Chrysostom hom. on Mt 70
70 Mt 22,15
“Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle Him in His talk.”
Then. When? When most of all they ought to have been moved to compunction, when they should have been amazed at His love to man, when they should have feared the things to come, when from the past they ought to have believed touching the future also. For indeed the things that had been said cried aloud in actual fulfillment I mean, that publicans and harlots believed, and prophets and righteous men were slain, and from these things they ought not to have gainsaid touching their own destruction, but even to believe and to be sobered.
But nevertheless not even so do their wicked acts cease, but travail and proceed further. And forasmuch as they could not lay hands. on Him (for they feared the multitude), they took another way with the intention of bringing Him into danger, and making Him guilty of crimes against the state.
For “they sent out unto Him their disciples with the Herodians saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man; for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto C’sar or not?1
For they were now tributaries, their state having passed under the rule of the Romans. Forasmuch then as they saw that Theudas and Judas2 with their companies for this cause were put to death, as having prepared for a revolt, they were minded to bring Him too by these words into such a suspicion. Therefore they sent both their own disciples, and Herod’s soldiers, digging, as they thought, a precipice on either side, and in every direction setting the snare, so that, whatever He should say, they might lay hold of it; and if He should answer in favor of the Herodians, themselves might find fault with Him, but if in their favor, the others should accuse Him. And yet He had given the didrachmas,3 but they knew not that.
And in either way indeed they expected to lay hold of Him; but they desired rather that He should say something against the Herodians. Wherefore they send their disciples also to urge. Him thereto by their presence, that they might deliver Him to the governor as an usurper. For this Luke also intimates and shows, by saying, that they asked also in the presence of the multitude, so that the testimony should be the stronger.
But the result was altogether opposite; for in a larger body of spectators they afforded the demonstration of their folly.
And see their flattery, and their hidden craft. “We know,” their words are, “that Thou art true.” How said ye then, “He is a deceiver,” and “deceiveth the people,” and “hath a devil,” and “is not of God?”4 how a little while before did ye devise to slay Him?
But they are at everything, whatsoever their craft against Him may suggest. For since, when a little before they had said in self will, “By what authority doest Thou these things?”5 they did not meet with an answer to the question, they look to puff Him up by their flattery, and to persuade Him to say something against the established laws, and opposed to the prevailing government.
Wherefore also they testify the truth unto Him, confessing what was really so, nevertheless, not with an upright mind, nor willingly; and add thereto, saying, “Thou carest not for any man.” See how plainly they are desiring to urge Him to these sayings, that would make Him both offend Herod, and incur the suspicion of being an usurper, as standing up against the laws, so that they might punish Him, as a mover of sedition, and an usurper. For in saying, “Thou carest not for any man,” and, “Thou regardest not the person of man,” they were hinting at Herod and Caesar, “Tell us therefore, what thinkest Thou?” Now ye honor Him, and esteem Him a Teacher, having despised and insulted Him oftentimes, when He was discoursing of the things that concern your salvation.Whence also they are become confederates.
And see their craftiness. They say not, Tell us what is good, what is expedient, what is lawful? but, “What thinkest Thou?” So much did they look to this one object, to betray Him, and to set Him at enmity with the rulers. And Mark declaring this, and more plainly discovering their self-will, and their murderous disposition, affirms them to have said, “Shall we give C’sar tribute, or shall we not give?”6 So that they were breathing anger, and travailing with a plot against Him, yet they feigned respect.
What then saith He? “Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?” Seest thou how He talks with them with more than usual severity? For since their wickedness was now complete and manifest, He cuts the deeper, first confounding and silencing them, by publishing their secret thoughts, and making it manifest to all with what kind of intent they are coming unto Him.
And these things He did, repulsing their wickedness, so that they might not suffer hurt in attempting the same things again. And yet their words were full of much respect, for they both called Him Master, and bore witness to His truth, and that He was no respecter of persons; but being God, He was deceived by none of these things. Wherefore they also ought to have conjectured, that the rebuke was not the result of conjecture, but a sign of His knowing their secret thoughts.
