Chrysostom hom. on Mt 34
34 Mt 10,23-34
“But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into the other; for verily I say unto you, ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of Man be come.”
Having spoken of those fearful and horrible things, enough to melt very adamant, which after His cross, and resurrection, and assumption, were to befall them, He directs again His discourse to what was of more tranquil character, allowing those whom He is training to recover breath, and affording them full security. For He did not at all command them, when persecuted, to close with the enemy, but to fly. That is, it being so far but a beginning, and a prelude, He gave His discourse a very condescending turn. For not now of the ensuing persecutions is He speaking, but of those before the cross and the passion. And this He showed by saying, “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of Man be come.” That is, lest they should say, “What then, if when persecuted we flee, and there again they overtake us, and drive us out?”—to destroy this fear, He saith, “Ye shall not have gone round Palestine first, but I will straightway Conic upon you.”And see how here again He doeth not away with the terrors, but stands by them in their perils. For He said not, “I will snatch you out, and will put an end to the persecutions;’ but what? “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of Man be come.” Yea, for it sufficed for their consolation, simply to see Him.
But do thou observe, I pray thee, how He doth not on every occasion leave all to grace, but requires something also to be contributed on their part. “For if ye fear,” saith He, “flee,” for this He signified by saying, “flee ye,” and “fear not.” Mt 10,26 And He did not command them to flee at first, but when persecuted to withdraw; neither is it a great distance that He allows them, but so much as to go about the cities of Israel.
Then again, He trains them for another branch of self-command; first, casting out all care for their food: secondly, all fear of their perils; and now, that of calumny. Since from that first anxiety He freed them, by saying, “The workman is worthy of his hire,” Mt 10,10 and by signifying that many would receive them; and from their distress about their dangers, by saying, “Take no thought how or what ye shall speak,” and, “He that endureth unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Mt 10,19 Mt 10,22
But since withal it was likely that they should also bring upon themselves an evil report, which to many seems harder to bear than all; see whence He comforts them even in this case, deriving the encouragement from Himself, and from all that had been said touching Himself; to which nothing else was equal. For as He said in that other place, “Ye shall be hated of all men,” and added, “for my name’s sake,” so also here.
And in another way He mitigates it, joining a fresh topic to that former. What kind of one then is it?
“The disciple,” saith He, “is not above his Master, nor the servant above his Lord It is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord. If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of His household? Fear them not therefore.”
See how He discovers Himself to be the Lord and God and Creator of all things. What then? Is there not any disciple above his Master, or servant above his Lord?5 So long as he is a disciple, and a servant, he is not, by the nature of that honor. For tell me not here of the rare instances, but take the principle from the majority. And He saith not, “How much more His servants,” but “them of His household,” to show how very near He felt them to be to Him.6 And elsewhere too He said, “Henceforth I call you not servants; ye are my friends.” Jn 15,14-15 And He said not, If they have insulted the Master of the houses and calumniated Him; but states also the very form of the insult, that they “called Him Beelzebub.”
Then He gives also another consolation, not inferior to this: for this indeed is the greatest; but because for them who were not yet living strictly, there was need also of another, such as might have special power to refresh them, He states it likewise. And the saying seems indeed in form to be an universal proposition, nevertheless not of all matters, but of those in hand only, is it spoken. For what saith He?
“There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; nor hid, that shall not be known.” Mt 10,26 Now what He saith is like this. It is indeed sufficient for your encouragement, that I also shared with you in the same reproach; I who am your Master and Lord. But if it still grieve you to hear these words, consider this other thing too, that even from this suspicion ye will soon be released. For why do ye grieve? At their calling you sorcerers and deceivers? But wait a little, and all men will address you as saviors, and benefactors of the world. Yea, for time discovers all things that are concealed, it will both refute their false accusation, and make manifest your virtue. For when the event shows you saviors, and benefactors, and examples of all virtue, men will not give heed to their words, but to the real state of the case; and they will appear false accusers, and liars, and slanderers, but ye brighter than the sun, length of time revealing and proclaiming you, and uttering a voice clearer than a trumpet, and making all men witnesses of your virtue. Let not therefore what is now said humble you, but let the hope of the good things to come raise you up. For it cannot be, that what relates to you should be hid.
5 [In the Greek this seems to be a repetition of verse 24, and not a question,—R,]
6 gnhsiovthta ejpideiknuvmeno").
342 2. Then, having rid them of all distress, and fears, and anxiety, and set them above men’s reproaches, then, and not till then, He seasonably discourses to them also of boldness in their preaching.
For, “What I tell you,” saith He, “in darkness, that speak ye in light; and what ye have heard in the ear, that preach ye9 upon the housetops.”10
9 [R. V., “proclaim.”]
Yet it was not at all darkness, when He was saying these things; neither was He discoursing unto them in the ear; but He used a strong figure, thus speaking. That is, because He was conversing with them alone, and in a small corner of Palestine, therefore He said, “in darkness,” and “in the ear;” contrasting the boldness of speech, which He was hereafter to confer on them, with the tone of the conversation which was then going on. “For not to one, or two, or three cities, but to the whole world ye shall preach,” saith He, “traversing land and sea, the inhabited country, and the desert; to princes alike and tribes, to philosophers and orators, saying all with open face,11 and with all boldness of speech.” Therefore, He said, “On the house tops,” and, “In the light,” without any shrinking, and with all freedom.
