« PredošláPokračovať »
HOMILY OF ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, ON THE GOSPEL FOR THE SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY
Gospel.–St. Matth. xxii. 35-46." At that time the pharisees came to Jesus, and one of them, a doctor of the law, asked him, tempting him: Master, which is the great commandment of the law ? Jesus said to him : Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest, and the first commandment. And the second is like to this : Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets. And the Pharisees being gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying: What think you of Christ,—whose son is he? They say to him: David's. He saith to them : How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying: The Lord said to my Lord, sit on my right hand, until I make thy enemies thy footstool ? If David then call him Iord, how is he his son ? And no man was able to answer him a word ; neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions." OFTENTIMEs when the Jews tempted Christ by divers questions, they got an answer that was destruction to themselves, but salvation unto
For the words of Christ wrought in them to confusion, but in us to edification ; for his answers overthrew them, but convinced them not; their malice was often confuted, but never allayed. Such pharisees are all they who contend against the truth ; who strive earnestly not to defend, but rather to subvert the truth. For he that contends for the truth, when he comes to the knowledge of the truth, consents to the truth. But he, that contrary to the truth, consents not to the truth, it is evident that from the first he contended not for the truth, but took part against the truth. Hear, then, oh faithful man, who contendest with a heretic. If the Pharisees were convinced, you also, in your contest with a heretic, mayest be able to convince him when you overcome him. But if the Pharisees were overcome but not convinced, how shall you be able to convince when thou hast overcome? Are you stronger than Christ, that thou canst convince those whom he convinced not? They ought rather to fear the example of the Sadducees ; lest on their questioning him in like manner, they be confounded; but ardent malice, while it hastens to satisfy itself, looks not to the conclusion of the affair,--for so that he may hurt another, he spares not himself. If his antagonists have as yet overcome no one, haply, with reason, he
hoped that he might overcome him by whom no one was beaten. Now what did they think, that they were stronger than all ? yea, rather, more foolish than all; who, confounded by all, yet feared not in like manner to be put to shame.
“And coming together, one of them, a doctor of the law asked him." They sought to overcome him by their numbers, who could not by reason. They confessed that they were defenceless in respect of the truth,—who armed themselves with a crowd, for they said amongst themselves, let one speak for all, and let all speak in this one; so that if he overcame, they might all seem to have the better ; but if he was overcome, only one should be put to confusion. O, ye pharisees, whose thoughts and deeds are all for the sake of men! For first coming with one, when you were overcome in one, then you thought that one being overcome, men would not perceive that you were all overcome. Does not your conscience perceive that you have all been put to confusion ? For it is but a poor consolation for a man that is put to confusion, to know that this is unknown to others.
“Master, which is the great commandment of the law ?” He calls him master, though he will not be his disciple. The question is very simple, but the design most malignant ;-he asks which is the great commandment of the law, who keeps not the least. For he only ought to speak of the greater who has kept the least. But our Lord so saw through his flimsy pretence, that he touches the conscience of the questioner at the first rejoinder. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind." Not as thou declarest—with your lips, while you meditate de ceit in thy heart. We speak of a greater and lesser commandment, in respect of their dignity, however, not as to their usefulness. In other respects, the usefulness of all the commandments is one and the same thing; and all are so joined one unto the other, that one cannot be without the other. As, for example, if one were to ask of the building of a house which part is the most important; you say,—the foundation : thus, there can be no building without a foundation, so neither can there be a foundation unless a building be superimposed on it, the foundation of which it is. Thus a foundation is of more worth than the building, but not more useful. So also, the head is more worthy than the members; but yet the members are nothing without the head, nor the head without the members. So the priests are more worthy than the people, but not more useful; yet there cannot be a people without priests, nor priests without a people. So this
commandment is more worthy,“ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart;" but its usefulness is one and the same with “ Thou shalt not covet,” or “ thou shalt not kill;" for he that loveth God will neither kill nor covet, but he that killeth or coveteth loveth not the Lord his God. Now that there are lesser commandments, our Lord clearly shows.
