Chrysostom hom. on Mt 88
88 Mt 27,45-48
“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, and said, Eli, Eli, lima sabachthani? that is to say, my God my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that said, this man calleth for Elias. And straight way one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave Him to drink.”1
This is the sign which before He had promised to give them when they asked it, saying, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas; “2 meaning His cross, and His death, His burial, and His resurrection. And again, declaring in another way the virtue of the cross, He said, “When ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then shall ye know that I am He.”3 And what He saith is to this purport: “When ye have crucified me, and think ye have overcome me, then, above all, shall ye know my might.”
For after the crucifixion, the city was destroyed, and the Jewish state came to an end, they fell away from their polity and their freedom, the gospel flourished, the word’ was spread abroad to the ends of the world; both sea and land, both the inhabited earth and the desert perpetually proclaim its’ power. These things then He meaneth, and those which took place at the very time of the crucifixion. For indeed it was much more marvellous that these things should be done, when He was nailed to the cross, than when He was walking on earth. And not in this respect only was the wonder, but because from heaven also was that done which. they had sought, and it was over all the world, which had never before happened, but in Egypt only, when the passover was to be fulfilled. For indeed those events were a type of these.
And observe when it took place. At midday, that all that dwell on the earth may know it, when it was day all over the world; which was enough to convert them, not by the greatness of the miracle only, but also by its taking place in due season. For after all their insulting, and their lawless derision, this is done, when they had let go their anger, when they had ceased mocking, when they were satiated with their jeerings, and had spoken all that they were minded; then He shows the darkness, in order that at least so (having vented their anger) they may profit by the miracle. For this was more marvellous than to come down from the cross, that being on the cross He should work these things. For whether they thought He Himself had done it, they ought to have believed and to have feared; or whether not He, but the Father, yet thereby ought they to have been moved to compunction, for that darkness was a token of His anger at their crime. For that it was not an eclipse, but both wrath and indignation, is not hence alone manifest, but also by the time, for it continued three hours, but an eclipse takes place in one moment of time, and they know it, who have seen this; and indeed it hath taken place even in our generation.
And how, you may say, did not all marvel, and account Him to be God? Because the race of man was then held in a state of great carelessness and vice. And this miracle was but one, and when it had taken place, immediately passed away; and no one was concerned to inquire into the cause of it, and great was the prejudice and the habit of ungodliness. And they knew not what was the cause of that which took place, and they thought perhaps this happened so, in the way of an eclipse or some natural effect. And why dost thou marvel about them that are without, that knew nothing, neither inquired by reason of great indifference, when even those that were in Judaea itself, after so many miracles, yet continued using Him despitefully, although He plainly showed them that He Himself wrought this thing.
And for this reason, even after this He speaks, that they might learn that He was still alive, and that He Himself did this, and that they might become by this also more gentle, and He saith, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”4 that unto His last breath they might see that He honors His Father, and is no adversary of God. Wherefore also He uttered a certain cry from the prophet,5 even to His last hour bearing witness to the Old Testament, and not simply a cry from the prophet, but also in Hebrew, so as to be plain and intelligible to them, and by all things He shows how He is of one mind with Him that begat Him.
But mark herein also their wantonness, and intemperance, and folly. They thought (it is said) that it was Elias whom He called, and straightway they gave Him vinegar to drink.6 But another came unto Him, and “pierced His side with a spear.”7 What could be more lawless, what more brutal, than these men; who carried their madness to so great a length, offering insult at last even to a dead body?
But mark thou, I pray thee, how He made use of their wickednesses for our salvation. For after the blow the fountains of our salvation gushed forth from thence.
“And Jesus, when He had cried with a loud voice, yielded up the Ghost.”8 This is what He said, “I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again,” and, “I lay it down of myself.”9 So for this cause He cried with the voice, that it might be shown that the act is done by power. Mark at any rate saith, that “Pilate marvelled if He were already dead:”10 and that the centurion for this cause above all believed, because He died with power.11
This cry rent the veil, and opened the tombs, and made the house desolate. And He did this, not as offering insult to the temple (for how should He, who saith, “Make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise,”12 but declaring them to be unworthy even of His abiding there; like as also when He delivered it over to the Babylonians. But not for this only were these things done, but what took place was a prophecy of the coming desolation, and of the change into the greater and higher state; and a sign of His might.
