Chrysostom hom. on Mt 84
84 Mt 26,51-54
“And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched forth his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.” Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword unto his place, for all they that take the sword, shall perish by the sword. Thinkest1 thou that I cannot pray to the Father, and He shall presently2 give me more than twelve legions of angels? How then should the Scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be?”3
Who was this “one,” who cut off the ear? John saith that it was Peter.4 For the act was of his fervor.
But this other point is worth inquiry, wherefore they were bearing swords? For that they bore them is evident not hence only, but from their saying when asked, “here are two.” But wherefore did Christ even permit them to have swords? For Luke affirms this too, that He said unto them, “When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything?” And when they said, “Nothing,” He said unto them, “But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and a scrip, and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” And when they said, “Here are two swords,” He said unto them, “It is enough.”5
Wherefore then did He suffer them to have them? To assure them that He was to be betrayed. Therefore He saith unto them, “Let him buy a sword,” not that they should arm themselves, far from it; but by this, indicating His being betrayed.
And wherefore doth He mention a scrip also? He was teaching them henceforth to be sober, and wakeful, and to use much diligence on their own part. For at the beginning He cherished them (as being inexperienced) with much putting forth of His power but afterwards bringing them forth as young birds out of the nest, He commands them to use their own wings. Then, that they might not suppose that it was for weakness He is letting them alone, in commanding them also to work their part, He reminds them of the former things, saying, “When I sent you without purse, lacked ye anything?” that by both they might learn His power, both wherein He protected them, and wherein He now leaveth them to themselves by degrees.
But whence were the swords there? They were come forth from the supper, and from the table. It was likely also there should be swords because of the lamb, and that the disciples, hearing that certain were coming forth against Him, took them for defense, as meaning to fight in behalf of their Master, which was of their thought only. Wherefore also Peter is rebuked for using it, and with a severe threat. For he was resisting the servant who came, warmly indeed, yet not defending himself, but doing this in behalf of his Master.
Christ however suffered not any harm to ensue. For He healed him, and showed forth a great miracle, enough to indicate at once both His forbearance and His power, and the affection and meekness of His disciple. For then he acted from affection, now with dutifulness. For when he heard, “Put up thy sword into its sheath,”6 he obeyed straightway, and afterwards nowhere doeth this.
But another saith, that they moreover asked, “Shall we smite?”7 but that He for-bad it, and healed the man, and rebuked His disciple, and threatened, that He might move him to obedience. “For all they that take the sword,” He said, “shall die with the sword.”
1 [R. V., “Or thinkest.”]
2 [R. V., “even now.”]
3 [The citation is very accurate; the only variation is the omission of mou after patevra.—R.]
4 Jn 18,10.
5 . [On the renderings of verse 36, see R. V. The text of the Homily admits of either interpretation, but the comment favors the rendering given in the text of the R. V.—R.]
6 Jn 18,11.
7 Lc 22,49.
And he adds a reason, saying, “Think ye that I cannot pray to my Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.”8 By these words He quenched their anger, indicating that to the Scriptures also, this seemed good. Wherefore there too He prayed, that they might take meekly what befell Him, when they had learnt that this again is done according to God’s will.
And by these two things, He comforted them, both by the punishment of them that are plotting against Him, “For all they,” He saith, “that take the sword shall perish with the sword;” and by His not undergoing these things against His will, “For I can pray, He saith, “to my Father.”
And wherefore did He not say, “Think ye that I cannot destroy them all?” Because He was more likely to be believed in saying what He did say; for not yet had they the right belief concerning Him. And a little while before He had said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death,” and, “Father, let the cup pass from me;”9 and He had appeared in an agony and sweating, and strengthened by an angel.
Since then He had shown forth many tokens of human nature, He did not seem likely to speak so as to be believed, if He had said, “Think ye that I cannot destroy them.” Therefore He saith, “What, think ye that I cannot pray to my Father?” And again He speaks it humbly, in saying, “He will presently give me twelve legions of angels.” For if one angel slew one hundred and eighty-five armed thousands,10 what need of twelve legions against a thousand men? But He frames His language with a view to their terror and weakness, for indeed they were dead with fear. Wherefore also He brings against them the Scriptures, saying, “How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled?” alarming them by this also. For if this be approved by the Scriptures, do ye oppose and fight against them?
