St. John Chrysostom's
On the Jews
Homily I - II - III - IV - V - VI - VII - VIII -
TODAY I HAD INTENDED to complete my discussion on the topic on which I spoke to you a few days ago; I wished to present you with even clearer proof that God's nature is more than our minds can grasp. Last Sunday I spoke on this at great length and I brought forward as my witnesses Isaiah, David, and Paul. For it was Isaiah who exclaimed: "Who shall declare his generation?" David knew God was beyond his comprehension and so he gave thanks to him and said: "I will praise you for you are fearfully magnified: wonderful are your works". And again it was David who said: "The knowledge of you is too wonderful for me, a height to which my mind cannot attain". Paul did not search and pry into God's very essence, but only into his providence; I should say rather that he looked only on the small portion of divine providence which God had made manifest when he called the gentiles. And Paul saw this small part as a vast and incomprehensible sea when he exclaimed: "O the depth of the riches and of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments, and how unsearchable his ways!"
(2) These three witnesses gave us proof enough, but I was not satisified with prophets nor did I settle for apostles. I mounted to the heavens and gave you as proof the chorus of angels as they sang: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men". Again, you heard the Seraphim as they shuddered and cried out in astonishment:
"Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God of hosts, all the earth is filled with his glory". And I gave you also the cherubim who exclaimed: "Blessed be his glory in his dwelling".
(3) So there were three witnesses on earth and three in Heaven who made it clear that God's glory cannot be approached. For the rest, the proof was beyond dispute; there was great applause, the audience warmed with enthusiasm, your assembly came aflame. I did rejoice at this, yet my joy was not because praise was coming to me but because glory was coming to my Master. For that applause and praise showed the love you have for God in your souls. If a servant loves his master and hears someone speak in praise of that master, his heart comes aflame with a love for him who speaks. This is because the servant loves his master. You acted just that way when I spoke: by the abundance of your applause you showed clearly your abundant love for the Master.
(4) And so I wanted again today to engage in that contest. For if the enemies of the truth never have enough of blaspheming our Benefactor, we must be all the more tireless in praising the God of all. But what am I to do? Another very serious illness calls for any cure my words can bring, an illness which has become implanted in the body of the Church. We must first root this ailment out and then take thought for matters outside; we must first cure our own and then be concerned for others who are strangers.
(5) What is this disease? The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles, the fasts. There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do. Yet some of these are going to watch the festivals and others will join the Jews in keeping their feasts and observing their fasts. I wish to drive this perverse custom from the Church right now. My homilies against the Anomoeans can be put off to another time, and the postponement would cause no harm. But now that the Jewish festivals are close by and at the very door, if I should fail to cure those who are sick with the Judaizing disease, I am afraid that, because of their ill-suited association and deep ignorance, some Christians may partake in the Jews' transgressions; once they have done so, I fear my homilies on these transgressions will be in vain. For if they hear no word from me today, they will then join the Jews in their fasts; once they have committed this sin it will be useless for me to apply the remedy.
(6) And so it is that I hasten to anticipate this danger and prevent it. This is what physicians do. They first check the diseases which are most urgent and acute. But the danger from this sickness is very closely related to the danger from the other; since the Anomoeans' impiety is akin to that of the Jews, my present conflict is akin to my former one. And there is a kinship because the Jews and the Anomoeans make the same accusation. And what charges do the Jews make? That He called God His own Father and so made Himself equal to God. The Anomoeans also make this charge--I should not say they make this a charge; they even blot out the phrase "equal to God" and what it connotes, by their resolve to reject it even if they do not physically erase it.
But do not be surprised that I called the Jews pitiable. They really are pitiable and miserable. When so many blessings from heaven came into their hands, they thrust them aside and were at great pains to reject them. The morning Sun of Justice arose for them, but they thrust aside its rays and still sit in darkness. We, who were nurtured by darkness, drew the light to ourselves and were freed from the gloom of their error. They were the branches of that holy root, but those branches were broken. We had no share in the root, but we did reap the fruit of godliness. From their childhood they read the prophets, but they crucified him whom the prophets had foretold. We did not hear the divine prophecies but we did worship him of whom they prophesied. And so they are pitiful because they rejected the blessings which were sent to them, while others seized hold of these blessing and drew them to themselves. Although those Jews had been called to the adoption of sons, they fell to kinship with dogs; we who were dogs received the strength, through God's grace, to put aside the irrational nature which was ours and to rise to the honor of sons. How do I prove this? Christ said: "It is not fair to take the children's bread and to cast it to the dogs". Christ was speaking to the Canaanite woman when He called the Jews children and the Gentiles dogs.
(2) But see how thereafter the order was changed about: they became dogs, and we became the children. Paul said of the Jews: "Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the mutilation. For we are the circumcision". Do you see how those who at first were children became dogs? Do you wish to find out how we, who at first were dogs, became children? "But to as many as received him, he gave the power of becoming sons of God".
