Chrysostom hom. on Mt 82
82 Mt 26,26-28
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave1 it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; This is my body.” “And He took a cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; This is my blood of the New Testament, Which is shed for many, for the remission of sins.”2
Ah! how great is the blindness of the traitor! Even partaking of the mysteries, he remained the same; and admitted to the most holy3 table, he changed not. And this Luke shows by saying, that after this Satan entered4 into him, not as despising the Lord’s body, but thenceforth laughing to scorn the traitor’s shamelessness. For indeed his sin became greater from both causes, as well in that he came to the mysteries with such a disposition, as that having approached them, he did not become better, either from fear, or from the benefit, or from the honor. But Christ forbad him not, although He knew all things, that thou mightest learn that He omits none of the things that pertain to correction. Wherefore both before this, and after this, He continually admonished him, and checked him, both by deeds, and by words; both by fear, and by kindness; both by threatening, and by honor. But none of these things withdrew him from that grievous pest.
Wherefore thenceforth He leaves him, and by the mysteries again reminds the disciples of His being slain, and in the midst of the meal His discourse is of the cross, by the continual repeating of the prediction, making His passion easy to receive. For if, when so many things had been done and foretold, they were troubled; if they had heard none of these things, what would they not have felt?
“And as they were eating, He took bread, and brake it.” Why can it have been that He ordained this sacrament then, at the time of the passover? That thou mightest learn from everything, both that He is the lawgiver of the Old Testament, and that the things therein are foreshadowed because of these things. Therefore, I say, where the type is, there He puts the truth.
But the evening is a sure sign of the fullness of times, and that the things were now come to the very end.
And He gives thanks, to teach us how we ought to celebrate this sacrament, and to show that not unwillingly doth He come to the passion, and to teach us whatever we may suffer to bear it thankfully, thence also suggesting good hopes. For if the type was a deliverance from such bondage, how much more will the truth set free the world, and will He be delivered up for the benefit of our race. Wherefore, I would add, neither did He appoint the sacrament before this, but when henceforth the rites of the law were to cease. And thus the very chief of the feasts He brings to an end, removing them to another most awful table, and He saith, “Take, eat, This is my body, Which is broken for many.”
And how were they not confounded at hearing this? Because He had before told unto them many and great things touching this. Wherefore that He establishes no more, for they had heard it sufficiently, but he speaks of the cause of His passion, namely, the taking away of sins. And He calls it blood of a New Testament, that of the undertaking, the promise, the new law. For this He undertook also of old, and this comprises the Testament that is in the new law. And like as the Old Testament had sheep and bullocks, so this has the Lord’s blood. Hence also He shows that He is soon to die, wherefore also He made mention of a Testament, and He reminds them also of the former Testament, for that also was dedicated with blood. And again He tells the cause of His death, “which is shed for many for the remission of sins;” and He saith, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Seest thou how He removes and draws them off from Jewish customs. For like as ye did that, He saith, in remembrance of the miracles in Egypt, so do this likewise in remembrance of me. That was shed for the preservation of the firstborn, this for the remission of the sins of the whole world. For, “This,” saith He, “is my blood, which is shed for the remission of sins.”
But this He said, indicating thereby, that His passion and His cross are a mystery, by this too again comforting His disciples. And like as Moses saith, “This shall be to you for an everlasting memorial,”5 so He too, “in remembrance of me,” until I come.6 Therefore also He saith, “With desire I have desired to eat this passover,”7 that is, to deliver you the new rites, and to give a passover, by which I am to make you spiritual.
And He Himself drank of it. For lest on hearing this, they should say, What then? do we drink blood, and eat flesh? and then be perplexed (for when He began to discourse concerning these things, even at the very sayings many were offended),8 therefore lest they should be troubled then likewise, He first did this Himself, leading them to the calm participation of the mysteries. Therefore He Himself drank His own blood. What then must we observe that other ancient rite also? some one may say. By no means. For on this account He said, “Do this,” that He might withdraw them from the other. For if this worketh remission of sins, as it surely doth work it, the other is now superfluous.
As then in the case of the Jews, so here also He hath bound up the memorial of the benefit with the mystery, by this again stopping the mouths of heretics. For when they say, Whence is it manifest that Christ was sacrificed? together with the other arguments we stop their mouths from the mysteries also. For if Jesus did not die, of what are the rites the symbols?
2. Seest thou how much diligence hath been used, that it should be ever borne in mind that He died for us? For since the Marcionists, and Valentinians, and Manichaeans were to arise, denying this dispensation, He continually reminds us of the passion even by the mysteries, (so that no man should be deceived); at once saving, and at the same time teaching by means of that sacred table. For this is the chief of the blessings; wherefore Paul also is in every way pressing this.
Then, when He had delivered it, He saith, “I will not drink of the fruit of this wine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”9 For because He had discoursed with them concerning passion and cross, He again introduces what He has to say of His resurrection, having made mention of a kingdom before them,10 and so calling His own resurrection.
