Anthony_Sermons - (@EZ 37,9@)

1 GREGORY, Moralia, ad Leandrum epistola 2; PL 75.513
2 BERNARD, De consideratione II,10,19; PL 182.754
3 There is a discrepancy between Antony’s division of the Epistle in the table of themes, and in the body of the sermon.
4 BERNARD, De diversis, sermo 23,5; PL 183.602
5 SENECA, Epistola 41
6 GREGORY, In Ezechiele I, hom 1,15; PL 76.793
7 GREGORY, Moralia XIX,7,13; PL 76.103

The copyright in this translation belongs to the author, Revd Dr S.R.P. Spilsbury


Translated by Paul Spilsbury (PROLOGUE FOR JUNE AND JULY)

I began this work, trusting in the grace of the Word Incarnate, who ‘gives Wisdom a voice’ and who ‘makes the tongues of infants to speak’; whose hand, as Ezekiel says, ‘is under the wings of the living creatures.’ He is the First Principle of all creation, and with him as guide and pathway I hope to bring it to completion, to his honour and for the benefit of the faithful. At the start of this work I proposed to take the Sunday Gospels, as they are appointed throughout the year, and concord with them the writings of the Old and New Testaments read in Church, the Sunday Epistles and the Introits of the Mass. And if I could not do this fully, then at least I would do so in part. Note now, then, that from the first Sunday after Pentecost until the first Sunday of August, the four books of Kings are read in Church. There are eight Sundays in this period, so I want to arrange the material in such a way as to take various stories from each book, concording each book with two sets of Sunday Gospels and other readings, as seems appropriate.


(The Gospel for the first Sunday after Pentecost: There was a certain rich man, which is divided into four clauses.)


(First, a sermon for prelates and preachers of the Church, who with sling and staff- that is, with deed and word- should overcome the devil: He took his staff.)

1. At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: There was a certain rich man which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day, etc.(Lc 16,19)

In the first book of Kings it says that David

took his staff, which he had always in his hands: and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them into the shepherd’s scrip, which he had with him; and he took a sling in his hand; and went forth against the Philistine. (1S 17,40)

Note these four words: staff, five stones, scrip and sling. The staff is the cross of Christ, the five stones are the knowledge of the Old Testament, the scrip is the grace of the New, and the sling is the ability to make a balanced judgement.

David (that is, the preacher) must take his staff (the cross of Christ), so that with its support he may more easily bear the labour of his journey. Genesis says:

With my staff I passed over this Jordan, and now I return with two companies. (Gn 32,10)

The just man crosses the turbulent river of this world’s love leaning on the cross of Christ, and so with two companies, the rewards of the active and the contemplative life, he returns to the Land of Promise. The preacher must always have this staff in his hands, that is, in his works. So Habbakuk says:

His brightness shall be as the light: horns are in his hands. (Ha 3,4)

The brightness of a holy life and preaching is light to the sinner. You are the light of the world, says our Lord (Mt 5,14). The horns of the cross should be in the preacher’s hands, so that with his hands so nailed he may not stretch out to anything unlawful.

And he chose five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them into the shepherd’s scrip, which he had with him. The scrip was the leather flask containing milk, and it stands for the New Testament, in which we find the milk of grace. Milk is a good symbol of grace, for a mother gives it freely to her child, and asks nothing in return. The five stones are the five books of Moses, and so they suggest the knowledge of the entire Old Testament. The preacher should gather this to help his preaching from the brook which is the abundance of Holy Scripture, and put it in the scrip of the Gospel. The understanding of the Old Testament is to be found in the context of the New, like a wheel in the midst of a wheel (Ez 1,16). An alternative interpretation is to take the five stones to be the hard blows of the five senses; with which those devoted to the sensual pleasures of the flesh will be struck down. Those transgressors who, in the Old Testament, are struck down by stones represent sinners of the New Testament who will be severely chastised.

And he took a sling in his hand; and went forth against the Philistine. The sling is held by two straps of equal length, which indicates that there should be an equality between teaching and life. The preacher must take this sling in his hand, so that his hand should correspond to his mouth, his behaviour to his preaching. Only then can he go forth against the Philistine and slay him. The Philistine (it means ‘one who falls down through drink’) stands for the purple-clad rich folk of this world, drunk with gluttony and lust, who stumble from grace into guilt, and from guilt into gehenna- as today’s Gospel tells us: There was a certain rich man.

