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Selfishness excludes from the kingdom of Heaven.


HOMIL. cruelty is a more grievous thing than luxury. And why do I speak of fasting? Though thou practise self-denial, though thou practise virginity, thou art set without the Bridechamber, if thou hast not almsgiving. And yet what is equal to virginity, which not even in the new dispensation hath come under the compulsion of law, on account of its high excellence? but nevertheless it is cast out, when it hath not almsgiving. But if virgins are cast out, because they have not this in due abundance, who will be able without this to obtain pardon? There is no man, but he must quite of necessity perish, who hath not this.

For, if in worldly matters no man lives for himself, but artizan, and soldier, and husbandman, and merchant, all of them contribute to the common good, and to their neighbour's advantage; much more ought we to do this in things spiritual. For this is most properly to live: since he at least who is living for himself only, and overlooking all others, is useless, and is not so much as a human being, nor of our race.

What then, thou wouldest say, if I neglect my own interests, while seeking after the good of the rest? It is not possible, for one who seeks after the good of the rest to overlook his own; for he who seeks after the good of the rest pains no man, but pities all, helps them to the utmost of his power; will rob no man, will covet the goods of no man, will not steal, will not bear false witness; will abstain from all wickedness, will apply himself to all virtue, and will pray for his enemies, and do good to them that plot against him, and will neither revile any, nor speak ill of them, though he hear from them ten thousand evil things; but will speak the words 12 Cor. of the Apostle; Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? But when looking to our own good, it is not quite sure that the good of the rest will follow.



By all which things being persuaded that it is not possible for one to be saved, who hath not looked to the common good, and seeing this man that was cut asunder, and him that buried his talent, let us choose this way, that we may also attain unto eternal life, 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.


MATT. XXV. 1-30.

Then shall the kingdom of heaven, He saith, be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the Bridegroom. But five of them were wise, and the other five foolish, which took not, He saith, oil. Then, while the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him. And the five arose, and being in perplexity, said to the wise, Give us of your oil. But they consented not, saying, Not so, lest there be not enough for us and you; go to them that sell, and buy.

And while they were gone for this, the Bridegroom came, and those went in; but these came afterwards, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But He answered and said, Verily I unto you, say I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know not the day, nor the hour. Then He spake again another parable. A man A man travelling into a far country, called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods; to one five talents, to another two, to another one, to every man according to his several ability, and took his journey. Then, when the two had brought him the double, he that had been entrusted with the one talent brought it alone, and being blamed saith, I knew that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed; and I was afraid, and hid thy talent; lo!


1036 The several parables that teach service to others.

there thou hast that is thine. His Lord answered and said, Thou wicked servant, thou knewest that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not strawed: thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I might have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him that hath ten talents. For to him that hath shall be given, and he shall have more abundantly; but from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

THESE parables are like the former parable of the faithful servant, and of him that was ungrateful and devoured his Lord's goods. For there are four in all, in different ways admonishing us about the same things, I mean, about diligence in almsgiving, and about helping our neighbour by all means which we are able to use, since it is not possible to be saved in another way. But there He speaks more generally of all assistance which should be rendered to one's neighbour; but as to the virgins, he speaketh particularly of mercifulness in alms, and more strongly than in the former parable. For there He punishes him that beats, and is drunken, and scatters and wastes his lord's goods, but here even him that doth not help, nor spends abundantly his goods upon the needy. For they had oil indeed, but not in abundance, wherefore also they are punished.

But wherefore doth He set forth this parable in the person of the virgins, and doth not merely suppose any person whatever? Great things had He spoken of virginity, saying,

1 Matt. There are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for 19, 12.

the Kingdom of Heaven's sake; and, He that is able to receive, let him receive it. He knew also that the generality of men would have a great opinion of it. For indeed the work is by nature great, and is shewn so by this, that neither under the old dispensation was it fulfilled by those ancient and holy men, nor under the new was it brought under the compulsion of the Law. For He did not command this, but left it to the choice of his hearers. Wherefore Paul

Virginity a high virtue, but spoiled by selfishness.


