Anthony_Sermons - (MORAL SERMON)

1 Cf. Abbot GAUFREDUS, Declamationes, 2-3; PL 184.438
2 cf. RICHARD OF ST VICTOR, Beniamin maior, 5,5; PL 196.174
3 cf. ROMAN BREVIARY, 5th Responsory at Matins for the Feast of St John; also the 3rd Responsory
4 This legend, like those mentioned previously, is referred to in ISIDORE, De ortu et obitu Patrum, 72,128-9; PL 83.151-2; and in PETER COMESTOR, Historia scholastica, in Evangelia, 196; PL 198.1642
5 OVID, The Cure for Love, 521
6 GREGORY, Moralia X,6,10; PL 75.925-6

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


1. At that time: The angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, etc. (Mt 2,13)

Two things are noted in this Gospel: the Lord’s flight into Egypt, and the slaying of the children.


2. The Lord’s flight into Egypt: The angel of the Lord.

In this first clause, there is shown morally how anyone of good will should carefully guard his work from the snares of the devil and the favour of the world. Let us see what is meant by the angel, Joseph, his sleep, the mother, the boy, Egypt and Herod.

The ‘angel of the Lord’ is the inspiration of divine grace, which tells a man what he should do and what he should not do. So Exodus 14:

The angel of the Lord went before the camp of Israel; (Ex 14,19);

And Exodus 32:

My angel shall go before thee, (Ex 32,34)

For two purposes, namely to show you the way and to defend you against the enemy.

So Tobit 5 says:

May you have a good journey; and may God be with you in your way; and may the angel of the Lord accompany you. (Tb 5,21)

Joseph (meaning ‘growing’) is any Christian who, planted in the Church by the faith of Christ, should grow from good to better, and bear the fruits of eternal life. His ‘sleep’ is peace of mind and the sweetness of contemplation. "Sleep is the rest of an animal’s

strength, with an intensification of its natural powers."1 When carnal concerns are at rest, and the spiritual are extended, then Joseph is ‘asleep’. So Job 3 says:

Now I should have been asleep and still; and should have rest in my sleep:

with kings and consuls of the earth, who build themselves solitudes;

or with princes, that possess gold, and fill their houses with silver. (Jb 1,15)

3. ‘Kings’ are those who hunger and thirst for justice (Mt 5,6). Augustine2 says, "Enter the court-room of your soul. Let reason be the judge, conscience the prosecutor, fear and pain the torturer and executioner, and let your works be in the witness-box." The ‘consuls of the earth’ are those who mourn (Mt 5,5) their misery and guilt. What sound counsel it is, to weep for oneself! Jeremiah 7 gives advice and counsel:

Cut off thy hair and cast it away: and take up a lamentation on high. (Jr 7,29)

Your ‘hair’ is temporal concerns, which hinder you from seeing your wretchedness and weeping for your sins. Cut it from your body, then, and cast it from your mind, and then you will be able to take up a lamentation on high. To lament in this way is not to spare oneself. Self-love is apt to be soft on itself, and lament insincerely. Those who want to act rightly should ‘build themselves solitudes’ not just of mind, but of body too. St Jerome3 says, "To me, a fortress is a prison, but the desert is a paradise." ‘Princes’ are the poor in spirit (Mt 5,3), who possess ‘gold’ (that is, golden poverty), and fill their ‘houses’ (their consciences) with the sounding silver of confession- both of divine praise and their own sin.

Sleeping with all these, Joseph should be still from the noisy world, and rest in sleep from tumultuous thoughts, so that the angel of the Lord may appear to him and say, Arise, that is, mount up, that you may grow high; don’t be like a turnip, that grows in and under the earth; be like a palm-tree which mounts on high. Arise, then, mount up like the swallows, which do not feed on the ground, but catch and eat their food in the air. The Apostle says:

Seek the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. (Col 3,1-2)

Rise, then, and take the child and his mother (Mt 2,13).