2. And to His disciples He saith these things; but to the others, “Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.”11
See how many things He doeth that might awaken them. He cast them to the ground, He healed the servant’s ear, He threatened them with being slain; “For they shall perish with the sword,” He saith, “who take the sword.” By the healing of the ear, He gave assurance of these things also; from every quarter, both from the things present, and from the things to come, manifesting His power, and showing that it was not a work of their strength to seize Him. Wherefore He also adds, “I was daily with you, and sat teaching, and ye laid no hold on me;” by this also making it manifest, that the seizure was of His permission. He passed over the miracles, and mentions the teaching, that He might not seem to boast.
When I taught, ye laid no hold on me; when I held my peace, did ye come against me? I was in the temple, and no one seized me, and now do ye come upon me late and at midnight with swords and staves? What need was there of these weapons against Him, who was with you always? by these things teaching them, that unless He had voluntarily yielded, not even then would they have succeeded o For neither could they (who were not able to hold Him when in their hands, and who, when they had got Him in the midst of them, had not prevailed) even then have succeeded, unless He had been willing.
After this, He solves also the difficulty why He willed it then. For, “this was done,” He saith, “that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”12 See how even up to the last hour, and in the very act of being betrayed, He did all things for their amendment, healing, prophesying, threatening. “For,” He saith, “they shall perish by the sword.” To show that He is suffering voluntarily, He saith, “I was daily with you teaching;” to manifest His accordance with the Father, He adds, “That the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”
But wherefore did they not lay hold on Him in the temple? Because they would not have dared in the temple, on account of the people. Wherefore also He went forth without, both by the place and by the time giving them security, and even to the last hour taking away their excuse. For He who, in order that He might obey the prophets, gave up even Himself, how did He teach things contrary to them?
“Then all His disciples,” it is said, “forsook Him, and fled.” For when He was seized, they remained; but when He had said these things to the multitudes, they fled. For thenceforth they saw that escape was no longer possible, when He was giving Himself up to them voluntarily, and saying, that this was done according to the Scriptures.
And when these were fled, “they lead Him away to Caiaphas; but Peter followed, and entered in to see what the end should be.”13
Great was the fervor of the disciple; neither did he fly when he saw them flying, but stood his ground, and went in with Him. And if John did so too, yet he was “known to the high priest.”14
And why did they lead Him away there where they were all assembled? That they might do all things with consent of the chief priests. For he was then high priest, and all were waiting for Christ there, to such a degree did they spend the whole night, and give up their sleep for this object. For neither did they then eat the passover, but watched for this other purpose. For John, when he had said that “it was early,” added, “they entered into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the passover.”15
What must we say then? That they ate it on another day, and broke the law, on account of their eager desire about this murder. For Christ would not have transgressed as to the time of the passover, but they who were daring all things, and trampling under foot a thousand laws. For since they were exceedingly boiling with rage, and having often attempted to seize Him, had not been able; having then taken Him unexpectedly, they chose even to pass by the passover, for the sake of satiating their murderous lust.
Wherefore also they were all assembled together, and it was a council of pestilent men,16 and they ask some questions, wishing to invest this plot with the appearance of a court of justice. For “neither did their testimonies agree together;”17 so reigned was the court of justice, and all things full of confusion and disorder.
“But false witnesses came, and said, This fellow said, I will destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it.”18 And indeed He had said, “In three days,” but He said not, “I will destroy,” but, “Destroy,” and not about that temple but about His own body.19
What then doth. the high priest? Willing to press Him to a defense, that by that he might take Him, he saith, “Hearest Thou not what these witness against Thee? But He held His peace.”20
For the attempts at defense were unprofitable, no man hearing. For this was a show only of a court of justice, but in truth an onset of robbers, assailing Him without cause, as in a cave, or on a road.
Wherefore “He held His peace,” but the other continued, saying, “I adjure Thee by the living God, that Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of the living God. But He said, Thou hast said. Nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy.”21 And this he did to add force to the accusation, and to aggravate what He said, by the act. For since what had been said moved the hearers to fear, what they did about Stephen,22 stopping their ears, this high priest doth here also.
3. And yet what kind of blasphemy was this? For indeed before He had said, when they were gathered together, “The Lord said unto my Lord. Sit Thou on my right hand,”23 and interpreted the saying, and they dared say nothing, but held their peace, and from that time forth gainsaid Him no more. Why then did they now call the saying a blasphemy? And wherefore also did Christ thus answer them? To take away all their excuse, because unto the last day He taught that He was Christ, and that He sitteth at the right hand of the Father, and that He will come again to judge the world, which was the language of one manifesting His full accordance with the Father.
