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None actually to sit on His right and left. 879

XX.

ness they straightway undertook it, not knowing even this MATT. which they were saying, but looking to hear what they had 23. asked.

What then saith He? Ye shall drink indeed of My Cup, v. 23. and be baptized with the Baptism that I am baptized with. Great blessings did He foretel to them. His meaning is, ye shall be counted worthy of martyrdom, and shall suffer these things which I suffer; ye shall close your life by a violent death, and in these things ye shall be partakers with Me; But to sit on My Right Hand and on My Left is not Mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of My Father.

[3.] Having first elevated their souls, and made them of a higher character, and having rendered them such as sorrow could not subdue, then He reproves their request.

But what can be this present saying? For indeed there are two points that are subjects of enquiry to many: one, if it be prepared for any to sit on His Right Hand; and then, if the Lord of all hath not power to bestow it on them for whom it is prepared.

What then is the saying? If we solve the former point, then the second also will be clear to the enquirers. What then is this? No one shall sit on His Right Hand nor on His Left. For that throne is inaccessible to all, I do not say to men only, and saints, and apostles, but even to angels, and archangels, and to all the powers that are on high.

At least Paul puts it as a peculiar privilege of the OnlyBegotten, saying, To which of the angels said He at any time, Sit thou on My Right Hand1? And of the angels He1Heb.1, saith, Who maketh His angels spirits; but unto the Son, Thy Throne, O God2.

13.

2 ib.7.8.

How then saith He, To sit on My Right Hand and on My Left is not Mine to give, as though there are some that should sit there? Not as though there are; far from it; but He makes answer to the thoughts of them who ask the favour, condescending to their understanding. For neither did they know that lofty throne, and His sitting at the Right Hand of the Father; how should they, when even the things that were much lower than these, and were daily instilled into them, they understood not? but they sought one thing only,

880

Our Lord disclaimed only partial giving.

HOMIL. to enjoy the first honours, and to stand before the rest, and 3. that no one should stand before them with Him; even as

LXIV.

I have already said before, that, since they heard of twelve thrones, in ignorance what the saying could mean, they asked for the first place.

What therefore Christ saith is this; "Ye shall die indeed for Me, and shall be slain for the sake of the Gospel, and shall be partakers with Me, as far as regards the Passion; but this is not sufficient to secure you the enjoyment of the first seat, and to cause that ye should occupy the first place. For if any one else should come, together with the martyrdom, possessed of all the other parts of virtue far more fully than you, not because I love you now, and prefer you to the rest, therefore shall I set aside him that is distinguished by his good works, and give the first honours to you.”

But thus indeed He did not say it, so as not to pain them, but darkly He intimates the self-same thing, saying, Ye shall drink indeed of My Cup, and ye shall be baptized with the Baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My Right Hand and on My Left, this is not Mine to give, but it shall be given to those for whom it is prepared.

But for whom is it prepared? For them who could become distinguished by their works. Therefore He said not, It is not Mine to give, but My Father's, lest any should say that He was too weak, or wanting in vigour for their recompense; but how? It is not Mine, but of those for whom it is prepared.

And in order that what I say may be more plain, let us work it on an illustration, and let us suppose there was some master of the games, then that many excellent combatants went down to this contest, and that some two of the combatants that were most nearly connected with the master of the games were to come to him and say, 66 Cause us to be crowned and proclaimed," confiding in their good-will and friendship with him; and that he were to say to them, "This is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared, by their labours, and their toils;" should we indeed condemn him as powerless? By no means, but we should approve him for his justice, and for having no respect of persons. Like then as we should not say that

Christ gives heavenly places, but not arbitrarily.

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XX. 27.

he did not give the crown from want of vigour, but as not MATT. wishing to corrupt the law of the games, nor to disturb the order of justice; in like manner now should I say Christ said this, from every motive to compel them, after the grace of God, to set their hopes of salvation and approval on the proof of their own good works.

Therefore He saith, For whom it is prepared. For what, saith He, if others should appear better than you? What, if they should do greater things? For shall ye, because ye have become My disciples, therefore enjoy the first honours, if ye yourselves should not appear worthy of the choice?

For that He Himself hath power over the whole, is manifest from His having the entire judgment. For to Peter too He speaks thus, I will give thee the keys of the Heavens'. And Paul also makes this clear where he saith, Matt. Henceforth is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, 16, 19. which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me in that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also which have loved His appearing. But the appearing was of Christ. 2 Tim. But that no one will stand before Paul, is surely clear to every one.