4. The ‘mother’ is good will, which when divinely inspired conceives good works affectively, and brings them to birth effectively. For instance: if you have good-will, but have not yet proposed any good deed in your heart, your will is barren, and is cursed as ‘barren in Israel’ (cf. Ex 23,26 Dt 7,14). But when you deliberate some good, you conceive; and when you complete it in work, you give birth. So Isaiah 8 says:

I went to the prophetess; and she conceived and bore a son. And the Lord said to me: Call his name, Hasten to take away the spoils, make haste to take away the prey. (Is 8,3)

The ‘prophetess’ is the soul, or a man’s own will, which should prophesy to him the glory of the Kingdom, the pains of hell, the malice of the devil, the deceit of the world, and his own wretchedness. Go to her in devotion, and she will conceive by deliberation and give birth by execution. And note that your ‘son’, your work, has a name in three parts: ‘Hasten’, because "Delay brings danger, and once you are ready it harms you to put off action."4 That which thou dost, do quickly (Jn 13,27). Note that every good work should be performed in three ways: swiftly, charitably, and to an end. Hasten, then, so as to act swiftly; ‘take the spoils’ from yourself, so as to provide charitably for your neighbour; and ‘make haste to take away the prey’ of the Kingdom of heaven, which should be the final cause of your whole work. Take, then, the child and his mother, lest Esau kill the mother with the children (cf. Gn 32,11), lest Pharao drown the child in the river, or Herod cut its throat with the sword.

5. So there follows:

For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him (Mt 2,13).

Herod means ‘glorying in skins’; he is the devil or the world. The devil transformeth himself into an angel of light (2Co 11,14); he glories in the whiteness of another’s skin, while his own hide is of the darkest hue. The world, too, is like to whited sepulchres, which are full of all filthiness (cf. Mt 23,27), and its glory is an outward one, in the brightness of the skin. It does everything so as to be seen by men (cf. Mt 6,5); and John 5 says:

How can you believe, who receive glory from one another; and the glory which is from God alone, you do not seek? (Jn 5,44)

These two conspire together to destroy the child, the purity of our work; the former by fraud, the latter by favour, the former by suggestion, the latter by flattery. They are the ‘hairy ones’ of whom Isaiah 34 speaks: The hairy ones shall cry out to one another, (Is 34,14)

to seek the child to destroy him.

So in the Psalm five things are mentioned, arising from these two, which customarily destroy the child; but first a saving remedy is mentioned:

His truth shall compass the with a shield (Ps 90,5)

The Truth of the Father is the Son, and his shield is the Cross, whereby he surrounds you to protect you against the devil, the world and the flesh. In the Cross is humility

against the devil’s pride; there is found Christ’s poverty, against the avarice of the world; there is crucifixion with nails against the lust of the flesh. Therefore,

Thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night; (the devil’s suggestions)

of the arrow that flieth in the day; (vainglory;

of which Jeremiah says: I have not desired the day of men, thou knowest; (Jr 17,16) and Luke: And that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace! (Lc 19,42)) of the business that walketh about in the dark; (the deceits of hypocrisy) of invasion; (of adversity, )

or of the noon-day devil (Ps 90,5-6) (of prosperity, which burns like the sun at noon.)

6. Therefore, lest he perish, Take the child and his mother and fly into Egypt (Mt 2,13), which means ‘darkness’ or ‘anguish’, denoting the state of penitence. Note that the glory of the skin consists in two things: in whiteness and in extension; and on the contrary the glory of penitence is in darkness and contraction. In darkness of clothing, since, as Apocalypse 6 says:

The sun became black as sack-cloth of hair. (Ap 6,12)

In the contraction of humility and in anguish of sorrow in the mind, as Isaiah 21 says:

Anguish hath taken hold of me, as the anguish of a woman in labour, (Is 21,3)

That is, of the penitent who brings forth the spirit of salvation. Do you want to save the child? Then fly into this Egypt, and be there until I shall tell thee (Mt 2,13). Note that the child Jesus, as the Gloss says, was hidden for seven years in Egypt; and you should dwell all the seventy years of your life in the Egypt of penitence, so that when they are done you may hear: Return into the land of Israel (Mt 2,20), the heavenly Jerusalem in which you will see God face to face (cf. 1Co 13,12)


7. The slaying of the children: Then Herod, seeing, etc. (Mt 2,16)

The Gloss says: "It is likely that Herod raged against the children a year and four days after the birth of Christ; because he had journeyed to Rome, either to answer accusations or to consult the Romans about the things that were said of the Christ; or he

waited for such a long time after enquiring about the child, that he might be more sure of catching him, and that he should in no way escape."

