Gregory, Pastoral 322

Chapter XXII. How Those that are at Variance and Those that are at Peace are to Be Admonished.

322 (Admonition 23). Differently to be admonished are those that are at variance and those that are at peace. For those that are at variance are to be admonished to know most certainly that, in whatever virtues they may abound, they can by no means become spiritual if they neglect becoming united to their neighbours by concord. For it is written, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace (Ga 5,22). He then that has no care to keep peace refuses to bear the fruit of the Spirit. Hence Paul says, Whereas there is among you envying and strife, are ye not carnal (1Co 3,3)? Hence again he says also, Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (He 12,14). Hence again he admonishes, saying, Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace: there is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling (Ep 4,3-4). The one hope of our calling, therefore, is never reached, if we run not to it with a mind at one with our neighbours. But it is often the case that some, by being proud of some gifts that they especially partake of, lose the greater gift of concord; as it may be if one who subdues the flesh more than others by bridling of his appetite should scorn to be in concord with those whom he surpasses in abstinence. But whoso separates abstinence from concord, let him consider the admonition of the Psalmist, Praise him with timbrel and chorus (Ps 150,4). For in the timbrel a dry and beaten skin resounds, but in the chorus voices are associated in concord. Whosoever then afflicts his body, but forsakes concord,praises God indeed with timbrel, but praises Him not with chorus. Often, however, when superior knowledge lifts up some, it disjoins them from the society of other men; and it is as though the more wise they are, the less wise are they as to the virtue of concord. Let these therefore hear what the Truth in person says, Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another (Mc 9,50). For indeed salt without peace is not a gift of virtue, but an argument for condemnation. For the better any man is in wisdom, the worse is his delinquency, and he will deserve punishment inexcusably for this very reason, that, if he had been so minded, he might in his prudence have avoided sin. To such it is rightly said through James, But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable (Jc 3,14-15 Jc 3,17). Pure, that is to say, because its ideas are chaste; and also peaceable, because it in no wise through elation disjoins itself from the society of neighbours. Those who are at variance are to be admonished to take note that they offer to God no sacrifice of good work so long as they are not in charity with their neighbours. For it is written, If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way first to be reconciled to thy brother, and then thou shall come and offer they gift (Mt 5,23-24). Now by this precept we are led to consider how intolerable the guilt of men is shewn to be when their sacrifice is rejected. For, whereas all evils are washed away when followed by what is good, let us consider now great must be the evils of discord, seeing that, unless they are utterly extinguished, they allow no good to follow. Those who are at variance are to be admonished that, if they incline not their ears to heavenly commands, they should open the eyes of the mind to consider the ways of creatures of the lowest order; how that often birds of one and the same kind desert not one another in their social flight, and that brute beasts feed in herds together. Thus, if we observe wisely, irrational nature shews by agreeing together how great evil rational nature commits by disagreement; when the latter has lost by the exercise of reason what the former by natural instinct keeps. But, on the other hand, those that are at peace are to be admonished to take heed lest, while they love more than they need do the peace which they enjoy, they have no longing to reach that which is perpetual. For commonly tranquil circumstances more sorely try the bent of minds, so that, in proportion as the things which occupy them are not troublesome, the things which invite them come to appear less lovely, and the more present things delight, eternal things are the less sought after. Whence also the Truth speaking in person, when He would distinguish earthly from supernal peace, and provoke His disciples from that which now is to that which is to come, said, Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you (Jn 14,27). That is, I leave a transitory, I give a lasting peace. If then the heart is fixed on that which is left, that which is to be given is never reached. Present peace, therefore, is to be held as something to be both loved and thought little of, lest, if it is loved immoderately, the mind of him that loves be taken in a fault. Whence also those who are at peace should be admonished lest, while too desirous of human peace, they fail entirely to reprove menís evil ways, and, in consenting to the froward, disjoin themselves from the peace of their Maker; lest, while they dread human quarrels without, they be smitten by breach of their inward covenant. For what is transitory peace but a certain footprint of peace eternal? What, then, can be more mad than to love footprints impressed on dust, but not to love him by whom they have been impressed? Hence David, when he would bind himself entirely to the covenants of inward peace, testifies that he held no agreement with the wicked, saying, Did not I hate them, O God, that hate thee, and waste away an accountof thine enemies? I hated them with perfect hatred, they became enemies to me (Ps 138,21-22 7 ). For to hate Godís enemies with perfect hatred is both to love what they were made, and to chide what they do, to be severe on the manners of the wicked, and to profit their life. It is therefore to be well weighed, when there is rest from chiding, how culpably peace is kept with the worst of men, if so great a prophet offered this as a sacrifice to God, that he excited the enmities of the wicked against himself for the Lord. Hence it is that the tribe of Levi, when they took their swords and passed through the midst of the camp because they would not spare the sinners who were to be smitten, are said to have consecrated their hands to God (Ex 32,27, seq).. Hence Phinehas, spurning the favour of his fellow-countrymen when they sinned, smote those who came together with the Midianites, and in his wrath appeased the wrath of God (Nb 25,9). Hence in person the Truth says, Think not that I am came to send peace an earth:I came not to send peace, but a sword (Mt 10,34). For, when we are unwarily joined in friendship with the wicked, we are bound in their sins. Whence Jehoshaphat, who is extolled by so many praises of his previous life, is rebuked for his friendship with King Ahab as though nigh unto destruction, when it is said to him through the prophet, Thou givest help to the ungodly, and art joined in friendship with them that hate the Lord; and therefore thou didst deserve indeed the wrath of the Lord: nevertheless there are good works found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the graves out of the land of Judah (2Ch 19,2-3). For our life is already at variance with Him who is supremely righteous by the very fact of agreement in the friendships of the froward. Those who are at peace are to be admonished not to be afraid of disturbing their temporal peace, ifthey break forth into words of rebuke. And again they are to be admonished to keep inwardly with undiminished love the same peace which in their external relations they disturb by their reproving voice. Both which things David declares that he had prudently observed, saying, With them that hate peace I was peaceable; when I spake unto them, they fought against me without a cause (Ps 119,7-8). Lo, when he spoke, he was fought against; and yet, when fought against, he was peaceable, because he neither ceased to reprove those that were mad against him, nor forgot to love those who were reproved. Hence also Paul says, If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, have peace with all men (Rm 12,18). For, being about to exhort his disciples to have peace with all, he said first, If it be possible, and added, As much as lieth in you. For indeed it was difficult for them, if they rebuked evil deeds, to be able to have peace with all. But, when temporal peace is disturbed in the hearts of bad men through our rebuke, it is necessary that it should be kept inviolate in our own heart. Rightly, therefore, says he, As much as lieth in you. It is indeed as though he said, Since peace stands in the consent of two parties, if it is driven out by those who are reproved, let it nevertheless be retained undiminished in the mind of you who reprove. Whence the same apostle again admonishes his disciples, saying, If any man obey not our word, note that man by this epistle; and have no company with him, that he may be confounded (2Th 3,14). And straightway he added, Yet count him not as an enemy, but reprove him as a brother (2Th 15). As if to say, Break ye outward peace with him, but guard in your heartís core internal peace concerning him; that your discord with him may so smite the mind of the sinner that peace depart not from your hearts even though denied to him.