And wherefore did He drink after He was risen again? Lest the grosser sort might suppose the resurrection was an appearance. For the common sort made this an infallible test of His having risen again. Wherefore also the apostles also persuading them concerning the resurrection say this, “We who did eat and drink with Him.”11
To show therefore that they should see Him manifestly risen, again, and that He should be with them once more, and that they themselves shall be witnesses to the things that are done, both by sight, and by act, He saith, “Until I drink it new with you,” you bearing witness. For you shall see me risen again.
But what is “new.” In a new, that is, a strange manner, not having a passible body, but now immortal and incorruptible, and not needing food.
It was not then for want that He both ate and drank after the resurrection, for neither did His body need these things any more, but for the full assurance of His resurrection.
And wherefore did He not drink water after He was risen again, but wine. To pluck up by the roots another wicked heresy. For since there are certain who use water in the mysteries; to show that both when He delivered the mysteries He had given wine, and that when He had risen and was setting before them a mere meal without mysteries, He used wine, “of the fruit,” He saith, “of the vine.” But a vine produces wine, not water.
“And when they had sung an hymn, they went out unto the Mount of Olives.”12 Let them hear this, as many as, like swine eating at random, rudely spurn the natural13 table, and rise up in drunkenness, whereas it were meet to give thanks, and end with an hymn
Hear this, as many as wait not again for the last prayer of the mysteries, for this is a symbol of that. He gave thanks before He gave it to His disciples, that we also may give thanks. He gave thanks, and sang an hymn after the giving, that we also may do this selfsame thing.
But for what reason doth He go forth unto the mountain? Making Himself manifest, that He may be taken, in order not to seem to hide himself. For He hastened to go to the place which was also known to Judas.
Then “He saith unto them, All ye shall be offended in me.”14 After this He mentions also a prophecy, “For it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered abroad:”15 at once persuading them ever to give heed to the things that are written, and at same time making it plain that He was crucified, according to God’s purpose; and by everything showing He was no alien from the old covenant, nor from the God preached therein, but that what is done is a dispensation,16 and that the prophets all proclaimed all things beforehand from the beginning that are comprised in the matter, so that they be quite confident about the better things also.
1 [eujcaristhvsa" (from verse 27) is substituted for eujloghvsa"; and e[dwken (from the same verse) for ejdivdou (rec. text) or douv", of the move ancient authorities.—R.]
2 [The text agrees exactly with the received ; except in the substitution of uJpevr for periv. The R. V. following the older aothorities, omits “new,” also rendering diaqhvkh" “covenant” in the text.—R.]
3 [frikwdestavth", “most awful ;” literally, “most terrifying,” but applied to religious awe.—R.]
4 Lc 22,3 see also Jn 13,27.
5 Ex 12,14.
6 See 1Co 11,26, and St. Chrys. on the place, Hom. XXVII. on 1 Cor., where he attributes the words “until He come,” expressly to St. Paul. Various early writers attribute them to our Lord).
7 Lc 22,15.
8 Jn 6,60-61 Jn 6,66.
9 Mt 26,29. [The word “henceforth” is omitted; “this” is joined with “vine,” and “new” is in a different position in the Greek.. All these are variations from the received text, which is also followed in the R. V.—R.]
10 eij" mevson.
11 Ac 10,41.
12 Mt 26,30.
14 Mt 26,31.
And He teaches us to know what the disciples were before the crucifixion, what after the crucifixion. For indeed they who, when He was crucified, were not able so much as to stand their ground, these after His death were mighty, and stronger than adamant.
And this self-same thing is a demonstration of His death, the fright and cowardice, I mean, of His disciples. For if when so many things have been both done and said, still some are shameless, and say that He was not crucified; if none of these things had come to pass, to what pitch of wickedness would they not have proceeded? So for this reason, not by His own sufferings only, but by what took place with respect to the disciples, He confirms the word concerning His death, and by the mysteries also, in every way confounding those that are diseased with the pest of Marcion. For this reason He suffers even the chief apostle to deny Him. But if He was not bound nor crucified, whence sprung the fear to Peter, and to the rest of the apostles.
He suffers them not however, on the other hand, to wait until the sorrows, but what saith He? “But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.”17 For not from Heaven doth He appear at once, neither will He depart into any distant country, but in the same nation, in which He had also been crucified, nearly in the same place, so as hereby again to assure them that He that was crucified was the very same that rose again, and in this way to comfort them more abundantly when in sorrow. Therefore also He said “in Galilee,” that being freed from the fears of the Jews they might believe His saying. For which cause indeed He appeared there.