2. There are four things to be noted in this Gospel. The first is the unequal lot of the rich man clad in purple, and of Lazarus the beggar: There was a certain rich man... The second is the death of each: And it came to pass that the beggar died... The third is the punishment of the rich man and the glory of Lazarus: Lifting up his eyes... The fourth is the prayer of the rich man for his five brothers: I beseech thee, then, father... As God

shall grant, we will concord these four clauses with some stories from the first book of Kings.

Note also that in the Introit of this Sunday’s Mass is sung: Lord, I have hoped in thy mercy; and the Epistle of St John is read, God is charity, which we will divide into four parts and concord with the four clauses of the Gospel just mentioned. The first part:

God is charity the second: In this is the charity of God perfected; the third: Fear is not in charity; the fourth: Let us therefore love God.


(A sermon directed at the rich people of this world: There was a certain man in the wilderness of Maon.)

3. Let us say, then:

There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and feasted sumptuously every day. (Lc 16,19)

This rich man has no name. It is as if he were unknown in God’s presence, unfit to have his name recorded in the Gospel, because it is not to be recorded in the book of eternal life. It is his shame to be just ‘a certain man’, as one whom we disregard or do not know. This ‘certain man’ represents every worldly man, enslaved to the flesh and to sin.

Behold the man that made not God his helper:

but trusted in the abundance of his riches: and prevailed in his vanity. (Ps 51,9)

Note especially the phrases ‘made not God’, ‘trusted’ and ‘prevailed’, because these correspond to the opening words of the Gospel, like this:

There was a certain rich man- that made not God his helper;

He was clothed in purple and fine linen- and trusted in the abundance of his riches;

He feasted sumptuously every day- and prevailed in his vanity.

There is a concordance to this in the first book of Kings:

There was a certain man in the wilderness of Maon, and his possessions were in Carmel. And the man was very great:... And, behold, he had a feast in his house, like the feast of a king; and his heart was merry, for he was very drunk... Now the name of the man was Nabal. (1S 25,2 1S 36,3)

‘Nabal’ means ‘stupid’, ‘Maon’ means ‘a dwelling’ and ‘Carmel’ means ‘soft’, so once again these three correspond to the phrases of the Gospel:

There was a certain rich man- a certain man;

who was clothed in purple and fine linen- and the man was very great;

who feasted sumptuously every day- and he had a feast in his house.

(A sermon against the pleasures of the five senses: Woe, you that rise up early to follow drunkenness.)

4. The worldly rich man is stupid, because he ‘savours not the things of God’ (cf. Mt 16,23). He dwells in the wilderness of Maon, that dwelling of which the psalmist says:

Let their habitation be made desolate. (Ps 68,26)

His possessions are in Carmel, in softness, and it is he of whom the prophet Amos spoke:

Woe to you that sleep upon beds of ivory and are wanton on your couches. (Am 6,4)

He is that great man of whom David says:

I have seen the wicked highly exalted, and lifted up like the cedars of Libanus, (Ps 36,35) and Job:

I have seen a fool with a strong root: and I cursed his beauty immediately. (Jb 5,3)

He had a feast in his house, like the feast of a king, so that Amos says again:

Woe to you that are wealthy in Sion... that eat the lambs out of the flock and the calves out of the midst of the herd; that drink wine in bowls and are anointed with the best ointments, (AM ,

and Isaiah:

Woe to you that rise up early in the morning to follow drunkenness and to drink till the evening, to be inflamed with wine. The harp and the lyre and the timbrel and the pipe and wine are in your feasts: and the work of the Lord you regard not, nor do you consider the works of his hands. (Is 5,11-12)

These five instruments represent the pleasures of the five senses. Our sight, which as it were stretches out to what it gazes upon, is like the harp which consists of the stretched nerves of a dead animal. The lyre, which gives out varied notes and sounds, represents hearing, which takes pleasure in varied sound. The timbrel, giving sound when it is beaten by the hand, represents touch. The pipe represents the sense of smell, which passes through the nostrils as through pipes. Wine has reference to taste. Those who seek to satisfy these five senses do not regard the work of the Lord, who has ‘worked in the midst of the earth’ (cf. Ps 73,12) by his Passion and death; nor do they consider the works of his hands, his poor, whom he formed like a clay pot upon the wheel of preaching, and baked in the kiln of poverty.

(A sermon against gluttons: The priest’s servant came.)

