matthew merely mentioned that “He was asleep,”4 Luke saith that it was “on a pillow;” signifying both His freedom from pride, and to teach us hereby a high degree of austerity.5
1 Lc 8,22.
2 See Mc 4,35. [But Mc is very specific as to time. This event is placed very much out of chronological position in Matthew’s account. But Chrysustom does not discuss such questions with any fullness. Indeed, the order of Matthew seems to have been accepted up to his time. The earliest harmonies were based upon Matthew. Comp. even Augustin, Harmony, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. vi., first series, pp. 67–69, and elsewhere.—R.]
3 i.e., the miracle at the Red Sea, afterwards mentioned).
4 See Mc 4,38.
The tempest therefore being thoroughly excited, and the sea raging, “They awake Him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish”6 But He rebuked them before He rebuked the sea. Because as I said, for discipline these things were permitted, and they were a type of the temptations that were to overtake them. Yea, for after these things again, He often suffered them to fall into more grievous tempests of fortune,7 and bare long with them. Wherefore Paul also said, “I would not, brethren, have you ignorant. that we were pressed out of measure beyond strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life;”8 and after this again, “Who delivered us from so great deaths.” Signifying therefore hereby, that they ought to be confident, though the waves rise high. and that He orders all things for good, He first of all reproves them. For indeed their very alarm was a profitable occurrence, that the miracle might appear greater, and their remembrance of the event be rendered lasting. Since when anything strange is about to happen, there are prepared beforehand many things to cause remembrance, lest after the miracle hath passed by, men should sink into forgetfulness.
Thus Moses also first is in fear of the serpent. and not merely in fear, but even with much distress: and then he sees that strange thing come to pass.9 So these too, having first looked to perish, were then saved, that having confessed the danger, they might learn the greatness of the miracle.
Therefore also He sleeps: for had He been awake when it happened, either they would not have feared, or they would not have besought Him, or they would not so much as have thought of His being able to do any such thing. Therefore He sleeps, to give occasion for their timidity. and to make their perception of what was happening more distinct. For a man looks not with the same eyes on what happens in the persons of others, as in his own. Therefore since they had seen all benefitted, while themselves had enjoyed no benefit, and were supine (for neither were they lame, nor had they any other such infirmity); and it was meet they should enjoy His benefits by their own perception: He permits the storm, that by their deliverance they might attain to a clearer perception of the benefit.
Therefore neither doth He this in the presence of the multitudes, that they might not be condemned for little faith, but He has them apart, and corrects them, and before the tempest of the waters He puts an end to the tempests of their soul, rebuking them, and saying,
“Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith:” instructing them also, that men’s fear is wrought not by the approach of the temptations, but by the weakness of their mind.
But should any one say, that it was not fearfulness, or little faith, to come near and awaken Him; I would say this, that that very thing was an especial sign of their wanting the right opinion concerning Him. That is, His power to rebuke when awakened they knew, but that He could do so even sleeping, they knew not as yet.
And why at all marvel that it was so now, when even after many other miracles their impressions were still rather imperfect? wherefore also they are often rebuked; as when He saith, “Are ye also yet without understanding?”10 Marvel not then, if when the disciples were in such imperfect dispositions, the multitudes had no exalted imagination of Him. For
“They marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the sea and the winds obey Him?”11
But Christ chode not with them for calling Him a man, but waited to teach them by His signs, that their supposition was mistaken. But from what did they think Him a man? First from His appearance, then from His sleeping, and His making use of a ship. So on this account they were cast into perplexity, saying, “What manner of man is this?” since while the sleep and the outward appearance showed man, the sea and the calm declared Him God.
For because Moses had once done some such thing, in this regard also doth He signify His own superiority, and that the one works miracles as a slave, the other as Lord. Thus, He put forth no rod, as Moses did, neither did He stretch forth His hands to Heaven, nor did He need any prayer, but, as was meet for a master commanding His handmaid, or a creator His creature, so did He quiet and curb it by word and command only; and all the surge was straightway at an end, and not one trace of the disturbance remained. For this the evangelist declared saying, “And there was a great calm.”12 And that which had been spoken of the Father as a great thing, this He showed forth again by His works. And what had been said concerning Him? “He spake,” it saith, “and the stormy wind ceased.”13 So here likewise, He spake, and “there was a great calm.” And for this most of all did the multitudes marvel at him; who would not have marvelled, had He done it in such manner as did Moses.