“But Peter answered and said, Though all men should be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended.”18
3. What sayest thou, O Peter? the prophet said, “The sheep shall be scattered;” Christ hath confirmed the saying, and sayest thou, No? Is not what passed before enough, when Thou saidst, “Far be it from Thee,”19 and thy mouth was stopped? For this then He suffers him to fall, teaching him thereby to believe Christ in all things, and to account His declaration more trustworthy than one’s own conscience. And the rest too reaped no small benefit from his denial, having come to know manes weakness, and God’ s truth. For when He foretells anything, we must no longer be subtle, nor lift up ourselves above the common sort. For, “thy rejoicing,” it is said, “thou shall have in thyself, and not in another.”20 For where he should have prayed, and have said, Help us, that we be not cut off, he is confident in himself, and saith, “Though all men should be offended in Thee, yet will I never;” though all should undergo this, I shall not undergo it, which led him on by little and little to self-confidence. Christ then, out of a desire to put down this, permitted his denial. For since he neither submitted to Him nor the prophet (and yet for this intent He brought in the prophet be sides, that they may not gainsay), but nevertheless since he submitted not to His words, he is instructed by deeds.
For in proof that for this intent He permitted it, that He might amend this in him, hear what He saith, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.”21 For this He said sharply reproving him, and showing that his fall was more grievous than the rest, and needed more help. For the matters of blame were two; both that he gainsaid; and, that he set himself before the other; or rather a third too, namely, that he attributed all to himself.
To cure these things then, He suffered the fall to take place, and for this cause also leaves the others, and addresses Himself earnestly to him. For, “Simon,”22 saith He, “Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat;” that is, that he may trouble, confound, tempt you; but “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.”
And why, if Satan desired all, did He not say concerning all, I have prayed for you? Is it not quite plain that it is this, which I have mentioned before, that it is as reproving him, and showing that his fall was more grievous than the rest, that He directs His words to him?
And wherefore said He not, But I did not suffer it, rather than, “I have prayed?” He speaks from this time lowly things, on His way to His passion, that He may show His humanity. For He that has built His church upon Peter’s confession, and has so fortified it, that ten thousand dangers and deaths are not to prevail over it; He that hath given him the keys of Heaven, and hath put him in possession of so much authority, and in no manner needed a prayer for these ends (for neither did He say, I have prayed, but with His own authority, “I will build my church, and I will give thee the keys of Heaven”), how should He need to pray, that He might brace up the shaken soul of a single man? Wherefore then did He speak in this way? For the cause which I mentioned, and because of their weakness, for they had not as yet the becoming view of Him.
How then was it that He denied? he said not, that thou mayest not deny, but that thy faith fail not, that thou perish not utterly. For this came from His care.
For indeed fear had driven out all else, for it was beyond measure, and it became beyond measure, since God had to an exceeding degree deprived him of His help, and He did exceedingly deprive him thereof, because there was to an exceeding degree in him the passion of self-will and contradiction. In order then that He might pluck it up by the roots, therefore He suffered the terror to overtake him.
For in proof that this passion was grievous in him, he was not content with his former words, gainsaying both prophet and Christ, but also after these things when Christ had said unto him, “Verily I say unto thee, that this night,2) before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice,” he replieth, “Though I should die with Thee, I will not deny Thee in any wise.”3) And Luke signifies moreover, that the more Christ warned him, so much the more did Peter exceedingly oppose Him.
What mean these things, O Peter? When He was saying, “One of you shall betray me,” thou didst fear lest thou shouldest be the traitor, and didst constrain the disciple to ask, although conscious to thyself of no such thing; but now, when He is plainly crying out, and saying, “All shall be offended,” art thou gainsaying it, and not once only, but twice and often? For this is what Luke saith.
Whence then did this come to him? From much love, from much pleasure. I mean, that after that he was delivered from that distressing fear about the betrayal, and knew the traitor, he then spoke confidently, and lifted himself up over the rest, saying, “Though all men shall be offended, yet will I not be offended.”4) And in some degree too his conduct sprung from jealousy, for at supper they reasoned “which of them is the greater,”5) to such a degree did this passion trouble them. Therefore He checked him, not compelling him to the denial, God forbid! but leaving him destitute of His help, and convicting human nature.
See at any rate after these things how he was subdued. For after the resurrection, when he had said, “And what shall this man do?”6) and was silenced, he ventured no more to gainsay as here, but held his peace. Again, towards the assumption,7) when he heard, “It is not for you to know times or seasons,”8) again he holds his peace, and contradicts not. After these things, on the house, and by the sheet, when he heard a voice saying to him, “What God hath cleansed, call not thou common,”9) even though he knew not for the time what the saying could be, he is quiet, and strives not.
4. All these things did that fall effect, and whereas before that he attributes all to himself, saying, “Though all men shall be offended, yet will I not be offended;” and, “If I should die, I will not deny Thee”when he should have said, If I receive the assistance from Thee);—yet after these things altogether the contrary, “Why do ye give heed to us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made him to walk?10)
Hence we learn a great doctrine, that a man’s willingness is not sufficient, unless any one receive the succor from above; and that again we shall gain nothing by the succor from above, if there be not a willingness. And both these things do Judas and Peter show; for the one, though he had received much help, was profited nothing, because he was not willing, neither contributed his part; but this one, though he was ready in mind, because he received no assistance, fell. For indeed of these two things is virtue’s webwoven.