5. Let us say, then: There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and feasted sumptuously every day. The purple stands for worldly dignity, the linen for costliness of clothing, the sumptuous meals for the pleasure of gluttony. Purple is the colour of royal robes. It is a dye found in certain marine shells when they are cut with iron, the shells being gathered and emptied on moonless nights. How reminiscent of the poor, who are despoiled of their goods when worldly prosperity, fickle as the moon, is on the wane! That ‘certain rich man’, worldly power, slits them open with the force of iron, and extracts their life-blood, their livelihood, to make for himself the purple dye of earthly dignity. Of such, Job says:

They reap the field that is not their own:

and gather the vintage of his vineyard whom by violence they have oppressed.

They send men away naked,

taking away their clothes who have no covering in the cold. (Jb 24,6-7)

The whore of whom the Apocalypse tells is clothed in this kind of purple (cf. Ap 17,4). The ‘certain man’ and the whore have the same meaning: the man relishes the earth, the whore exposes herself to the devil.

Fine linen, or lawn, is particularly white and soft, and so it represents all soft clothing. They that are clothed in soft garments are in the houses of kings (Mt 11,8), that is, of devils. Glory not in apparel, says Ecclesiasticus (11.4), and St Peter says:

Whose adorning, let it not be the outward plaiting of the hair, or the wearing of gold, or the putting on of apparel; but the hidden man of the heart, in the incorruptibility of a quiet and a meek spirit which is rich in the sight of God. (1P 3,3-4)

And he feasted sumptuously every day. There is a concordance to this in the first book

of Kings:

The servant of the priest came, while the flesh was in boiling, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand; and thrust it into the cauldron, or into the pot; and all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took to himself... Also the servant of the priest came, and said to the man that sacrificed: Give me flesh to boil for the priest; for I will not take of thee sodden flesh, but raw. (1R 2,13-14,15)

The priest is the belly, and his servant (or ‘child’) is gluttony, of which Solomon says in Proverbs:

The child that is left to his own will bringeth his mother to shame. (Pr 29,15)

If a greedy appetite is not restrained, but left to itself, it brings shame to its mother, the flesh. At the beginning, the flesh incurred sickness through its immoderate desire for the fruit, and so fell into a trap. The servant has a fleshhook with three teeth, a reminder of the three-fold manifestation of greed, either devouring what belongs to another, or wasting one’s own substance in prodigal living, or failing to observe due measure as to time and manner even in legitimate foods. With these three teeth the belly-priest takes to himself whatever the hook brings up. He will not accept pre-cooked flesh, but demands it raw, like a wolf, so that he may prepare it according to his own taste! Truly, he feasted sumptuously every day.

6. nd there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, etc. (Lc 16,20) Compare anything you like with its opposite- gold and lead, for instance. The baseness of lead appears still baser when set beside the splendour of gold. The first character is just ‘a rich man’; the second is named Lazarus. The first is rich, the other is a beggar. One is clothed in purple and fine linen, the other is full of sores. One feasts sumptuously every day, the other desired to be filled with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table, and no one did give him, moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. He could not rid himself of his sores by himself, and no-one came to tend him. Divine dispensation! The beggar is blessed and the wretched rich man is damned! "Nothing is more wretched than the happiness of sinners," says St Jerome1 ; and St Augustine says2 , "There is no surer sign of eternal damnation than to have temporal goods at your beck and call." God deprives his saints of temporal goods, lest they lose those that are eternal. As St Gregory says3 , "We take coins away from children, so as to keep their inheritance complete."

And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus. That the poor humble man is favoured by God is shown by his very name. ‘Lazarus’ means ‘helped’, and he personifies all the poor of Jesus Christ, who helps them and uplifts them in their necessities. ‘Beggar’ and ‘Lazarus’ go together. The word for beggar, ‘mendicant’, indicates one who lacks what he needs to sustain life, so that he ‘speaks with his hand’ (manu dicere), following the age-old custom of the needy of shutting his mouth and holding out his hand. Spiritually, the poor person is helped by the Lord when he closes his mouth to words of bitterness,

and reaches out to God with a devout heart.