“If any one break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of God.” “ Thou shalt love,” he says, not, “ thou shalt fear;" for love is more than fear. He that is least in the worship of God hath fear; but love is perfection, as St. John says: “ Perfect love casteth out fear.” (1 John iv. 18.) For until man fears God, he loves him not, but when he has begun to love him, he now not only fears him, but rather loves him the more. For fear is for slaves, love for children ; fear is under a necessity, love is free. He that serves God in fear, escapeth a certain punishment, but hath no reward of justice; since he does good as if unwillingly, through the motive of fear. God then wisheth not to feared by men as their Lord, but be loved as their Father, who hath given the spirit of adoption to men. For if we consider the cause of man's first creation, we shall find that God would rather be the Father, than the Lord over men. For he said not, let us make man ; but “ Let us make man to our own image and likeness." (Gen. i. 26.) And it is fitting that sons should be like their parents, but not servants like their masters. Now, what is it to love God with all your hearts, but that your heart be not inclined to the love of any. thing more than God; that you take not delight in the beauty of the world, but of GOD; not in honours; not in gold or silver ; not in possessions and vineyards; not in your herdsmen, and cattle ; not in adornments, and comely raiment; not in children, relations and friends; but rather that you may reckon all these things to be your's in God; and for all these that you may love God the more. Now if your heart be set on any of these things, then you love not God with all your heart; for in proportion as your heart is set on any of these things, the less is it set on God. Thus, if a man has a wife, how does he know that he has the full love of his wife ; a wife ought to think no one wiser than her husband; and though another may be wiser, yet in regard to her, she ought to know no such an one. A woman ought to esteem no one braver than her husband ; and though there be one more brave, still she ought not to see him so. A wife ought to think no one more comely than her husband; and although there be a more handsome, yet in her eyes there should be none more comely. Complete hatred, or perfect love
knows no judgment; for if you wholly hate any one, let him do what he will, all will be displeasing in your eyes that he does; and the good he does will seem evil in your sight. And so, in like manner, if you perfectly love any one, whatsoever he says or does, will please you ; and even what is bad will seem good in your regard. Thus, again, if a wife, on seeing any one, should say ; what a wise man, would that my husband were such as he! By so doing, she shows that she loves him less than with a perfect love. Or if, on seeing any one, she were to say, how handsome a man, would that
husband were as comely! such a speech would show that her love fell short of perfect love, and in proportion as she praises any good quality in another, more than in her own husband, hy so much is her love the less towards her own husband. So, in like manner, is
Christian soul; as it is the spouse of Christ, and it ought to comprehend GOD, 30 that there should be nothing in the world that it loves more tham Him. For in proportion as she loves anything more than him, so does she love God the less. Now, what is it to love God with the whole soul? It is to have the mind most assured in the truth, and firm in the faith ; for the love that springs from the heart is one thing, that of the soul another. The love that springs from the heart is in a certain degree carnal; so that we love God, as it were, through a carnal motive; but this we cannot do unless we withdraw from the love of worldly things. For like a chaste woman who loves none other like her own husband; who, if she love another man, loves not then her husband ; so, also, if man love God, he loves not the world, but if he love the world, then he loveth not God with all his heart: therefore, love that springs from the heart is not understood in the heart, but felt, as it were, in a cer. tain measure carnally. But love that is of the soul is not felt in the heart, but understood; because the love of the soul is the token that you have learned that God is one, from whom all things proceed; and that God is one, by whom are all things. So again, if thy understanding, struck by the seduction of any strange doctrine, shall begin to have doubts of the nature of God, such an one loveth not God with all his soul. But be that believeth that all love is in God, and that all good is in God; who believes that out of God, there is no good ; who believes that God is all virtue, and all wisdom ; who believes that God doeth all things, and that without God nothing can be done. Such an one loveth God with all his mind. What is it, then, to love GOD with the whole mind ? It is this: when all the sentient qualities which appertain to the mind are given up wholly to God;
whose intellect ministers to God; whose wisdom is all about God whose thoughts are solely on what relates to God; whose memory only records what is good ;—such an one loveth God with his whole mind; as the apostle says: “I will sing with the spirit, I will sing also with the understanding.” (1 Cor. xiv. 15.) But he whose intellect understandeth not the things which are of God; who has no relish of what belongs to God; or whose knowledge of him is vain and worldly; or whose remembrance of him is not good ; whose thoughts are displeasing to God; such an one loveth not God with his whole mind.
“ This is the first, and the greatest commandment. And the second is like to this. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Christ seems not to answer the question. For he asks, which is the greatest commandment, namely, when he said, “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God," and if he would introduce another commandment, he ought to call it the least, not the second ; in regard to its being first and second. But observe what he would show : “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God,”– this is the first, and a great commandment: “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,"—this is indeed a great commandment, but not the first; and, therefore, he said it was like to the first. Now, consider the mystery. Who is our neighbour? It is Christ; who, taking upon himself our human flesh, became our neighbour; as Christ himself showed in that parable, when the Pharisee had said : “ And who is my neighbour?” (St. Luke x. 29.) He introduces a man who, having been wounded by robbers, and despised by a priest, is relieved by a Samaritan; and this Samaritan is Christ. Therefore, the first is also a great commandment, to love (that is, to know) God the Father ; therefore the Son of God is as great as his Father; for whatever the Father can do, the Son can do: for, “ the Father loveth the Son; and He hath given all things into his hand.” (St. John iii. 35.) But since the Son, by the gift of his father, can do all things like the Father, therefore is God the Father great and first; but the Son is also God, and great, although not the first; as the apostle saith : “Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the great God, and our Saviour, JESUS Christ.” (Titus ii. 13.)
But we must also understand that all the faithful are our neighbours, since he that loveth a fathful man, is as he that loveth God; for the image of God. As a king is honoured or despised in his likeness, so is God loved or hated in his likeness, man; for no one can hate man who loveth God; and, conversely, no, no one can love God who hateth man; as the apostle St. John says, “ For he that loveth not his brother