7, 25.

also said, Now' concerning virgins I have no commandment MATT. of the Lord. "For though I praise him that attains thereto, 1-30. yet I constrain not him that is not willing, neither do I make 1 Cor. the thing an injunction." Since then the thing is both great [in itself] and hath great honour with the multitude, lest any one (attaining to this) should feel as though he had attained. to all, and should be careless about the rest, He putteth forth this parable sufficient to persuade them, that virginity, though it should have every thing else, if destitute of the good things arising out of almsgiving, is cast out with the harlots, and He sets the inhuman and merciless with them. And most reasonably, for the one was overcome by the love of carnal pleasure, but these of money. But the love of ai dè carnal pleasure and of money are not equal, but that of carnal pleasure is far keener and more tyrannical. And the weaker the antagonist, the less excusable are these that are ai viênovercome thereby. Therefore also He calls them foolish, for that having undergone the greater labour, they have betrayed all for want of the less. But by lamps here, He meaneth the gift itself of virginity, the purity of holiness; and by oil, humanity, almsgiving, succour to them that are in need.





Then, while the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. He shews that the time intervening will not be short, leading His disciples away from the expectation that His Kingdom was quite immediately to appear. For this indeed they hoped, therefore He is continually holding them back from this hope. And at the same time He intimates this too, that death is a sleep. For they slept, He saith.

4, 16.

And about midnight there was a cry made. Either He was continuing the parable, or again He shews that the Resurrection will be at night. But the cry Paul also indicates, saying, With a shout, with a voice of an Archangel, 1Thess. with the last trump, He shall come down from Heaven. (comp. And what mean the trumpets, and what saith the cry? The Cor. Bridegroom cometh. When therefore they had trimmed their lamps, the foolish say unto the wise, Give us of your oil. Again He calls them foolish, shewing that nothing can be more foolish, than they who are wealthy here, and depart naked thither, where most of all we have need of humanity,

15, 52.)

1038 Now and here we must obtain the oil of mercy.

HOMIL. where we want much oil. But not in this respect only were LXXVIII. they foolish, but also because they looked to receive it there,

and sought it out of season; and yet nothing could be more humane than those virgins, who for this especially were approved. Neither do they seek for it all, for, Give us, they say, of your oil; and the urgency of their need is indicated; for our lamps, they say, are going out. But even so they failed, and neither the humanity of those whom they asked, nor the easiness of their request, nor their necessity and want, made them obtain.

But what now do we learn from hence? That no man can protect us there, if we are betrayed by our works, not because he will not, but because he cannot. For these too take refuge in the impossibility. This the blessed Abraham Luke also indicated, saying, Between' us and you there is a great 16, 26. gulf, so that not even when willing is it permitted them to pass it.

But go to them that sell, and buy. And who are they that sell? The poor. And where are these? Here, and then [2.] should they have sought them, not at that time. Seest thou what great profit arises to us from the poor? shouldest thou take them away, thou wouldest take away the great hope of our salvation. Wherefore here must we get together the oil, that it may be useful to us there, when the time calls us. For that is not the time of collecting it, but this. Spend not then your goods for nought in luxury and vainglory. For thou wilt have need of much oil there.

Having heard these things, those virgins went their way; but they profited nothing. And this He saith, either pursuing the parable, and working it up; or also by these things shewing, that though we should become humane after our departure, we shall gain nothing from thence towards our escape. Therefore neither did their forwardness avail these virgins, because they went to them that sell not here, but there; nor the rich man, when he became so charitable, as even to be anxious about his relations. For he that was passing by him that was laid at the gate, is eager to rescue from perils and from hell them whom he did not so much as see, and entreats that some be sent to tell them these things. But nevertheless, he derived no benefit from thence, as neither

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