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not what snare lies hid: but he that falleth forward, seeth all that lies before him. The reprobates fall backward; for whilst they neglect to bring past sins now before the eyes of their mind, after a little while, they truly fall backward ; that is, they fall unhappily into eternal punishment, which they would not foresee: but to fall on the face, is to be ashamed of what is done through ignorance or neglect--for of such falling forwards the apostle St. Paul speaks, when he says, “What fruit
then in those things, of which you are now ashamed.” (Rom. vii. 21.)
But what does the holy evangelist mean by emphatically interposing this ?" And this was a Samaritan;" a clause not superfluously or idly inserted, if we consider the interpretation of the word. Samaritan means a keeper ; which word most aptly declares, one who would rather keep the gifts of the health he has received, with a humble and grateful heart, than by his pride and ingratitude lose them. Now this Samaritan was a stranger. We often read in the Gospel, that the Gentiles came to our Lord to hear him, and to be cured by him; as soon as they were healed, they immediately gave thanks to God: but the Jews, who continually saw his miracles, and were cleansed by him, remained ever ungrateful. In the spiritual sense, the Samaritan, which is interpreted a keeper, signifies the whole people of the Gentiles, converted by faith unto God, who have a charge given them to keep their souls in humility. For while the Gentile people are converted to God, all the good they possess they attribute to God; they keep watchfully the blessings conferred on them by the divine power, singing with the psalmist—"I will keep my strength to thee; for thou, my God, art my protector.” (Ps. lviii. 10.)
“ And JESUS answering, said: were not ten made clean; and where are the nine?” Deservedly does our Saviour ask after those who were ungrateful, as if they were strangers, when he says, “and where are the nine ?" So that while it proves that he knows whom he has chosen, it shows, that he may be said, without incongruity, not to know the wicked; to whom he shall say in the last day, “I know you not whence you are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity” (St. Luke xiii. 27); not because anything is hidden from God, but that he reprobates the ways of the wicked, of whom the lepers are the figure. Therefore our
“ Were not ten made clean; but where are the nine?” There wants but one to make up the form of unity in the decimal scale; for the nature of the numeral ten is such, that no number can go on without its repetition, that is, by beginning again with an
unit. By the same token, one needs not the nine to complete its unity, but the nine needs one to complete its unity in the denary scale. In like manner are those who are placed in the unity of holy Church; those who are designed by the one, need not the members which are without, through infidelity, to perfect their number; but those who are without need the help of the elect, that by their ministry and intercession, they may deserve to be incorporated into Holy Church, without which they cannot be saved.
Again ; of those who remained ungrateful it is subjoined, “ There is no one found to return, and give glory to God, but this stranger.” Above it was said that ten were made clean, but here, that no one was found to return and give glory to God, but this stranger. According to the letter, it is easy for a man to seem sound in body, but yet remain ungrateful; but in a spiritual sense, it is wonderful why it can be said that those are cured, who, by God's grace, are converted from infidelity to the faith, and yet remain ungrateful: for if any one be perfectly clean by faith and baptism, how is he ungrateful to God, whose mercy hath brought him from infidelity to the faith? For, if ungrateful, how can he be clean? But we must know, that some there are in the congregation of the faithful, who are cleansed indeed by the faith, and baptism, but who remain ungrateful by their want of good works; of whom the apostle Paul says: “Who when they knew God, they have not glorified him as God, or given thanks.” (Rom. i. 21.) For when he says that they have known the Lord, he shows that they have been cleansed from their leprosy ; but when he adds, that they glorified not God, nor gave him thanks, they are accused of ingratitude. “For there was no one found who returned and gave thanks to God." The sentence and hardness of the Jews is reproved, and the openness of the Gentiles to believe is commended : for in almost every place of the holy Gospel, we find that the Jews have been slow in believing, but the Gentiles eager, yea, most ready to receive the faith. Thus of the blessed centurion it is said, “ I have not found so great faith in Israel” (St. Matth. viii. 10); and so in his passion, when the Gentiles desired to look upon him.
“ There is no one found to return and give thanks to God, but this stranger.” As if he had said, "My fellow-citizens hate me; but strangers embrace me. The Jews persecute me, the Gentiles come round and reverence me. Those toil, that after all my benefits they may put me to death ; these, that they may give thanks for the graces they have received.".
“ And Jesus saith to him,-Arise, go thy way, for thy faith hath made thee whole.” Arise; that is to say, from the vices of thy sins, and go to the work of virtue. Our Lord praiseth him who falleth down and simply adores him, and that he may arise, he breathes on him with the breath of his mouth; and him who perfectly believes, he approves, so as to deserve to be wholly saved. Moreover, he shows, that if this simple belief deserve the grace of conversion, so truly, infidelity condemns those who believe not; for we must first arise, when we awake from our sins,—when we oppose our evil and innate habits,--when we are displeased with what we are: but we walk when we set our foot in the way of God's commandments,-in good works ; when we exercise our unused, and, as it were, slothful mind, in the study of virtue Spiritually, also, we may understand, that since those who stand within the pale of God's Church are saved by faith, so those who are without, are assuredly, by their infidelity, condemned ; and they that falling at the feet of our Lord, are commanded to arise,—obey, are they who hold an upright path, in the keeping of humility; who humbly bow themselves to their Creator, after the manner of him who returned cleansed, to give thanks to God; who are ordered, by the consolation of the divine word, to arise from their sins, and to come to the exercise of the works of virtue, till by daily increase therein, they may be raised to perfection, in which may they deserve to contemplate the God of Gods in the eternal Sion. Amen.