He lay at the rich man’s gate. In a similar manner, the Ark of the Lord lay before Dagon (cf. 1S 5,2). But if you read attentively, you will see how their positions were reversed- Dagon was cast down and the Ark was lifted up. The poor man could not enter the rich man’s door, and the rich man did not go out to bestow on him the blessing of food. How unlike Job, who said:

The stranger did not stay without, my door was open to the traveller, (Jb 31,32) and:

If I have denied to the poor what they desired, and have made the eyes of the widow wait:

If I have eaten my morsel alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof. (Jb 31,16-17)

Full of sores. The ulcer that arises in the skin is full of putrefaction. Lazarus was full of sores, but soon he would be carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom.

Desiring to be filled with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table and no one did give him. Crumbs are the smallest particles of bread. The really poor person is satisfied with such a little, asks for such a little. Even a little, together with God’s great grace, satisfies and refreshes him. But whoever will not give him even a crumb of bread will not deserve to receive even a drop of water.

Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. We are told in the Gloss that even if we should see something reprehensible in a poor man, we ought not to despise him, for the medicine of poverty may avail to cure the sickness of sin. God executes a double judgement in a single circumstance: when a rich man sees a poor man and has no pity on him, he heaps up damnation to himself, while when a poor man sees the rich each day, he is tested and proved. It is a great trial, the experience of poverty and sickness on the one hand, and the sight of a rich man’s wealth, who brings him no comfort, on the other.

The Introit of today’s Mass well expresses the feelings of a man who is deprived of all human help, yet trusts in the mercy of God:

Lord, I have trusted in thy mercy.

My heart shall rejoice in thy salvation:

I will sing to the Lord who giveth me good things. (Ps 12,6)

He says three things: I have trusted, my heart shall rejoice, I will sing to the Lord. The truly poor man trusts in God’s mercy, his heart rejoices even in the midst of this world’s misery, and so he will sing to the Lord in everlasting glory.

(A sermon on charity: God is charity.)

7. The first part of the Epistle is concordant to this first clause: God is charity (1Jn 4,8). Because charity is the greatest of all the virtues, we will offer a brief and particular sermon. We love God and our neighbour with the same love, the love which is the Holy Spirit, since God is charity. St Augustine says,4 "The law of love is established by God, namely that you love God for his own sake and with all your heart, and your neighbour as yourself. You ought to love yourself by seeking what is for your good, for God’s sake. In the same way you ought to love your neighbour by seeking what is for his good, not what is for his harm, also for God’s sake. Your neighbour is every man; there is no one whom you ought to do harm to." The manner in which we should love God is implied in the words: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart (understanding), and with all thy soul (will), and with all thy mind (memory). Our understanding, will and memory should be devoted to him from whom these powers come. There is no part of our life which is exempt. Whatever comes into our mind should be directed by love towards its final goal.

In today’s Epistle, St John tells us much about the love of God and neighbour, and encourages us to practise it.

By this hath the charity of God appeared towards us, because God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world,that we may live by him. (1Jn 4,9)

How great is the love of the Father towards us! He sent his only-begotten Son to us and for us, so that as we live by him, so we may love him: for to live without him is in fact to die. He that loveth not abideth in death (1Jn 3,14). If God loved us so much that he gave us his beloved Son, through whom he made the world, then we ought to love one another. A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another (Jn 13,34). The rich man clad in purple did not keep this commandment, and so he remained in death. You might say that he was buried alive, because he lacked the true life which is love. He sins, by getting his priorities the wrong way round.

St Augustine says5 : "There are four things that should be loved. One is above us, namely God. The second is what we ourselves are. The third is beside us, our neighbour. The fourth is below us, our body." The rich man loved his body first and foremost, and cared nothing for God, his own soul or his neighbour. That is why he was damned. St Bernard says6 : "We should treat our body like some sick person in our care. There are many things it would like which are not good for it, and these we must deny it. There are many things which are good for it, but which it does not like- but we must insist on them. we should treat our body as something not really belonging to us, but to him by whom we are bought with a great price, that we may glorify him in our body (cf. 1Co 6,20)." We should take care not to incur God’s rebuke expressed by Ezekiel: Because thou hast forgotten me and hast cast me off behind thy back, bear thou also thy wickedness and thy fornications (Ez 23,35). We should love our bodies in the fourth and last place, "not as something for whose sake we live, but as something without which we cannot live." May he who lives for ever be pleased to lead us from this miserable bodily existence to the life which is himself, who is blessed for ever and ever. Amen.

(A moral sermon on the rich man (the body) and Lazarus (the sinful soul).)