2. He stopped not, however, at the rebuke, although it was enough merely to have convicted them of their purpose, and to have put them to shame for their wickedness; but He stoppetn not at this, but in another way closes their mouths; for, “Shew me,” saith He, “the tribute money.” And when they had shown it, as He ever doth, by their tongue He brings out the decision, and causes them to decide, that it is lawful; which was a clear and plain victory. So that. when He asks, not from ignorance doth He ask, but because it is His will to cause them to be bound by their own answers. For when, on being asked, “Whose is the image?” they said, “C’sar’s;” He saith, “Render unto C’sar the things that are C’sar’s.”7 For this is not to give but to render, and this He shows both by the image, and by the superscription.
Then that they might not say, Thou art subjecting us to men, He added, “And unto God the things that are God’s.” For it is possible both to fulfill to men their claims and to give unto God the things that are due to God from us. Wherefore Paul also saith, “Render unto all their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear.”8
But thou, when thou hearest, “Render unto C’sar the things which are Ct, “Ren’sar’s” know that He is speaking only of those things, which are no detriment to godliness; since if it be any such thing as this, such a thing is no longer C’sar’s tribute, but the devil’s.
When they heard these things, their mouths were stopped, and they “marvelled” at His wisdom. Ought they not then to have believed, ought they not to have been amazed. For indeed, He gave them proof of His Godhead, by revealing the secrets of their hearts, and with gentleness did He silence them.
What then? did they believe? By no means, but they “left Him, and went their way;” and after them, “came to Him the Sadducees.”
O folly! When the others had been put to silence, these made the attack, when they ought to have been the more backward. But such is the nature of rashness, shameless, and importunate, and attempting things impossible. Therefore the evangelist also, amazed at their folly, signified this very thing, by saying, “On that day came to Him.”9 On that day. On what day? In which He had convicted their craftiness, and put them to shame. But who are these? A sect of the Jews different from the Pharisees, and much worse than they, who said, “that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit.10 For these were some of a grosset sort, and eager after the things of the body. For there were many sects even amongst the Jews. Wherefore Paul also saith, “I am a Pharisee, of the strictest sect amongst us.”11
And they say nothing indeed directly about a resurrection; but they feign a story, and make up a case, which, as I suppose, never so much as had an existence; thinking to drive Him to perplexity, and desiring to overthrow both things, both the existence of a resurrection, and of such a resurrection.
And again, these too attack Him with a show of moderation, saying, “Master, Moses said, If a man die, not having children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased; and, having no issue,12 left his wife unto his brother. Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife shall she be of the seven?”13
See Him answering these like a teacher. For though out of craft they came unto Him, yet was their question rather one of ignorance. Therefore neither doth He say unto them, “Ye hypocrites.”
Moreover, in order that He might not blame, saying, “Wherefore had seven one wife?” they add the authority of Moses; although, as I have said before, it was a fiction, in my judgment at least. For the third would not have taken her, when he saw the two bridegrooms dead; or if the third, yet not the fourth or the fifth; and if even these, much more the sixth or the seventh would not have come unto the woman, but have shrunk from her. For such is the nature of the Jews. For if now many have this feeling, much more then had they; when at least, even without this, they often avoided marrying in this way, and that when the law was constraining them. Thus, at any rate, Ruth, that Moabitish woman, was thrust off to him that was further off from her kindred; and Tamar too was thus compelled to obtain, by stealth, seed from her husband’s kinsman.
And wherefore did they not feign two or three, but seven? In order the more abundantly to bring derision, as they thought, upon the resurrection. Wherefore they further say, “they all had her,” as driving Him into some difficulty.
What then saith Christ? He replies unto both, as taking His stand not against the words, but the purpose, and on every occasion revealing the secrets of their hearts; and at one time exposing them, at another time leaving the refutation of them that question Him to their conscience. See, at any rate here, how He proves both points, as well that there will be a resurrection, as that it will not be such a resurrection as they suspect.
For what saith He? “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.”14 For since, as if they knew them, they put forward Moses and the law, He shows that this question is that of men very ignorant of the Scriptures. For hence also arose their tempting Him, from their being ignorant of the Scriptures, and from their not knowing the power of God as they ought.