HOMILY OF HERICUS, OF AUXERRE, ON THE GOSPEL FOR THE FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST.
Gospel-Matth. vi. 24-33.—“At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or he will sustain the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Therefore,
be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat, and the body more than the raiment? Behold the birds of the air; for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns, and your heavenly Father feedeth them? Are not you of much more value than they? and which of you, by taking thought, can add to his stature one cubit? and for raiment why are you solicitous ? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they labour not, neither do they spin, but I say to you, that not even
Solomon, in all his glory, was arrayed as one of these! Now if God so clothe the grass of the field, which is to-day, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, how much more you, Oye of little faith! Be not solicitous, therefore, saying, What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed ? For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that
you have need of all these things. Seek ye, therefore, first the Kingdom of God, and his justice; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Our Lord became man for this purpose; that he might snatch us from the power of darkness, and make of us a kingdom, unto God the Father. As he himself says in the Gospel, speaking in a parable; “A certain nobleman went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom” (St. Luke xix. 12), by which words, he could mean no one but himself; who, for this end, vouchsafed to come from Heaven to this region of wretchedness and death, that he might dissipate the empire of the devil, which, by a certain treaty, had bound it in a compact of sin and everlasting death, and that he might exalt his own Kingdom by the laws of justice and meekness. Wherefore, to those who had broken the bonds of the kingdom of the devil, and in the spirit of obedience had submitted with ready devotion to the heavenly edicts, our most victorious Sovereign thus spoke in these words, saying, “No
serve two masters.” As if exhorting them to discipline in their spiritual warfare, he had said :
make choice of the law of my empire with all your heart, you must, above all things, deny the service of your former master. For no one can do service to both at the same time; since what I and he command are contrary the one to the other. For I command the fulfilment of all sanctity and honesty; and he the exercise of all things base and dishonourable. I command my soldier alertly to take for his arms virtue, and to set a watch for keeping humility and meekness; and he, for the sake of pride to give death to the innocent. How, then, can you give equal service to both, seeing their rule is so different ?"
These words of our Redeemer instruct us how to avoid the cares of this world; to despise earthly things, and to thirst zealously after such as are heavenly. “ No one (he saith) can serve two masters,” which is literally apparent without any exposition ; seeing no one could serve two worldly masters, so as to please both equally and do equal service to both ; “For either he will hate the one, and love the other; or he will sustain the one and despise the other.” And who these two masters are in the spiritual sense, the subsequent verse shows,—“ You, cannot serve God and mammon," i.e. Christ and the devil.
share hath Christ with the devil, or what participation is there between light and darkness ? and therefore our Lord adds, speaking of the two masters," For either he will hate the one and love the other; or he will sustain the one and despise the other." Either he will hate the one, that is the devil, because he is bad; and will love the other, that is Christ, as our meek Lord himself commanded, saying, “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind” (St. Matth. xxii, 37); or he will sustain the other, that is the devil, his hard and cruel master. For with his harsh commands he maketh even the lovers of this world tremble ; and when once he hath got ascendency over men, he compels them to do evil, willing or unwilling--and yet his commands are not fulfilled without most grievous toil; for often, in order to fulfil them, men make choice of exile, shipwreck, loss of goods, yea, death itself; as the prophet writes, “They have laboured to commit iniquity." (Jer. ix. 5.) Such then, is this master whom they sustain, even against their will, and serve as slaves; but from whose tyranny, when they have once acknowledged, by their own act, him as their sovereign, they cannot be delivered by their own strength, but only by the most mighty hand of GOD.
Again: - You cannot serve God and mammon." The word mammon, in Hebrew and Syriac, means riches; in the Phoenician, gain is called mammon, both of which have reference to the same end. Hence it is well put for avarice especially, or covetousness, to show plainly that the slaves of riches must also be the slaves of the devil ; for the apostle hesitates not to call covetousness the serving of idols ; "and covetousness which is the service of idols." (Col. iii. 5.) In this place, it is particularly to be noticed that it is not said, You cannot serve God and possess riches; but that “ You cannot serve God and mammon," i. e. riches. For we read that many of the holy patriarchs possessed in their times much riches; and nevertheless served God. Thus, Abraham was rich exceedingly, seeing he went with three hundred and eighteen of his servants, to war against sevent kings, whom he overthrew, and brought back the spoil to his brother Lot. (Gen. xiv.) Thus also Job, that wondrous exemplar of patience, is declared by the testimony of holy Scripture to have been exceeding great among all the people of the east. (Job i.) What need we say of the most holy David, in whom riches abounded, and the magnificence of an empire was supplied ; to whom gifts were brought by the subject nations around him. Now, although each of these possessed riches,