Chapter XXIII. How Sowers of Strifes and Peacemakers are to Be Admonished.

323 (Admonition 24). Differently to be admonished are sowers of strifes and peacemakers. For sowers of strifes are to be admonished to perceive whose followers they are. For of the apostate angel it is written, when tares had been sown among the good crop, An enemy hath done this (Mt 13,28). Of a member of him also it is said through Solomon, An apostate person, an unprofitable man, walketh with a perverse mouth, he winketh with his eyes, he beateth with his foot, he speaketh with his finger, with froward heart he deviseth mischief continually, he soweth strifes (). Lo, him whom he would speak of as a sower of strifes he first named an apostate; since, unless after the manner of the proud angel he first fell away inwardly by the alienation of his mind from the face of his Maker, he would not afterwards come to sow strifes outwardly. He is rightly described too as winking with his eyes, speaking with his finger, beating with his foot. For it is inward watch that keeps the members outwardly in orderly control. He, then, who has lost stability of mind falls off outwardly into inconstancy of movement, and by his exterior mobility shews that he is stayed on no root within. Let sowers of strifes hear what is written, Blessed are the peacemakers, far they shall be called the children of God (Mt 5,9). And on the other hand let them gather that, if they who make peace are called the children of God, without doubt those who confound it are the children of Satan. Moreover, all who are separated by discord from the greenness of loving-kindness are dried up: and, though they bring forth in their actions fruits of well-doing, yet there are in truth no fruits, because they spring not from the unity of charity. Hence, therefore, let sowers of strifes consider how manifoldly they sin; in that, while they perpetrate one iniquity, they eradicate at the same time all virtues from human hearts. For in one evil they work innumerable evils, since, in sowing discord, they extinguish charity, which is in truth the mother of all virtues. But, since nothing is more precious with God than the virtue of loving-kindness, nothing is more acceptable to the devil than the extinction of charity. Whosoever, then, by sowing of strifes destroy the loving-kindness of neighbours, serve Godís enemy as his familiar friend; because by taking away from them this, by the loss of which he fell, they have cut off from them the road whereby to rise.