From two years old and under (Mt 2,16). The reference to two years implies that he killed all, from the day-old child to the one two years old. Let us see what is meant by the Magi and the deceiving of Herod, by Bethlehem and the killing of the little ones, by the two years, by Rama and by Rachel.

The Magi, who worshipped Christ and offered gifts, are penitents who, enlightened by the star of grace, worship in spirit and in truth (cf. Jn 4,23), and offer the three-fold gift of penitence. The devil is deceived by them, because they resolve to return to him no more, but return to their heavenly homeland by another way, the way of humility. Job 40 says:

Behemoth trusteth that the Jordan may run into his mouth, (Jb 40,18)

but adds:

Behold, his hope shall fail him (Jb 40,28)

The Jordan means ‘humble descent’, and it stands for penitents who go down from the throne of the world to contempt of self. The devil still trusts to swallow them up, and bring them back to himself; but he hopes in vain for their return, because the angel’s warning (the grace of the Holy Spirit) strengthens them not to go back to him.

Alternatively, Herod is the world, whom they deceive when the leave with him all their possessions. We often deceive a dog that is chasing us, by leaving him our cloak. In this way, Joseph deceived the harlot, when she caught hold of him, saying:

Lie with me. But he leaving the garment in her hand fled, and went out. (Gn 39,12)

Seeing herself despised, she said:

See, he hath brought in a Hebrew, to abuse us (Gn 39,14)

The harlot is the world; if she tries to hold you in sin, leave her your garment (temporal goods) and run away free.

8. There follows: He was exceeding angry: when the devil is deceived he rises in wrath; and sending killed all the men children that were in Bethlehem and in all the borders thereof (Mt 2,16). Just as a wolf gladly gobbles up children, so the devil gladly defiles the purity of continence. He envies almost no good thing as much as chastity, and for this reason: in Baptism his power was broken, sins were forgiven, grace was bestowed and the door of life was opened. All that he strives to ruin, as he tries to defile the robe of innocence, in either sex, by the lust of the flesh. But, what is more to be lamented and

bewailed, it is in Bethlehem (‘the house of bread’) that he slays the children. ‘Bethlehem’ is religious life, in which is refreshment for the soul, and its children are slain when religious are corrupted by incontinence of the flesh. And not just in religious life, but ‘in all the borders thereof’, that is, in those who, however much they seem to follow their footsteps and live according to their teaching, yet the purity of chastity perishes. And this is so ‘from two years old and under’, by which number is denoted the corruption of a double purity, namely of soul and of body.

Alternatively: Herod is wrath, Bethlehem is the soul, the children are the simple affections of reason, the borders are the bodily senses, and the two years the effects of a two-fold charity. "Anger hinders the mind, so that it cannot discern what is true."5 When one’s mental state is disturbed, one’s reason is ruined; so that Job 5 says:

Anger indeed killeth the foolish; and envy slayeth the little one (Jb 5,2)

And this is not just an inward effect, but even outward- the eye is darkened, the tongue threatens, the hand is ready to strike, and so charity is lost. Thus:

The anger of man worketh not the justice of God (Jc 1,20) (or even of one’s neighbour).

And so, for all these evils, a voice of lamentation and great mourning (that is, contrition of heart and confession of voice) should be heard in Rama (‘on high’, or ‘before God’): Rachel bewailing her children, etc. (cf. Mt 2,18). The Church weeps, and will not be comforted here, because her children are not of this world.