(3) Nothing is more miserable than those people who never failed to attack their own salvation. When there was need to observe the Law, they trampled it under foot. Now that the Law has ceased to bind, they obstinately strive to observe it. What could be more pitiable that those who provoke God not only by transgressing the Law but also by keeping it? On this account Stephen said: "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart, you always resist the Holy Spirit", not only by transgressing the Law but also by wishing to observe it at the wrong time.
(4) Stephen was right in calling them stiff-necked. For they failed to take up the yoke of Christ, although it was sweet and had nothing about it which was either burdensome or oppressive. For he said: "Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart", and "Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is sweet and my burden light". Nonetheless they failed to take up the yoke because of the stiffness of their necks. Not only did they fail to take it up but they broke it and destroyed it. For Jeremiah said: "Long ago you broke your yoke and burst your bonds". It was not Paul who said this but the voice of the prophet speaking loud and clear. When he spoke of the yoke and the bonds, he meant the symbols of rule, because the Jews rejected the rule of Christ when they said: "We have no king but Caesar". You Jews broke the yoke, you burst the bonds, you cast yourselves out of the kingdom of heaven, and you made yourselves subject to the rule of men. Please consider with me how accurately the prophet hinted that their hearts were uncontrolled. He did not say: "You set aside the yoke", but "You broke the yoke" and this is the crime of untamed beasts, who are uncontrolled and reject rule.
(5) But what is the source of this hardness? It come from gluttony and drunkenness. Who says so? Moses himself. "Israel ate and was filled and the darling grew fat and frisky". When brute animals feed from a full manger, they grow plump and become more obstinate and hard to hold in check; they endure neither the yoke, the reins, nor the hand of the charioteer. Just so the Jewish people were driven by their drunkenness and plumpness to the ultimate evil; they kicked about, they failed to accept the yoke of Christ, nor did they pull the plow of his teaching. Another prophet hinted at this when he said: "Israel is as obstinate as a stubborn heifer". And still another called the Jews "an untamed calf".
(6) Although such beasts are unfit for work, they are fit for killing. And this is what happened to the Jews: while they were making themselves unfit for work, they grew fit for slaughter. This is why Christ said: "But as for these my enemies, who did not want me to be king over them, bring them here and slay them". You Jews should have fasted then, when drunkenness was doing those terrible things to you, when your gluttony was giving birth to your ungodliness--not now. Now your fasting is untimely and an abomination. Who said so? Isaiah himself when he called out in a loud voice: "I did not choose this fast, says the Lord". Why? "You quarrel and squabble when you fast and strike those subject to you with your fists". But if your fasting was an abomination when you were striking your fellow slaves, does it become acceptable now that you have slain your Master? How could that be right?
(7) The man who fasts should be properly restrained, contrite, humbled--not drunk with anger. But do you strike your fellow slaves? In Isaiah's day they quarreled and squabbled when they fasted; now when fasting they go in for excess and the ultimate licentiousness, dancing with bare feet in the marketplace. The pretext is that they are fasting, but they act like men who are drunk. Hear how the prophet bit them to fast. "Sanctify a fast", he said. He did not say: "Make a parade of your fasting", but "call an assembly; gather together the ancients". But these Jews are gathering choruses of effeminates and a great rubbish heap of harlots; they drag into the synagogue the whole theater, actors and all. For there is no difference between the theater and the synagogue. I know that some suspect me of rashness because I said there is no difference between the theater and the synagogue; but I suspect them of rashness if they do not think that this is so. If my declaration that the two are the same rests on my own authority, then charge me with rashness. But if the words I speak are the words of the prophet, then accept his decision.
Many, I know, respect the Jews and think that their present way of life is a venerable one. This is why I hasten to uproot and tear out this deadly opinion. I said that the synagogue is no better than a theater and I bring forward a prophet as my witness. Surely the Jews are not more deserving of belief than their prophets. "You had a harlot's brow; you became shameless before all". Where a harlot has set herself up, that place is a brothel. But the synagogue is not only a brothel and a theater; it also is a den of robbers and a lodging for wild beasts. Jeremiah said: "Your house has become for me the den of a hyena". He does not simply say "of wild beast", but "of a filthy wild beast", and again: "I have abandoned my house, I have cast off my inheritance". But when God forsakes a people, what hope of salvation is left? When God forsakes a place, that place becomes the dwelling of demons.
(2) But at any rate the Jews say that they, too, adore God. God forbid that I say that. No Jew adores God! Who says so? The Son of God says so. For he said: "If you were to know my Father, you would also know me. But you neither know me nor do you know my Father". Could I produce a witness more trustworthy than the Son of God?