But, on the other hand, the peacemakers are to be admonished that they detract not from the efficacy of so great an undertaking through not knowing between whom they ought to establish peace. For, as there is much harm if unity be wanting to the good, so there is exceeding harm if it be not wanting to the bad. If, then, the iniquity of the perverse is united in peace, assuredly there is an accession of strength to their evil doings, since the more they agree among themselves in wickedness, by so much the more stoutly do they dash themselves against the good to afflict them. For hence it is that against the preachers of that vessel of damnation, to wit, Antichrist, is it said by the divine voice to the blessed Job, The members of his flesh stick close to each other (Jb 41,14 Jb 9). Hence, under the figure of scales, it is said of his satellites, One is joined to another, and not even a breathing-hole cometh between them (xli. 710 ). For, indeed, his followers, from being divided by no opposition of discord among themselves. are by so much the more strongly banded together in the slaughter of the good. He then who associates the iniquitous together in peace supplies strength to iniquity, since they worse press down the good, whom they persecute unanimously. Whence the excellent preacher, being overtaken by violent persecution from Pharisees and Sadducees, endeavoured to divide among themselves those whom he saw to be violently united against himself, when he cried out, saying, Men, brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees; of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question (Ac 23,6). And, whereas the Sadducees denied the hope and resurrection of the dead, which the Pharisees ill accordance with the precepts of Holy Writ believed, a dissension was caused in the unanimity of the persecutors; and Paul escaped unhurt from the divided crowd, which before, when united, had savagely assailed him. Those, therefore, who are occupied with the desire of making peace, are to be admonished that they ought first to infuse a love of internal peace into the minds of the froward, to the end that external peace may afterwards avail to do them good; so that, while their heart is hanging on cognition of the former, they be by no means hurried into wickedness from perception of the latter; and, while they see before them that which is supernal, they in no way turn that which is earthly to serve to their own detriment. But, ifany perverse persons are such that they could not harm the good, even though they lusted to do so, between them, indeed, earthly peace ought to be established, even before they have risen to the knowledge of supernal peace; even so that they, whom the wickedness of their impiety exasperates against the loving-kindness of God, may at any rate be softened out of love of their neighbour, and, as it were from a neighbouring position, may pass to a better one, and so rise to what is as yet far from them, the peace of their Maker.

Chapter XXIV. How the Rude in Sacred Learning, and Those Who are Learned But Not Humble, are to Be Admonished.

