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These conquer in the world, lie beaten in the desert.
But what come after these I am even ashamed to tell, the Matt.
XXII. disagreeable eructations, the vomitings, the discharges downwards and upwards.
But go and see even these desires dead there, and those more violent lusts that spring from these; I mean, those of impurity. For these too thou will see all overthrown, with their horses, with their beasts of burden. For the beast of burden, and the weapon, and the horse of a filthy deed, is filthy word. But thou wilt see such like horse and rider together, and their weapons thrown down ; but here quite the contrary, and souls cast down dead. But not at their meal only is the victory of these holy men glorious, but in the other things also, in money, in glory, in envy, in all diseases of the soul.
Surely does not this host seem to thee mightier than that, and the meal better? Nay, who will gainsay it? None, not even of those persons themselves, though he be very mad. For this guides us on to Heaven, that drags to hell; this the devil lays out, that Christ; for this luxury gives laws, and intemperance, for that self-denial and sobriety, here Christ is present, there the devil. For where there is drunkenness, the devil is there; where there are filthy words, where there is surfeiting, there the devils hold their choirs. Such a table had that rich man, therefore not even of a drop of water was he master.
But these have not such a table, but they already practise the ways of the Angels. They marry not, they are not given in marriage, neither do they sleep excessively, nor live luxuriously, but except a few things they are even bodiless.
Now who is there that so easily overcomes his enemies, as he that sets up trophy while at his dinner? Therefore also the Prophet saith', Thou hast prepared a table before i Ps. 23,
5. me, in the presence of them that trouble me. One could not be wrong in repeating this oracle about this table. For nothing so troubles a soul, as disorderly concupiscence, and luxury, and drunkenness, and the evils that spring from these; and this they know full well, who have had experience thereof.
And if thou wast to learn also, whence this table is procured, and whence that; then thou wouldest see well the difference
950 The Monks' meal compared with the world's feast. Homil. between each. Whence then is this procured. From countLXX.
less tears, from widows defrauded, from orphans despoiled; but the other from honest labour. And this table is like to a fair and well-favoured woman, needing nothing external, but having her beauty from nature; but that to some ugly and ill-favoured harlot, wearing much paint, but not able to disguise her deformity, but the nearer she is, the more convicted. For this too, when it is nearer to him that is at it, then shews its ugliness more. For look not I tell thee, at the banqueters, as they come only, but also as they go away, and then thou wilt see its ugliness. For that, as being free, suffers them that come unto it to say nothing shameful; but this nothing seemly, as being a harlot, and dishonoured. This seeks the profit of him that is at it, that the hurt. And one permits not to offend God, the other permits not but that we must offend Him.
Let us go away therefore unto those men. Thence we shall learn with how many bonds we are encompassed. Thence shall we learn to set before ourselves a table full of countless blessings, most sweet, without cost, delivered from care, free from envy and jealousy and every disease, and full of good hope, and having its many trophies. No turmoil of soul there, no sorrow, no wrath; all is calm, all is peace.
For tell me not of the silence of them that serve in the houses of the rich, but of the clamour of them that dine ; I mean, not that which they make one to another, (for this too is worthy of derision, but that within, that in the soul, that brings on them a great captivity, the tumults of the thoughts, the sleet, the darkness, the tempest, by which all things are mingled and confused, and are like to some night battle. But not in the monks' tents are such things as these; but great is the calm, great the quietness. And that table is succeeded by a sleep that is like death, but this by sobriety and wakefulness; that by punishment, this by the kingdom of heaven, and the immortal rewards.
This then let us follow, that we may enjoy also the fruits thereof; unto which God grant we may all attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory and might world without end. Amen.
MATT. xxii. 34-36.
But when the Pharisees had heard that He had put the
Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together; and one of them, which was a lawyer, asked Him a question, tempting Him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the Law?
AGAIN doth the Evangelist express the cause, for which they ought to have held their peace, and marks their boldness by this also. How and in what way? Because when those others were put to silence, these again assail Him. For when they ought even for this to hold their peace, they strive to urge further their former endeavours', and put inayoforward the lawyer, not desiring to learn, but making a trial
νίζονται of Him, and ask, What is the first commandment?