Rachel (meaning ‘sheep, or ‘seeing God’) is the penitent soul which, like a sheep in its simplicity, sees God in contemplation. She bewails her children (that is, her works) because they are no more (that is, not as living, full and perfect as they were previously, before she committed mortal sin), and so she will not be comforted. So Isaiah 22 says:

Depart from me, I will weep bitterly. Labour not to comfort me, for the devastation of the daughter of my people. (Is 22,4)

My soul refused to be comforted (cf. Ps 76,3), he says, because I hope to be comforted when thy glory shall appear (Ps 16,15). May he grant us this, who is blessed for ever. Amen.


9. Thy children as olive shoots, round about thy table (Ps 127,3).

There is something similar in Luke 11: My children are with me in bed (Lc 11,7); and the last but one chapter of Deuteronomy says,

Let Aser be blessed in children, (Dt 33,24)

Aser meaning ‘delight’, and standing for Christ who is the delight of all the blessed. E is blessed and praised in the Holy Innocents, who were killed today by Herod, for his sake and in his place. A child was sought, and children were killed; and in them the pattern of martyrdom began, dedicating the infancy of the Church. So, in Isaiah 49, the Church says:

Who hath begotten these?

I was barren and brought not forth, led away and captive: and who hath brought up these?

I was destitute and alone: and these, where were they? (Is 49,21)

Thus, Thy children as olive shoots, round about thy table.

Note that that the ‘shoot’ stands for the tenderness of the new-born, while the ‘olive’ (from which oil is pressed) stands for the shedding of blood. O cruel Herod! First let the olive mature, that you may squeeze out more oil! You shed milk rather than blood, for it is the shoot you are uprooting, a tender offspring you are slaying! What grief! What piety! The little child laughs at the murderer’s sword, the infant jests! Little lambs are taken to market, hung up by their feet, as it were, to be killed for Christ’s sake. The olive shoots are carried to the press, to squeeze out the oil. This is the Passion of the little ones.

10. And what is their merit? It is: Round about thy table (Ps 127,3), where they sing a new song (cf. Ap 14,3). Apocalypse 14 says:

And no man could sing the song, but those hundred forty-four thousand who were purchased from the earth. These are they who were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were purchased from among men, the first fruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth there was found no lie; for they are without spot before the throne of God. (Ap 14,3-5)

Note that in this text five wonders of the Holy Innocents are referred to:

first, the grace of virginity (for they are virgins);

second, the glory of eternity (they follow the Lamb);

third, the offering of young blood ( the first fruits to God, the Father, and to the Lamb, the Son);

fourth, the innocence of childhood (in their mouth there was found no lie);

and fifthly, the contemplation of he divine majesty ( they are before the throne of God).

Note that we have mentioned three things: the throne, the table and the bed. These three stand for on and the same thing, eternal life. Before the throne are those who praise and look on the face of God, as in Isaiah 52:

The voice of thy watchmen.

They have lifted up their voice, and shall praise thee together: for they shall see eye to eye. (Is 52,8)

They sit at table, eating and drinking, as in Luke 22:

I dispose to you, as my Father hath disposed to me, a kingdom; that you may eat and drink at my table, in the kingdom of heaven. (Lc 22,29-30)

This table is said to be ‘round’, for eternal satisfaction has no beginning or end. Finally, those who rest sleep in bed; as in Isaiah 26:

Go, my people, enter into thy chambers, shut thy doors upon thee; (Is 26,20) and in the last chapter:

There shall be month alter month, and sabbath alter sabbath, (Is 66,23)

That is, perfection of glory after perfection of life, and eternal rest after the rest of the heart. May he who is blessed for ever grant us this, by the prayers of the Holy Innocents. Amen.


11. Thy children, O loving Jesus, are those Christians whom you bore in the anguish of your Passion. As the final chapter of Isaiah says:

Shall not I that make others to bring forth children, myself bring forth? Says the Lord. Shall I, that give generation to others, be barren? Saith the Lord thy God. (Is 66,9)

Who is it that has given us birth in the pain of the Passion? The Wisdom of the Father is

that woman, who, when she is in labour, hath sorrow (Jn 16,21). He says,

My soul is sorrowful even unto death (Mt 26,38)

By his grace, he makes others give birth to the spirit of salvation.