(3) If, then, the Jews fail to know the Father, if they crucified the Son, if they thrust off the help of the Spirit, who should not make bold to declare plainly that the synagogue is a dwelling of demons? God is not worshipped there. Heaven forbid! From now on it remains a place of idolatry. But still some people pay it honor as a holy place.
(4) Let me tell you this, not from guesswork but from my own experience. Three days ago--believe me, I am not lying--I saw a free woman of good bearing, modest, and a believer. A brutal, unfeeling man, reputed to be a Christian (for I would not call a person who would dare to do such a thing a sincere Christian) was forcing her to enter the shrine of the Hebrews and to swear there an oath about some matters under dispute with him. She came up to me and asked for help; she begged me to prevent this lawless violence--for it was forbidden to her, who had shared in the divine mysteries, to enter that place. I was fired with indignation, I became angry, I rose up, I refused to let her be dragged into that transgression, I snatched her from the hands of her abductor. I asked him if were a Christian, and he said he was. Then I set upon him vigorously, charging him with lack of feeling and the worst stupidity; I told him he was no better off than a mule if he, who professed to worship Christ, would drag someone off to the dens of the Jews who had crucified him. I talked to him a long time, drawing my lesson from the Holy Gospels; I told him first that it was altogether forbidden to swear and that it was wrong to impose the necessity of swearing on anyone. I then told him that he must not subject a baptized believer to this necessity. In fact, he must not force even an unbaptized person to swear an oath.
(5) After I talked with him at great length and had driven the folly of his error from his soul, I asked him why he rejected the Church and dragged the woman to the place where the Hebrews assembled. He answered that many people had told him that oaths sworn there were more to be feared. His words made me groan, then I grew angry, and finally I began to smile. When I saw the devil's wickedness, I groaned because he had the power to seduce men; I grew angry when I considered how careless were those who were deceived; when I saw the extent and depth of the folly of those who were deceived, I smiled.
(6) I told you this story because you are savage and ruthless in your attitude toward those who do such things and undergo these experiences. If you see one of your brothers falling into such transgressions, you consider that it is someone else's misfortune, not your own; you think you have defended yourselves against your accusers when you say: "What concern of mine is it? What do I have in common with that man"? When you say that, your words manifest the utmost hatred for mankind and a cruelty which benefits the devil. What are you saying? You are a man and share the same nature. Why speak of a common nature when you have but a single head, Christ? Do you dare to say you have nothing in common with your own members? In what sense do you admit that Christ is the head of the Church? For certainly it is the function of the head to join all the limbs together, to order them carefully to each other, and to bind them into one nature. But if you have nothing in common with your members, then you have nothing in common with your brother, nor do you have Christ as your head.
(7) The Jews frighten you as if you were little children, and you do not see it. Many wicked slaves show frightening and ridiculous masks to youngsters--the masks are not frightening by their nature, but they seem so to the children's simple minds--and in this way they stir up many a laugh. This is the way the Jews frighten the simpler-minded Christians with the bugbears and hobgoblins of their shrines. Yet how could their ridiculous and disgraceful synagogues frighten you? Are they not the shrines of men who have been rejected, dishonored, and condemned?
Our churches are not like that; they are truly frightening and filled with fear. God's presence makes a place frightening because he has power over life and death. In our churches we hear countless homilies on eternal punishments, on rivers of fire, on the venomous worm, on bonds that cannot be burst, or exterior darkness. But the Jews neither know nor dream of these things. They live for their bellies, they gape for the things of this world, their condition is not better than that of pigs or goats because of their wanton ways and excessive gluttony. They know but one thing: to fill their bellies and be drunk, to get all cut and bruised, to be hurt and wounded while fighting for their favorite charioteers.
(2) Tell me, then, are their shrines awful and frightening? Who would say so? what reasons do we have for thinking that they are frightening unless someone should tell us that dishonored slaves, who have no right to speak and who have been driven from their Master's home, should frighten us, who have been given honor and the freedom to speak? Certainly this is not the case. Inns are not more august then royal palaces. Indeed the synagogue is less deserving of honor than any inn. It is not merely a lodging place for robbers and cheats but also for demons. This is true not only of the synagogues but also of the souls of the Jews, as I shall try to prove at the end of my homily.
(3) I urge you to keep my words in your minds in a special way. For I am not now speaking for show or applause but to cure your souls. And what else is left for me to say when some of you are still sick although there are so many physicians to effect a cure?
(4) There were twelve apostles and they dew the whole world to themselves. The greater portion of the city is Christian, yet some are still sick with the Judaizing disease. And what could we, who are healthy, say in our own defense? Surely those who are sick deserve to be accused. But we are not free from blame, because we have neglected them in their hour of illness; if we had shown great concern for them and they had the benefit of this care, they could not possibly still be sick.