Wherefore I entreat you neitherwhen you have cast all upon God) to sleep yourselves, nor, when laboring earnestly, to think to accomplish all by your own toils. For neither is it God’s will that we should be supine ourselves, therefore He worketh it not all Himself; nor yet boasters, therefore He did not give all to us; but having removed what was hurtful in either way, left that which is useful for us. Therefore He suffered even the chief apostle to fall, both rendering him more humbled in mind, and training him thenceforth to greater love. “For to whom more is forgiven,” it is said, “he loveth more.”1)
Let us then in everything believe God, and gainsay Him in nothing, though what is said seem to be contrary to our thoughts and senses, but let His word be of higher authority than both reasonings and sight. Thus let us do in the mysteries also, not looking at the things set before us, but keeping in mind His sayings.
For His word cannot deceive, but our senses are easily beguiled. That hath never failed, but this in most things goeth wrong. Since then the word saith, “This is my body,” let us both be persuaded and believe, and look at it with the eyes of the mind.
For Christ hath given nothing sensible, but though in things sensible yet all to be perceived by the mind. So also in baptism, the gift is bestowed by a sensible thing, that is, by water; but that which is done is perceived by the mind, the birth, I mean, and the renewal. For if thou hadst been incorporeal, He would have delivered thee the incorporeal gifts bare; but because the soul hath been locked up in a body, He delivers thee the things that the mind perceives, in things sensible.
How many now say, I would wish to see His form, the mark, His clothes, His shoes. Lo! thou seest Him, Thou touchest Him, thou eatest Him. And thou indeed desirest to see His clothes, but He giveth Himself to thee not to see only, but also to touch and eat and receive within thee.
Let then no one approach it with indifference, no one faint-hearted, but all with burning hearts, all fervent, all aroused. For if Jews standing, and having on their shoes and their staves in their hands, ate with haste, much more oughtest thou to be watchful. For they indeed were to go forth to Palestine, wherefore also they had the garb of pilgrims, but thou art about to remove unto Heaven.
5. Wherefore it is needful in all respects to be vigilant, for indeed no small punishment is appointed to them that partake unworthily.
Consider how indignant thou art against the traitor, against them that crucified Him. Look therefore, lest thou also thyself become guilty of the body and blood of Christ. They slaughtered the all-holy body, but thou receivest it in a filthy soul after such great benefits. For neither was it enough for Him to be made man, to be smitten and slaughtered, but He also commingleth Himself with us, and not by faith only, but also in very deed maketh us His body. What then ought not he to exceed in purity that hath the benefit of this sacrifice, than what sunbeam should not that hand be more pure which is to sever this flesh, the mouth that is filled with spiritual fire, the tongue that is reddened by that most awful blood? Consider with what sort of honor thou wast honored, of what sort of table thou art partaking. That which when angels behold, they tremble, and dare not so much as look up at it without awe on account of the brightness that cometh thence, with this we are fed with this we are commingled, and we are made one body and one flesh with Christ. “Who shall declare the mighty works of the Lord, and cause all His praises to be heard?”2) What shepherd feeds his sheep with his own limbs? And why do I say, shepherd? There are often mothers that after the travail of birth send out their children to other women as nurses; but He endureth not to do this, but Himself feeds us with His own blood, and by all means entwines us with Himself.
Mark it, He was born of our substance. But, you say, this is nothing to all men; though it does concern all. For if He came unto our nature, it is quite plain that it was to all; but if to all, then to each one. And how was it, you say, that all did not reap the profit therefrom. This was not of His doing, whose choice it was to do this in behalf of all, but the fault of them that were not willing. With each one of the faithful doth He mingle Himself in the mysteries, and whom He begat, He nourishes by Himself, and putteth not out to another; by this also persuading thee again, that He had taken thy flesh. Let us not then be remiss, having been counted worthy of so much both of love and honor. See ye not the infants with how much eagerness they lay hold of the breast? with what earnest desire they fix their lips upon the nipple? With the like let us also approach this table, and the nipple of the spiritual cup. Or rather, with much more eagerness let us, as infants at the breast, draw out the grace of the spirit, let it be our one sorrow, not to partake of this food. The works set before us are not of man’s power. He that then did these things at that supper, this same now also works them. We occupy the place of servants. He who sanctifieth and changeth them is the same. Let then no Judas be present, no covetous man. If any one be not a disciple, let him withdraw, the table receives not such. For “I keep the passover,” He saith, “with my disciples.”1)
This table is the same as that, and hath nothing less. For it is not so that Christ wrought that, and man this, but He doth this too. This is that upper chamber, where they were then; and hence they went forth unto the mount of Olives.
Let us also go out unto the hands of the poor, for this spot is the mount of Olives. For the multitude of the poor are olive-trees planted in the house of God, dropping the oil, which is profitable for us there, which the five virgins had, and the others that had not received perished thereby. Having received this, let us enter in that with bright lamps we may meet the bridegroom; having received this, let us go forth hence.