8. Morally. There was a certain rich man, etc. We will now take the rich man and Lazarus as standing for body and soul. Man, made of earthy, is earthy in respect of his body, of which Jeremiah says: Cursed be the man that trusteth in man (Jr 17,5), that is, in his body. Cursed is he that trusts in what is under a curse, as our body is cursed. Genesis says: Cursed is the earth in thy work (Gn 3,17), meaning that your body is cursed because of your sin of disobedience, your ‘work’. What is the nature of this curse?

Thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to thee (Gn 3,18). Hunger, thirst and the inevitability of death- these are the thorns. The temptations of the flesh, that trouble the soul, are the thistles. What fruit our cursed earth brings forth for us! Moses says in Deuteronomy, Accursed is every one that hangeth on a tree (Dt 21,23 cf. Gal Ga 3 Gal Ga 13). Earthly love ties a man to this world’s glory, as a hanged man is suspended by a rope from a dead tree, and so is cursed. This well applies to There was a certain rich man.

Alas! With what riches that man abounded and desired to abound! The whole world would not have been enough for him. So many possessions, such great riches- yet not enough for the little body of one man! When the wretched fellow came out of his mother’s womb, he was not covered in purple and fine linen, just the bloody and sticky waters of birth! At the end of his life he goes naked and destitute into the earth. We can see this more clearly from his body’s growth, maturity and decline.

Note that in maturity, the upper part of the body- from head to buttocks- is shorter than the lower part, down to the feet. In childhood the upper part is longer, while in old age the proportions are reversed. The reason for this difference is connected with the way a man moves at different ages, as he grows, becomes mature, and declines. At the beginning of infancy, the child goes on all fours, but little by little he learns to walk upright. However, when he reaches old age he becomes bent again. Our wretched body, at the beginning of its life, is small; in old age it is bent; but in between it is big with riches, adorned with fine raiment, and grows fat with feasting, like a pig with acorns. See how well this fits the passage: There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and feasted sumptuously every day.

(A sermon on the pool and its five porches, and their meaning: There was a pond called Probatica.)

9. There follows: And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus. Lazarus the beggar is

the wretched soul, poor and neglected, lying at the rich man’s gate, full of sores. The rich man’s gate means the five senses, and here the beggar soul lives, full of the sores of sin. St John says:

There was at Jerusalem a pond, called Probatica, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick, of blind, of lame, of withered; waiting for the moving of the water. (Jn 5,2-3)

The word for ‘pond’ strictly means ‘fishpond’, and this pool is the body, full of vain and useless thoughts like fishes. This fish pond has five porches, the five senses. The porches are like open doors, and the five senses lie open to vice. As Jeremiah says: Death is come up through our windows (Jr 9,21), and Nahum; The gates of thy land shall be set wide open to thy enemies; the fire shall devour thy bars (Na 3,13). When the fire of fleshly lust devours the bars- those gifts of grace and nature with which the gates of the soul are made secure- then those gates, the five bodily senses, are laid open to our enemies, the vices and demons. In these five porches the soul lies, sick, blind, lame and withered. Sick, because it is destitute of the strength that comes from virtue; blind, because it is deprived of the light of reason; lame in each foot, good will and good works; withered for lack of the moisture of contrition. Full of these sores it lies at the rich man’s gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table.

The table is worldly prosperity, and it has four legs: riches, honours, pleasures and bodily health. It is of this table that the Apostle warns the Corinthians:

You cannot be partakers of the table of the Lord and of the table of devils. (1Co 10,22)

The Lord’s table is poverty, in which he and his apostles partook. The table of devils is worldly prosperity, of which the prophet says:

Let their table become as a snare before them;

and a recompense, and a stumbling block. (Ps 68,23)

To carnal folk, prosperity is a snare of sin, an occasion of retribution from God (who repays the good things of the world with the evils of hell), and a stumbling block for their neighbour.

The crumbs falling from this table are impure thoughts, and all kinds of cares and preoccupations that fester like worms in the sores of the soul. The wretched soul tries to find relief from them, but cannot. As Jeremiah says in Lamentations:

They have given all their precious things for food to relieve the soul. (Lm 1,11)

Their precious things are the virtues, which worldlings sell for food, for bodily delights

which do not satisfy, but which for a little while seem to offer relief to the soul.

(A sermon for preachers: The dogs came.)