“For what marvel then is it,” He saith, “if ye tempt me, who am as yet unknown to you, when at least ye know not so much as the power of God, of which ye have had so much experience, and neither from common sense nor from the Scriptures have become acquainted with it;” if indeed even common sense causes us to know this, that to God all things are possible. And in the first place He answers to the question asked. For since this was the cause for their not believing a resurrection, that they think the order of things is like this, He cures the cause, then the symptom also (for thence arose the disease too), and shows the manner of the resurrection. “For in the resurrection,” saith He, “they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as angels of God in Heaven.”15 But Luke saith, “As Sons of God.”16
If then they marry not, the question is vain. But not because they do not marry, therefore are they angels, but because they are as angels, therefore they do not marry. By this He removed many other difficulties also, all which things Paul intimated by one word, saying, “For the fashion of this world passeth away.”17
And by these words He declared how great a thing the resurrection is; and that moreover there is a resurrection, He proves. And indeed this too was demonstrated at the same time by what He had said, nevertheless over and above He adds again to His word by what He saith now. For neither at their question only did He stop, but at their thought. Thus when they are not deafing with great craft, but are asking in ignorance, He teaches even over and above, but when it is of wickedness only, not even to their question doth He answer.
And again by Moses doth He stop their mouths, since they too had brought forward Moses; and He saith, “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”18 Not of them that are not His meaning is, and that are utterly blotted out, and are to rise no more. For He said not, I was, but, I am; of them that are, and them that live. For like as Adam, although he lived on the day that he ate of the tree, died in the sentence: even so also these, although they had died, lived in the promise of the resurrection.
How then doth He say elsewhere, “That He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living?”19 But this is not contrary to that. For here He speaks of the dead, who are also themselves to live. And moreover too, “I am the God of Abraham,” is another thing from, “That He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” He knew of another death too, concerning which He saith, “Let the dead bury their dead.”20
“And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His doctrine.”21 Yet not even here the Sadducees; but these go away defeated, while the impartial multitude reap the benefit.
Since then the resurrection is like this, come let us do all things, that we may obtain the first honors there. But, if ye will, let us show you some even before the resurrection here pursuing and reaping these blessings, again having made our resort to the deserts. For again will I enter upon the same discourse, since I see you listening with more pleasure.
Let us behold then to-day also the spiritual camps, let us behold their pleasure unalloyed with fear. For not with spears are they encamped like the soldiers, for at this point I lately ended my discourse, neither with shields and breastplates; but bare of all these wilt thou see them, yet achieving such things, as not even with arms do they.
And if thou art able to observe, come and stretch forth thy hand to me, and let us go unto this war, both of us, and let us see their battle array. For these too fight every day, and slay their adversaries, and conquer all the lusts that are plotting against us; and thou wilt see these cast out on the ground, and not able so much as to struggle, but proving by very deed that saying of the apostle, “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”22
Seest thou a multitude of dead lying there, slain by the sword of the Spirit? Therefore in that place is no drunkenness nor gluttony. And their table proves it, and the trophy that is set thereon. For drunkenness and gluttony lie dead, put to the rout by the drinking of water, though this be multiform, and a many-headed monster. For like as in the fabled Scylla and Hydra, so in drunkenness may one see many heads, on one side fornication growing up, on another wrath; on one hand sloth, on another lawless lusts; but all these things are taken away. And yet all those other armies, though they get the better in ten thousand wars, are taken captive by these; and neither arms, nor spears, nor whatever else there may be, is able to stand against these phalanxes; but the very giants, the heroes, those that do countless brave deeds, thou wilt find without bonds bound by sleep and drunkenness, without slaughter or wounds lying like the wounded, or rather in more grievous case. For those at least struggle; but these do not even this, but straightway give up.
Seest thou that this host is greater and more to be admired? For the enemies that got the better of the others it destroys by its mere will. For they do so weaken the mother of all thor evils, that she cannot even trouble them any more; and the leader being overthrown, and the head removed, the rest of the body also lies still.
And this victory one may see each of them, that abide there, achieving. For it is not as in these wars of ours, where, if any enemy hath received a blow from one, he is no more grievous to another, having been once overthrown; but it is necessary for all to smite this monster; and he that hath not smitten and overthrown her, is surely troubled by her.