Let no inhuman person be present, no one that is cruel and merciless, no one at all that is unclean.
6. These things I say to you that receive, and to you that minister. For it is necessary to address myself to you also, that you may with much care distribute the gifts there. There is no small punishment for you, if being conscious of any wickedness in any man, you allow him to partake of this table. “His blood shall be required at your hands.”2) Though any one be a general, though a deputy, though it be he himself who is invested with the diadem, and come unworthily, forbid him, the authority thou hast is greater than his. Thou, if thou weft entrusted to keep a spring of water clean for a flock, and then wert to see a sheep having much mire on its mouth, thou wouldest not suffer it to stoop down unto it and foul the stream: but now being entrusted with a spring not of water, but of blood and of spirit, if thou seest any having on them sin, which is more grievous than earth and mire, coming unto it, art thou not displeased? dost thou not drive them off? and what excuse canst thou have?
For this end God hath honored you with this honor, that ye should discern these things. This is your office, this your safety, this your whole crown, not that ye should go about clothed in a white and shining vestment.
And whence know I, you may say, this person, and that person? I speak not of the unknown, but of the notorious.
Shall I say something more fearful. It is not so grievous a thing for the energumens23 to be within, as for such as these, whom Paul affirms to trample Christ under foot, and to “account the blood of the covenant unclean. and to do despite to the grace of the Spirit.”24 For he that hath fallen into sin and draws nigh, is worse than one possessed with a devil. For they, because they are possessed are not punished, but those, when they draw nigh unworthily, are delivered over to undying punishment. Let us not therefore drive away these only, but all without exception, whomsoever we may see coming unworthily.
Let no one communicate who is not of the disciples. Let no Judas receive, lest he suffer the fate of Judas. This multitude also is Christ’s body. Take heed, therefore, thou that ministerest at the mysteries, lest thou provoke the Lord, not purging this body. Give not a sword instead of meat.
Nay, though it be from ignorance that he come to communicate, forbid him, be not afraid. Fear God, not man. If thou shouldest fear man, thou wilt be laughed to scorn even by him, but if God, thou wilt be an object of respect even to men.
But if thou darest not to do it thyself, bring him to me; I will not allow any to dare do these things. I would give up my life rather than impart of the Lord’s blood to the unworthy; and will shed my own blood rather than impart of such awful blood contrary to. what is meet.
But if any hath not known the bad man, after much inquiry, it is no blame. For these things have been said about the open sinners. For if we amend these, God will speedily discover to us the unknown also; but if we let these alone, wherefore should He then make manifest those that are hidden. But these things I say, not that we repel them only, nor cut them off, but in order that we may amend them, and bring them back, that we may take care of them. For thus shall we both have God propitious, and shall find many to receive worthily; and for our own diligence, and for our care for others, receive great reward; unto which God grant we may all attain by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory world without end. Amen.
15 See Za 13,7. [The words “of the flock” are omitted, as in Mc 14,27. They do not occur in the passage in Zechariah.—R.]
17 Mt 26,32. [R. V., “am raised up.”]
18 Mt 26,33. [The word ajllav is inserted, as in Mc 14,29.—R.]
19 Mt 16,22.
20 Ga 6,4. [R. V., “glorying.”]
21 Lc 22,32. [R. V., “made supplication.”]
22 Lc 22,31. [R. V., “Satan asked ;” margin “Or, obtained you by asking.”]
23 [The preposition is omitted from the Greek text.—R.]
24 Mt 26,34-35. [R. V., “If I must die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.” ]
83 Mt 26,36-38
“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy: and He saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; tarry ye here, and watch with me. “1
Because they clung to Him inseparably, therefore He saith, “Tarry ye here, while I go away and pray.” For it was usual with Him to pray apart from them. And this He did teaching us in our prayers, to prepare silence for ourselves and great retirement.
And He takes with Him the three, and saith unto them, “my soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” Wherefore doth He not take all with Him? That they might not be cast down; but these He taketh that had been spectators of His glory. However, even these He dismisses: “And He went on a little farther, and prayeth, saying, Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt. And He cometh unto them, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”2
Not without reason doth He inveigh against Peter most, although the others also had slept; but to make him feel by this also, for the cause which I mentioned before. Then because the others also said the same thing (for when Peter had said (these are the words), “Though I must die with Thee, I will not deny Thee; likewise also,” it is added, “said all the disciples”);3 He addresses Himself to all, convicting their weakness. For they who are desiring to die with Him, were not then able so much as to sorrow with Him wake-fully, but sleep overcame them.