Having rent therefore his clothes, he saith, “What think ye?”24 He gives not the sentence from himself, but invites it from them, as in a case of confessed sins, and manifest blasphemy. For, inasmuch as they knew that if the thing came to be inquired into, and carefully decided, it would free Him from all blame, they condemn Him amongst themselves, and anticipate the hearers by saying, “Ye have heard the blasphemy;” all but necessitating and forcing them to deliver the sentence. What then say they? “He is guilty of death;” that having taken Him as condemned, they should thus work upon Pilate thereupon to pass sentence. In which matter those others also being accomplices say, “He is guilty of death;” themselves accusing, themselves judging, themselves passing sentence, themselves being everything then.
But wherefore did they not bring forward the Sabbaths? Because He had often stopped their mouths; and moreover they wanted to take Him, and condemn Him by the things then said. And the high priest anticipated them, and gave the sentence as from them, and drew them all on by rending his vestments, and having led Him away as now condemned unto Pilate, thus did all.
Before Pilate at any rate they said nothing of this kind, but what? “If25 this Man were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up unto thee;” attempting to put Him to death by political accusations. And wherefore did they not slay Him secretly? They were desirous also to bring up an evil report against His fame. For since many had now heard Him, and were admiring Him, and amazed at Him, therefore they endeavored that He should be put to death publicly, and in the presence of all.
8 Mt 26,53-54.
9 Mt 26,38-39.
10 2R 19,35.
11 Mt 26,55. [R. V., “robber”
“ to seize me”
“ye took toe not.”]
12 Mt 26,56.
13 Mt 26,57-58. [Abridged and altered.]
14 Jn 18,15.
15 Jn 18,28. [Compare Homily LXXVI. 1, and the note there.—R.]
But Christ hindered it not, but made full use of their wickedness for the establishment of the truth, so that His death should be manifest. And the result was the contrary to what they wished. For they wished to make a show of it, as in this way disgracing Him, but He even by these very things shone forth the more. And much as they said, “Let us put Him to death, lest the Romans come and take away our place and nation;”26 and after they had put Him to death, this came to pass; so also here; their object was to crucify Him publicly, that they might injure His fame, and the contrary result took place.
For in proof that indeed they had power to have put Him to death, even amongst themselves, hear what Pilate saith: “Take ye Him, and judge Him according to your law.”27 But they would not, that He might seem to have been put to death as a transgressor, as an usurper, as a mover of sedition. Therefore also they crucified thieves with Him; therefore also they said, “Write not that this man is King of the Jews; but that He said it.”28
But all these things are done for the truth, so that they might not have so much as any shadow of a defense that is surely shameless. And at the sepulchre too, in the like manner, the seals and the watches made the truth to be the more conspicuous; and the mockings, and the jeerings, and the revilings, wrought again this self-same effect.
For such is the nature of error: it is destroyed by those things whereby it plots; thus at least it fell out even here, for they that seemed to have conquered, these most of all were put to shame, and defeated, and ruined; but He that seemed to be defeated, this man above all hath both shone forth, and conquered mightily.
Let us not then everywhere seek victory, nor everywhere shun defeat. There is an occasion when victory brings hurt, but defeat profit. For, for instance, in the case of them that are angry; he that hath been very outrageous seems to have prevailed; but this man above all is the one subdued and hurt by the most grievous passion; but he that hath endured nobly, this man hath got the better and conquered. And while the one hath not had strength to overcome so much as his own disease; the other hath removed another man’s; this hath been subdued by his own, that hath got the better even of another’s passion; and so far from being burnt up, he quenched the flame of another when raised to a height. But if he had minded to gain what seems to be victory, both he himself would have been overcome; and having inflamed the other, he would have occasioned him to have suffered this more grievously; and, like women, both the one and the other would have been disgracefully and miserably overthrown by their anger. But now he that hath exercised self-control is both freed from this disgrace, and hath erected a glorious trophy over anger both in himself and in his neighbor, through his honorable defeat.
4. Let us not then everywhere seek victory. For he that hath overreached hath conquered the person wronged, but with an evil victory, and one that brings destruction to him that has won it; but he that is wronged, and seems to have been conquered, if he have borne it with self-command, this above all is the one that hath the crown. For often to be defeated is better, and this is the best mode of victory. For whether one overreaches, or smites, or envies, he that is defeated, and enters not into the conflict, this is he who hath the victory.