Seest thou a glorious victory? For such a trophy as the hosts in all pans of the world having met together have not power to erect, this each one of those men erects; and all things that from the army of drunkenness lie mingled together wounded, delirious words of frenzy, insane thoughts, unpleasing haughtiness. And they imitate their own Lord, at whom the Scripture marvelling saith, “He shall drink of the brook in the way, therefore shall He lift up the head.”23
Would ye see also another multitude of dead? Let us see the lusts that arise from luxurious living, those that are cherished by the makers of sauces, by the cooks, the furnishers of feasts, the confectioners. For I am ashamed indeed to speak of all; however, I will tell of the birds from Phasis, the soups that are mixed from various things: the moist, the dry dishes, the laws made about these things. For like as if ordering some city and mashalling hosts, even so these too make laws, and ordain such a thing first, and such a thing second, and some bring in first birds roasted on the embers, filled within with fish; and others make of other material the beginnings of these unlawful feasts; and them is much rivalry about these things, about quality, and about order, and about quantity; and they take a pride in the things, for which they ought to bury themselves for shame; some saying that they have spent the half of the day, some all of it, some that they have added the night too. Behold, O wretched man, the measure of thy belly, and be ashamed of thy unmeasured earnestness!
But there is nothing like this amongst those angels; but all these desires also are dead. For their meals are not unto fullness, and unto luxurious living, but unto necessity. No bird hunters are there, no fishermen, but bread and water. But this confusion, and the disturbance, and the turmoils, are all removed from thence, alike from the house and from the body, and great is the haven, but amongst these great the tempest.
Burst open now in thought the belly of them who feed on such things, and thou wilt see the vast refuse, and the unclean channel, and the whited sepulchre.
But what come after these I am even ashamed to tell, the disagreeable erucations, the vomitings, the discharges downwards and upwards.
But go and see even these desires dead there, and those more violent lusts that spring from these; I mean, those of impurity. For these too thou wilt see all overthrown, with their horses, with their beasts of burden. For the beast of burden, and the weapon, and the horse of a filthy deed, is a filthy word. But thou wilt see such like horse and rider together, and their weapons thrown down; but here quite the contrary, and souls cast down dead. But not at their meal only is the victory of these holy men glorious, but in the other things also, in money, in glory, in envy, in all diseases of the soul.
Surely does not this host seem to thee mightier than that, and the meal better? Nay, who will gainsay it? None, not even of those persons themselves, though he be very mad. For this guides us on to Heaven, that drags to hell; this the devil lays out, that Christ; for this luxury gives laws, and intemperance, for that self-denial and sobriety, here Christ is present, there the devil. For where there is drunkenness, the devil is there; where there are filthy words, where there is surfeiting, there the devils hold their choirs. Such a table had that rich man, therefore not even of a drop of water was he master.
But these have not such a table, but they already practise the ways of the angels. They marry not, they are not given in marriage, neither do they sleep excessively, nor live luxuriously, but except a few things they are even bodiless.
Now who is there that so easily overcomes his enemies as he that sets up a trophy while at his dinner? Therefore also the prophet saith, “Thou hast prepared a table before me, in the presence of them that trouble me.”24 One could not be wrong in repeating this oracle about this table. For nothing so troubles a soul as disorderly concupiscence, and luxury, and drunkenness, and the evils that spring from these; and this they know full well who have had experience thereof.
And if thou wast to learn also, whence this table is procured, and whence that; then thou wouldest see wall the difference between each. Whence then is this procured. From countless tears, from widows defrauded, from orphans despoiled; but the other from honest labor. And this table is like to a fair and wall-favored woman, needing nothing external, but having her beauty from nature; but that to some ugly and ill-favored harlot, wearing much paint, but not able to disguise her deformity, but the nearer she is, the more convicted. For this too, when it is nearer to him that is at it, then shows its ugliness more. For look not I tell thee, at the banqueters, as they come only, but also as they go away, and then thou wilt see its ugliness. For that, as being free, suffers them that come unto it to say nothing shameful; but this nothing seemly, as being a harlot, and dishonored. This seeks the profit of him that is at it that the hurt. And one not but that we must offend Him.
Let us go away therefore unto those men. Thence we shall learn with how many bonds we are encompassed. Thence shall we learn to set before ourselves a table full of countless blessings, most sweet, without cost, delivered from care, free from envy and jealousy and every disease, and full of good hope, and having its many trophies. No turmoil of soul there, no sorrow, no wrath; all is calm, all is peace.