4, 8.

And if He hath expressed these things somewhat obscurely, marvel not. For to lead them on by hidden instruction, not to be rudely pressing Him without object or oikorocause for the first honours, (for from a human passion they felt Is this,) and not wishing to give them pain, by the obscurity He effects both these objects.

Then were the ten moved with indignation with respect to the two. Then. When? When He had reproved them. So long as the judgment was Christ's, they were not moved with indignation; but seeing them preferred, they were contented, and held their peace, out of reverence and honour to their Master. And if they were vexed in mind, yet they dared not utter this. And when they had some feeling of human weakness towards Peter, at the time that He gave the didrachmas, they did not give way to anger, but asked only, Who then is greatest? But since here the request was the disciples', they are moved with indignation. And not even here are they straightway moved with indignation, when they asked, but when Christ had reproved them, and had said

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The Apostles not jealous when fully gifted.

HOMIL. they should not enjoy the first honours, unless they shewed LXV. themselves worthy of these.

3. 4.

4. Seest thou how they were all in an imperfect state, when both these were lifting themselves up above the ten, and those envying the two? But, as I said, shew me them after these things, and thou wilt see them delivered from all these passions. Hear at least how this same John, he who now came to Him for these things, every where gives up the first place to Peter, both in addressing the people, and in working miracles, in the Acts of the Apostles.

68, 69.

2 John

And he conceals not Peter's good deeds, but relates both 1 John6, the confession, which he openly made when all were silent', and his entering into the tomb, and puts the Apostle 20, 6. before himself. For, because both continued with Him at His crucifixion, taking away the ground of his own com3 John mendation, he saith, That disciple was known unto the high

3

18, 15.

priest.

But James survived not a long time, but from the beginning he was so greatly filled with warmth, and so forsook all the things of men, and mounted up to an height unutterable, as straightway to be slain. Thus, in all respects, they after po. these things became excellent *.

But then, they were moved with indignation. What then saith Christ? He called them unto Him, and said, The princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them. For, as they were disturbed and troubled, He soothes them by His call before His word, and by drawing them near Him. For the two having separated themselves from the company of the ten, had stood nearer Him, pleading their own interests. Therefore He brings near Him these also, by this very act, and by exposing and revealing it before the rest, soothing the passion both of the one and of the other.

v. 25.

And not as before, so now also doth He check them. For whereas before He brings little children into the midst, and commands to imitate their simplicity and lowliness; here He reproves them in a sharper way from the contrary side, sayv.25-27. ing, The princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them,

and their great ones exercise authority upon them, but it shall not be so among you; but he that will be great among you,

Our Lord's care to soften their indignation.

883

XX. 28.

let this man be minister to all; and he that will be first, let MATT. him be last of all; shewing that such a feeling as this is that of heathens, I mean, to love the first place. For the passion is tyrannical, and is continually hindering even great men ; therefore also it needs a severer stripe. Whence He too strikes deeper into them, by comparison with the Gentiles shaming their inflamed soul, and removes the envy of the one and the arrogance of the other, all but saying, "Be not moved with indignation, as insulted. For they harm and disgrace themselves most, who on this wise seek the first places, for they are amongst the last. For matters with us are not like matters without. For the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, but with Me the last, even he is first."

"And in proof that I say not these things without cause, by the things which I do and suffer, receive the proof of My sayings. For I have Myself done something even more. For being King of the Powers above, I was willing to become Man, and I submitted to be despised, and despitefully entreated. And not even with these things was I satisfied, but even unto death did I come. Therefore," He saith,

"Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, v. 28. but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many. For not even at this did I stop," saith He, "but even My life did I give a ransom; and for whom? For enemies. But thou if thou art abased, it is for thyself, but I for thee."

Be not then afraid, as though thine honour were plucked down. For how much soever thou humblest thyself, thou canst not descend so much as thy Lord. And yet His descent hath become the ascent of all, and hath made His own glory shine forth. For before He was made Man, He was known amongst Angels only; but after He was made Man and was crucified, so far from lessening that glory, He acquired other besides, even that from the knowledge of the world.

Fear not then, as though thine honour were put down, if thou shouldest abase thyself, for in this way is thy glory more exalted, in this way it becomes greater. This is the door of the Kingdom. Let us not then go the opposite way, neither let us war against ourselves. For if we desire to

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