And wherefore said He not only, “Preach on the housetops.” and “Speak in the light,” but added also, “What I tell you in darkness,” and “What ye hear in the ear”? It was to raise up their spirits. As therefore when He said, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do;”12 even so here too, to signify that He will do it all by them, and more than by Himself, He inserted this. For “the beginning indeed,” saith He, “I have given, and the prelude; but the greater part it is my will to effect through you.” Now this is the language of one not commanding only, but also declaring beforehand what was to be, and encouraging them with His sayings, and implying that they should prevail over all, and quietly also removing13 again their distress at the evil report. For as this doctrine, after lying hid for a while, shall overspread all things, so also the evil suspicion of the Jews shall quickly perish.
Then, because He had lifted them up on high, He again gives warning of the perils also, adding wings to their mind, and exalting them high above all. For what saith He? “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul.”14 Seest thou how He set them far above all things, persuading them to despise not anxiety only and calumny, dangers and plots, but even that which is esteemed of all things most terrible, death? And not death alone, but by violence too? And He said not, “ye shall be slain,” but with the dignity that became Him, He set this before them, saying, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him15 which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell;” bringing round the argument, as He ever doth, to its opposite. For what? is your fear, saith He, of death? and are ye therefore slow to preach? Nay for this very cause I bid you preach, that ye fear death: for this shall deliver you from that which is really death. What though they shall slay you? yet over the better part they shall not prevail, though they strive ten thousand ways. Therefore He said not, “Who do not kill the soul,” but, who “are not able to kill.” For wish it as they may, they shall not prevail. Wherefore, if thou fear punishment, fear that, the more grievous by far.
Seest thou how again He doth not promise them deliverance from death, but permits them to die, granting them more than if He had not allowed them to suffer it? Because deliverance from death is not near so great as persuading men to despise death. You see now, He doth not push them into dangers, but sets them above dangers, and in a short sentence fixes in their mind the doctrines that relate to the immortality of the soul, and having in two or three words implanted a saving doctrine, He comforts them also by other considerations.
Thus, lest they should think, when killed and butchered, that as men forsaken they suffered this, He introduces again the argument of God’s providence, saying on this wise: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall into a snare16 without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”17 “For what is viler than they?” saith He; “nevertheless, not even these shall be taken without God’s knowledge.” For He means not this, “by His operation they fall,” for this were unworthy of God; but, “nothing that is done is hid from Him.” If then He is not ignorant of anything that befalls us, and loves us more truly than a father, and so loves us, as to have numbered our very hairs; we ought not to be afraid. And this He said, not that God numbers our hairs, but that He might indicate His perfect knowledge, and His great providence over them. If therefore He both knows all the things that are done, and is able to save you, and willing; whatever ye may have to suffer, think not that as persons forsaken ye suffer. For neither is it His will to deliver you from the terrors, but to persuade you to despise them, since this is, more than anything, deliverance from the terrors.
10 Mt 10,27.
11 gumnh`/ th`/ kefalh`/).
12 Jn 14,12.
14 Mt 10,28.
15 [Chrysostom plainly refers this to God, not Satan. Hence the capital letter of the Oxford translator.—R]).
16 See received text above, Hom. IX. 4. [The reading here followed is accepted by several others of the Fathers but has no Mss. authority. See Tischendorf, in loco. In Homily IX. 4, there is no variation from the Greek text, as now attested.—R.]
17 Mt 10,29-30.
343 3. “Fear ye not therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows.”18 Seest thou that the fear had already prevailed over them? Yea, for He knew the secrets of the heart; therefore He added, “Fear them not therefore;” for even should they prevail, it will be over the inferior part, I mean, the body; which though they should not kill, nature will surely take with her and depart. So that not even this depends on them, but men have it from nature. And if thou fear this, much more shouldest thou fear what is greater, and dread “Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” And He saith not openly now, that it is Himself, “Who is able to destroy both soul and body,” but where He before declared Himself to be judge, He made it manifest.
But now the contrary takes place: Him, namely, who is able to destroy the soul, that is, to punish it, we fear not, but those who slay the body, we shudder at. Yet surely while He together with the soul punishes the body also, they cannot even chasten the body, much less the soul: and though they chasten it ever so severely, yet in that way they rather make it more glorious.
Seest thou how He signifies the conflicts to be easy? Because in truth, death did exceedingly agitate their souls, inspiring terror for a time, for that it had not as yet been made easy to overcome, neither had they that were to despise it partaken of the grace of the Spirit.
Having, you see, cast out the fear and distress that was agitating their soul; by what follows He also encourages them again, casting out fear by fear; and not by fear only, but also by the hope of great prizes; and He threatens with much authority, in both ways urging them to speak boldly for the truth; and saith further,
“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him19 will I also confess before my Father which is in Heaven. But whosoever shah deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in Heaven.”20
18 Mt 10,31.
19 [R. V. “Every one therefore, shall confess me (Greek in me) before men, him (Greek, in him),” etc, See the use made in the Homily of the Greek preposition “in.”—R.]
Thus not from the good things only, but also from the opposites, doth He urge them; and He concludes with the dismal part.
And mark His exact care; He said not “me,” but “in me,” implying that not by a power of his own, but by the help of grace from above, the confessor makes his confession. But of him that denies, He said not, “in me,” but “me;” for he having become destitute of the gift, his denial ensues.
“Why then is he blamed,” one may say, “if being forsaken, he denies?” Because the being forsaken is the fault of the forsaken person himself.