For tell me not of the silence of them that serve in the houses of the rich, but of the clamor of them that dine; I mean, not that which they make one to another (for this too is worthy of derision), but that within, that in the soul, that brings on them a great captivity, the tumults of the thoughts, the sleet, the darkness, the tempest, by which all things are mingled and confused, and are like to some night battle. But not in the monks’ tents are such things as these; but great is the calm, great the quietness. And that table is succeeded by a sleep that is like death, but this by sobriety and wakefulness; that by punishment, this by the kingdom of heaven, and the immortal rewards.
This then let us follow, that we may enjoy also the fruits thereof; 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 world without end. Amen.
1 Mt 22,16-17.
2 Ac 5,36-37.
4 Jn 7,12 Jn 8,48 Jn 9,16.
5 Mt 21,23.
6 Mc 12,15.
7 Mt 22,20-21. [Abridged.]
8 Rm 13,7.
9 Mt 22,22-23. [The article may not form part of the citation. It does not occur in the New Testament passage.—R.]
10 Ac 23,8.
11 Ac 23,6, and Ac 26,5.
12 [R. V., “seed.”]
13 . [With the trifling variations the Greek of these verses agrees with the received text.—R.]
14 Mt 22,29.
15 Mt 22,30. [The second verb is peculiar, but conveys the same sense as the received text.—R.]
16 Lc 20,36.
17 1Co 7,31.
18 Mt 22,31-32. [In the last clause the text differs from the received, oJ qeov" being omitted (so Tischendorf). The R. V. follows a slightly different reading “God is; not the God,” etc.—R.]
19 Rm 14,9.
20 Mt 8,22.
21 Mt 22,33.
22 Ga 5,24.
23 Ps 110,7.
24 Ps 23,5. [LXX.]
71 Mt 22,34-36
“But when the Pharisees had heard that He had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together; and one of them, which was a lawyer, asked Him a question, tempting Him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?”
Again doth the evangelist express the cause, for which they ought to have held their peace, and marks their boldness by this also. How and in what way? Because when those others were put to silence, these again assail Him. For when they ought even for this to hold their peace, they strive to urge further their former endeavors,1 and put forward the lawyer, not desiring to learn, but making a trial of Him, and ask, “What is the first commandment?”
For since the first commandment was this, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God,” thinking that He would afford them some handle, as though He would amend it, for the sake of showing that Himself too was God, they propose the question. What then saith Christ? Indicating from what they were led to this; from having no charity, from pining with envy. from being seized by jealousy, He saith, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God. This is the first and great commandment.2 And the second is like unto this3 Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”4
But wherefore “like unto this?” Because this makes the way for that, and by it is again established; “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light;’5 and again, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” And what in conssequence of this? “They are corrupt, and become abminable in their ways.”6 And again, “The love of money is the root of all evils; which while some coveted after they have erred from the faith; “7 and, “He that loveth me, will keep my commandment.”8
But His commandments, and the sum of them, are, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and thy neighbor as thyself.” If therefore to love God is to love one’s neighbor, “For if thou lovest me,” He saith, “O Peter, feed my sheep,”9 but to love one’s neighbor worketh a keeping of the commandments, with reason doth He say, “On these hang all the law and the prophets.”10
So therefore what He did before, this He doth here also. I mean, that both there, when asked about the manner of the resurrection, He also taught a resurrection, instructing “For charity envieth not.”11 By this He shows Himself to be submissive both to the law and to the prophets.
But wherefore doth Matthew say that he asked, tempting Him, but Mark the contrary? “For when Jesus,” he saith, “saw that he answered discretly, He said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.”12
They are not contradicting each other, but indeed fully agreeing. For he asked indeed, tempting, at the beginning, but being benefitted by the answer, was commended. For not at the beginning did He commend him, but when he had said, “That to love his neighbor is more than whole burnt sacrifices,” then He saith, “Thou art not far from the kingdom;” because he overlooked low things, and embraced the first principle of virtue. For indeed all those are for the sake of this, as well the Sabbath as the rest.
And not even so did He make His commendation perfect, but yet deficient. For His saying, “Thou art not far off,” indicates that he is yet falling short, that he might seek after what was deficient.
But if, when He said, “There is one God, and there is none other but He,” He commended him, wonder not, but by this too observe, how He answers according to the opinion of them that come unto Him. For although men say ten thousand things about Christ unworthy of His glory, yet this at any rate they will not dare to say, that He is not God at all. Wherefore then doth He praise him that said, that beside the Father, there is no other God?