And together with these things He showed Himself also by what followed after these things, by the raising of the dead. For in the instance of Elisha;13 one on touching a dead body rose again, but now by a voice He raised them, His body continuing up there, on the cross. And besides, those things were a type of this. For that this might be believed, therefore is that all done. And they are not merely raised, but also rocks are rent, and the earth shaken, that they might learn, that He was able to strike themselves blind, and to rend them in pieces. For He that cleft rocks asunder, and darkened the world, much more could have done these things to them, had it been His will. But He would not, but having discharged His wrath upon the elements, them it was His will to save by clemency. But they abated not their madness. Such is envy, such is jealousy, it is not easily stayed. At that time then they were impudent in setting themselves against the actual appearances; and afterwards even against the things themselves,14 when a seal being put upon Him, and soldiers watching Him, He rose again, and they heard these things from the very guards; they even gave money, in order both to corrupt others, and to steal away the history of the resurrection.
Marvel not therefore if at this time also they were perverse, being thus altogether prepared to set themselves impudently against all things; but observe this other point, how great signs He had wrought, some from Heaven, some on earth, some in the very temple, at once marking His indignation, and at the same time showing that what were unapproachable are now to be entered, and that Heaven shall be opened; and the work removed to the true Holy of Holies. And they indeed said, “If He be the King of Israel, let Him come down now from the cross,”15 but He shows that He is King of all the world. And whereas those men said, “Thou that destroyest this temple, and buildest it in three days,”16 He shows that it shall be made forever desolate. Again they said, “He saved others, Himself He cannot save.”17 but He while abiding on the cross proved this most abundantly on the bodies of His servants. For if for Lazarus to rise on the fourth day was a great thing, how much more for all those who had long ago fallen asleep, at once to appear alive, which was a sign of the future resurrection. For, “many bodies of the saints which slept, arose,” it is said, “and went into the holy city, and appeared to many.”18 For in order that what was done might not be accounted to be an imagination, they appear, even to many, in the city. And the Centurion too then glorified God, saying, “Truly this was a righteous man. And the multitudes that came together to that sight, returned beating their breasts.”19 So great was the power of the crucified, that after so many mockings, and scoffs, and jeers, both the centurion was moved to compunction, and the people. And some say that there is also a martyrdom of this centurion, who after these things grew to manhood in the faith.
“And many women were there beholding afar off, which had followed Him, ministering unto Him, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.”20
These things the women see done, these who were most inclined to feel for Him, who were most of all bewailing Him. And mark how great their assiduity. They had followed Him ministering to Him, and were present even unto the time of the dangers. Wherefore also they saw all; how He cried, how He gave up the ghost, how the rocks were rent, and all the rest.
And these first see Jesus; and the sex that was most condemned, this first enjoys the sight of the blessings, this most shows its courage. And when the disciples had fled, these were present. But who were these? His mother, for she is called mother of James,21 and the rest. But another evangelist22 saith, that many also lamented over the things that were done, and smote their breasts, which above all shows the cruelty of the Jews, for that they gloried in things for which others were lamenting, and were neither moved by pity, nor checked by fear. For indeed the things that were done were of great wrath, and were not merely signs, but signs of anger all of them, the darkness, the cloven rocks, the veil rent in the midst, the shaking of the earth, and great was the excess of the indignation.
“But Joseph went, and begged the body.”23 This was Joseph, who was concealing his discipleship of late; now however he had become very bold after the death of Christ. For neither was he an obscure person, nor of the unnoticed; but one of the council, and highly distinguished; from which circumstance especially one may see his courage. For he exposed himself to death, taking upon him enmity with all, by his affection to Jesus, both having dared to beg the body, and not having desisted until he obtained it. But not by taking it only, nor by burying it in a costly manner, but also by laying it in his own new tomb, he showeth his love, and his courage. And this was not so ordered without purpose, but so there should not be any bare suspicion, that one had risen instead of another.
1 [In verse 46, e[kraxeu is substituted for a[ebovhsen, and kai ei|ipen; for lejgwn; as indicated above, limav is the form given. In other respects the agreement with the received text is exact.—R.]
2 Mt 12,39.
3 Jn 8,28.
4 Or, “His”).
5 Mt 27,46.
6 Ps 22,1
7 Mt 27,48.
8 Jn 19,34. [This occurred later, as the next sentence seems to suggest. But in some New Testament Mss., the incident is interpolated at this point in Matthew Chrysostom may have referred to it as belonging to this Gospel. See Tischendorf in loco, Westcott and Hort, vol. ii., Notes on Select Readings.—R.]
9 Mt 27,50. [The word “again” is omitted. R.V., “yielded up His Spirit”.—R.]
10 Jn 10,18.
11 Mc 15,44.
12 Mc 15,39.
13 Jn 2,16.
14 2R 13,21.
15 [The words in italics have no equivalent in the Greek.—R.]