10. Only one thing is left to comfort poor Lazarus, full of sores: the tongues of the dogs. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores. The dogs that bark are preachers, of whom the Psalm says: The tongue of thy dogs out of the enemies by him (cf. Ps 67,24), meaning, ‘by the Lord’: those who were your enemies are made your friends, as happened when Saul became Paul. Just as the tongue of a dog has healing properties, so has the tongue of a preacher, who is a physician of the soul. Jeremiah asked:

Is there no balm in Galaad? Or is there no physician there?

Why then is not the wound of the daughter of my people closed? (Jr 8,22)

Galaad, ‘the mound of witness’, is Holy Church, in which the witness of the Scriptures is heaped up. In it is the balm of penance, and the physician who dispenses it is the preacher. Why then is the sore of the sinful soul not healed? Why is her wound not closed?

The dogs came and licked his sores. The word ‘licked’ suggests both eagerness and gentleness. The preacher should heal the sinner’s sores with the eager tongue of preaching, yet with gentleness, so that honey and milk are under his tongue (cf. Ct 4,11), sweet and soothing teaching. As the Apostle says: If a man be overtaken in any fault, you who are spiritual instruct such a one in the spirit of meekness (Ga 6,1).

Let us ask our Lord Jesus Christ to make that rich man, the wretched body, to accept poverty of his own free will, and to put on sack-cloth and ashes; and let us ask him to give him spare bread and short water (Is 30,20), to heal the sores of his soul with the tongue of preaching, and to place him in Abraham’s bosom. May he who is blessed for ever grant this prayer. Amen.


(A sermon on the rich man and the poor: There were two women, Phenenna and Anna.)

11. There follows, secondly:

And it came to pass that the beggar died and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. And the rich man also died; and he was buried in hell. (Lc 16,22)

So there was fulfilled what was spoken by Anna in the first book of Kings:

The bow of the mighty is overcome; and the weak are girt with strength... etc., up to: to hold the throne of glory. (1S 2,4 1S 2,8)

There is a concordance to this Gospel text at the beginning of the first book of Kings, where it speaks of the two women, Phenenna and Anna:

Phenenna had children: but Anna had no children... Her rival (Phenenna) also afflicted her, and troubled her exceedingly, insomuch as she upbraided her, that the Lord had shut up her womb.... and thus she provoked her. But Anna wept, and did not eat. (1R ,

Phenenna, whose name means ‘conversion’, represents the rich man clad in purple, whose conversion to the world rather than to God led not to heaven but to hell. Anna, whose name means ‘grace’, stands for Lazarus the beggar, who was led by the grace of God and so passed to glory, both grace and glory being the Lord’s gift to him.

Phenenna had children, children to love. The rich man had as many ‘children’ as he had works begotten of fleshly love and worldly vanity. He was like Jerobaal the son of Joas, in the book of Judges, who had seventy sons, who came out of his thigh; for he had many wives (Jg 8,30). Phenenna’s seven sons (according to the "History"7 ) and Jerobaal’s seventy have the same meaning: seven is the number indicating completeness, in this case fulness of vice. Jerobaal means ‘superior’, and Joas, ‘temporal’. The rich man was superior to Lazarus in this world. His offspring, in temporal succession, was a world of vice, which he begot from his ‘wives’, pride, gluttony, avarice and vainglory.

Anna had no children. She was barren. Lazarus the beggar, the just man, has no evil deeds as children. He is barren, and without fruit. No corn, wine and oil are multiplied for him (cf. Ps 4,8), no wheat of ostentatious riches, no wine of carnal pleasure, no oil of sumptuous feasting. These three were multiplied to that rich man, that certain man, his wealth heaped up like corn, wine empurpling his lips, rich food every day! Because these increased for him in this life, he was buried in hell. The poor man, however, could say: In peace in the selfsame I will sleep, and I will rest (Ps 4,9), in Abraham’s bosom.

Phenenna behaved badly to Anna in four ways: she afflicted her, troubled her, upbraided her and provoked her. In the same way the rich man behaved badly to Lazarus. He afflicted him by depriving him of the benefit he should have given him. Isaiah says of those who do not give the poor the things they have a right to:

The spoil of the poor is in your house.

Why do you consume my people, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord. (Is 3,14-15)

He troubled him, putting him down by showing him up. There is no more convincing way

to demonstrate the baseness of lead, than by putting it alongside gold. In the same way, poverty is shown up by riches. The very abundance of the rich man is an offence to the poor. The rich man upbraided him, upbraided Lazarus, full of sores and lying at his gate, every time he passed by him, dressed in purple. Yet by so doing he provoked him to love God the more.