Note that the Latin ‘filius’ resembles the Greek ‘phileo’, ‘I love’. Hosea says, I will love them freely (Os 14,5). Love binds two people together. Our love so bound him to us that it drew him to our misery, as if he could not live in heaven without us. He was like an eagle flying to its prey; as in Job 39:

Wheresoever the carcass shall be, she is immediately there (Jb 39,30)

A ‘carcass’ is a fallen body, lacking life. It is human nature, fallen from grace and lifeless.

0 wonderful love! O mysterious compassion! That a seraph should fly down from above to a decaying corpse, take on a human body, bear the gibbet of the Cross and shed his own blood, to revive his dead son! That is why he compares himself in the Psalm to a pelican, saying:

1 am become like to a pelican of the wilderness. (Ps 101,7)

12. Note the pelican is a little bird that delights in solitude. It is said to kill its offspring with blows, to mourn for them, and after three days to wound itself so that they may revive from the shedding of its blood. That is how Christ, made small in his humility, solitary in his prayer (because, as the Evangelist says, He passed the whole night in prayer (cf. Lc 6,12), and He was in desert places (cf. Lc 1,80)) killed his offspring Adam and Eve as though with bows, when he said: Cursed is the earth in thy work (Gn 3,17); and, Dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return (Gn 3,19). But afterwards he mourned for them, saying in the Psalm:

As one mourning and sorrowful, so was I humbled. (Ps 34,14)

Even so, in II Kings 18, it is told that David went up into his chamber and wept, saying: My son Absalom, Absalom my son! Who will give me that I might die for thee? (cf. 2R 18,33). In the same way Christ, grieving for the death of the human race, went up into the chamber of the Cross and wept there (for as the Apostle says to the Hebrews,

He offered up with a strong cry and tears (cf. He 5,7)) as though to say, My son Adam, Adam my son! Who will give me that I might die for you?: that is, that my death might profit you?

After three days (namely three ages, of nature, of the written law, and of grace) he wounded himself- that is, he let himself be wounded- and sprinkled his dead children with his blood, and made them to revive. And all this proceeded from the exceeding love with which he loved us; as John says:

Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end; (Jn 13,1) that is, to death.

Thy children, then. Truly they are yours, because they are redeemed by your blood; and would that they were dedicated to you, not to their own (that is, their flesh): his own received him not (Jn 1,11), it says. That they be yours, they should be ‘like olive shoots’.

13. Note that the olive is bitter in its root, strong in its wood, and virtually incorruptible, green in its leaves and sweet in its fruit. Just so, every Christian should be bittern in contrition, constant in intention, faithful in word and sweet in works of mercy- for ‘olive oil’ represents works of mercy.

And attend carefully that ‘olive shoots’ are referred to, for the sons of Christ should walk in newness of spirit (cf. Rm 6,4), and by confession renew their spirit day by day (cf. 2Co 4,16), which is corrupted according to the desire of error (cf. Ep 4,22). Be renewed in the spirit of your mind (Ep 4,23), he says. Jeremiah 4 says:

Thus says the Lord to the men of Juda and Jerusalem (the clergy and the laity):

Break up your fallow ground, and sow not upon thorns. (Jr 4,3)

The fallow field is cleft open, and it stands for the human heart, which must be cleft open by the plough of contrition and cleansed of weeds by the hoe of confession, and this is to ‘break up one’s fallow ground’. He sows upon thorns, who in this mortal life does some good things, from the range of god things. Let your children, then, be like olive shoots.