And He prays with earnestness, in order that the thing might not seem to be acting. And sweats flow over him for the same cause again, even that the heretics might not say this, that He acts the agony. Therefore there is a sweat like drops of blood, and an angel appeared strengthening Him, and a thousand sure signs of fear, lest any one should affirm the words to be reigned. For this cause also was this prayer. By saying then, “If it be possible, let it pass from me,” He showed His humanity; but by saying, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt,” He showed His virtue and self-command, teaching us even when nature pulls us back, to follow God. For since it was not enough for the foolish to show His face only, He uses words also. Again, words sufficed not alone, but deeds likewise were needed; these also He joins with the words, that even they who are in a high degree contentious may believe, that He both became man and died. For if, even when these things are so, this be still disbelieved by some, much more, if these had not been. See by how many things He shows the reality of the incarnation: by what He speaks, by what He suffers. After that He cometh and saith to Peter, as it is said, “What, couldest thou not watch one hour with me?”4 All were sleeping, and He rebukes Peter, hinting at him, in what He spake. And the words, “with me,” are not employed without reason; it is as though He had said, Thou couldest not watch with me one hour, and wilt thou lay down thy life for me? and what follows also, intimates this self-same thing. For “Watch,” saith He, “and pray not to enter into temptation.” See how He is again instructing them not to be self-confident, but contrite in mind, and to be humble, and to refer all to God.
And at one time He addresses Himself to Peter, at another to all in common. And to him He saith, “Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee;” and to all in common, “Pray that ye enter not into temptation;” every way plucking up their self-will, and making them earnest-minded. Then, that He might not seem to make His language altogether condemnatory, He saith, “The spirit indeed is ready, but the flesh is weak.” For even although thou dost desire to despise death, yet thou wilt not be able, until God stretch forth His hand, for the carnal mind draws down.
And again He prayed in the same way, saying, “Father, if this cannot pass from me except I drink it, Thy will be done,”5 showing here, that He fully harmonizes with God’s will, and that we must always follow this, and seek after it.
“And He came and found them asleep.”6 For besides that it was late at night, their eyes also were weighed down by their despondency. And the third time He went and spake the same thing, establishing the fact, that He was become man. For the second and third time is in the Scriptures especially indicative of truth; like as Joseph also said to Pharaoh, “Did the dream appear to thee the second time? For truth was this done, and that thou mightest be assured that this shall surely be.”7 Therefore He too once, and twice, and three times spake the same thing, for the sake of proving the incarnation.8
1 [The only variation of text is the substitution of kaiv for tovte, at the beginoing of verse 38. The R. V. renders, “sorrowful and sore troubled,” and “abide” instead of “tarry.”—R.]
2 . [The first part of verse 39 is abridged, and in 40 “them” is substituted for “the disciples.” The remainder of the passage is in verbal agreement with the received text.—R.]
3 Mt 26,36.
4 Comp. Mc 14,37.
5 Mt 26,42. [The word “cup” is omitted as in R. V., but “from me” is retained as in the received text.—R.]
6 Mt 26,43. [R. V., “sleeping;” “again” is omitted).
And wherefore came He the second time? In order to reprove them, for that they were so drowned in despondency, as not to have any sense even of His presence. He did not however reprove them, but stood apart from them a little, showing their unspeakable weakness, that not even when they had been rebuked, were they able to endure. But He doth not awake and rebuke them again, lest He should smite them that were already smitten, but He went away and prayed, and when He is come back again, He saith, “Sleep on now, and take your rest.” And yet then there was need to be wakeful, but to show that they will not bear so much as the sight of the dangers, but will be put to flight and desert Him from their terror, and that He hath no need of their succor, and that He must by all means be delivered up, “Sleep on now,” He saith, “and take your rest; behold the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.”9
He shows again that what is done belongs to a divine dispensation.
2. But He doth not this only, but also, by saying, “into the hands of sinners,” He cheers up their minds, showing it was the effect of their wickedness, not of His being liable to any charge.
“Rise, let us be going; behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.”10 For by all means He taught them, that the matter was not of necessity, nor of weakness, but of some secret dispensation. For, as we see, He fore-knew that Judas would come, and so far from flying, He even went to meet him. At any rate, “While He yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.”11 Seemly surely are the instruments of the priests! “with swords and staves” do they come against Him! And Judas, it is said, with them, one of the twelve. Again he calleth him “of the twelve,” and is not ashamed. Now he that betrayed Him gave them a sign, saying, “Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is He, hold Him fast.”12 Oh! what depravity had the traitor’s soul received. For with what kind of eyes did he then look at his Master? with what mouth did he kiss Him? Oh! accursed purpose; what did he devise? What did he dare? What sort of sign of betrayal did he give? Whomsoever I shall kiss, he saith. He was emboldened by his Master’s gentleness, which more than all was sufficient to shame him, and to deprive him of all excuse for that he was betraying one so meek.