16 Mt 27,42.
17 Mt 27,40.
18 Mt 27,42.
19 Mt 27,52-53. [Slightly abridged, and with a few minor variations, not appearing in one New Testament Mss.—R.]
20 Lc 23,47-48.
21 Mt 27,55-56. [There are three omissions: ajpov before makrovqen, tw`/ jIhsou` th`" Galilaiva", and ejn ai|" h\n.—R.]
22 In Homily V. 4, he maintains her perpetual virginity; “how then, you will say, are James and others called His brethren? In the same way as Joseph himself too was considered the Husband of Mary.” This is at least consistent with the explanation given in the spurious Homilies “on the Annunciation,” Ben. t. 2,p. 797. And “on the women bearing spices” t. 2,p. 159, Appendix, that she was the step-mother of James. Theodoret, on Ga 50,19, rejects this view and makes them sons of Cleopas by her sister).
23 Lc 22,48.
“And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.”24 For what purpose do these wait by it? As yet they knew nothing great, as was meet, and high about Him, wherefore also they had brought ointments, and were waiting at the tomb, so that if the madness of the Jews should relax, they might go and embrace the body. Seest thou women’s courage? seest thou their affection? seest thou their noble spirit in money? their noble spirit even unto death?
Let us men imitate the women; let us not forsake Jesus in temptations. For they for Him even dead spent so much and exposed their lives, but we (for again I say the same things) neither feed Him when hungry, nor clothe Him when naked, but seeing Him begging, we pass Him by. And yet if ye saw Himself, every one would strip himself of all his goods. But even now it is the same. For He Himself has said, I am he. Wherefore then dost thou not strip thyself of all? For indeed even now thou hearest Him say, Thou doest it unto me; and there is no difference whether thou givest to this man or to Him; thou hast nothing less than these women that then fed Him, but even much more. But be not perplexed! For it is not so much to have fed Him appearing in His own person, which would be enough to prevail with a heart of stone, as (because of His mere word) to wait upon the poor, the maimed, him that is bent down. For in the former case, the look and the dignity of Him who appears divides with thee that which is done; but here the reward is entire for thy benevolence; and there is the proof of the greater reverence towards Him, when at His mere word waiting upon thy fellow-servant thou refreshest him in all things. Refresh him, and believe Him, who receiveth it, and saith, Thou givest to me. For unless thou hadst given to Him, He would not have counted thee worthy of a kingdom. If thou hadst not turned away from Him, He would not have sent thee to hell, if thou hadst overlooked a chance person; but because it is He Himself that is despised, therefore great is the blame.
Thus also Paul persecuted Him, in persecuting them that are His; wherefore too He said. “Why persecutest thou me?”25 Thus therefore let us feel, as bestowing on Christ Himself when we bestow. For indeed His words are more sure than our sight. When therefore thou seest a poor man, remember His words, by which He declared, that it is He Himself who is fed. For though that which appears be not Christ, yet in this man’s form Christ Himself receiveth and beggeth.
But art thou ashamed to hear that Christ beggeth? Rather be ashamed when thou dost not give to Him begging of thee. For this is shame, this is vengeance and punishment. Since for Him to beg is of His goodness, wherefore we ought even to glory therein; but for thee not to give, is of thy inhumanity. But if thou believe not now, that in passing by a poor man that is a believer, thou passest by Him, thou wilt believe it then, when He will bring thee into the midst and say, “Inasmuch as ye did it not to these, ye did it not to me.”26 But God forbid that we should so learn it, and grant rather that we may believe now, and bring forth fruit, and hear that most blessed voice that bringeth us into the kingdom.
But perhaps some one will say, “Thou art every day discoursing to us of almsgiving and humanity.” Neither will I cease to speak of this. For if ye had attained to it, in the first place, not even so ought I to desist, for fear of making you the more remiss; yet had ye attained, I might have relaxed a little; but if ye have not arrived even at the half; say not these things to me, but to yourselves. For indeed thou doest the same in blaming me, as if a little child, hearing often of the letter alpha, and not learning it, were to blame its teacher, because he is continually and for ever reminding him about it.
For who from these discourses has become more forward in the giving of alms? Who has cast down his money? Who has given the half of his substance? Who the third part? No one. How then should it be other than absurd, when ye do not learn, to require us to desist from teaching? Ye ought to do the contrary. Though we were minded to desist, ye ought to stop us and to say, we have not yet learnt these things, and how is it ye have desisted from reminding us of them? If it befell any one to suffer from his eye, and I happened to be a physician, and then having covered it up and anointed it, and having applied other treatment, I had not benefited it much, and so had desisted; would he not have come to the doors of my surgery and cried out against me, accusing me of great remissness, for that I had of myself withdrawn, while the disease remained; and if, on being blamed, I had said in reply to these things, that I had covered it up, and anointed it; would he have endured it? By no means, but would immediately hays said; “And what is the advantage, if I still suffer pain.” Reason thus also with respect to thy soul. But what if after having often fomented a hand that was lifeless and shrunk, I had not succeeded in mollifying it? Should I not have heard the same thing? And even now a hand that is shrunk and withered we bathe, and for this reason, until we can stretch it out perfectly, we will not desist. Would that you too were to discourse of nothing else, at home and at market, at table and at night, and as a dream. For if we were always careful about these things by day, even in our dreams we should be engaged in them.