Not excepting Himself from being God; away with the thought; but since it was not yet time to disclose His Godhead, He suffers him to remain in the former doctrine, and praises him for knowing well the ancient principles, so as to make him fit for the doctrine of the New Testament, which He is bringing in its season.
And besides, the saying, “There is one God, and there is none other but He,” both in the Old Testament and everywhere, is spoken not to the rejection of the Son, but to make the distinction from idols. So that when praising this man also, who had thus spoken, He praises him in this mind.
Then since He had answered, He asks also: in turn, “What think ye of Christ, whose Son is He? They say unto Him, The Son of David.”13
See after how many miracles, after how many signs, after how many question, after how great a display of His unanimity with the Father, as well in words, as in deeds; after having praised this man that said, that there is one God, He asks the question, that they may not be able to say, that He did miracles indeed, yet was an adversary to the law, and a foe to God.
Therefore, after so many things, He asks these questions, secretly leading them on to confess Him also to be God. And the disciples He asked first what the others say, and then themselves; but these not so; for surely they would have said a deceiver, and a wicked one, as speaking all things without fear. So for this cause He inquires for the opinion of these men themselves.
For since He was now about to go on to His passion, He sees forth the prophecy that plainly proclaims Him to be Lord; and not as having come to do this without occasion, nor as having made this His aim, but from a reasonable cause.
For having asked them first, since they answered not the truth concerning Him (for they said He was a mere man), to overthrow their mistaken opinion, He thus introduces David proclaiming His Godhead. For they indeed supposed that He was a mere man, wherefore also they said, “the Son of David;”14 but He to correct this brings in the prophet witnessing to His being Lord, and the genuineness of His Sonship, and His equality in honor with His Father.
And not even at this doth He stop, but in order to move them to fear, He adds what followeth also, saying, “Till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool;”15 that at least in this way He might gain them over.
And that they may not say, that it was in flattery he so called Him, and that this was a human judgment, see what He saith, “How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord?” See how submissively He introduces the sentence and judgment concerning Himself. First. He had said, “What think ye? Whose Son is He?” so by a question to bring them to an answer. Then since they said, “the Son of David,” He said not, “And yet David saith these things,” but again in this order of a question, “How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord?” in order that the sayings might not give offense to them. Wherefore neither did He say, What think ye of me, but of Christ. For this reason the apostles also reasoned submissively, saying, “Let us speak freely of the Patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried.”16
And He Himself too in like manner for this cause introduces the doctrine in the way of question and inference, saying, “How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand, until I make Thy foes Thy footstool;”17 and again, “If David then call Him Lord, how is He then his Son,”18 not taking away the fact that He is his Son, away with the thought; for He would not then have reproved Peter for this,19 but to correct their secret thoughts. So that when He saith, “Howls He his Son?” He meaneth this, not so as ye say. For they said, that He is Son only, and not also Lord. And this after the testimony, and then submissively, “If David then call Him Lord, how is He his Son?”
But, nevertheless, even when they had heard these things, they answered nothing, for neither did they wish to learn any of the things that were needful. Wherefore He Himself addeth and saith, that “He is his Lord.” Or rather not even this very thing doth He say without support, but having taken the prophet with Him, because of His being exceedingly distrusted by them, and evil reported of amongst them. To which fact we ought to have especial regard, and if anything be said by Him that is lowly and submissive, not to be offended, for the cause is this, with many other things also, that He talks with them in condescension.
Wherefore now also He delivers His doctrine in the manner of question and answer; but He darkly intimates even in this way His dignity. For it was not as much to be called Lord of the Jews, as of David.
But mark thou also, I pray thee, how seasonable it is. For when He had said, “There is one Lord,” then He spake of Himself that He is Lord, and showed it by prophecy, no more by His works only. And He showeth the Father Himself taking vengeance upon them in His behalf, for He saith, “Until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool,” and great unanimity even hereby on the part of Him that begat Him towards Himself, and honor. And upon His reasonings with them He doth set this end high and great, and sufficient to close fast their mouths.
For they were silent from thenceforth, not willingly, but from their having nothing to say; and they received so deadly a blow, as no longer to dare to attempt the same things any more. For, “no one,” it is said, “durst from that day forth ask Him any more questions.”20
And this was no little advantage to the multitude.21 Therefore also unto them doth He henceforth direct His word, having removed the wolves, and having repulsed their plots.