And why do I speak of overreaching and envy? For he also that is dragged to martyrdom, thus conquers by being bound, and beaten, and maimed, and slain. And what is in wars defeat, namely, for the combatant to fall; this with us is victory. For nowhere do we overcome by doing wrongfully, but everywhere by suffering wrongfully. Thus also cloth the victory become more glorious, when we sufferers get the better of the doers. Hereby it is shown that the victory is of God. For indeed it hath an opposite nature to outward conquest. which fact is again above all an infallible sign of strength. Thus also the rocks in the sea, by being struck, break the waves; thus also all the saints were proclaimed, and crowned, and set up their glorious trophies, winning this tranquil victory. “For stir not thyself,” He saith, “neither weary thyself. God hath given thee this might, to conquer not by conflict, but by endurance alone. Do not oppose thyself also as he does, and thou hast conquered; conflict not, and thou hast gained the crown.29 Why dost thou disgrace thyself? Allow him not to say that by conflicting thou hast got the better, but suffer him to be amazed and to marvel at thy invincible power; and to say to all, that even without entering into conflict thou hast conquered.”
Thus also the blessed Joseph obtained a good report, everywhere by suffering wrong getting the better of them who were doing it. For his brethren and the Egyptian woman were amongst those that were plotting against him, but over all did this man prevail. For tell me not of the prison, wherein this man dwelt, nor of the kings’ courts where she abode, but show me who it is that is conquered, who it is that is defeated, who that is in despondency, who that is in pleasure. For she, so far from being able to prevail over the righteous man, could not master so much as her own passion; but this man prevailed both over her and over that grievous disease. But if thou wilt, hear her very words, and thou shalt see the trophy. “Thou broughtest in unto us here an Hebrew servant to mock us.”30 It was not this man that mocked thee, O wretched and unhappy woman, but the devil that told thee that thou couldest break down the adamant. This thy husband brought not in unto thee an Hebrew servant to plot against thee, but the wicked spirit brought in that unclean lasciviousness; he it was that mocked thee.
What then did Joseph? He held his peace, and thus is condemned, even as Christ is also.
For all those things are types of these. And he indeed was in bonds, and she in royal courts. Yet what is this? For he was more glorious than any crowned victor, even while continuing in his bonds, but she was in a more wretched condition than any prisoner, while abiding in royal chambers.
But not hence alone may one see the victory, and the defeat, but by the end itself. For which accomplished his desired object? The prisoner, not the high born lady? For he strove to keep his chastity, but she to destroy it. Which then accomplished what he desired? he who suffered wrong, or she who did the wrong. It is quite plain, that it is he who suffered. Surely then this is the one who hath conquered.
Knowing then these things, let us follow after this victory, which is obtained by suffering wrong, let us flee from that which is got by doing wrong. For so shall we both live this present life in all tranquility, and great quietness, and shall attain unto the good things to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might world without end. Amen.
16 sunevdrion loimw`n; cf. Ps 1,1.
17 Mc 14,56 Mc 14,59. [The passages are combined.—R.]
18 Mt 26,60-61. [The citation is very free, not agreeing with anyone of the evangelists, according to our authorities; but it seems to combine terms from several passages.—R.]
19 See .
20 Mt 26,62-63. [Freely cited ; the beginning is from the language of Pilate; chap. 27,13—R.]
21 . [In verse 63, “the living God” occurs twice, peculiar to this Homily in verse 64 “of heaven” is omitted. In other details the citation agrees with the received text.—R.]
22 Ac 7,59.
24 Mt 26,66.
25 Jn 18,30. [R. V., “an evil-doer.”]
26 Jn 11,48. [Freely paraphrased.]
27 Jn 18,31.
28 Jn 19,21. [The citation is accurate; “it,” is supplied bythe translator to complete the sense.—R.]
29 1). [The following clause is omitted in the translation: “Much better and stronger art thou than thine antagonist.”—R.]
30 Gn 39,17.
85 Mt 26,67-68
“Then did they spit in His face, and buffeted Him, and others smote Him with the palms of their hands,1 saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, who is he that smote2 thee?”3
Wherefore did they these things, when they were to put Him to death? What need of this mockery? That thou mightest learn their intemperate spirit by all things, and that having taken Him like a preys they thus showed forth their intoxication, and gave full swing to their madness; making this a festival, and assaulting Him with pleasure, and showing forth their murderous disposition.