But why is He not satisfied with the faith in the mind, but requires also the confession with the mouth? To train us up to boldness in speech, and a more abundant love and determination, and to raise us on high. Wherefore also He addresses Himself to all. Nor doth He at all apply this to the disciples only in person, for not them, but their disciples too, He is now rendering noble hearted. Because he that hath learnt this lesson will not only teach with boldness, but will likewise suffer all things easily, and with ready mind. This at any rate brought over many to the apostles, even their belief in this word. Because both in the punishment the infliction is heavier, and in the good things the recompense greater. I mean, whereas he that doeth right hath the advantage in time,21 and the delay of the penalty is counted for gain by the sinner: He hath introduced an equivalent, or rather a much greater advantage, the increase of the recompenses. “Hast thou the advantage,” saith He, “by having first confessed me here? I also will have the advantage of thee, by giving thee greater things, and unspeakably greater; for I will confess thee there.” Seest thou that both the good things and the evil things are there to be dispensed? Why then hasten and hurry thyself? and why seek thy rewards here, thou who art “saved by hope?”22 Wherefore, whether thou hast done anything good, and not received its recompense here, be not troubled (for with increase, in the time to come, the reward thereof awaits thee): or whether thou hast done any evil, and not paid the penalty, be not easy; for there will vengeance receive thee, if thou turn not and amend.
But if thou believe it not, from the things here form thy conjecture about things to come also. Why, if in the season of the conflicts they that confess are so glorious, imagine what they will be in the season of the crowns. If the enemies here applaud, how shall that tenderest of all fathers fail to admire and proclaim thee? Yea, then shall we have both our gifts for the good, and our punishments for the evil. So that such as deny shall suffer harm, both here and there; here living with an evil conscience, though they were never to die, they shall be surely dead; and there, undergoing the last penalty: but the other sort will profit both here and there, both here making a gain of their death, and in this way becoming more glorious than the living, and there enjoying those unspeakable blessings.
God then is in no wise prompt to punish only, but also to confer benefits; and for this last more than for the first. But why hath He put the reward once only, the punishment twice? He knows that this would be more apt to correct us. For this cause when He had said, “Fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell,” He saith again, “Him will I also deny.” So doth Paul also, continually making mention of hell.
Thus we see that He, having by all ways trained on His scholar (both by opening Heaven to him, and by setting before him that fearful judgment-seat, and by pointing to the amphitheatre of angels, and how in the midst of them the crowns shall be proclaimed, which thing would thenceforth prepare the way for the word of godliness to be very easily received); in what follows, lest they grow timid and the word be hindered, He bids them be prepared even for slaughter itself; to make them aware that such as continue in their error, will have to suffer (among other things) for plotting against them.
4. Let us therefore despise death, although the time be not come that requires it of us; for indeed it will translate us to a far better life. “But the body decays.” Why, on this account most especially we ought to rejoice, because death decays, and mortality perishes, not the substance of the body. For neither, shouldest thou see a statue being cast, wouldest thou call the process destruction, but an improved formation. Just so do thou reason also concerning the body, and do not bewail. Then it were right to bewail, had it remained in its chastisement.
“But,” saith one, “this ought to take place without the decay of our bodies; they should continue entire.” And what would this have advantaged either the living or the departed? How long are ye lovers of the body? How long are ye rivetted to the earth and gaping after shadows? Why, what good would this have done? or rather, what harm would it not have done? For did our bodies not decay, in the first place the greatest of all evils, pride, would have continued with many. For if even while this is going on, and worms gushing out, many have earnestly sought to be gods; what would not have been the result did the body continue?
In the second place, it would not be believed to be of earth; for if, its end witnessing this, some yet doubt; what would they not have suspected if they did not see this? Thirdly, the bodies would have been excessively loved; and most men would have become more carnal and gross; and if even now some cleave to men’s tombs and coffins, after that themselves have perished, what would they not have done, if they had even their image preserved? Fourthly, they would not have earnestly desired the things to come. Fifthly, they that say the world is eternal, would have been more confirmed, and would have denied God as Creator. Sixthly, they would not have known the excellence of the soul, and how great a thing is the presence of a soul in a body. Seventhly, many of them that lose their relations would have left their cities, and have dwelt in the tombs, and have become frantic, conversing continually with their own dead. For if even now men form to themselves images, since they cannot keep the body (for neither is it possible, but whether they will or no it glides and hurries from them), and are rivetted to the planks of wood; what monstrous thing would they not then have devised? To my thinking, the generality would have even built temples for such bodies, and they that are skilled in such sorceries would have persuaded evil spirits to speak through them; since at least even now, they that venture on the arts of necromancy attempt many things more out of the way than these. And how many idolatries would not have arisen from hence? when men even after the dust and ashes, are yet eager in those practices.
God therefore, to take away all our extravagances, and to teach us to stand off from all earthly things, destroys the bodies before our eyes. For even he that is enamored of bodies, and is greatly affected at the sight of a beautiful damsel, if he will not learn by discourse the deformity of that substance, shall know it by the very sight. Yea, many of the like age with her whom he loves, and oftentimes also fairer, being dead, after the first or second day, have emitted an ill savor, and foul matter, and decay with worms. Imagine then what sort of beauty thou lovest, and what sort of elegance has power so to disturb thee. But if bodies did not decay, this would not be well known: but as evil spirits run unto men’s graves, so also many of our lovers, continually sitting by the tombs, would have received evil spirits in their soul, and would quickly have perished in this grievous madness. But as it is, together with all other things this also comforts the soul, that the form is not seen: it brings men to forgetfulness of their affliction. Indeed, if this were not so, there would be no tombs at all, but thou wouldest see our cities having corpses instead of statues, each man desiring to look upon his own dead. And much confusion would arise hence, and none of the ordinary sort would attend to his soul, nor would give room to the doctrine of immortality to enter in: and many other things too, more shocking than these, would have resulted, which even to speak of were unseemly. Wherefore it decays presently, that thou mightest see unveiled the beauty of the soul. For if she be the procurer of all that beauty and life, much more excellent must she herself be. And if she preserve that which is so deformed and unsightly, much more herself.
