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Judas resists all pleading. Snare of covetousness.
For after having shewn His own strength, then at once He MATT. yielded Himself. But Johu saith, that even to the very moment He continued to reprove him, saying, 'Judas, Luke betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss? Art thou not 22, 48. 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 passion, 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
Greediness of gain never truly satisfied.
HOMIL. an object of fear to men, sayest thou. Nay, but thou wouldest LXXXIII. 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 greatest protection, which not even [3.] the king shall ever be able to subdue and take. 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 desire, 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; 1Ecclus. The lust of an eunuch to deflower a virgin; and, Like 20, 4; an eunuch embracing a virgin and groaning; so are all the 30, 20.
Why should one speak of the other things? how such a one is displeasing to all, to his servants, his labourers, his neighbours, 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; for one could never go through them all in discourse, but experience will be able to set them before us.
Neither hoarding nor spending makes a man happy. 1101
But tell me the pleasure from hence. "I appear to be MATT. 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 the 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, was to think he was spending his money on his
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
Most true dignity found in poverty.
And what is the use of understanding, thou wilt say, to the LXXXIII. poor man? As might be expected thou art ignorant; for neither doth the blind man know what is the advantage of 1 Eccles. light. Listen to Solomon, saying, 1As far as light excelleth darkness, so doth wisdom excel folly.
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 no where do these things so plainly appear as in poverty, no where are those things so disproved which seem to be, and are not, as in self-denial.
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 scest 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
How a house must be adorned to entertain Christ. 1103
of Zaccheus, and learn, when Christ was on the point of Matt. entering therein, how Zaccheus adorned it. For he did not run to his neighbours 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 goods1 Luke I will give, he saith, to the poor; and whomsoever I have robbed, I will restore fourfold. 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 sheweth 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 no where 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.