But admire, I pray thee, the self command of the disciples, with what exactness they relate these things. Hereby is clearly shown their dispostiion to love the truth, because they relate with all truthfulness the things that seem to be opprobrious, disguising nothing, nor being ashamed thereof, but rather accounting it very great glory, as indeed it was, that the Lord of the universe should endure to suffer such things for us. This shows both His unutterable tenderness, and the inexcusable wickedness of those men, who had the heart to do such things to Him that was so mild and meek, and was charming them with such words, as were enough to change a lion into a lamb. For neither did He fail in any things of gentleness, nor they of insolence and cruelty, in what they did, in what they said. All which things the prophet Isaiah foretold, thus proclaiming beforehand, and by one word intimating all this insolence. For “like as many were astonished at thee,” he saith, “so shall thy form be held inglorious of men, and thy glory of the sons of men.”4
For what could be equal to this insolence? On that face which the sea, when it saw it, had reverenced, from which the sun, when it beheld it on the cross, turned away his rays, they did spit, and struck it with the palms of their hands, and some upon the head; giving full swing in every way to their own madness. For indeed they inflicted the blows that are most insulting of all, buffeting, smiting with the palms of their hands, and to these blows adding the insult of spitting at Him. And words again teeming with much derision did they speak, saying, “prophesy unto us, thou Christ, who is he that smote thee?” because the multitude called Him a prophet.
But another5 saith, that they covered His face with His own garment, and did these things, as though they had got in the midst of them some vile and worthless fellow. And not freemen only, but slaves6 also were intemperate with this intemperance towards Him at that time.
These things let us read continually, these things let us hear aright, these things let us write in our minds, for these are our honors. In these things do I take a pride, not only in the thousands of dead which He raised, but also in the sufferings which He endured. These things Paul puts forward in every way, the cross, the death, the sufferings, the revilings, the insults, the scoffs. And now he saith, “let us go forth unto Him bearing His reproach; “7 and now, “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame.”8
“Now Peter sat in the court without;9 and a damsel came unto him, saying, thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all,10 saying, I know not what thou sayest. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and saith, this man also was there11 with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said unto Peter, surely thou also art one of them, ’for thy speech bewrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the words of Jesus, which said, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.”12
Oh strange and wonderful acts! When indeed he saw his master seized only, he was so fervent as both to draw his sword, and to cut off the man’s ear; but when it was natural for him to be more indignant, and to be inflamed and to burn, hearing such revilings, then he becomes a denier. For who would not have been inflamed to madness by the things that were then done? yet the disciple, overcome by fears, so far from showing indignation, even denies, and endures not the threat of a miserable and mean girl, and not once only, but a second and third time doth he deny Him; and in a short period, and not so much as before judges, for it was without for “when he had gone out into the porch,” they asked him, and he did not even readily come to a sense of his fall. And this Luke saith,13 namely, that Christ looked on him showing that he not only denied Him, but was not even brought to remembrance from within, and this though the cock had crowed; but he needed a further remembrance from his master, and His look was to him instead of a voice; so exceedingly was he full of fear
But Mark saith,14 that when he had once denied, then first the cock crew, but when thrice, then for the second time; for he declares more particularly the weakness of the disciple, and that he was utterly dead with fear; having learnt these things of his masters himself, for he was a follower of Peter. In which respect one would most marvel at him, that so far from hiding his teacher’s faults, he declared it more distinctly than the rest. on this very account, that he was his disciple.
2. How then is what is said true, .when Matthew affirms that Christ said, “Verily I say unto thee, that before the cock crow thou shalt deny me thrice;”15 and Mark declares after the third denial, that “The cock crew the second time?”16 Nay, most certainly is it both true and in harmony. For because at each crowing the cock is wont to crow both a third and a fourth time, Mark, to show that not even the sound checked him, and brought him to recollection saith this. So that both things are true. For before the cock had finished the one crowing, he had denied a third time. And not even when reminded of his sin by Christ did he dare to weep openly, lest he should be betrayed by his tears, but “he went out, and wept bitterly.”
“And when it was day, they led away Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate.”17 For because they were desirous to put Him to death, but were not able themselves because of the feast, they lead Him to the governor.
1 [R. V. margin, “Or, with rods.”]