5. For it is not the body wherein the beauty lies, but the expression,23 and the bloom which is shed over its substance by the soul. Now then, I bid thee love that which makes the body also to appear such as it is. And why speak I of death? Nay even in life itself, I would have thee mark how all is hers that is beautiful. For whether she be pleased, she showers roses over the cheeks; or whether she be pained, she takes that beauty, and involves it all in a dark robe. And if she be continually in mirth, the body improves in condition; if in grief, she renders the same thinner and weaker than a spider’s web; if in wrath, she hath made it again abominable and foul; if she show the eye calm, great is the beauty that she bestows; if she express envy, very pale and livid is the hue she sheds over us; if love, abundant the gracefulness she at once confers. Thus in fact many women, not being beautiful in feature, have derived much grace from the soul; others again of brilliant bloom, by having an ungracious soul, have marred their beauty. Consider how a face that is pale grows red, and by the variation of color produces great delight, when there is need of shame and blushing. As, on the other hand, if it be shameless, it makes the countenance more unpleasing than any monster.
For nothing is fairer, nothing sweeter than a beauteous soul. For while as to bodies, the longing is with pain, in the case of souls the pleasure is pure and calm. Why then let go the king, and be wild about the herald? Why leave the philosopher, and gape after his in terpreter? Hast thou seen a beautiful eye? acquaint thyself with that which is within; and if that be not beautiful, despise this likewise. For surely, didst thou see an ill-favored woman wearing a beautiful mask, she would make no impression on thee: just as on the other hand, neither wouldest thou suffer one fair and beautiful to be disguised by the mask, but wouldest take it away, as choosing to see her beauty unveiled.
This then I bid thee do in regard of the soul also, and acquaint thyself with it first; for this is clad with the body instead of a mask; wherefore also that abides such as it is; but the other, though it be mishapen, may quickly become beautiful. Though it have an eye that is unsightly, and harsh, and fierce, it may become beautiful, mild, calm, sweet-tempered, gentle.
This beauty therefore let us seek, this countenance let us adorn; that God also may “have pleasure in our beauty,”24 and impart to us of His everlasting blessings, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might forever and ever. Amen.
20 Mt 10,32-33.
21 tw`/ crovnw/ plenoektei`, “he is beforehand with his rewarder:” his sufferings, and the sinner’s enjoyment, come respectively first.
22 Rm 8,24. [“Saved in hope” or “for hope” expresses better, and agrees with the argument in the Homily.—R.]
23 diavplasi", “the moulding of it by the informing soul.”
24 Ps 45,12, LXX).
35 Mt 10,34-42
“Think not that I am come1 to send peace on earth; I am not come2 to send peace, but a sword.”
Again, He sets forth the things that are more painful, and that with great aggravation: and the objection they were sure to meet Him with, He prevents them by stating. I mean, lest hearing this, they should say, “For, this then art Thou come, to destroy both us, and them that obey us, and to fill the earth with war?” He first saith Himself, “I am not come to send peace on earth.”
How then did He enjoin them to pronounce peace on entering into each house? And again, how did the angels say, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace”?3 And how came all the prophets too to publish it for good tidings? Because this more than anything is peace, when the diseased is cut off, when the mutinous is removed. For thus it is possible for Heaven to be united to earth. Since the physician too in this way preserves the rest of the body, when he amputates the incurable part; and the general, when he has brought to a separation them that were agreed in mischief. Thus it came to pass also in the case of that famous tower; for their evil peace4 was ended by their good discord, and peace made thereby. Thus Paul also divided them that were conspiring against him.5 And in Naboth’s case that agreement was at the same time more grievous than any war.(1R 21 For concord is not in every case a good thing, since even robbers agree together.
The war is not then the effect of His purpose, but of their temper. For His will indeed was that all should agree in the word of godliness; but because they fell to dissension, war arises. Yet He spake not so; but what saith He? “I am not come to send peace;” comforting them. As if He said, For think not that ye are to blame for these things; it is I who order them so, because men are so disposed. Be not ye therefore confounded, as though the events happened against expectation. To this end am I come, to send war among men; for this is my will. Be not ye therefore troubled, when the earth is at war, as though it were subject to some hostile device. For when the worse part is rent away, then after that Heaven is knit unto the better.
And these things He saith, as strengthening them against the evil suspicion of the multitude.
And He said not “war,” but what was more grievous than it, “a sword.” And if there be somewhat painful in these expressions, and of an alarming emphasis, marvel not. For, it being His will to train their ears by the severity of His words, lest in their difficult circumstances they should start aside, He fashioned His discourse accordingly; lest any one should say it was by flattery He persuaded them, and by concealing the hardships; therefore even to those things which merited to be otherwise expressed, He gave by His words the more gal?ing and painful turn. For it is better to see persons’ gentleness in things, than in words.
2. Wherefore neither with this was He satisfied, but unfolds also the very nature of the war, signifying it to be far more grievous even than a civil war; and He saith, “I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”7
For not friends only, saith He, nor fellow citizens, but even kinsmen shall stand against one another, and nature shall be divided against herself. “For I am come,” saith He, “to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” That is, not merely among those of the same household is the war, but among those that are dearest, and extremely near to each other. And this more than anything signifies His power, that hearing these things, they both accepted Him, and set about persuading all others.
Yet was it not He that did this: of course not: but the wickedness of the other sort: nevertheless He saith it is His own doing. For such is the custom of the Scripture. Yea, and elsewhere also He saith, “God hath given them eyes that they should not see:”8 and here He speaks in this way, in order that having, as I said before, exercised themselves in these words, they might not be confounded on suffering reproaches and insults.