For those men gained nothing, taken captive by vainglory, and having fallen upon this terrible passion. For terrible is this passion and many-headed, for some set their heart upon power for the sake of this, some on wealth, some on strength. But proceeding in order it goes on unto almsgiving also, and fasting, and prayers, and teaching, and many are the heads of this monster.
But to be vainglorious indeed about those other things is nothing wonderful; but to be so about fasting and prayer, this is strange and lamentable.
But that we may not again blame only, come and let us tell the means, by which we shall avoid this. Against whom shall we prepare to contend first, against those that are vainglorious of money, or those of dress, or those of places of power, or those of sciences, or those of art, or those of their person, or those of beauty, or those of ornaments, or those of cruelty, or those of humanity and almsgiving, or those of wickedness, or those of death, or those after death? For indeed, as I have said, this passion hath many links? and goes on beyond our life. For such a one, it is said, is dead, and that he may be held in admiration, hath charged that such and such things be done; and therefore such a one is poor, such a one rich.
For the grievous thing is this, that even of opposite things is it made up.
Against whom then shall we stand, and let ourselves in array first? For one and the same discourse suffices not against all. Will ye then that it be against them that are vainglorious about almsgiving?
To me at least it seems well; for exceedingly do I love this thing, and am pained at seeing it marred, and vainglory plotting against it, like a pandering nurse against some royal damsel. For she feeds her indeed, but for disgrace and mischief, prostituting her and commanding her to despise her father; but to deck herself to please unholy and often despicable men; and invests her with such a dress, as strangers wish, disgraceful, and dishonorable, not such as the father.
Come now, then, let us take our aim against these; and let there be an almsgiving made in abundance for display to the multitude. Surely then, first vainglory leads her out of her Father’s chamber. And whereas her Father requires not to appear so much as to the left hand,22 she displays her to the slaves, and to the vulgar, that have not even known her.
Seest thou a harlot, and pander, casting her into the love of foolish men, that according as they require, so she may order herself? Dost thou desire to see how it renders such a soul not a harlot only, but insane also?
Mark then her mind. For when she lets go heaven and runs after fugitives and menial slaves, pursuing through streets and lanes them that hate her, the ugly and deformed, them that are not willing so much as to look at her, them that, when she burns with love towards them, hate her, what can be more insane than this? For no one do the multitude hate so much, as those that want the glory they have to bestow. Countless accusations at least do they frame against them, and the result is the same, as if any one were to bring down a virgin daughter of the king from the royal throne, and to require her to prostitute herself to gladiators, who abhorred her. These then, as much as thou pursuest them, so much do they turn away from thee; but God, if thou seek the glory that cometh from Him, so much the more both draws thee unto Himself, and commends thee, and great is the reward He renders unto thee.
But if thou art minded in another way also to discern the mischief thereof, when thou givest for display and ostentation, consider how great the sorrow that then comes upon thee, and how continual the desponding, while Christ’s voice is heard in thine ears, saying,23 “Thou hast lost all thy reward.” For in every matter indeed vainglory is a bad thing. yet most of all in beneficence, for it is the utmost cruelty, making a show of the calamities of others, and all but upbraiding those in poverty. For if to mention one’s own good actions is to upbraid, what dost thou think it is to publish them even to many others.
How then shall we escape the danger? If we learn how to give alms, if we see after whose good report we are to seek. For tell me, who has the skill of almsgiving? Plainly, it is God, who hath made known the thing. who best of all knows it, and practises it without limit. What then? If thou art learning to be a wrestler, to whom dost thou look? or to whom dost thou display thy doings in the wrestling school, to the seller of herbs, and of fish, or to the trainer? And ye they are many, and he is one. What then, if while the admires thee, others deride thee. wilt thou not with him deride them?
What, if thou art learning to box, wilt thou not look in like manner to him who knows how to teach this? And if thou art practising oratory, wilt thou not accept the praise of the teacher of rhetoric, and despise the rest.
How then is it other than absurd, in other arts to look to the teacher only, but here to do the contrary? although the loss be not equal. For there, if you wrestle according to the opinion of the multitude, and not that of the teacher, the loss is in the wrestling; but here it is in eternal life. Thou art become like to God in giving alms; be thou then like Him in not making a display. For even He said, when healing, that they should tell no man.