Therefore Anna wept and did not eat. Lazarus wept for the misery of this life, and for the glory that was delayed; and he did not eat, because though he desired to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table, no-one would give him any. How long, O Lord, will the one prosper and the other be afflicted? Why doth the way of the wicked prosper? asks Jeremiah (Jr 12,1). Why is it well with all them that transgress and do wickedly? And Habbakuk asks: Why lookest thou not upon them that do unjust things and holdest thy peace when the wicked devoureth the man that is more just than himself? (Ha 1,13). Tell me, Lord Jesus: how long shall this be?

(A sermon on the damnation of the rich man and the glory of the poor man: Dagon lay on the ground; and: I shall die in my nest.)

12. And it came to pass that the beggar died and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. And the rich man also died; and he was buried in hell. (Lc 16,22)

There you see:

The bow of the mighty is overcome; and the weak are girt with strength... etc., up to: to hold the throne of glory. (1S 2,4 1S 2,8)

There is a concordance to this in the first book of Kings, where it tells how Dagon:

lay upon his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord. And the head of Dagon, and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold: and only the stump of Dagon remained in its place. (1S 5,4-5)

The ark of the Lord is Lazarus. In him, as in the ark, there are three things, manna, tablets and rod: the manna of patience, the tablets of the love of God and neighbour, and the rod of discipline. This ark rested in Abraham’s bosom, and Dagon lay prostrate before it. Dagon, ‘the Sorrowful Fish’, is the rich man, purple-clad, who swam like a fish in this sorrowful world, and then in hell. His head and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold. Head and hands are worldly excellence, power and abundance; the threshold is the way out of life, the entrance to death. When Dagon fell, when the rich man died, his head and hands- all his honours, power and wealth- were cut off from him and remained upon the threshold of death; while he himself, like a stump, alone, naked and empty, was buried in the place due to him- hell. How truly said: The rich man died and was buried in hell.

How great is God’s justice! The beggar lay at the rich man’s gate, full of sores. Now the

rich man lies alone, like a stump. In Proverbs, Solomon says:

The evil shall fall down before the good:

and the wicked before the gates of the just. (Pr 14,19)

Lazarus died in the little nest of poverty, of which Job says:

I shall die in my nest, and as a palm-tree shall multiply my days. (Jb 29,18)

The man who dies in the nest of poverty will be planted like a palm tree in the house of eternity and eternal greenness: The just shall flourish like the palm-tree (Ps 91,13).

(A sermon on the burial of the wicked man: Thus saith the Lord concerning Joachim; and: When a man shall die )

13. The rich man was buried in hell. Jeremiah says of this burial:

Thus saith the Lord concerning Joakim the son of Josias king of Juda: They shall not mourn for him, Alas, my brother, and, Alas, sister: they shall not lament for him, Alas, my lord, or, Alas, the noble one. He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, rotten and cast forth without the gates of Jerusalem. (Jr 22,18-19)

When an ass dies, its master keeps its hide and gives its flesh to the dogs. The bones, which remain a long time, represent the soul. Thus the hide, external goods, goes to the children; worms eat the flesh; and the devil gets his soul. As Ecclesiasticus says: When a man shall die, beasts and serpents and worms shall inherit him (cf. Si 10,13). The beasts are his rapacious children, the serpents are the demons, and then there are the worms! Such is the burial of the rich man clad in purple, who was buried in hell.

The second part of the Epistle is concordant to this second clause:

In this is the charity of God perfected in us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgement; because as he is, we also are in this world. (1Jn 4,17)

The Gloss says, ‘This is the evidence that we love God perfectly, that we are not afraid of the coming of the Judge, or of appearing before the Judge.’ Because the beggar Lazarus loved God perfectly, he was not afraid of the coming of the Judge, whom he expected to reward him rather than condemn. But there was no love in the purple-clad rich man, so he had no confidence in the day of judgement, because he had refused to take pity on the poor man. The righteous have confidence on the grounds that they imitate his perfect love, by loving even their enemies in this world. Even so, he who is in heaven raineth upon the just and the unjust (Mt 5,45).

We pray, Lord Jesus, we your poor and needy ones, that you will make us die like Lazarus the beggar in the nest of poverty, and be taken by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. Grant this, O you who are blessed for ever and ever. Amen.

Anthony_Sermons - (@EZ 37,9@)