But if any think these things intolerable, let them be reminded of an ancient history. For in times of old also this came to pass, which thing especially shows the old covenant to be akin to the new, and Him who is here speaking, the same with the giver of those commands. I mean that in the case of the Jews also, when each had slain his neighbor, then He laid aside His anger against them; both when they made the calf, and when they were joined to Baal Peor.9 Where then are they that say, “That God is evil, and this good?” For behold He hath filled the world with blood, shed by kinsmen. Nevertheless even this we affirm to be a work of great love towards man.
Therefore, you see, implying that it was He who approved those other acts also, He makes mention also of a prophecy, which if not spoken for this end, yet involves the same meaning. And what is this?
“A man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”10
1 [R. V,“came.”]
2 [R. V. “came not.”]
3 Lc 2,14.
4 Gn 11,7-8.
5 Ac 23,6-7
7 Mt 10,35. [R. V., “I came,” etc.]
8 Rm 11,8.
9 Ex 32,29.
10 Mt 10,36.
For indeed among the Jews also something of the kind took place. That is, there were prophets, and false prophets, and the people was divided, and families were in dissension; and some believed the one, and some the other. Wherefore the prophet admonishes, saying, “Trust ye not in friends, have not hope in guides; yea, even of her that lieth in thy bosom beware, in respect of communicating aught to her:” and, “A man’s enemies are the men that are in his own house.”11
And this He said, preparing him that should receive the word to be above all. For to die is not evil, but to die an evil death. On this account He said moreover, “I am come to cast fire upon the earth.”12 And this He said, to declare the vehemence and warmth of the love which He required. For, because He loved us very much, so He will likewise be loved of us. And these sayings would strengthen13 the persons present also, and lift them higher. “For if those others,” saith He, “are to despise kinsmen, and children, and parents, imagine what manner of men ye their teachers ought to be. Since neither will the hardships stop with you, but will also pass on to the rest. For since I am come bringing great blessings, I demand also great obedience, and purpose of heart.”
3. “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that taketh not his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy Of me.”14
Seest thou a teacher’s dignity? Seest thou, how He signifies himself a true Son of Him that begat Him, commanding us to let go all things beneath, and to take in preference the love of Him?
“And why speak I,” saith He, “of friends and kinsmen? Even if it be thine own life which thou preferrest to my love, thy place is far from my disciples.” What then? Are not these things contrary to the Old Testament? Far from it, rather they are very much in harmony therewith. For there too He commands not only to hate the worshippers of idols, but even to stone them; and in Deuteronomy again, admiring these, He saith, “Who said unto his father, and to his mother, I have not seen thee; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, and his own sons he disowned: he kept Thy oracles.”15 And if Paul gives many directions touching parents, commanding us to obey them in all things, marvel not; for in those things only doth he mean us to obey, as many as do not hinder godliness.16 For indeed it is a sacred duty to render them all other honors: but when they demand more than is due, one ought not to obey. For this reason Luke saith, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple;”17 not commanding simply to hate them, since this were even quite contrary to the law; but “when one desires to be loved more than I am, hate him in this respect. For this ruins both the beloved himself, and the lover.” And these things He said, both to render the children more determined, and to make the fathers more gentle, that would hinder them. For when they saw He had such strength and power as to sever their children from them, they, as attempting things impossible, would even desist. Wherefore also He leaves the fathers, and addresses His discourse to the children, instructing the former not to make the attempt, as attempting things impracticable.
Then lest they should be indignant, or count it hard, see which way He makes His argument tend: in that having said, “Who hateth not father and mother,” He adds, “and his own life.” For why dost thou speak to me of parents, saith He, and brothers, and sisters, and wife? Nothing is nearer than the life to any man: yet if thou hate not this also, thou must bear in all things the opposite of his lot who loveth me.
And not even simply to hate it was His command, but so as to expose it to war, and to battles, and to slaughters, and blood. “For he that beareth not his cross, and cometh after me, cannot be my disciple.”18 Thus He said not merely that we must stand against death, but also against a violent death; and not violent only, but ignominious too.
And He discourses nothing as yet of His own passion, that when they had been for a time instructed in these things, they might more easily receive His word concerning it. Is there not, therefore, cause for amazement, how on their hearing these things, their soul did not wing its way from the body, the hardships being everywhere at hand, and the good things in expectation? How then did it not flee away? Great was both the power of the speaker, and the love of the hearers. Wherefore though hearing things far more intolerable and galling than those great men, Moses and Jeremiah, they continued to obey, and to say nothing against it.
“He that findeth his life,” saith He, “shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it.”19 Seest thou how great the damage to such as love it unduly? how great the gain to them that hate it? I mean, because the injunctions were disagreeable, when He was bidding them set themselves against parents, and children, and nature, and kindred, and the world, and their very soul, He sets forth the profit also, being very great. Thus, “These things,” saith He, “so far from harming, will very greatly profit; and their opposites will injure;” urging them, as He ever doth, by the very things which they desire. For why art thou willing to despise thy life?20 Because thou lovest it? Then for that very reason despise it, and so thou wilt advantage it in the highest degree, and do the part of one that loves it.
And mark an instance of unspeakable consideration. For not in respect of our parents only doth He practise this reasoning, nor of our children, but with regard to our life, which is nearer than all; that the other point may thenceforth become unquestionable, and they may learn that they will in this way profit those of their kindred likewise, as much as may be; since so it is in the case even of our life, which is more essential to us than all.