What sayest thou? Am I forever speaking of almsgiving? I would wish myself that there were not great need for me to address this advice to you, but that I were to speak of the battle against the Jews, and heathens, and heretics; but when ye are not yet sound, how can any one arm you for the fight? How should he lead you to the array, yet having wounds and gashes. Since if indeed I saw you thoroughly sound in health, I should lead you forth to that battle array, and ye would see by the grace of Christ ten thousands lying dead, and their heads cast one upon another. In other books at any rate, many discourses have been spoken by us touching these things, but not even so are we able thoroughly to triumph in the victory, because of the remissness of the multitude. For when we conquer them ten thousand times over in doctrines, they reproach us with the lives of the multitude of those who join our congregations, their wounds, their diseases in their soul.
How then shall we with confidence show you in the battle array, when ye rather do us mischief, being straightway wounded by our enemies, and made a mock of? For one man’s hand is diseased, and shrunk so as not to be able to give away. How then should such a one hold a shield, and thrust it before him, and avoid being wounded by the jeers of cruelty. With others the feet halt, as many as go up to the theatres, and to the resorts of the harlot women. How shall these then be able to stand in the battle, and not to be wounded with the accusation of wantonness? Another suffers and is maimed in his eyes, not looking straight, but being full of lasciviousness, and assailing women’s chastity, and overthrowing marriages. How then should this man be able to look in the face of the enemy, and brandish a spear, and throw his dart, being goaded on all sides with jeers. We may see also many suffering with the belly not less than the dropsical, when they are held in subjection by gluttony and drunkenness. How then shall I be able to lead forth these drunken men to war? With others the mouth is rotten; such are the passionate, and revilers, and blasphemers. How then shall this man ever shout in battle, and achieve anything great and noble, he too being drunk with another drunkenness, and affording much laughter to the enemy ?
Therefore each day I go about this camp, dressing your wounds, healing your sores. But if ye ever rouse yourselves up, and become fit even to wound others, I will both teach you this art of war, and instruct you how to handle these weapons, or rather your works themselves will be weapons to you, and all men will immediately submit, if ye would become merciful, if forbearing, if mild and patient, if ye would show forth all other virtue. But if any gainsay, then we will also add the proof of what we can show on our part,27 bringing you forward, since now we rather are hindered (at least as to your part) in this race.
And mark. We say that Christ hath done great things, having made angels of men; then, when we are called upon to give account, and required to furnish a proof out of this flock, our mouths are stopped. For I am afraid, lest in the place of angels, I bring forth swine as from a style, and horses mad with lust.
I know ye are pained, but not against you all are these things spoken, but against the guilty, or rather not even against them if they awake, but for them. Since now indeed all is lost and ruined, and the church is become nothing better than a stable of oxen, and a fold for asses and camels, and I go round seeking for a sheep, and am not able to see it. So much are all kicking, like horses, and any wild asses, and they fill the place here with much dung, for like this is their discourse. And if indeed one could see the things spoken at each assemblage,28 by men, by women, thou wouldest see their words more unclean than that dung.
Wherefore I entreat you to change this evil custom, that the church may smell of ointment. But now, while we lay up in it perfumes for the senses, the uncleanness of the mind we use no great diligence to purge out, and drive away. What then is the advantage? For we do not so much disgrace the church by bringing dung into it, as we disgrace it by speaking such things one to another, about gains, about merchandise, about petty tradings, about things that are nothing to us, when there ought to be choirs of angels here, and we ought to make the church a heaven, and to know nothing else but earnest prayers, and silence with listening.
This then let us do at any rate, from the present time, that we may both purify our lives, and attain unto the promised blessings, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory world without end. Amen.
24 Mt 27,57-58. [R. V., “asked for.” The reading h[/tei is peculiar here.—R.]
25 Mt 27,61. [R. V., “And Mary Magdalene was there,” etc.]
26 Ac 9,4.
27 Mt 25,45. [Abridged.]
28 ta; parj eJautw`n).
89 Mt 27,62-64
“Now the next day,that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while He was yet alive,1 After three days I will2 rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest His disciples come and steal Him away, and say to the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error should be worse than the first.”