τέροις. . For since the first commandment was this, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, thinking that He would afford them some handle, as though He would amend it, for the sake of shewing that Himself too was God, they propose the question. What then saith Christ? Indicating from what they were led to this; from having no charity, from piping with envy, from being seized by jealousy, He saith, Thou shalt love the v.37–39, Lord thy God. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyse.
But wherefore like unto this? Because this makes the way for that, and by it is again established; For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light”;
3 John 3, 20.
952 Why and how far the Lawyer is commended. Homil. and again, The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. LXXI.
And what in consequence of this? They are corrupt, and 1 Ps.53, become abominable in their ways! And again, The love of
money is the root of all evils; which while some coveted 2 1 Tim. after, they have erred from the faith?; and, He that loveth 3 John Me, will keep My commandments! 14, 15. But His commandments, and the sum of them, are, Thou
shalt love the Lord thy God, and thy neighbour as thyself.
If therefore to love God is to love one's neighbour, For if * John thou lovest Me, He saith, 0 Peter, feed My sheep", but to 21, 16.
love one's neighbour worketh a keeping of the commandv. 40,
ments, with reason doth He say, On these hang all the Law and the Prophets.
So therefore what He did before, this He doth here also. I mean, that both there, when asked about the manner of the resurrection, He also taught a resurrection, instructing them beyond what they enquired; and here, being asked the first commandment, He rehearses the second also, which is not much inferior to that; (for though second, it is like that,)
intimating to them, whence the question had arisen, that it 51 Cor. was from hatred. For charity envieth not'. By this He 13, 4.
shews Himself to be submissive both to the Law and to the Prophets.
But wherefore doth Matthew say that he asked, tempting Him, but Mark the contrary? For when Jesus, he saith,
saw that he answered discreetly, He said unto him, Thou 6 Mark art not far from the kingdom of God. 12, 34.
They are not contradicting each other, but indeed fully agreeing. For he asked indeed, tempting, at the beginning, but being benefitted by the answer, was commended. For not at the beginning did He commend him, but when he had said, That to love his neighbour is more than whole burnt sacrifices, then He saith, Thou art not far from the Kingdom; because he overlooked low things, and embraced the first principle of virtue. For indeed all those are for the sake of this, as well the Sabbath, as the rest.
And not even so did He make His commendation perfect, but yet deficient. For His saying, Thou art not far off, indicates that he is yet falling short, that he might seek after what was deficient.
Christ draws toward the Truth of His own Godhead. 953 But if, when He said, There is One God, and there is none MATT.
XXII. other but He, He commended him, wonder not, but by this
42. too observe, how. He answers according to the opinion of them that come unto Him. For although men say ten thousand things about Christ unworthy of His glory, yet this at any rate they will not dare to say, that He is not God at all. Wherefore then doth He praise him that said, that beside the Father, there is no other God?
Not excepting Himself from being God; away with the thought; but since it was not yet time to disclose His Godhead, He suffers him to remain in the former doctrine, and praises him for knowing well the ancient principles, so as to make him fit for the doctrine of the New Testament, which He is bringing in its season.
And besides, the saying, There is One God, and there is none other but He, both in the Old Testament, and every where, is spoken not to the rejection of the Son, but to make the distinction from idols. So that when praising this man also, who had thus spoken, He praises him in this mind.
Then since He had answered, He asks also in turn, What v. 42. think ye of Christ, Whose Son is He? They say unto Him, The Son of David.
See after how many miracles, after how many signs, after how many questions, after how great a display of His unanimity with the Father, as well in words, as in deeds; after having praised this man that said, that there is one God, He asks the question, that they may not be able to say, that He did miracles indeed, yet was an adversary to the Law, and a foe to God.
Therefore, after so many things, He asks these questions, secretly leading them on to confess Him also to be God. And the disciples He asked first what the others say, and then themselves; but these not so; for surely they would have said a deceiver, and a wicked one, as speaking all things without fear. So for this cause He enquires for the opinion of those men themselves,
For since He was now about to go on to His Passion, He sets forth the prophecy that plainly proclaims Him to be Lord; and not as having come to do this without occasion, nor as having made this His aim, but from a reasonable cause.