2. Now when He is departed from the sea, there follows another miracle yet more awful. For men possessed with devils,14 like wicked runaways at sight of their master, said,
“What have we to do with Thee. Jesus, Thou Son of God? Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?”15
For, because the multitudes called Him man, the devils came proclaiming His Godhead, and they that heard not the sea swelling and subsiding, heard from the devils the same cry, as it by its calm was loudly uttering.
Then, lest the thing might seem to come of flattery, according to their actual experience they cry out and say, “Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?” With this view, then, their enmity is avowed beforehand, that their entreaty may not incur suspicion. For indeed they were invisibly receiving stripes, and the sea was not in such a storm as they; galled, and inflamed, and suffering things intolerable from His mere presence. Accordingly, no man daring to bring them to Him, Christ of Himself goes unto them.
And Matthew indeed relates that they said, “Art Thou come hither before the time to torment us?” but the other evangelists have added, that they also entreated and adjured Him not to cast them into the deep.16 For they supposed that their punishment was now close upon them, and feared, as even now about to fall into vengeance.
And though Luke and those who follow him17 say that it was one person, but this evangelist two, this doth not exhibit any discrepancy at all. I grant if they had said, there was only one, and no other, they would appear to disagree with Matthew; but if that spake of the one, this of the two, the statement comes not of disagreement, but of a different manner of narration. That is, I for my part think, Luke singled out the fiercest one of them for his narrative, wherefore also in more tragical wise doth he report their miserable case; as, for instance, that bursting his bonds and chains he used to wander about the wilderness. And Mark saith, that he also cut himself with the stones.
6 Mt 8,25.
7 paragmavtwn, “of things.”
8 2Co 1,8 2Co 1,10.
9 Ex 4,3-4.
10 Mt 15,16). [“For” is part of the citation, in the Greek text of the Homily, but does not occur in the Gospel narratives. The order, “the sea and the winds,” is also peculiar to the text of the Homily. The Oxford translator gives the order of the A. V., whith is well attested, but not followed here.—R.]
11 Mt 8,27.
12 Mt 8,26.
13 Ps 107,25, LXX).
14 [R. V., “demons,” and so the translator in many places in this Homily.—R.]
15 Mt 8,29.
16 Mc 5,10 Lc 8,31.
17 oiJ peri; Douka`n).
And their words too are such as well betray their implacable and shameless nature. For, saith he, “Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” You see, that they had sinned, they could not deny, but they demand not to suffer their punishment before the time. For, since He had caught them in the act of perpetrating those horrors so incurable and lawless, and deforming and punishing18 His creature in every way; and they supposed that He, for the excess of their crimes, would not await the time of their punishment: therefore they besought and entreated Him: and they that endured not even bands of iron come bound, and they that run about the mountains, are gone forth into the plain; and those who hinder all others from passing, at sight of Him blocking up the way, stand still.
3. But what can be the reason that they love also to dwell in the tombs? They would fain suggest to the multitude a pernicious opinion, as though the souls of the dead become demons,19 which God forbid we should ever admit into our conception. “But what then wilt thou say,” one may ask, “when many of the sorcerers take children and slay them, in order to have the soul afterwards to assist them?” Why, whence is this evident? for of their slaying them, indeed, many tell us, but as to the souls of the slain being with them, whence knowest thou it, I pray thee? “The possessed themselves,” it is replied, “cry out, I am the soul of such a one.” But this too is a kind of stage-play, and devilish deceit. For it is not the spirit of the dead that cries out, but the evil spirit that feigns these things in order to deceive the hearers. For if it were possible for a soul to enter into the substance of an evil spirit, much more into its own body.
And besides, it stands not to reason that the injured soul should co-operate with the wrong-doer, or that a man should be able to change an incorporeal power into another substance. For if in bodies this were impossible, and one could not make a man’s body become that of an ass; much more were this impossible in the invisible soul; neither could one transform it into the substance of an evil spirit. So that these are the sayings of besotted old wives, and spectres to frighten children.