Everywhere deceit recoils upon itself, and against its will supports the truth. And observe. It was necessary for it to be believed that He died, and that He rose again, and that He was buried, and all these things are brought to pass by His enemies. See, at any rate, these words bearing witness to every one of these facts. “We remember,” these are the words, “that that deceiver said, when He was yet alive,” (He was therefore now dead), “After three days I rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be sealed,” (He was therefore buried), “lest His disciples come and steal Him away.” So that if the sepulchre be sealed, there will be no unfair dealing. For there could not be. So then the proof of His resurrection has become incontrovertible by what ye have put forward. For because it was sealed, there was no unfair dealing. But if there was no unfair dealing, and the sepulchre was found empty, it is manifest that He is risen, plainly and incontrovertibly. Seest thou, how even against their will they contend for the proof of the truth?
But mark thou, I pray thee, the disciples’ love of truth, how they conceal from us none of the things that are said by His enemies, though they use opprobrious language. Behold, at any rate, they even call Him a deceiver, and these men are not silent about that.
But these things show also their savageness (that not even at His death did they let go their anger), and these men’s simple and truthful disposition.
But it were worth while to inquire concerning that point also, where He said, “After three days I rise again?” For one would not find this thus distinctly stated,3 but rather the example of Jonah. So that they understood His saying, and of their own will dealt unfairly.
What then saith Pilate? “Ye have a watch; make it as sure as ye can. And they made it sure, sealing the sepulchre, and setting the watch.”4 He suffers not the soldiers alone to seal, for as having learnt the things concerning Christ, he was no longer willing to co-operate with them. But in order to be rid of them, he endures this also, and saith, “Do ye seal it as ye will, that ye may not have it in your power to blame others.” For if the soldiers only had sealed, they might have said (although the saying would have been improbable and false, yet nevertheless as in the rest they cast aside shame, so in this too they might have been able to say), that the soldiers, having given up the body to be stolen, gave His disciples opportunity to feign the history concerning His resurrection, but now having themselves made it sure, they are not able to say so much as this.
Seest thou how they labor for the truth against their will? For they themselves came to Pilate, themselves asked, themselves sealed, setting the watch, so as to be accusers, and refuters one of another. And indeed when should they have stolen Him? on the Sabbath? And how? for it was not lawful so much as to go out.5 And even if they transgressed the law, how should they have dared, who were so timid, to come forth? And how could they also have been able to persuade the multitude? By saying what? By doing what? And from what sort of zeal could they have stood in behalf of the dead? expecting what recompense? what requital? Seeing Him yet alive and merely seized, they had fled; and after His death were they likely to speak boldly in His behalf, unless He had risen again? And how should these things be reasonable? For that they were neither willing nor able to feign a resurrection, that did not take place, is plain from hence. He discoursed to them much of a resurrection, and continually said, as indeed these very men have stated, “After three days I rise again.” If therefore He rose not again, it is quite clear that these men (having been deceived and made enemies to an entire nation for His sake, and come to be without home and without city) would have abhorred Him, and would not have been willing to invest Him with such glory; as having been deceived, and having fallen into the utmost dangers on His account. For that they would not even have been able, unless the resurrection had been true, to feign it, this does not so much as need reasoning.
For in what were they confident? In the shrewdness of their reasonings? Nay of all men they were the most unlearned. But in the abundance of their possessions? Nay, they had neither staff nor shoes. But in the distinction of their race? Nay, they were mean, and of mean ancestors. But in the greatness of their country? Nay, they were of obscure places. But in their own numbers? Nay, they were not more than eleven, and they were scattered abroad. But in their Master’s promises? What kind of promises? For if He were not risen again, neither would those be likely to be trusted by them. And how should they endure a frantic people. For if the chief of them endured not the speech of a woman, keeping the door, and if all the rest too, on seeing Him bound, were scattered abroad, how should they have thought to run to the ends of the earth, and plant a feigned tale of a resurrection? For if he stood not a woman’s threat, and they not so much as the sight of bonds, how were they able to stand against kings, and rulers, and nations, where were swords, and gridirons, and furnaces, and ten thousand deaths day by day, unless they had the benefit of the power and grace6 of Him who rose again? Such miracles and so many were done, and none of these things did the Jews regard, but crucified Him, who had done them, and were they likely to believe these men at their mere word about a resurrection? These things are not, they are not so, but the might of Him, who rose again, brought them to pass.
2. But mark, I pray thee, their craft, how ridiculous it is. “We remember,” these are their words, “that that deceiver said, while He was yet alive, After three days I rise again.” Yet if He were a deceiver, and boastfully uttered falsehood, why are ye afraid and run to and fro, and use so much diligence? We are afraid, it is replied, lest perchance the disciples steal Him away, and deceive the multitude. And yet this has been proved to have no probability at all. Malice, however, is a thing contentious and shameless, and attempts what is unreasonable.
