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Great Faith of her who anointed our Lord's Feet. 1059


through the midst of them; then, at the time when their envy MATT. was most kindled, comes near within about fifteen furlongs; 8-13. so completely was His former withdrawing Himself a part of a dispensation'.

1 lit. an


The woman therefore having seen Him, and having taken my. confidence from thence, came unto Him. For if she that had the issue of blood, although conscious to herself of nothing like this, yet because of that natural seeming uncleanness, approached Him trembling and in fear; much more was it likely this woman should be slow, and shrink back because of her evil conscience. Wherefore also it is after many women, the Samaritan, the Canaanite, her that had the issue of blood, and other besides, that she cometh unto Him, being conscious to herself of much impurity; and then not publicly but in a house. And whereas all the others were coming unto Him for the healing of the body alone, she came unto Him by way of honour only, and for the amendment of the soul. For neither was she at all afflicted in body, so that for this most especially one might marvel at her.

And not as to a mere man did she come unto Him; for then she would not have wiped [His feet] with her hair, but as to one greater than man can be. Therefore that which is the most honourable member of the whole body, this she laid at Christ's feet, even her own head.

But when His disciples saw it, they had indignation, such v. 8-13. are the words, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. But when Jesus understood it, He said, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon Me? For ye have the poor always with you, but Me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on My Body, she did it for My burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

And whence had they this thought? They used to hear their Master saying, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, See and blaming the Jews, because they omitted the weightier and matters, judgment, and mercy, and faith, and discoursing 12, 7.

9, 13.

1060 Why the disciples found fault. Our Lord's use of the occasion.


HOMIL. much on the Mount concerning almsgiving, and from these things they inferred with themselves, and reasoned, that if He accepts not whole burnt offerings, neither the ancient worship, much more will He not accept the anointing of oil.

But though they thus thought, He knowing her intention suffers her. For indeed great was her reverence, and unspeakable her zeal; wherefore of this exceeding condescension, He permitted the oil to be poured even on His Head.

For if He refused not to become man, and to be borne in the womb, and to be fed at the breast, why marvellest thou, if He doth not utterly reject this? For like as the Father suffered savour of meat, and smoke, even so did He the harlot, accepting, as I have already said, her intention. For Jacob too anointed a pillar to God, and oil was offered in the sacrifices, and the priests were anointed with ointment.

But the disciples not knowing her purpose found fault unseasonably, and by the things they laid to her charge, they shew the woman's munificence. For saying, that it might have been sold for three hundred pence, they shewed how much this woman had spent on the ointment, and how great generosity she had manifested. Wherefore He also rebuked them, saying, Why trouble ye the woman? And He adds a reason, as it was His will again to put them in mind of His Passion, For she did it, He said, for My Burial. And another reason, For ye have the poor always with you, but Me ye have not always; and, Wheresoever the Gospel shall be preached, that shall be told also which this woman hath done.

Seest how again He declares beforehand the going forth unto the Gentiles, in this way also consoling them for His death, if after the Cross His Power was so to shine forth, that the Gospel should be spread abroad in every part of the earth.

Who then is so wretched, as to set his face against so much truth? For lo! what He said is come to pass, and to whatever part of the earth thou mayest go, thou wilt sce her celebrated.

And yet neither was the person that did it distinguished, nor had what was done many witnesses, neither was it in a

Christ's foreknowledge. How far He praised the act. 1061

theatre, but in a house, that it took place, and this a house MATT. of some leper, the disciples only being present.

XXVI. 8-13.

[2] Who then proclaimed it, and caused it to be spread abroad? It was the power of Him Who is speaking these words. And while of countless kings and generals the noble exploits even of those whose memorials remain have sunk into silence; and having overthrown cities, and encompassed them with walls, and set up trophies, and enslaved many nations, they are not known so much as by hearsay, nor by name, though they have both set up statues, and established laws; yet that a woman who was a harlot poured out oil in the house of some leper, in the presence of ten men, this all men celebrate throughout the world; and so great a time has passed, and yet the memory of that which was done hath not faded away, but alike Persians and Indians, Scythians and Thracians, and Sarmatians, and the race of the Moors, and they that dwell in the British Islands, spread abroad that which was done secretly in a house by a woman that had been a harlot.