But dost thou desire to be called merciful amongst men? And what is the gain? The gain is nothing; but the loss infinite. For these very persons, whom thou callest to be witnesses. become robbers of thy treasures that are in the heavens; or rather not these, but ourselves, who spoil our own possessions, and scatter what we have laid up above.
O new calamity! this strange passion. Where moth corrupteth not, nor thief breaketh through, vainglory scattereth. This is the moth of those treasures there; this the thief of our wealth in heaven; this steals away the riches that cannot be spoiled; this mars and corrupts all. For because the devil saw that that place is impregnable to thieves and to the worm, and the other plots against them, he by vainglory steals away the wealth.
But dost thou desire glory? Doth not then that suffice thee which is given by the receiver himself, that from our gracious God, but dost thou set thine heart on that from men also? Take heed, lest thou undergo the contrary, lest some condemn thee as not showing mercy, but making a display, and seeking honor, as making a show of the calamities of others.
For indeed the showing of mercy is a mystery. Shut therefore the doors, that none may see what it is not pious to display. For our mysteries too are above all things, a showing of God’s mercy and loving-kindness. According to His great mercy, He had mercy on us being disobedient.
And the first prayer too is full of mercy, when we entreat for the energumens; and the second again, for others under penance seeking for much mercy; and the third also for ourselves, and this puts forward the innocent children of the people entreating God for mercy. For since we condemn ourselves for sins, for them that have sinned much and deserve to be blamed we ourselves cry; but for ourselves the children; for the imitators of whose simplicity the kingdom of heaven is reserved. For this image shows this, that they who are like those children, lowly and simple, these above all men are able to deliver the guilty by their prayers.
But the mystery itself, of how much mercy, of how much love to man it is full, the initiated know.
Do thou then, when according to thy power thou art showing mercy to a man, shut the doors, let the object of thy mercy see it only; but if it be possible, not even he. But if thou set them open, thou art profanely exposing thy mystery.
Consider that the very person, whose praise thou seekest, even himself will condemn thee; and if he be a friend, will accuse thee to himself; but if an enemy, he will deride thee unto others also. And thou wilt undergo the opposite of what thou desirest. For thou indeed desirest that he should call thee the merciful man; but he will not call thee this, but the vainglorious, the man-pleaser, and other names far more grievous than these.
But if thou shouldest hide it, he will call thee all that is opposite to this; the merciful, the kind. For God suffers it not to be hidden; but if thou conceal it, the other will make it known, and greater will be the admiration, and more abundant the gain. So that even for this very object of being glorified, to make a display is against us; for with respect to the thing unto which we most hasten and press, as to this most especially is this thing against us. For so far from obtaining the credit of being merciful, we obtain even the contrary, and besides this, great is the loss we undergo.
For every motive then let us abstain from this, and set our love on God’s praise alone. For thus shall we both attain to honor here, and enjoy the eternal blessings, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might world without end. Amen.
1 ejpagwnivzontai toi`" protevroi").
2 [R. V., following a different reading, “great and first.”]
3 [The text varies from the received slightly, as well as from the reading accepted in the R. V.—R.]
5 Jn 3,20.
6 Ps 53,1.
7 1Tm 6,10.
8 Jn 14,15. [The paraphrase given above confirms the rendering of the R..V, “If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments.”—R.]
9 Jn 21,16-17.
10 Mt 22,40.
11 1Co 13,4.
12 Mc 12,34.
13 Mt 22,42. [R. V., “the Christ.”]
14 It may be in this view that it is said of St. Paul, immediately on his conversion, that “he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God”. Ac 9,20.
15 Mt 22,43. [The form is that of the received text. R. V., following strongly preponderant authority, “underneath thy feet.”—R.]
16 Ac 2,29.
17 Mt 22,44.
18 Mt 22,45.
19 For being unwilling to admit what belonged to His Humanity; Mt 16,22-23.
20 Mt 22,46.
21 See the parallel place, Mc xii. 37, where it is added, “The common people heard Him gladly.” [R. V., margin, “or, the great multitude,” etc.]
23 Mt 6,3.
Chrysostom hom. on Mt 70