And they command it to be made sure for three days, as contending for doctrines, and being minded to prove that before that time also He was a deceiver, and they extend their malice even to His tomb. For this reason then He rose sooner, that they might not say that He spake falsely, and was stolen. For this, His rising sooner, was open to no charge, but to be later would have been full of suspicion. For indeed if He had not risen then, when they were sitting there, and watching, but when they had withdrawn after the three days, they would have had something to say, and to speak against it, although foolishly. For this reason then He anticipated the time. For it was meet the resurrection should take place, while they were sitting by and watching. Therefore also it was fit it should take place within the three days, since if it had been when they were passed, and the men had withdrawn, the matter would have been regarded with suspicion. Wherefore also He allowed them to seal it, as they were minded, and soldiers sat around it.
And they cared not about doing these things, and working on a Sabbath day, but they looked to one object only, their own wicked purpose, as though by that they were to succeed; which was a mark of extreme folly, and of fear now greatly dismaying them. For they who seized Him, when living, are afraid of Him when dead. And yet if He had been a mere man, they had reason to have taken courage. But that they might learn, that when living also He endured of His own will, what He did endure; behold, both a seal, a stone, and a watch, and they were not able to hold Him. But there was one result only, that the burial was published, and the resurrection thereby proved. For indeed soldiers sat by it, and Jews are on the watch.
“But in the end of the Sabbath,7 as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And behold there was a great earthquake. For an angel of the Lord descended from Heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door of the tomb,8 and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow.”9
After the resurrection came the angel. Wherefore then came he, and took away the stone? Because of the women, for they themselves had seen Him then in the sepulchre.10 Therefore that they might believe that He was risen again, they see the sepulchre void of the body. For this cause he removed the stone, for this cause also an earthquake took place, that they might be thoroughly aroused and awakened. For they were come to pour oil on Him, and these things were done at night, and it is likely that some also had become drowsy. And for what intent and cause doth he say, “Fear not ye?”11 First he delivers them from the dread, and then tells them of the resurrection. And the ye is of one showing them great honor, and indicating, that extreme punishment awaits them that had dared to do, what the others had dared, except they repented. For to be afraid is not for you, he means, but for them that crucified Him.
Having delivered them then from the fear both by his words, and by his appearance (for his form he showed bright, as bearing such good tidings), he went on to say, “I know that ye seek Jesus the Crucified.”12 And he is not ashamed to call Him “crucified;” for this is the chief of the blessings.
“He is risen.”13 Whence is it evident? “As He said.” So that if ye refuse to believe me, he would say, remember His words, and neither will ye disbelieve me. Then also another proof, “Come and see the place where He lay.”14 For this he had lifted up the stone, in order that from this too they might receive the proof. “And tell His disciples, that ye shall see Him in Galilee.”15 And he prepares them to bear good tidings to others, which thing most of all made them believe. And He said well “in Galilee,” freeing them from troubles and dangers, so that fear should not hinder their faith.
“And they departed from the sepulchre with fear and joy.”16 Why could this be? They had seen a thing amazing, and beyond expectation, a tomb empty, where they had before seen Him laid. Wherefore also He had led them to the sight, that they might become witnesses of both things, both of His tomb, and of His resurrection. For they considered that no man could have taken Him, when so many soldiers were sitting by Him, unless He raised up Himself. For this cause also they rejoice and wonder, and receive the reward of so much continuance with Him, that they should first see and gladly declare, not what had been said only, but also what they beheld.
1 [o(ti is inserted at this point (but not in the subsequent citation). There are no other variations. R. V., “Now on the morrow which is the day after the Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees were gathered together,” ete.—R.]
2 [R. V. omits “will.”]
3 [R. V., “will be.”]
4 Not to the Jews, for it was often plainly declared to the disciples, as St. Chrysostom himself observes a little further on).
5 Mt 27,65-66. [The only peculiarity is indicated in the above rendering; for “made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone.” R. V., “guard” for “watch,” and “the guard being with them.”—R.]
6 Ex 16,29.
8 [R. V., “Now late on the Sabbath day. ”]
9 [The only textual variation is the addition of tou` mnhmeivou).
10 Chap. 28,1–3).
11 [ei\don, saw, i. e., when He was buried.—R.]
12 Mt 27,5. [The emphatic uJmei`" occurs in the Greek of the New Testament passage.—R.]
13 [to;n ejstaurwmevnon.]
14 Mt 27,6.
15 [This agrees with the reading of the two oldest New Testament Mss. So R. V. margin.—R.]