Nor indeed is it possible for a soul, torn away from the body, to wander here any more. For “the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God;”20 and if of the righteous, then those children’s souls also; for neither are they wicked: and the souls too of sinners are straightway led away hence. And it is evident from Lazarus and the rich man; and elsewhere too Christ saith, “This day they require thy soul of thee.”21 And it may not be that a soul, when it is gone forth from the body, should wander here; nor is the reason hard to see. For if we, going about on the earth which is familiar and well known to us, being encompassed with a body, when we are journeying in a strange road, know not which way to go unless we have some one to lead us; how should the soul, being rent away from the body, and having gone out from all her accustomed region, know where to walk without one to show her the way?
And from many other things too one might perceive, that it is not possible for a disembodied soul to remain here. For both Stephen saith, “Receive my spirit;”22 and Paul, “To depart and to be with Christ is far better;”23 and of the patriarch too the Scripture saith, that “he was gathered unto his fathers, being cherished in a good old age.”24 And as to the proof, that neither can the souls of sinners continue here; hear the rich man making much entreaty for this, and not obtaining it; since had it been at all possible, he would have come, and have told what had come to pass there.25 Whence it is evident that after their departure hence our souls are led away into some place, having no more power of themselves to come back again, but awaiting that dreadful day.
4. Now, should any one say, “And wherefore did Christ fulfill the devils’ request, suffering them to depart into the herd of swine?” this would be our reply, that He did so, not as yielding to them, but as providing for many objects thereby. One, to teach them that are delivered from those wicked tyrants, how great the malice of their insidious enemies: another, that all might learn, how not even against swine are they bold, except He allow them; a third, that they would have treated those men more grievously than the swine, unless even in their calamity they had enjoyed much of God’s providential care. For that they hate us more than the brutes is surely evident to every man. So then they that spared not the swine, but in one moment of time cast them all down the precipice, much more would they have done so to the men whom they possessed, leading them towards the desert, and carrying them away, unless even in their very tyranny the guardian care of God had abounded, to curb and check the excess of their violence. Whence it is .manifest that there is no one, who doth not enjoy the benefit of God’s providence. And if not all alike, nor after one manner, this is itself a very great instance of providence; in that according to each man’s profit, the work also of providence is displayed.
And besides what hath been mentioned, there is another thing also, which we learn from this; that His providence is not only over all in common, but also over each in particular; which He also declared with respect to His disciples, saying, “But the very hairs of your head are numbered.”26 And from these demoniacs too, one may clearly perceive this; who would have “been choked” long before, if they had not enjoyed the benefit of much tender care from above.
For these reasons then He suffered them to depart into the herd of swine, and that they also who dwelt in those places should learn His power. For where His name was great, He did not greatly display Himself: but where no one knew Him, but they were still in an insensible condition, He made His miracles to shine out, so as to bring them over to the knowedge of His Godhead. For it is evident from the event that the inhabitants of that city were a sort of senseless people; for when they ought to have adored and marvelled at His power, they sent Him away, and “besought Him that He would depart out of their coasts.”27
But for what intent did the devils destroy the swine? Everywhere they have labored to drive men to dismay, and everywhere they rejoice in destruction. This, for instance, the devil did with respect to Job, although in that case too God suffered it, but neither in that case as complying with the devil, but willing to show His own servant the more glorious, cutting off from the evil spirit all pretext for his shamelessness, and turning on his own head what was done against the righteous man. Because now also the contrary of what they wished came to pass. For the power of Christ was gloriously proclaimed, and the wickedness of the demons, from which He delivered those possessed by them, was more plainly indicated; and how they want power to touch even swine, without permission from the God of all.
And if any would take these things in a hidden sense,28 there is nothing to hinder. For the history indeed is this, but we are to know assuredly, that the swinish sort of men are especially liable to the operations of the demons. And as long as they are men that suffer such things, they are often able yet to prevail; but if they are become altogether swine, they are not only possessed, but are also cast down the precipice. And besides, lest any should suppose what was done to be mere acting, instead of distinctly believing that the devils29 were gone out; by the death of the swine this is rendered manifest.
And mark also His meekness together with His power. For when the inhabitants of that country, after having received such benefits, were driving Him away, He resisted not, but retired, and left those who had shown themselves unworthy of His teaching, having given them for teachers them that had been freed from the demons, and the swine-herds, that they might of them learn all that had happened; whilst Himself retiring leaves the fear vigorous in them. For the greatness withal of the loss was spreading the fame of what had been done, and the event penetrated their mind. And from many quarters were wafted sounds, proclaiming the strangeness of the miracle; from the cured, and from the drowned, from the owners of the swine, from the men that were feeding them.