But wherefore doth He say this? Because often when seized by them He had gone out through the midst, without their knowing it. Nevertheless, then also this would have been done, if it had not been His own will that He should be taken. It was at least with a view to teach them this, that He then blinded their eyes, and Himself asked, “Whom seek ye?”13 And they knew Him not, though being with lanterns and torches, and having Judas with them. Afterwards, as they had said, “Jesus;” He saith, “I am He” whom ye seek: and here again, “Friend, wherefore art thou come?”14
For after having shown His own strength, then at once He yielded Himself. But John saith, that even to the very moment He continued to reprove him, saying, “Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?”15 Art thou not ashamed even of the form of the betrayal? saith He. Nevertheless, forasmuch as not even this checked him, He submitted to be kissed, and gave Himself up willingly; and they laid their hands on Him, and seized Him that night on which they ate the passover, to such a degree did they boil with rage, and were mad. However, they would have had no strength, unless He had Himself suffered it. Yet this delivers not Judas from intolerable punishment, but even more exceedingly condemns him, for that though he had received such proof of His power, and lenity, and meekness, and gentleness, he became fiercer than any wild beast.
Knowing then these things, let us flee from covetousness. For that, that it was, which then drove him to madness; that exercises them who are taken thereby in the most extreme cruelty and inhumanity. For, when it makes them to despair of their own salvation, much more doth it cause them to overlook that of the rest of mankind. And so tyrannical is the passing, as sometimes to prevail over the keenest lust. Wherefore indeed I am exceedingly ashamed, that to spare their money, may indeed have bridled their unchastity, but for the fear of Christ they were not willing to live chastely and with gravity.
Wherefore I say, let us flee from it; for I will not cease for ever saying this. For why, O man, dost thou gather gold? Why dost thou make thy bondage more bitter? Why thy watching more grievous? Why thy anxiety more painful? Account for thine own the metals buried in the mines, those in the kings’ courts. For indeed if thou hadst all that heap, thou wouldest keep it only, and wouldest not use it. For if now thou hast not used the things thou possessest, but abstainest from them as though they belonged to others, much more would this be the case with thee, if thou hadst more. For it is the way of the covetous, the more they heap up around them, the more to be sparing of it. “But I know,” sayest thou, “that these things are mine.” The possession then is in supposition only, not in enjoyment. But I should be an object of fear to men, sayest thou. Nay, but thou wouldest by this become a more easy prey both to rich and poor, to robbers, and false accusers, and servants, and in general to all that are minded to plot against thee. For if thou art desirous to be an object of fear, cut off the occasions by which they are able to lay hold of thee and pain thee, whoever have set their hearts thereon. Hearest thou not the parable that saith, that the poor and naked man, not even a hundred men gathered together are ever able to strip? For he hath his poverty as his great est protection, which not even the king shall ever be able to subdue and take.
3. The covetous man indeed all join in vexing. And why do I say men, when moths and worms war against such a man? And why do I speak of moths? Length of time is enough alone, even when no one troubles him, to do the greatest injury to such a man.
What then is the pleasure of wealth? For I see its discomforts, but do thou tell me the pleasure of it. And what are its discomforts? sayest thou: anxieties, plots, enmities, hatred, fear; to be ever thirsting and in pain.
For if any one were to embrace a damsel he loves, but were not able to satisfy his sire, he undergoes the utmost torment. Even so also doth the rich man. For he hath plenty, and is with her, but cannot satisfy all his desire; but the same result takes place as some wise man mentions; “The lust of eunuch to deflower a virgin;” and, “Like an eunuch embracing a virgin and groaning;”16 so are all the rich.
Why should one speak of the other things? how such a one is displeasing to all, to his servants, his laborers, his neighbors, to them that handle public affairs, to them that are injured, to them that are not injured, to his wife most of all, and to his children more than to any. For not as men does he bring them up, but more miserably than menials and purchased slaves.
And countless occasions for anger, and vexation, and insult, and ridicule against himself, doth he bring about, being set forth as a common laughing stock to all. So the discomforts are these, and perhaps more than these; before one could never go through them all in discourse, but experience will be able to set them before us.
But tell me the pleasure from hence. “I appear to be rich,” he saith, “and am reputed to be rich.” And what kind of pleasure to be so reputed? It is a very great name for envy. I say a name, for wealth is a name only void of reality.
“Yet he that is rich,” saith he, “indulges and delights himself with this notion.” He delights himself in those things about which he ought to grieve. “To grieve? wherefore?” asks he. Because this renders him useless for all purposes, and cowardly and unmanly both with regard to banishment and to death, for he holds this double, longing more for money than for light. Such a one not even Heaven delights, because it beareth not gold; nor the sun, forasmuch as it puts not forth golden beams.
But there are some, saith he, who do enjoy what they possess, living in luxury, in gluttony, in drunkenness, spending sumptuously. You are telling me of persons worse than the first. For the last above all are the men, who have no enjoyment. For the first at least abstains from other evils, being bound to one love; but the others are worse than these, besides what we have said, bringing in upon themselves a crowd of cruel masters, and doing service every day to the belly, to lust, to drunkenness, to other kinds of intemperance, as to so many cruel tyrants, keeping harlots, preparing expensive feasts, purchasing parasites, flatterers, turning aside after unnatural lusts, involving their body and their soul in a thousand diseases springing therefrom.
For neither is it on what they want they spend their goods, but on ruining the body, and on ruining also the soul therewith; and they do the same, as if any one, when adorning his person, were to think he was spending his money on his own wants.