16 Mt 27,7. [Abridged.]
3. Therefore after then they had departed with fear and joy, “Behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail.” But “they held Him by the feet,”17 and with exceeding joy and gladness ran unto Him, and received by the touch also, an infallible proof, and full assurance of the resurrection. “And they worshipped Him.” What then saith He? “Be not afraid.” Again, He Himself casts out their fear, making way for faith, “But go, tell my brethren, that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.”18 Mark how He Himself sends good tidings to His disciples by these women, bringing to honor, as I have often said, that sex, which was most dishonored, and to good hopes; and healing that which was diseased.
Perchance some one of you would wish to be like them, to hold the feet of Jesus; ye can even now, and not His feet and His hands only, but even lay hold on that sacred head, receiving the awful mysteries with a pure conscience. But not here only, but also in that day ye shall see Him, coming with that unspeakable glory, and the multitude of the angels, if ye are disposed to be humane; and ye shall hear not these words only, “All hail !” but also those others, “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world.”19
Be ye therefore humane, that ye may hear these things; and ye women, that wear gold, who have looked on the running of these women, at last, though late. lay aside the disease of the desire for golden ornaments. So that if ye are emulous of these women, change the ornaments which ye wear, and clothe yourselves instead with almsgiving. What is the use, I pray you, of these precious stones, and of the garments spangled with gold? “My soul,” you say, “is glad, and is pleased with these things.” I asked thee the profit, but thou tellest me the hurt. For nothing is worse than being taken up with these things, and delighting in them, and being riveted to them. For more bitter is this grievous slavery, when any one finds delight even in being a slave. For in what spiritual matter will she ever be diligent as she ought; when will she laugh to scorn, as she should, the things of this world, who thinks it a worthy matter for joy, that she hath been chained in gold? For he that continues in prison, and is pleased, will never desire to be set free; as indeed neither will this woman; but as having become a kind of captive to this wicked desire, she will not endure so much as to hear spiritual language with becoming desire and diligence, much less to engage in such work.
What then is the profit of these ornaments and this luxury? I pray thee. “I am pleased with them,” thou sayest. Again thou hast told of the hurt and the ruin. “But I enjoy also,” thou sayest, “much honor from the beholders.” And what is this? This is the occasion of another destruction, when thou art lifted up to haughtiness, to arrogance. Come now, since thou hast not told me of the profit, bear with me while I tell thee of the mischiefs. What then are the mischiefs resulting therefrom? Anxiety, which is greater than the pleasure. Wherefore many of the beholders, these I mean of the grosset sort, derive more pleasure from it than she who wears the gold. For thou indeed deckest thyself with anxiety, but they, without this, feast their eyes.
Moreover, there are other things again, the debasing of the soul, the being looked upon with envy on all sides. For the neighboring women stung by it, arm themselves against their own husbands, and stir up against thee grievous wars. Together with these things, the fact that all one’s leisure and anxiety are spent on this object, that one doth not apply one’s self earnestly to spiritual achievements; that one is filled with haughtiness, arrogance, and vainglory; that one is riveted to the earth, and loses one’s wings, and instead of an eagle, becometh a dog or a swine. For having given up looking up into Heaven, and flying thither, thou bendest down to the earth like the swine, being curious about mines and caverns, and having an unmanly and base soul. But dost thou, when thou appearest, turn towards thee the eyes of them at the market-place? Well then; for this very reason, thou shouldest not wear gold, that thou mayest not become a common gazing stock, and open the mouths of many accusers. For none of those whose eyes are toward thee admireth thee, but they jeer at thee, as fond of dress, as boastful, as a carnal woman. And shouldest thou enter into a church, thou geest forth, without getting anything but countless leers, and revilings, and curses, not from the beholders only, but also from the prophet. For straightway Isaiah,20 that hath the fullest voice of all, as soon as he hath seen thee, will cry out, “These things saith the Lord against the princely daughters of Sion; because they walked with a lofty neck, and with winkings of the eyes, and in their walking, trailing their garments, and mincing at the same time with their feet; the Lord shall take off their bravery, and instead of a sweet smell there shall be dust, and instead of a stomacher, thou shalt gird thyself with a cord.”21
These things for thy gorgeous array. For not to them only are these words addressed, but to every woman that doeth like them. And Paul again with him stands as an accuser, telling Timothy to charge the women, “not to adorn themselves with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.”22 So that everywhere the wearing of gold is hurtful, but especially when thou art entering into a church, when thou passest through the poor. For if thou weft exceedingly anxious to bring an accusation against thyself, thou couldest not put on any other array than this visage of cruelty and inhumanity.
4. Consider at any rate how many hungry bellies thou passest by with this array, how many naked bodies with this satanical display. How much better to feed hungry souls, than to bore through the lobes of thy ears, and to hang from them the food of countless poor for no purpose or profit. What? is to be rich a commendation? What? is to wear gold a praise? Though it be from honest earnings that these things are put on you, even so what thou hast done is a very heavy charge against thee; but when it is moreover from dishonesty, consider the exceeding greatness of it.