5. These things any one may see happening now also, even many in the tombs possessed of evil spirits, whom nothing restrains from their madness; not iron, nor chain, nor multitude of men, nor advice, nor admonition, nor terror, nor threat, nor any other such thing.
For so when any man is dissolute, eager after all embraces,30 he differs not at all from the demoniac, but goes about naked like him, clad indeed in garments, but deprived of the true covering, and stripped of his proper glory; cutting himself not with stones, but with sins more hurtful than many stones. Who then shall be able to bind such a one? Who, to stay his unseemliness and frenzy, his way of never coming to himself, but forever haunting the tombs? For such are the resorts of the harlots, full of much evil savor, of much rottenness.
19 (So St. Augustin de Civitate Dei, ix. 11. “Plotinus says that the souls of men are demons, and of men become Lares, if they are of good desert; if of bad, Lamures or Larv’.” Mr. Field refers to St. Chrys. 2 Hom on Lazarus, 6,235,6 (Savile). “Many of the simpler sort imagine that the souls of such as die violent deaths are turned into demons, whereas the souls which really become such are theirs who are yet living in their sins, not by change of substance, but by imitating their evil mind
Why did the devil introduce this wicked doctrine ? He tried to undermine the glory of the martyrs. I mean, because they die violent deaths, he wishing to diffuse an evil impression of them, did this. This, however, he could not do, but another very grievous result he did accomplish. He induced, by these doctrines, the sorcerers that minister to him to butcher the bodies of many tender youths, in the hope that they would become demons, and in return minister to them.” He proceeds to argue against the superstition much as in the text here).
20 Sg 3,1.
21 Lc 12,20.
22 Ac 7,59.
23 Ph 1,23.
24 Gn 15,15, in LXX).
25 Lc 16,27-28.
26 Mt 10,30.
27 Mt 7,34). [R. V., “from their borders.”]
28 kata; ajnagwghvn). [Comp. the “analogical” sense of Scripture in the later Hermeneuties. But Origen and others had already made ther term ajnagwghv familiar and technical in the usage of ecclesiastical Greek.—R.]
And what of the covetous man? Is he not like this? For who will be able ever to bind him? Are there not fears and daily threats, and admonitions, and counsels? Nay, all these bonds he bursts asunder; and if any one come to set him free, he adjures him that he may not be freed, accounting it the greatest torture not to be in torture: than which what can be more wretched? For as to that evil spirit, even though he despised men, yet he yielded to the command of Christ, and quickly sprang out of the man’s body; but this man yields not even to His commandment. See at least how he daily hears Him saying, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon,” Mt 6,24 and threatening hell, and the incurable torments, and obeys not: not that He is stronger than Christ, but because against our will Christ corrects us not.32 Therefore such men live as in desert places, though they be in the midst of cities. For who, that hath reason, would choose to be with such men? I for my part would sooner consent to dwell with ten thousand demoniacs, than with one diseased in this way.
And that I am not mistaken in saying this, is manifest from their respective feelings. For these last account him an enemy that hath done them no wrong, and desire even to take him for a slave when he is free, and encompass him with ten thousand evils; but the demoniacs do no such thing, but toss their disease to and for within themselves. And while these overturn many houses, and cause the name of God to be blasphemed, and are a pest to the city and to the whole earth; they that are troubled by evil spirits, deserve rather our pity and our tears. And the one for the more part act in insensibility, but the others are frantic while they reason, keeping their orgies in the midst of cities, and maddened with some new kind of madness. For what do all the demoniacs so bad, as what Judas dared to do, when he showed forth that extremity’ of wickedness? And all too that imitate him, like fierce wild beasts escaped from their cage, trouble their cities, no man restraining them. For these also have bonds upon them on every side; such as the fears of the judges, the threatening of the laws, the condemnation of the multitude, and other things more than these; yet bursting asunder even these, they turn all things upside down. And should any one remove these altogether from them, then would he know assuredly the demon that is in them to be far fiercer, and more frantic than he who is just now gone forth.