2 [R. V., “struck thee.” The variety of Greek terms used to express the maltreatment is remarkable, and is indicated in the R.V.—R.]
3 Is 52,14 [LXX.]).
4 Lc 22,64.
5 Mc 14,65. [In this passage dou`loi does not occur, but uJphrevtai, which has a wider sense.—R.]
6 He 13,13.
7 He 12,2.
8 [The order here is peculiar to this Homily.—R.]
9 [aujtw`n is inserted here.—R.]
10 [The reading is peculiar (levgei jEkei` kai; ou|to"), as indicated in the rendering.—R.]
11 . [in verse 74,kataqemativzein is read; in verse 75, is omitted. These variations and those noted above are the only peculiarities.—R.]
12 Lc 22,61.
13 Mc 14,68. [in both passages in Mc there are textual variations in the Mss. The clause in verse 68, telling of the first cock-crowing, is omitted in three of the best Mss. But the absence of any parllel statement would account for the omission.—R.]
14 1P 5,13.
15 Mt 26,34.
16 Mc 14,72.
17 Chap. 27,1,2). [This is not a citation, but a combination of terms occurring in all four accounts.—R.]
But mark, I pray thee, how the act was forced on, so as to take place at the feast. For so was it typified from the first.
“Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that He was condemned, repented, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver.”18
This was a charge both against him, and against these men; against him, not because he repented, but because he did so, late, and slowly, and became self-condemned (for that he delivered Him up, he himself confessed); and against them, for that having the power to reverse it, they repented not.
But mark, when it is that he feels remorse. When his sin was completed, and had received an accomplishment. For the devil is like this; he suffers not those that are not watchful to see the evil before this, lest he whom he has taken, should repent. At least, when Jesus was saying so many things, he was not. influenced, but when his offense was completed, then repentance came upon him; and not then profitably. For to condemn it, and to throw down the pieces of silver, and not to regard the Jewish people, were all acceptable things; but to hang himself, this again was unpardonable, and a work of an evil spirit. For the devil led him out of his repentance too soon, so that he should reap no fruit from thence; and carries him off, by a most disgraceful death, and one manifest to all, having persuaded him to destroy himself.
But mark, I pray thee, the truth shining forth on every side, even by what the adversaries both do and suffer. For indeed even the very end of the traitor stops the mouths of them that had condemned Him, and suffers them not to have so much as any shadow of an excuses that is surely shameless. For what could they have to say, when the traitor is shown to pass such a sentence on himself.
But let us see also the words, what is said; “He brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests,19 and saith, I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood. And they said, what is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple,20 and departed, and went and hanged himself.21
For neither could he bear his conscience scourging him. But marks I pray thee, the Jews too suffering the same things. For these men also, when they ought to have been amended by what they suffered, do not stop, until they have completed their sin. For his sin had been completed, for it was a betrayal; but theirs not yet. But when they too had accomplished theirs, and had nailed Him to the cross then they also are troubled; at one time saying, “Write not, this is the king of the Jews”22 (and yet why are ye afraid? why are ye troubled at a dead body that is nailed upon the cross?); at another time they guard over Him, saying, “Lest His disciples steal Him away, and say that He is risen again; so the last error shall be worse than the first.”23 And yet if they do it, the thing is refuted, if it be not true. But how should they say so, which did not dare so much as to stand their ground, when He was seized; and the chief24 of them even thrice denied Him, not bearing a damsel’s threat. But, as I said, the chief priests were now troubled; for that they knew the act was a transgression of the law is manifest, from their saying, “See thou to that.”
Hear, ye covetous, consider what befell him; how he at the same time lost the money, and committed the sin, and destroyed his own soul. Such is the tyranny of covetousness. He enjoyed not the money. neither the present life, nor that to come, but lost all at once, and having got a bad character even with those very men, so hanged himself.
But, as I said, after the act, then some see clearly. See at any rate these men too for a time not willing to have a clear perception of the fact, but saying, “See thou to that:” which thing of itself is a most heavy charge against them. For this is the language of men bearing witness to their daring and their transgression, but intoxicated by their passion, and not willing to forbear their satanical attempts, but senselessly wrapping themselves up in a veil of feigned ignorance.