4. Now these things were enough to recommend men to receive them, their appointed healers. Yea, who would choose but receive with all readiness them that were so noble, such true heroes, and as lions running about the earth, and despising all that pertained to themselves, so that others might be saved? Yet nevertheless He proffers also another reward, indicating that He is caring here for the entertainers more than for the guests.
And the first honor He confers is by saying,
“He that receiveth you, receiveth me, and he that receiveth me, receiveth Him that sent me.”21
With this, what may compare? that one should receive the Father and the Son! But He holds out herewith another rewardalso.
“ He,” saith He, “that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous man’s reward.”22
And as before He threatens punishment to such as do not receive them, here He defines also a certain refreshments for the good. And to teach thee His greater care for them, He said not simply, “He that receiveth a prophet,” or “He that receiveth a righteous man,” but subjoined, “in the name of a prophet,” and, “in the name of a righteous man;” that is, if not for any worldly preferment, nor for any other temporal thing, he receive him, but because he is either a prophet or a righteous man, he shall receive a prophet’s reward, and a righteous man’s reward; such as it were meet for him to have, that hath received a prophet, or a righteous man; or, such as that other is himself to receive. Which kind of thing Paul also said: “That your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want.”23
Then, lest any one should allege poverty, He saith,
“Or whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”24
“Though a cup of cold water be thy gift, on which there is nothing laid out, even of this shall a reward be stored up for thee. For I do all things for the sake of you the receivers.”
Seest thou what mighty persuasions He used, and how He opened to them the houses of the whole world? Yea, He signified that men are their debtors: first, by saying, “The workman is worthy of his hire;” secondly, by sending them forth having nothing; thirdly, by giving them up to wars and fightings in behalf of them that receive them; fourthly, by committing to them miracles also; fifthly, in that He did by their lips introduce peace, the cause of all blessings, into the houses of such as receive them; sixthly, by threatening things more grievous than Sodom to such as receive them not: seventhly, by signifying that as many as welcome them are receiving both Himself and the Father; eighthly, by promising both a prophet’s and a righteous man’s reward: ninthly, by undertaking that the recompenses shall be great, even for a cup of cold water. Now each one of these things, even by itself, were enough to attract them. For who, tell me, when a leader of armies wounded in innumerable places, and dyed in blood, came in sight, returning after many trophies from war and conflict, would not receive him, throwing open every door in his house?
5. But who now is like this? one may say. Therefore He added, “In the name of a disciple, and of a prophet, and of a righteous man;” to instruct thee that not for the worthiness of the visitor, but for the purpose of him that gives welcome, is His reward appointed. For though here He speak of prophets, and righteous men, and disciples, yet elsewhere He bids men receive the veriest outcasts, and punishes such as fail to do so. For, “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me; “25 and the converse again He affirms with respect to the same persons.
Since though he may be doing no such great work, he is a man, inhabiting the same world with thee, beholding the same sun having the same soul, the same Lord, a partaker with thee of the same mysteries, called to the same heaven with thee; having a strong claim, his poverty, and his want of necessary food. But now they that waken thee with flutes and pipes in the winter season, and disturb thee without purpose or fruit, depart from thee receiving many gifts.26 And they that carry about swallows,27 and smut themselves over,28 and abuse every one, receive a reward for this their conjuration. But if there come to thee a poor man wanting bread, there is no end of revilings, and reproaches, and charges of idleness, and upbraidings, and insults, and jeers; and thou considerest not with thyself, that thou too art idle, and yet God giveth thee His gifts. For tell me not this, that thou too art doing somewhat, but point me out this rather, if it be anything really needful that thou doest, and art busy about. But if thou tellest one of money-getting, and of traffic, and of the care and increase of thy goods, I also would say unto thee, Not these, but alms, and prayers, and the protection of the injured, and all such things, are truly works, with respect to which we live in thorough idleness. Yet God never told us, “Because thou art idle, I light not up the sun for thee; because thou doest nothing of real consequence, I quench the moon, I paralyze the womb of the earth, I restrain the lakes, the fountains, the rivers, I blot out the atmosphere: I withhold the annual rains:” but He gives us all abundantly. And to some that are not merely idle, but even doing evil, He freely gives the benefit of these things.
When therefore thou seest a poor man, and sayest, “It stops my breath that this fellow, young as he is and healthy, having nothing, would fain be fed in idleness; he is surely some slave and runaway, and hath deserted his proper master:” I bid thee speak these same words to thyself; or rather, permit him freely to speak them unto thee, and he will say with more justice, “It stops my breath that thou, being healthy, art idle, and practisest none of the things which God hath commanded, but having run away from the commandments of thy Lord, goest about dwelling in wickedness, as in a strange land, in drunkenness, in surfeiting, in theft, in extortion, in subverting other men’s houses.” And thou indeed imputest idleness, but I evil works; in thy plotting, in thy swearing, in thy lying, in thy spoiling, in thy doing innumerable such things.
And this I say, not as making a law in favor of idleness, far from it; but rather very earnestly wishing all to be employed; for sloth is the teacher of all wickedness: but I beseech you not to be unmerciful, nor cruel. Since Paul also, having made infinite complaints, and said, “If any will not work, neither let him eat,” stopped not at this, but added, “But ye, be not weary in well doing.”29 “Nay, but these things are contradictory. For if thou hast commanded for them not to eat, how exhortest thou us to give?” I do so, saith He, for I have also commanded to avoid them, and “to have no company with them;” and again I said, “Count them not as enemies, but admonish them; “30 not making contradictory laws, but such as are quite in unison with each other. Because, if thou art prompt to mercy, both he, the poor man, will soon be rid of his idleness, and thou of thy cruelty.