324 (Admonition 25). DifferentIy to be admonished are those who do not understand aright the words of the sacred Law, and those who understand them indeed aright, but speak them not humbly. For those who understand not aright the words of sacred Law are to be admonished to consider that they turn for themselves a most wholesome drought of wine into a cup of poison, and with a medicinal knife inflict on themselves a mortal wound, when they destroy in themselves what was sound by that whereby they ought, to their health, to have cut away what was diseased. They are to be admonished to consider that Holy Scripture is set as a kind of lantern for us in the night of the present life, the words whereof when they understand not aright, from light they get darkness. But in truth a perverse bent of mind would not hurry them to understand it wrong, did not pride first puffthem up. For, while they think themselves wise beyond all others, they scorn to follow others to things better understood: and, in order to extort for themselves from the unskilful multitude a name for knowledge, they strive mightily both to upset the right views of others and to confirm their own perverse views. Hence it is well said by the prophet, They have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge their border (Amos i. 13). For Gilead is by interpretation a heap of witness (Gn 31,47-48). And, since the whole congregation of the Church together serves by its confession for a witness to the truth, not unfitly by Gilead is expressed the Church, which witnesses by the mouth of all the faithful whatever is true concerning God. Moreover, souls are called with child, when of divine love they conceive an understanding of the Word, so that, if they come to their full time, they may bring forth their conceived intelligence in the shewing forth of work. Further, to enlarge their border is to extend abroad the fame of their reputation. They have therefore ripped up the women with child of Gilead that they might enlarge their border, because heretics assuredly slay by their perverse preaching the souls of the faithful who had already conceived something of the understanding of the truth, and extend for themselves a name for knowledge. The hearts of little ones, already big with conception of the word, they cleave with the sword of error, and, as it were, make for themselves a reputation as teachers. When, therefore, we endeavour to instruct these not to think perversely, it is necessary that we first admonish them to shun vain glory. For, if the root of elation is cut off, the branches of wrong assertion are consequently dried up. They are also to be admonished to take heed, lest, by gendering errors and discords, they turn into a sacrifice to Satan the very same law of God which has been given for hindering sacrifices to Satan. Whence the Lord complains through the prophet, saying, I gave them corn, wine, and oil, and I multiplied tothem silver and gold, which they sacrificed to Baal (Os 2,8). For indeed we receive corn from the Lord, when, in the more obscure sayings, the husk of the letter being drawn off, we perceive in the marrow of the Spirit the inward meaning of the Law. The Lord proffers us His wine, when He inebriates us with the lofty preaching of His Scripture. His oil also He gives us, when, by plainer precepts, He orders our life gently and smoothly. He multiplies silver, when He supplies to us eloquent utterances, full of the light of truth. With gold also He enriches us, when He irradiates our heart with an understanding of the supreme splendour. All which things heretics offer to Baal, because they pervert them in the hearts of their hearers by a corrupt understanding of them all. And of the corn of God, of His wine and oil, and likewise of His silver and gold, they offer a sacrifice to Satan, because they turn aside the words of peace to promote the error of discord. Wherefore they are to be admonished to consider that, when of their perverse mind they make discord out of the precepts of peace, they themselves, in the just judgment of God, die from the words of life.

But, on the other hand, those who understand indeed aright the words of the Law, but speak them not humbly, are to be admonished that, in divine discourses, before they put them forth to others, they should examine themselves; lest, in following up the deeds of others, they leave themselves behind; and lest, while thinking rightly of all the rest of Holy Scripture, this only thing they attend not to, what is said in it against the proud. For he is indeed a poor and unskilful physician, who would fain heal anotherís disease while ignorant of that from which he himself is suffering. Those, then, who speak not the words of God humbly should certainly be admonished, that, when they apply medicines to the sick, they see to the poison of their own infection, lest in healing others they die themselves. They ought to be admonished to take heed, lest their manner of saying things be at variance with the excellence of what is said, and lest they preach one thing in their speaking and another in their outward bearing. Let them hear, therefore, what is written, If any man speak let him speak as the oracles of God (1P 4,11). If then the words they utter are not of the things that are their own, why are they puffed up on account of them as though they were their own? Let them hear what is written, As of God, in the sight of God, speak we in Christ (2Co 2,17) For he speaks of God in the sight of God, who both understands that he has received the word of preaching from God, and also seeks through it to please God, not men. Let them hear what is written, Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord (Pr 16,5). For, surely, when in the Word of God he seeks his own glory, he invades the right of the giver; and he fears not at all to postpone to his own praise Him from whom he has received the very thing that is praised. Let them hear what is said to the preacher through Solomon, Drink water out of thine own cistern, and running waters of thine own well. Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and divide thy waters in the streets. Have them to thyself alone, and let not strangers be partakers with thee (Pr 5, 15Ė17). For indeed the preacher drinks out of his own cistern, when, returning to his own heart, he first listens himself to what he has to say. He drinks the running waters of his own well, if he is watered by his own word. And in the same place it is well added, Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and divide thy watery in the streets. For indeed it is right that he should himself drink first, and then flow upon others in preaching. For to disperse fountains abroad is to pour outwardly on others the power of preaching. Moreover, to divide waters in the streets is to dispense divine utterances among a great multitude of hearers according to the quality of each. And, because for the most part the desire of vain glory creeps in when the Word of God has free course unto the knowledge of many, after it has been said, Divide thy waters in the streets, it is rightly added, Have them to thyself alone, and let not strangers be partakers with thee. He here calls malignant spirits strangers, concerning whom it is said through the prophet in the words of one that is tempted, Strangers are risen up against me, and strong ones have sought after my soul (Ps 53,5 11 ). He says therefore, Both divide thy waters in the streets, and yet have them to thyself alone; as if he had said more plainly, It is necessary for thee so to serve outwardly in preaching as not to join thyself through elation to unclean spirits, lest in the ministry of the divine word thou admit thine enemies to be partakers with thee. Thus we divide our waters in the streets, and yet alone possess them, when we both pour out preaching outwardly far and wide, and yet in no wise court human praises through it.