Great is the loving-kindness of the Lord. He endureth an harlot, an harlot kissing his feet, and moistening them with oil, and wiping them with her hair, and He receives. her, and reproves them that blame her. For neither was it right that for so much zeal the woman should be driven to despair.

But mark thou this too, how far they were now raised up above the world, and forward in almsgiving. And why was it He did not merely say, She hath wrought a good work, but before this, Why trouble ye the woman? That they might learn not at the beginning to require too high principles of the weaker sort. Therefore neither doth He examine the act merely itself by itself, but taking into account the person of the woman. And indeed if He had been making a law, He would not have brought in the woman, but that thou mightest learn that for her sake these things were said, that they might not mar her budding faith, but rather cherish it, therefore He saith it, teaching us whatever good thing may be done by any man, though it be not quite perfect, to receive it, and encourage it, and advance it, and not to seek all perfection at the beginning.

1062 The example applied to munificence in Church ornaments.


HOMIL. For, that at least He Himself would rather have desired this, is manifest from the fact, that He required a bag to be borne, Who had not where to lay His Head. But then the time demanded not this, that He should correct the deed, but that He should accept it only. For even as, if any one asked Him, without the woman's having done it, He would not have approved this; so, after she had done it, He looks to one thing only, that she be not driven to perplexity by the reproof of the disciples, but that she should go from His care, having been made more cheerful and better. For indeed after the oil had been poured out, their rebuke had no seasonableness.

Do thou then likewise, if thou shouldest see any one provide sacred vessels and offer them, and loving to labour upon any other ornament of the Church, about its walls or floor; do not command what has been made to be sold, or overthrown, lest thou spoil his zeal. But if, before he had provided them, he were to tell thee of it, command it to be given to the poor; forasmuch as He also did this not to spoil the spirit of the woman, and as many things as He says, He speaks for her comfort.

Then because He had said, She hath done it for My burial; that He might not seem to perplex the woman, by making mention of such a thing as this, His burial and death, I mean; see how by that which follows He recovers her, saying, What she hath done shall be spoken of in the whole world.

And this was at once consolation to His disciples, and comfort and praise to her. For all men, He saith, shall celebrate her hereafter; and now too hath she announced beforehand My Passion, by bringing unto Me what was needed for a funeral, let not therefore any man reprove her. For I am so far from condemning her as having done amiss, or from blaming her as having not acted rightly, that I will not suffer what hath been done to lie hid, but the world shall know that which has been done in a house, and in secret. For in truth the deed came of a reverential mind, and fervent faith, and a contrite soul.

And wherefore did He promise the woman nothing spiritual; but the perpetual memory? From this He is causing

Candour of the narrators. Hardness of Judas.


her to feel a confidence about the other things also. For if MATT. XXVI. she hath wrought a good work, it is quite evident she shall 14-16. receive a due reward.

Then went one of the twelve, he that was called Judas v.14.15. Iscariot, unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver Him unto you? Then. When? When these things were spoken, when He had said, It is for My Burial, and not even thereby was he moved to compunction, neither when he heard that the Gospel should be preached every where did he fear, (and yet it was the language of unspeakable power,) but when women shewed so much honour, and women that had been harlots, then he wrought the devil's works.

But what can be the reason they mention his surname? Because there was also another Judas. And they do not shrink from saying, He was of the twelve; so entirely do they hide none of those things which seem to be matters of reproach. And yet they might have said merely this, that he was one of the disciples, for there were others besides. But now they add, of the twelve, as though they had said, Of the first company of those selected as the best, of them with Peter and John. Because for one thing did they care, for truth alone, not for concealing what things were done.

For this cause many of the signs they pass by, but of the things that appear to be matters of reproach they conceal nothing; but though it be word, though it be deed, though it be what you will of this kind, they proclaim it with confidence. And not these only, but even John himself [3.] who utters the higher doctrines. For he most of all tells us of the affronts and the reproachful things that were done unto Him.

And see how great is the wickedness of Judas, in that he comes unto them of his own accord, in that he does this for money, and for such a sum of money.

But Luke saith, that he conferred with the chief captains'. Luke For after that the Jews became seditious, the Romans set 22, 4. over them those that should provide for their good order. For their government had now undergone a change according to the prophecy.

To these then he went and said, What will ye give me, v.14-16.

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