“But he hath many lies and inventions,” you reply. Well, hence again is he pitiable, for that he hath fallen into such distress, as to be hardened even in such doings. But we, so far from pitying, add even those cruel words, “Hast thou not received once and again?” so we talk. What then? because he was once fed, hath he no need to be fed again? Why dost thou not make these laws for thine own belly also, and say to it likewise, Thou wert filled yesterday, and the day before, seek it not now? But while thou fillest that beyond measure, even to bursting,31 from him thou turnest away, when he asks but what is moderate; whereas thou oughtest therefore to pity him, because he is constrained to come to thee every day. Yea, if nought else incline thee to him, thou shouldest pity him because of this; for by the constraint of his poverty he is forced on these things, and doeth them. And thou dost not pity him, because, being so spoken to, he feels no shame: the reason being, that his want is too strong for him.
Nay, thou instead of pitying, dost even make a show of him; and whereas God hath commanded to give secretly, thou standest exposing publicly him that hath accosted thee, and upbraiding him, for what ought to move thy pity. Why, if thou art not minded to give, to what end add reproach, and bruise that weary and wretched soul? He came as into a harbor, seeking help at thine hands; why stir up waves, and make the storm more grievous? Why dost thou condemn him of meanness? What? had he thought to hear such things, would he have come to thee? Or if he actually came foreseeing this, good cause therefore both to pity him, and to shudder at thine own cruelty, that not even so, when thou seest an inexorable necessity laid upon him, dost thou become more gentle, nor judgest him to have a sufficient excuse for his importunity in the dread of hunger, but accusest him of impudence: and yet hast thou often thyself practised greater impudence, yea in respect of grievous matters. For while here the very impudence brings with it ground of pardon, we, often doing things punishable, brazen it out: and when we ought to bear all that in mind, and be humble, we even trample on those miserable men, and when they ask medicines, we add to their wounds. I say, if thou wilt not give, yet why dost thou strike? If thou wilt not be bounteous, yet why be insolent?
“But he submits not to be put off in any other way.” Well then, as that wise man commanded,’ so do. “Answer him peaceable words with meekness.” For not of his own accord, surely, is he so very importunate. For there is not, there cannot be, any man desiring to be put to shame for its own sake. How much soever any may contend, I cannot yield ever to be convinced that a man who was living in plenty would choose to beg.
6. Let no man then beguile us with arguments. But although Paul saith, “If any will not work, neither let him eat,”32 to them he saith it; but to us he saith not this, but, on the contrary, “Be not weary in well doing.”33 Even thus do we at home; when any two are striving with each other, we take each apart, and give them the opposite advice. This did God also, and Moses. For while to God he said, “If thou wilt forgive them their sin, forgive it; else blot me out also; “34 them on the contrary he commanded to slay one another, and all that pertained to them. Yet these things are contrary; nevertheless, both looked to one end.
Again, God said to Moses in the hearing of the Jews, “Let me alone, that I may consume the people,”35 (for though they were not present when God was saying this, yet they were to hear it afterwards): but privately He gives him directions of the opposite tenor. And this, Moses upon constraint revealed afterwards, thus saying, “What? did I conceive them, that thou sayest to me, Carry them, as a nurse would carry the sucking child in her bosom?”36
These things are done also in houses, and often a father while he blames the tutor in private for having used his child reproachfully, saying, “Be not rough, nor hard,” to the youth speaks in the contrary way, “Though thou be reproached unjustly, bear it;” out of those opposites making up some one wholesome result. Thus also Paul said to such as are in health and beg, “If any man will not work, neither let him eat,” that he may urge them into employment: but to such as can show mercy, “Ye, for your part, be not weary in well doing:” that he may lead them to give aims.
So also, when he was admonishing those of the Gentiles, in his Epistle to the Romans, not to be highminded against the Jews, he brought forward also the wild olive, and he seems to be saying one thing to these, another to those.37
Let us not therefore fall away into cruelty, but let us listen to Paul, saying, “Be not weary in well doing;” let us listen to the Lord, who saith, “Give to every man that asketh of thee,”38 and, “Be ye merciful as your Father.”39 And though He hath spoken of many things, He hath nowhere used this expression, but with regard to our deeds of mercy only. For nothing so equals us with God, as doing good.
“But nothing is more shameless,” saith one, “than a poor man.” Why, I pray thee? Because he runs up, and cries out after thee? Wilt thou then let me point out, how we are more importunate than they, and very shameless? Remember, I say, now at the season of the fast, how often, when thy table was spread at eventide, and thou hadst called thy ministering servant; on his moving rather leisurely,40 thou hast overset everything, kicking, insulting, reviling, merely about a little delay; although fully assured, that if not immediately, yet a little after thou shalt enjoy thy victuals. Upon which thou dost not call thyself impudent, changed as thou art into a wild beast for nothing; but the poor man, alarmed and trembling about his greater interests (for not about delay, but about famine, is all his fear), him dost thou call audacious, and shameless, and impudent, and all the most opprobrious names? Nay, how is this anything but extreme impudence.
But these things We do not consider: therefore we account such men troublesome: since if we at all searched into our own doings, and compared them with theirs, we should not have thought them intolerable.
Be not then a severe judge. Why, if thou wert clear of all sins, not even then would the law of God permit thee to be strict in searching out other men’s sins. And if the Pharisee perished on this account, what defense are we to find? If He suffer not such as have done well to be bitter in searching out other men’s doings, much less them that have offended.