Chapter XXV. How Those are to Be Admonished Who Decline the Office of Preaching Out of Too Great Humility, and Those Who Seize on It with Precipitate Haste.

325 (Admonition 26). Differently to be admonished are those who, though able to preach worthily, are afraid by reason of excessive humility, and those whom imperfection or age forbids to preach, and yet precipitancy impells. For those who, though able to preach with profit, still shrink back through excessive humility are to be admonished to gather from consideration of a lesser matter bow faulty they are in a greater one. For, if they were to hide from their indigent neighbours money which they possessed themselves they would undoubtedly shew themselves to be promoters of their calamity. Let them perceive, then, in what guilt those are implicated who, in with-holding the word of preaching from their sinning brethren, hide away the remedies of life from dying souls. Whence also a certain wise man says well, Wisdom that is hid, and treasure that is unseen, what profit is in them both (Si xx. 32)? Were a famine wasting the people, and they themselves kept hidden corn, undoubtedly they would be the authors of death. Let them consider therefore with what punishment they must be visited who, when souls are perishing from famine of the word, supply not the bread of grace which they have themselves received. Whence also it is well said through Solomon, (He that hideth corn shall be cursed among the people (Pr 11,26). For to hide corn is to retain with oneís self the words of sacred preaching. And every one that does so is cursed among the people, because through his fault of silence only he is condemned in the punishment of the many whom he might have corrected. If persons by no means ignorant of the medicinal art were to see a sore that required lancing, and yet refused to lance it, certainly by their mere inactivity they would be guilty of a brotherís death. Let them see, then, in how great guilt they are involved who, knowing the sores of souls, neglect to cure them by the lancing of words. Whence also it is well said through the prophet, Cursed is he who keepeth back his sword from blood (Jr 48,10). For to keep back the sword from blood is to hold back the word of preaching from the slaying of the carnal life. Of which sword it is said again, And my sword shall devour flesh (Dt 32,42).

Let these, therefore, when they keep to themselves the word of preaching, hear with terror the divine sentences against them, to the end that fear may expel fear from their hearts. Let them hear how he that would not lay out his talent lost it, with a sentence of condemnation added (Mt 25,24, &c).. Let them hear how Paul believed himself to be pure from the blood of his neighbours in this, that he spared not their vices which required to be smitten, saying, I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men: for l have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God (Ac 20,26-27). Let them hear how John is admonished by the angelic voice, when it is said, Let him that heareth say, Come (Ap 22,17); in order doubtless that he into whose heart the internal voice has found its way may by crying aloud draw others whither he himself is carried; lest, even though called, he should find the doors shut, if he approaches Him that calls him empty. Let them hear how Esaias, because he had held his peace in the ministry of the word when illuminated by supernal light, blamed himself with a loud cry of penitence, saying Woe unto me that I have held my peace (Is 6,5). Let them hear how through Solomon the knowledge of preaching is promised to be multiplied to him who is not held back by the vice of torpor in that whereto he has already attained. For he says, The soul which blesseth shall be made fat; and he that inebriates shall be inebriated also himself (Pr 11,25). For he that blesses outwardly by preaching receives the fatness of inward enlargement; and, while he ceases not to inebriate the minds of his hearers with the wine of eloquence, he becomes increasingly inebriated with the drought of a multiplied gift. Let them hear how David offered this in the way of gift to God, that he did not hide the grace of preaching which he had received, saying, Lo I will not refrain my lips, O Lord, thou knowest: I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart: I have declared thy truth and thy salvation (Ps 39,10-11 12 ). Let them hear what is said by the bridegroom in his colloquy with the bride; Thou that dwellest in the gardens, thy friends hearken: make me to hear thy voice (Ct 8,13). For the Church dwelleth in the gardens, in that she keeps in a state of inward greenness the cultivated nurseries of virtues. And that her friends hearken to her voice is, that all the elect desire the word of her preaching; which voice also the bridegroom desires to hear, because he pants for her preaching through the souls of his elect. Let them hear how Moses, when he saw that God was angry with His people, and commanded swords to be taken for executing vengeance, declared those to be on Godís side who should smite the crimes of the offenders without delay, saying, If any man is the Lordís, let him join himself to me; put every man his sword upon his thigh; go in and out from gate to gate through the midst of the camp, and slay every man his brother and friend and neighbour (Ex 32,27). For to put sword upon thigh is to set earnestness in preaching before the pleasures of the flesh; so that, when any one is earnest to speak holy words, he must needs have a care to subdue illicit suggestions. But to go from gate to gate is to run to and fro with rebuke from vice to vice, even to every one by which death enters in unto the soul. And to pass through the midst of the camp is to live with such impartiality within the Church that one who reproves the sins of offenders turns aside to shew favour to none. Whence also it is rightly added, slay every man his brother and friend and neighbour. He in truth slays brother and friend and neighbour who, when he finds what is worthy of punishment, spares not even those whom he loves on the score of relationship from the sword of his rebuke. If, then, he is said to be Godís who is stirred up by the zeal of divine love to smite vices, he surely denies himself to be Godís who refuses to rebuke the life of the carnal to the utmost of his power.