For if indeed these things had been said after the crucifixion, and His being slain, of a truth even then the saying would have had no reasonable meaning, nevertheless it would not have condemned them so much; but now having Him yet in your own hands, and having power to release Him, how could ye be able to say these things? For this defense would be a most heavy accusation against you. How? and in what way? Because while throwing the whole blame upon the traitor (for they say, “See thou to that”), being able to have set themselves free from this murder of Christ, they left the traitor, and even pressed the crime further, adding the cross to the betrayal. For what hindered them, when they said to him, “See thou to that,” themselves to forbear the criminal act? But now they even do the contrary, adding to it the murder and in every thing, both by what they do, and by what they say, entangling themselves in inevitable ills. For indeed after these things, when Pilate left it to them, they choose the robber to be released rather than Jesus; but Him that had done no wrong, but had even conferred on them so many benefits, they slew.
3. What then did that man? When he saw that he was laboring to no profit, and that they would not consent to receive the pieces of silver, “he cast them down in the temple, and went and hanged himself.25 And the chief priests took the pieces of silver, and said, it is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, the field of blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, and they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of Him that was valued, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.”26
Seest thou them again self-condemned by their conscience? For because they knew that they had been buying the murder, they put them not into the treasury, but bought a field to bury strangers in. And this also became a witness against them, and a proof of their treason. For the name of the place more clearly than a trumpet proclaimed their blood- guiltiness. Neither did they it at random, but having taking counsel, and in every case in like manner, so that no one should be clear of the deed, but all guilty. But these things the prophecy foretold from of old. Seest thou not the apostles only, but the prophets also declaring exactly those things which were matters of reproach, and every way proclaiming the passion, and indicating it beforehand?
This was the case with the Jews without their being conscious of it. For if they had cast it into the treasury, the thing would not have been so clearly discovered; but now having bought a piece of ground, they made it all manifest even to subsequent generations.
Hear ye as many as think to do good works out of murders, and take a reward for the lives of men. These almsgiving are Judaical, or rather they are Satanical. For there are, there are now also they, that take by violence countless things belonging to others, and think that an excuse is made for all if they cast in some ten or a hundred gold pieces.
Touching whom also the prophet saith, “Ye covered my altar with tears.”27 Christ is not willing to be fed by covetousness, He accepts not this food. Why dost thou insult thy Lord, offering Him unclean things? It is better to leave men to pine with hunger, than to feed them from these sources. That was the conduct of a cruel man, this of one both cruel and insolent. It is better to give nothing, than to give the things of one set of persons to others. For tell me, if you saw any two persons, one naked, one having a garment, and then having stripped the one that had the garment, thou wert to clothe the naked, wouldest thou not have committed an injustice? It is surely plain to every one. But if when thou hast given all that thou hast taken to another, thou hast committed an injustice, and not shown mercy; when thou givest not even a small portion of what thou robbest, and callest the deed alms, what manner of punishment wilt thou not undergo? For if men offering lame brutes were blamed, what favor wilt thou obtain doing things more grievous? For if the chief, making restitution to the owner himself, still doeth an injustice, and so doeth an injustice, as by adding fourfold scarcely to do away the charge against himself, and this under the old covenant;28 he that is not stealing, but taking by violence, and not even giving to him that is robbed, but instead of him to another; nor yet giving fourfold, but not so much as the half; and moreover not living under the old dispensation, but under the new; consider how much fire he is heaping together upon his own head. And if he do not as yet suffer his punishment, for this self-same thing I say bewail him, for he is treasuring up against himself a greater wrath, unless he repent. For what? “Think ye,” saith He, “that they alone were sinners upon whom the tower fell down? Nay, I say unto you, but except ye repent, ye also shall suffer the same things.29
18 Mt 26,3. [R. V. omits “had,” and reads “repented himself,” “brought back.”— R.]
19 [The words “and elders” are omitted, though Tischendorf cites Chrysostom otherwise.—R.]
20 [R. V., “into the sanctuary,” accepting the reading given in the Homily.—R.]
21 . [R. V., “and he went away,” etc.]
22 Jn 19,21.
23 Mt 27,64. [Abridged.]
24 oJ dorufai`o").
25 Mt 27,5. [See notes on the previous citation of this verse.—R.]
26 Mt 27,5. [The only textual peculiarities are, the substitution of kai; for dev, at the beginning of verse 7 ; and the omission of a clause in verse 9, as indicated above.—R.]