7. Let us not then be savage, nor cruel, not without natural feeling, not implacable, not worse than wild beasts. For I know many to have gone even so far in brutishness, as for a little trouble to slight famishing persons, and to say these words: “I have no servant now with me; we are far from home; there is no money-changer that I know.” Oh cruelty! Didst thou promise the greater, and dost thou not fulfill the less? To save thy walking a little way, doth he perish with hunger? Oh insolence! Oh pride! Why, if it were ten furlongs to be walked, oughtest thou to be backward? both it not even come into thy mind that so thy reward is made greater? For whereas, when thou givest, thou receivest reward for the gift only: when thou thyself also goest, for this again is appointed thee a recompense.
Yea, the patriarch himself we admire for this, that in his own person be ran to the herd, and snatched up the calf,41 and that, when he had three hundred and eighteen servants born in his house.42 But now some are filled with so much pride, as to do these things by servants, and not to be ashamed. “But dost thou require me to do these things myself?” one may say. “How then shall I not seem to be vainglorious?” Nay, but as it is, thou art led by another kind of vainglory to do this, being ashamed to be seen talking with a poor man.
But I am in no respect strict about this; only give, whether by thyself or by another thou art minded to do so; and do not accuse, do not smite, do not revile. For medicines, not wounds. cloth he need who comes unto thee; mercy, not a sword. For tell me, if any one who had been smitten with a stone, and had received a wound in his head, were to let go all others, and run unto thy knees, drenched in his blood; wouldest thou indeed smite him with another stone, and add unto him another wound? I, for my part, think not; but even as it was, thou wouldest endeavor to cure it. Why then doest thou the contrary with respect to the poor? Knowest thou not how much power a word hath, both to raise up, and to cast down? “For a word,” it is said, “is better than a gift.”43
Dost thou not consider that thou art thrusting the sword into thyself, and art receiving a more grievous wound, when he, being reviled, silently withdraws, with groans and many tears? Since indeed of God he is sent unto thee. Consider then, in insulting him, upon whom thou art causing the insult to pass; when God indeed sends him unto thee, and commands thee to give, but thou, so far from giving, dost even insult him on his comIng.
And if thou art not aware how exceedingly amiss this is, look at it as among men, and then thou wilt fully know the greatness of the sin. As thus: if a servant of thine had been commanded by thee to go to another servant, who had money of thine, to receive it, and were to come back not only with empty hands, but also with despiteful usage; what wouldest thou not do to him that had wrought the insult? What penalty wouldest thou not exact, as though, after this, it were thyself that had been ill used?
This reckoning do thou make in regard of God also; for truly it is He that sends the poor to us, and of His we give, if indeed we do give. But if, besides not giving, we also send them away insulted, consider how many bolts, how many thunders, that which we are doing deserves.
Duly considering then all these things, let us both bridle our tongue, and put away inhumanity, and let us stretch forth the hand to give alms, and not with money only, but with words also, let us relieve such as are in need; that we may both escape the punishment for reviling, and may inherit the kingdom which is for blessing arid almsgiving, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might forever and ever. Amen.
11 Mi 7,5-6.
12 Lc 12,49.
13 h[leife, “would anoint them for action.”
14 Mt 10,37-38.
15 Dt 33,9.
16 Ep 6,1. See there St. Chrysostom’s explanation of the expression, “in the Lord.”
17 Lc 14,26.
18 Mt 10,38. Comp. Lc 14,27. [The word “beareth” (from Luke) is here substituted for “taketh”.R.]
19 Mt 10,39
20 Or “soul;” the same word standing in the Greek for both“soul’” and “life;” which makes it impossible to give the full force of the passage in English).
21 Mt 10,40.
22 Mt 10,41.
23 "[nesin, opposed to kovlasin, “punishment,” in the same way, Hom. XIlI. 8, in the Benedictine edition, p. 176, c.; and eksewhere).
24 2Co 8,14.
25 Mt 10,43.
26 Mt 25,45.
27 This was part of the festivities of the Saturnalia ; “it began on the 13th of January, when the flute players used to run about the city with much license and wantonness in female apparel ; as at this time, about the Epiphany season. pipers and singers are wont to come into the houses of the rich, to sing for largesses, with some in masks at their head). Vid. Liv. lib. 9,c. 30.” Francise. Modius de Ludis et Spect. Veterum, 2,28, ap. Gronov. Thes. xi.1005).
28 Here Mr. Field quotes from Bois as follows “It is a description of certain jugglers, who used to carry about swallows trained to come and go when let loose, and settle on their heads, and take meat out of their mouths. So I conjecture.” Mr. Field adds “I have nothing to add to this. For those whom Athanatus” (from Theognis) “mentions , gathering a dole for the swallow (p.360, B). seem not to answer to what is here meant. They, by way of begging, used to chant a sort of song about the coming of the swallow. It was the custom of the Rhodians particularly.”
29 Scaliger, Poet 1,10, says, “Some actors in low comedy were not masked, but smeared with soot;
and used to dance to music in honor of Bacchus, and bounding forward, to jeer at every one.” ap. Hofiman, voc. Mimus).
30 2Th 3,10 2Th 3,13.
31 2Th 3,14-15.
32 [uJpe;r mevtron diapphgnuvei".]
33 Si 4,8.
34 2Th 3,10.
35 2Th 3,13.
36 Ex 32,32 [LXX.]).
37 Ex 32,10.
38 Nb 11,12 [LXX.]
39 Rm 11,17.
40 Lc 6,30.
41 Lc 6,36.
42 [The construction is difficult: i(na scolaiovteron basdivsh/. We must accept here a causal sense of i(na.—R.]
43 Gn 18,7.
Chrysostom hom. on Mt 34