But dost thou love praises and honor? Strip thyself therefore of this ridiculous clothing, and then all will admire thee; then shalt thou enjoy both honor and pure pleasure; since now at any rate thou art overwhelmed with jeers, working for thyself many causes of vexation arising out of these things. For should any of these things be missing, consider how many are the evils that have their birth therefrom, how many maidservants are beaten, how many men put to trouble, how many led to execution, how many cast into prison. And trials arise hence, and actions, and countless curses and accusations against the wife from the husband, against the husband from her friends, against the soul from itself. “But it will not be lost.” In the first place, this is not easy to secure, but even if it be kept safe constantly, yet by being kept, it occasions much anxiety and care and discomfort, and no advantage.
For what kind of profit arises from hence to the house? What advantage to the woman herself who wears it? No advantage indeed, but much unseemliness, and accusation from every quarter? How wilt thou be able to kiss Christ’s feet, and cling to them, when thus dressed? From this adorning He turneth away. For this cause He vouchsafed to be born in the house of the carpenter, or rather not even in that house, but in a shed, and a manger. How then wilt thou be able to behold Him, not having beauty that is desirable in His eyes, not wearing the array that is lovely before Him, but what is hateful. For he that cometh unto Him must not deck himself out with such garments, but be clothed with virtue.
Consider what after all these jewels are Nothing else than earth and ashes. Mix water with them, and they are clay. Consider and be ashamed to make clay thy master, forsaking all, and abiding by it, and carrying and bearing it about, even when thou enterest into a church, when most of all thou oughtest to flee from it. For neither for this cause was the church built, that thou shouldest display therein these riches, but spiritual riches. But thou, as though thou wert entering into a pompous procession, thus deckest thyself out on every side, imitating the women on the stage, even so dost thou carry about in profusion that ridiculous mass.
Therefore, I tell thee, thou comest for mischief to many, and when the congregation is dismissed, in their houses, at their tables, one may hear the more part describing these things. For they have left off saying, thus, and thus said the prophet and the apostle, and they describe the costliness of your garments, the size of your precious stones, and all the other unseemliness of them that wear these things.
This makes you backward in almsgiving, and your husbands. For one of you would not readily consent to break up one of these ornaments to feed a poor man. For when thou wouldest choose even thyself to be in distress rather than to behold these things broken to pieces, how shouldest thou feed another at the cost of them?
For most women feel towards these things, as to some living beings, and not less than towards their children. “God forbid,” thou sayest. Prove me this then, prove it by your works, as now at least I see the contrary. For who ever of those that are completely taken captive, by melting down these things, would rescue a child’s soul from death? And why do I say a child’s? Who hath redeemed his own soul thereby, when perishing? Nay, on the contrary, the more part even set it to sale for these things every day. And should any bodily infirmity take place, they do everything, but if they see their soul depraved, they take no such pains, but are careless both about their children’s soul, and their own soul, in order that these things may remain to rust with time.
And whilst thou art wearing jewels worth ten thousand talents, the member of Christ hath not the enjoyment so much as of necessary food. And whereas the common Lord of all hath imparted to all alike of heaven, and of the things in Heaven, and of the spiritual table, thou dost not impart to Him even of perishing things, on purpose that thou mayest continue perpetually bound with these grievous chains.
Hence the countless evils,23 hence the fornications of the men, when ye prepare them to cast off self-restraint, when ye teach them to take delight in these things with which the harlot women deck themselves. For this cause they are so quickly taken captive. For if thou hadst instructed him to look down upon these things, and to take delight in chastity, godly fear and humility, he would not have been so easily taken by the shafts24 of fornication. For the harlot is able to adorn herself in this way even to a greater degree than this, but with those other ornaments not so. Accustom him then to take delight in these ornaments, which he cannot see placed on the harlot. And how wilt thou bring him into this habit? If thou take off these, and put on those others, so shall both thy husband be in safety, and thou in honor, and God will be propitious to you, and all men will admire you, and ye will 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.
17 Mt 27,8. [The word “great” is omitted.—R.]
18 Mt 28,9. [R. V. “took hold of his feet.”.]
19 Mt 28,10. [R. V. “that they depart”.]
20 Mt 25,34.
21 Is 3,16 Is 3,24 [LXX.]
22 1Tm 2,9.
23 eijsagwgai). esa???a selon le site CCEL version 3.
24 [The Oxford translator inserts here “hence the jealousies,” but there is no corresponding phrase in the Greek text.—R.]
Chrysostom hom. on Mt 88