14. And where do they dwell? Where should their life be led? Surely, around thy table. Note that the table is three-fold, and each has its proper refreshment. The first is of teaching, of which it is said:

Thou hast prepared a table before me, against them that afflict me, (Ps 22,5) namely heretics. The second is of penitence, of which Job 36 says:

The rest of thy table shall be full of fatness (Jb 36,16)

Happy is that penitence which has rest of conscience and is full of ‘fatness’ (fraternal charity). The third is that of the Eucharist, of which the Apostle says:

You cannot be partakers of the table of the Lord and of the table of devils. (cf. 1Co 10,21)

In the first table is refreshment, namely the word of life; in the second is groaning and weeping; in the third, the body and blood of Christ.

And note that it does not say ‘at the table’, but ‘round the table’. All Christians should be ‘around’ these three tables, like one who goes round carefully what he wants to see but is unable to penetrate. In this way they should go ‘round’ the table of teaching, so as to be taught how to judge between good and evil, and between good and good. They should go round the table of penitence, so as to bewail what they have done and left undone, to confess sin and its least circumstances, to make amends to the injured, restore what has been taken, and give the needy of their own goods. They should go round the table of the Eucharist, so as to believe firmly, approach devoutly, reckon themselves unworthy of so great a grace, and receive carefully.

Let us ask the Son of God so to refresh us at this three-fold table, that we may be found fit to be satisfied with the Holy Innocents at the heavenly table. May he grant this, who is blessed for ever and ever.

1 ARISTOTLE, De somno et vigilia, 3
2 AUGUSTINE, Sermo 351,4,7; PL 39.1512
3 JEROME, Letter to the monk Rusticus, 125,8; PL 22.1076
4 LUCAN, The Civil War I,281
5 CATO, Disticha, II,4,2

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



1. At that time: After eight days were completed, etc. (Lc 2,21)

In this Gospel two things are noted: Christ’s circumcision, and the calling of his name. (CHRIST’S CIRCUMCISION)

2. Christ’s circumcision: After eight days were completed, that the child should be circumcised. Note that in this first clause we are taught, anagogically, how every just person will be circumcised from all corruption in the general resurrection. But "because you have heard a circumcised word about the circumcised Word, let us speak in a circumcised way about his circumcision."1

"Christ was circumcised in the body alone, because he had nothing in the mind that might be circumcised. For, he did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth (1P 2,22). But neither did he contract sin, for, as Isaiah says: He ascended upon a light cloud (Is 19,1), that is, he assumed flesh free from sin."2 "Coming into his own, because his own would not receive him (cf. Jn 1,11) he had to be circumcised, lest the Jews should take occasion against him and say, ‘You are uncircumcised, you should perish from your people, because as Genesis says,

The male, whose flesh of his foreskin shall not be circumcised, shall be destroyed out of his people. (Gn 17,14)

You are a transgressor of the Law, we will not hear you against the Law.’"3

He was circumcised, then, for at least three reasons: to fulfil the law- "The mystery of circumcision had to be observed until the sacrament of Baptism should be substituted;"4 to take away any occasion for the Jews to calumniate him; and "to teach us the circumcision of the heart. Of this, Romans says:

The circumcision of the heart is in the spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. (Rm 2,29)"5

3. After eight days were completed. Let us see what these three mean, the eighth day, the child and his circumcision. Our life revolves in seven days, after which comes the eighth day of the resurrection. Ecclesiastes 11 says of this:

Give a portion to seven, and also to eight:

for thou knowest not what evil shall be on the earth. (Qo 11,2)

That is as if to say, Give the seven days of your life a share of good works, for which you will receive a reward in the eighth day of the resurrection. In that day there will be such great evil upon earth (that is, on earthly folk who love the earth), that it not known to any man.

Then the floor will be cleansed and the wheat separated from the straw (cf. Mt 3,12 Lc 3,17), and the sheep will be separated from the goats (cf. Mt 25,32). The sweeping of the floor is the giving of the final Judgement; the wheat means the just who are to be stored in the heavenly barn. So Job 5 says:

Thou shalt enter into the grave in abundance,

as a heap of wheat is brought in its season. (Jb 5,26)

The grave is eternal life, in which the just are hidden from the troubling of the demons, as a person is hidden in the grave from the sight of men, when they enter it in the abundance of their good works. The straw, meaning the proud who are light and unstable, will be burned with fire, as Job 21 says:

They shall be as chaff before the face of the wind,

and as ashes which the whirlwind scattereth. (Jb 21,18)

The lambs or sheep, that is, the humble and innocent, will be set at Christ’s right hand, as Isaiah 40 says:

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd.