So that he alone enjoys pleasure and is master of his goods, who uses his wealth for a proper object; but these are slaves and captives, for they aggravate both the passions of the body and the diseases of the soul. What manner of enjoyment is this, where is siege and war, and a storm worse than all the raging of the sea? For if wealth find men fools, it renders them more foolish; if wanton, more wanton.
And what is the use of understanding, thou wilt say, to the poor man? As might be expected thou art ignorant; for neither doth the blind man know what is the advantage of light. Listen to Solomon, saying, “As far as light excelleth darkness, so doth wisdom excel folly.”17
But how shall we instruct him that is in darkness? For the love of money is darkness, permitting nothing that is to appear as it is, but otherwise. For much as one in darkness, though he should see a golden vessel, though a precious stone, though purple garments, supposes them to be nothing, for he sees not their beauty; so also he that is in covetousness, knows not as he ought the beauty of those things that are worthy of our care. Disperse then I pray thee the mist that arises from this passion, and then wilt thou see the nature of things.
But nowhere do these things so plainly appear as in poverty, nowhere are those things. so disproved which seem to be, and are not, as in self-denial.
4. But oh! foolish men; who do even curse the poor, and say that both houses and living are disgraced by poverty, confounding all things. For what is a disgrace to a house? I pray thee. It hath no couch of ivory, nor silver vessels, but all of earthenware and wood. Nay, this is the greatest glory and distinction to a house. For to be indifferent about worldly things, often occasions all a man’s leisure to be spent in the care of his soul.
When therefore thou seest great care about outward things, then be ashamed at the great unseemliness. For the houses of them that are rich most of all want seemliness. For when thou seest tables covered with hangings, and couches inlaid with silver, much as in the theatre, much as in the display of the stage, what can be equal to this unseemliness? For what kind of house is most like the stage, and the things on the stage? The rich man’s or the poor man’s? Is it not quite plain that it is the rich man’s? This therefore is full of unseemliness. What kind of house is most like Paul’s, or Abraham’s? It is quite evident that it is the poor man’s. This therefore is most adorned, and to be approved. And that thou mayest learn that this is, above all, a house’s adorning, enter into the house of Zacchaeus, and learn, when Christ was on the point of entering therein, how Zacchaeus adored it. For he did not run to his neighbors begging curtains, and seats, and chairs made of ivory, neither did he bring forth from his closets Laconian hangings; but he adorned it with an adorning suitable to Christ. What was this? “The half of my goods I will give, he saith, “to the poor; and whomsoever I have robbed, I will restore fourfold.”18 On this wise let us too adorn our houses, that Christ may enter in unto us also. These are the fair curtains, these are wrought in Heaven, they are woven there. Where these are, there is also the King of Heaven. But if thou adorn it in another way, thou art inviting the devil and his company.
He came also into the house of the publican Matthew. What then did this man also do? He first adorned himself by his readiness, and by his leaving all, and following Christ.
So also Cornelius adorned his house with prayers and alms; wherefore even unto this day it shines above the very palace. For the vile state of a house is not in vessels lying in disorder, nor in an untidy bed, nor in walls covered with smoke, but in the wickedness of them that dwell therein. And Christ showeth it, for into such a house, if the inhabitant be virtuous, He is not ashamed to enter; but into that other, though it have a golden roof, He will never enter. So that while this one is more gorgeous than the palace, receiving the Lord of all, that with its golden roof and columns is like filthy drains and sewers, for it contains the vessels of the devil.
But these things we have spoken not of those who are rich for a useful purpose, but of the grasping, and the covetous. For neither is there amongst these, diligence nor care about the things needful, but about pampering the belly, and drunkenness, and other like unseemliness; but with the others about self-restraint. Therefore nowhere did Christ enter into a gorgeous house, but into that of the publican and chief publican, and fisherman, leaving the kings’ palaces, and them that are clothed with soft raiment.
If then thou also desirest to invite Him, deck thy house with alms, with prayers, with supplications, with vigils. These are the decorations of Christ the King, but those of mammon, the enemy of Christ. Let no one be ashamed then of a humble house, if it hath this furniture; let no rich man pride himself on having a costly house, but let him rather hide his face, and seek after this other, forsaking that, that both here he may receive Christ, and there enjoy the eternal tabernacles, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might world without end. Amen.
7 Gn 41,32.
9 Mt 26,45.
10 Mt 26,46.
11 Mt 26,47.
12 Mt 26,48. [R. V., “take him.”]
13 Jn 18,4.
14 Mt 26,50. [The Greek text in the Homily is ejfj w| pavrei ; but there is some authority for ejfj o) pavrei; which is abundantly attested in the New Testament passage. The latter reading is accepted in the R. V., “Friend, do that for which thou art come.”—R.]
15 Lc 22,48.
16 Si 20,4 Si 30,20.
17 Qo 2,13.
18 Lc 19,8. [Altered, as in previous citations.—R.]
Chrysostom hom. on Mt 82