But, on the other hand, those whom imperfection or age debars from the office of preaching, and yet precipitancy impells to it, are to be admonished lest, while rashly arrogating to themselves the burden of so great an office, they cut off from themselves the way of subsequent improvement; and, while seizing out of season what they are not equal to, they lose even what they might at some time in due season have fulfilled; and be shewn to have justly forfeited their knowledge because of their attempt to display it improperly. They are to be admonished to consider that young birds, if they try to fly before their wings are fully formed, are plunged low down from the place whence they fain would have risen on high. They are to be admonished to consider that, if on new buildings not yet compacted a weight of timbers be laid, there is built not a habitation, but a ruin. They are to be admonished to consider that, if women bring forth their conceived offspring before it is fully formed, they by no means fill houses, but tombs. For hence it is that the Truth Himself, Who could all at once have strenghted whom He would, in order to give an example to His followers that they should not presume to preach while imperfect, after He had fully instructed His disciples concerning the power of preaching, forthwith added, But tarry ye in the city until ye be endued withpower from on high (Lc 24,49). For indeed we tarry together in the city, if we restrain ourselves within the enclosures of our souls from wandering abroad in speech; so that, when we are perfectly endued with divine power, we may then go out as it were from ourselves abroad, instructing others also. Hence through a certain wise man it is said, Young man, speak scarcely in thy cause; and if thou hast been twice asked, let thy answer have a beginning (Si 32,10). Hence it is that the same our Redeemer, though in heaven the Creator, and even a teacher of angels in the manifestation of His power, would not become a master of men upon earth before His thirtieth year, in order, to wit, that He might infuse into the precipitate the force of a most wholesome fear, in that even He Himself, Who could not slip, did not preach the grace of a perfect life until He was of perfect age. For it is written, When he was twelve years old, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem (Lc 2,42-43). And a little afterwards it is further said of Him, when He was sought by His parents, They found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions (Lc 5,46). It is therefore to be weighed with vigilant consideration that, when Jesus at twelve years of age is spoken of as sitting in the midst of the doctors, He is found, not teaching, but asking questions. By which example it is plainly shewn that none who is weak should venture to teach, if that child was willing to be taught by asking questions, who by the power of His divinity supplied the word of knowledge to His teachers themselves. But, when it is said by Paul to his disciple, These things command and teach: let no man despise thy adolescence (1Tm 4,11-12), we must understand that in the language of Holy Writ youth is sometimes called adolescence13 . Which thing is the sooner evident, if we adduce the words of Solomon, who says, Rejoice O young man in thy adolescence (Qo 11,9). For unless he meant the same by both words, he would not call him a young man whom he was admonishing in his adolescence.

Gregory, Pastoral 322