He shall gather the lambs with his arm and shall take them up in his bosom; and he himself shall carry them that are with young. (Is 40,11)

4. Note that in these four words, ‘feed’, ‘gather’, ‘take up’ and ‘carry’, we may discern the four gifts of the body (clarity, immortality, agility and subtlety) which the just will have in the eighth day of the resurrection. He will ‘feed’ by clarity; as in Ecclesiastes 11:

The light is sweet: and it is delightful for the eyes to see the sun. (Qo 11,7) Regarding this he says:

The just shall shine out like the sun in the kingdom of God (cf. Mt 13,43)

If the eye which is still corruptible is so delighted by the deceitful brightness of the wretched body, how great do you think that delight will be in the true splendour of the glorified body? He will ‘gather’ by immortality, for death scatters and immortality gathers together. He will ‘take up’ by agility; what is agile is easily lifted. He will ‘carry’ by subtlety; that which is subtle is easily carried.

The goats, however, (that is, the lustful) will be hung by the heels on the pikes of hell. The Lord curses the ‘fat cows’ (cf. Am 4,1), the proud and lustful prelates of the Church, in Amos 4:

The days shall come upon you, when they (the demons,) shall lift you up on pikes and what shall remain of you in boiling pots. And you shall go out at the breaches one over against the other: and you shall be cast forth into Hermon, (Am 4,2-3 Vulgate has ‘Armon’ ),

meaning ‘anathema’, because being anathematized and cursed by the Church Triumphant, they will go into eternal punishment.

All this, namely glory and punishment, will be given to each in the eighth day of the resurrection, according to what each has done in the seven days of this life. Genesis 29 says of this:

Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed but a few days, because of the greatness of his love. (Gn 29,20)

She was well favoured, and of a beautiful countenance (Gn 29,17). A little later, it says that:

After the week was past, he married Rachel. (Gn 29,28)

He refers to the same in chapter 31:

Day and night was I parched with heat, and with frost; and sleep departed from my eyes. (Gn 31,40)

O love of beauty! O beauty of love! O glory of the resurrection, how much you enable

man to bear, so as to attain to you nuptials! The just man serves the whole septenary of his life in lowliness of body and humility of mind. He is parched in the day, when prosperity burns with the heat of vainglory; and in the night, when adversity assails with the frost of diabolical temptation. Thus, all sleep and rest flee away, for there are ‘combats within, fears without’ (cf. 2Co 7,5). He fears the world, he fights against himself; and yet amid such evils the days seem few, so great is his love. "Nothing is hard for a lover."6 O Jacob, I pray you, be patient, bear all humbly, for when the week of this present misery is past, you will attain the long-desired wedding of the glorious resurrection, in which you will be circumcised from all toil and slavery to corruption.

5. So it is said: After eight days were completed, that the child should be circumcised.

It says ‘the child’, not ‘an old man’. Who this child is, see in the Sermon for the Nativity.7 In that resurrection, every elect soul shall be circumcised, for, as Isidore8 says, "He will rise to glory without any vice, or any deformity." All weakness, slowness, corruption and need will be far away, and anything else that does not befit that kingdom of the Highest King, wherein ‘the children of the resurrection and of the promise shall be equal to the angels of God’ (cf. Lc 20,36). Then there will be true immortality. "The first state of man was the possibility of not dying; because of sin, his punishment was the impossibility of not dying. The third state, in bliss, will be the impossibility of dying."9 "Then free will shall be full. It was given to the first man to be able not to sin; but how much more blessed it will be, to be unable to sin!"10 O desirable eighth day, which circumcises all evil from the child!

Anthony_Sermons - (MORAL SERMON)