27 Ml 2,13.
Let us repent then, and give alms pure from covetousness, and in great abundance. Consider that the Jews used to feed eight thousand Levites, and together with the Levites, widows also and orphans, and they bore many other public charges, and together with these .things also served as soldiers; but now there are fields, and houses, and hirings of lodgings, and carriages, and muleteers, and mules, and a great array of this kind in the church on account of you, and your hardness of heart. For this store of the church ought to be with you, and your readiness of mind ought to be a revenue to her; but now two wrong things come to pass, both you continue unfruitful, and God’s priests do not practise their proper duties.
Was it not possible for the houses and the lands to have remained in the time of the apostles? Wherefore then did they sell them and give away? Because this was a better thing.
4. But now a fear seized our fathers (when you were so mad after worldly things, and because of your gatherings, and not dispersing abroad), lest the companies of the widows and orphans, and of the virgins, should perish of famine; therefore were they constrained to provide these things. For it was not their wish to thrust themselves unto what was so unbecoming; but their desire was that your good will should have been a supply for them, and that they should gather their fruits from thence, and that they themselves should give heed to prayers only.
But now ye have constrained them to imitate the houses of them that manage public affairs; whereby all things are turned upside down. For when both you and we are entangled in the same things, who is there to propitiate God? Therefore it is not possible for us to open our mouths, when the state of the church is no better than that of worldly men. Have ye not heard that the apostles would not consent so much as to distribute the money that was collected without any trouble? But now our bishops have gone beyond agents, and stewards, and hucksters in their care about these things; and when they ought to be careful and thoughtful about your souls, they are vexing themselves every day about these things, for which the innkeepers, and tax-gatherers, and accountants, and stewards are careful.
These things I do not mention for nought in the way of complaint, but in order that there may be some amendment and change, in order that we may be pitied for serving a grievous servitude, in order that you may become a revenue and store for the church.
But if ye are not willing, behold the poor before your eyes; as many as it is possible for us to suffice, we will not cease to feed; but those, whom it is not possible, we will leave to you, that ye may not hear those words on the awful day, which shall be spoken to the unmerciful and cruel. “Ye saw me an hungered, and fed me not.”30
For together with you this inhumanity makes. us laughing-stocks, because leaving our prayers, and our teaching, and the other parts of holiness, we are fighting all our time, some with wine merchants, some with corn-factors, others with them that retail other provisions.
Hence come battles, and strifes, and daily revilings, and reproaches, and jeers, and on each of the priests names are imposed more suitable for houses of secular men; when it would have been fit to take other names in the place of these, and to be named from those things, from which also the apostles ordained, from the feeding of the hungry, from the protection of the injured, from the care of strangers, from succoring them that are despitefully used, from providing for the orphans, from taking part with the widows, from presiding over the virgins; and these offices should be distributed amongst us instead of the care of the lands and houses.
These are the stores of the church, these the treasures that become her, and that afford in great degree both ease to us and profit to you; or rather to you ease with the profit. For I suppose that by the grace of God they that assemble themselves here amount to the number of one hundred thousand;31 and if each bestowed one loaf to some one of the poor, all would be in plenty; but if one farthing only, no one would be poor; and we should not undergo so many revilings and jeers, in consequence of our care about the money. For indeed the saying, “Sell thy goods, and give to the poor, and come and follow me,”32 might be seasonably addressed to the prelates of the church with respect to the property of the church. For in any other way it is not possible to follow Him as we ought, not being freed from all grosser and more worldly care.
But now the priests of God attend at the vintage and harvest, and at the sale and purchase of the produce; and whereas they that served the shadow had an entire immunity from such matters, although entrusted with a more carnal service; we, who are invited to the very inmost shrines of the heavens, and who enter into the true holy of holies, take upon ourselves the cares of tradesmen and retail dealers.
Hence great neglect of the Scriptures, and remissness in prayers, and indifference about all the other duties; for it is not possible to be split into the two things with due zeal. Where I pray and beseech you that many fountains may spring up to us from all quarters, and that your forwardness may be to us the threshing floor and the wine press.
For in this way both the poor will more easily be supported, and God will be glorified, and ye will advance unto a greater degree of love to mankind, and will enjoy the good things eternal; unto which God grant we may all attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory world without end. Amen.
28 Ex 22,1.
29 Lc 13,4-5. [Freely cited.]
30 Mt 25,42.
31 i. e., the sum of all the congregations in Antioch).
32 Mt 19,21. [Abridged.]
Chrysostom hom. on Mt 84