But since this may not be, let us for the time suppose it for argument’s sake: and let us take off from him all his chains, and then shall we clearly know his manifest madness. But be not afraid of the monster, when we uncover it; for it is the representation in word, not the thing in truth. Let there be then some man, darting fire from his eyes, black, having from either shoulder serpents hanging down instead of hands; and let him have also a mouth, with sharp swords set in it instead of teeth, and for a tongue a gushing fountain of poison and some baneful drug; and a belly more consuming than any furnace, devouring all that is cast unto it, and a sort of winged feet more vehement than any flame; and let his face be made up of a dog and of a wolf; and let him utter nothing human, but something discordant, and unpleasing, and terrible; and let him have also in his hands a firebrand. Perhaps what we have said seems to you to be terrible, but we have not even yet fashioned him worthily; for together with these things we must add others besides. I mean, that he is also to slay them that meet with him, to devour them, to fasten upon their flesh.
Yet is the covetous man much more fierce even than this, assailing all like hell, swallowing all up, going about a common enemy to the race of men. Why, he would have no man exist, that he may possess all things. And he stops not even at this, but when in his longing he shall have destroyed all men, he longs also to mar the substance of the earth, and to see it all become gold; nay, not the earth only, but hills also, and woods, and fountains, and in a word all things that appear.
And to convince you that not even yet have we set forth his madness, let there be no man to accuse and frighten him, but take away the terror of the laws in supposition awhile, and thou wilt see him snatching up a sword, laying violent hands on all, and sparing none; neither friend, nor kinsman, nor brother, nor even his very parent. Nay rather, in this case there is not even need of supposing, but let us ask him, if he is not for ever framing to himself such imaginations, and if he does not in thought range among all men to destroy them; both friends and kinsmen, and even his very parents. Nay rather there is no need even to ask, because in truth all men know that they who are under the power of this disease are wearied even of their father’s old age; and that which is sweet, and universally desirable, the having children, they esteem grievous and unwelcome: many at least with this view have even paid money to be childless, and have maimed their nature, not only by slaying their children after birth, but by not suffering them even to be born at all.
6. Marvel not, therefore, if we have thus sketched the covetous man (for in truth he is far worse than what we have said); but let us consider how we shall deliver him from the demon. How then shall we deliver him? If he may be dearly made aware, that his love of money stands very much in his way in respect of this very object, the gaining of money; for they that wish to gain in little things undergo great losses; whence accordingly a proverb hath been put forth to this same effect.33 Many, for instance, on many occasions, wishing to lend at large usury, and through the expectation of gain not having inquired about them who receive their money, have together with the interest lost also all their capital. Others again falling into dangers, and not willing to give up a little have together with the substance lost their life too.
Again, when it has been in men’s power to purchase either gainful offices, or some other such thing, by some trifling meanness they have lost all. For because they know not how to sow, but have ever practised reaping, they of course continually fail of their harvest. For no man can be always reaping, as neither can he be always gaining. Therefore since they are not willing to spend, neither do they know how to gain. And should they have to take a wife, the same thing again be-falls them; for either they are deceived into taking a poor wife for a rich one, or when they have brought home one that is rich, but full of faults without number, here too they have incurred more loss than gain. For it is not superfluity but virtue, that causes wealth. For what profit is there of her wealth, when she is expensive and dissolute, and scatters all abroad more vehemently than any wind? What if she be unchaste, and bring in numberless lovers? what if she be drunken? Will she not quickly make her husband the poorest of men? But they do not only marry, but also buy at great risk, from their great covetousness, laboring to find not good slaves, but cheap ones.
Consider then all these things (for the words concerning hell and the kingdom ye are not yet able to hear), and bearing in mind the losses which ye have often undergone from your love of money, in loans, and in purchases, and in marriages, and in offices of power, and in all the rest; withdraw yourselves from doating on money.
For so shall ye be able to live the present life in security, and after a little advance to hear also the words that treat on self-government, and see through and look upon the very Sun of Righteousness, and to attain unto the good things promised by Him; unto which God grant we may all attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might forever and ever. Amen.
32 [ou swyronivzee.]
33 Perhaps the cpuvsea calei`wn, of which Erasmus Says, “Conveniet uti, quoties officium aut munus longe impari munere pensatur Admissus est in *principis, sed excitit ex amicitia Christi.” Adag. 1, Cent. 2,Pr 1).
Chrysostom hom. on Mt 27