(5) Let me get the start on you by saying this now, so that each of you may win over his brother. Even if you must impose restraint, even if you must use force, even if you must treat him ill and obstinately, do everything to save him from the devil's snare and to free him from fellowship with those who slew Christ.
(6) Tell me this. Suppose you were to see a man who had been justly condemned being led to execution through the marketplace. Suppose it were in your power to save him from the hands of the public executioner. Would you not do all you could to keep him from being dragged off? But now you see your own brother being dragged off unjustly to the depth of destruction. And it is not the executioner who drags him off, but the devil. Would you be so bold as not to do your part toward rescuing him from his transgression? If you don't help him, what excuse would you find? But your brother is stronger and more powerful than you. Show him to me. If he will stand fast in his obstinate resolve, I shall choose to risk my life rather than let him enter the doors of the synagogue.
(7) I shall say to him: What fellowship do you have with the free Jerusalem, with the Jerusalem above? You chose the one below; be a slave with that earthly Jerusalem which, according to the word of the Apostle, is a slave together with her children. Do you fast with the Jews? Then take off your shoes with the Jews, and walk barefoot in the marketplace, and share with them in their indecency and laughter. But you would not chose to do this because you are ashamed and apt to blush. Are you ashamed to share with them in outward appearance but unashamed to share in their impiety? What excuse will you have, you who are only half a Christian?
(8) Believe me, I shall risk my life before I would neglect any one who is sick with this disease--if I see him. If I fail to see him, surely God will grant me pardon. And let each one of you consider this matter; let him not think it is something of secondary importance. Do you take no notice of what the deacon continuously calls out in the mysteries? "Recognize one another", he says. Do you not see how he entrusts to you the careful examination of your brothers? Do this in the case of Judaizers, too. When you observe someone Judaizing, take hold of him, show him what he is doing, so that you may not yourself be an accessory to the risk he runs.
(9) If any Roman soldier serving overseas is caught favoring the barbarians and the Persians, not only is he in danger but so also is everyone who was aware of how this felt and failed to make this fact known to the general. Since you are the army of Christ, be overly careful in searching to see if anyone favoring an alien faith has mingled among you, and make his presence known-not so that we may put him to death as those generals did, nor that we may punish him or take our vengeance upon him, but that we may free him from his error and ungodliness and make him entirely our own.
(10) If you are unwilling to do this, if you know of such a person but conceal him, be sure that both you and he will be subject to the same penalty. For Paul subjects to chastisement and punishment not only those who commit acts of wickedness but also those who approve what they have done. The prophet, too, brings to the same judgment not only thieves but also who run with the thieves. And this is quite reasonable. For if a man is aware of a criminal's actions but covers them up and conceals them, he is providing a stronger basis for the criminal to be careless of the law and making him less afraid in his career of crime.
But I must get back again to those who are sick. Consider, then, with whom they are sharing their fasts. It is with those who shouted: "Crucify him, Crucify him", with those who said: "His blood be upon us and upon our children". If some men had been caught in rebellion against their ruler and were condemned, would you have dared to go up to them and to speak with them? I think not. Is it not foolish, then, to show such readiness to flee from those who have sinned against a man, but to enter into fellowship with those who have committed outrages against God himself? Is it not strange that those who worship the Crucified keep common festival with those who crucified him? Is it not a sign of folly and the worst madness?
(2) Since there are some who think of the synagogue as a holy place, I must say a few words to them. Why do you reverence that place? Must you not despise it, hold it in abomination, run away from it? They answer that the Law and the books of the prophets are kept there. What is this? Will any place where these books are be a holy place? By no means! This is the reason above all others why I hate the synagogue and abhor it. They have the prophets but do not believe them; they read the sacred writings but reject their witness--and this is a mark of men guilty of the greatest outrage.
(3) Tell me this. If you were to see a venerable man, illustrious and renowned, dragged off into a tavern or den of robbers; if you were to see him outraged, beaten, and subjected there to the worst violence, would you have held that tavern or den in high esteem because that great and esteemed man had been inside it while undergoing that violent treatment? I think not. Rather, for this very reason you would have hated and abhorred the place.
(4) Let that be your judgment about the synagogue, too. For they brought the books of Moses and the prophets along with them into the synagogue, not to honor them but to outrage them with dishonor. When they say that Moses and the prophets knew not Christ and said nothing about his coming, what greater outrage could they do to those holy men than to accuse them of failing to recognize their Master, than to say that those saintly prophets are partners of their impiety? And so it is that we must hate both them and their synagogue all the more because of their offensive treatment of those holy men.
(5) Why do I speak about the books and the synagogues? In time of persecution, the public executioners lay hold of the bodies of the martyrs, they scourge them, and tear them to pieces. Does it make the executioners' hands holy because they lay hold of the body of holy men? Heaven forbid! The hands which grasped and held the bodies of the holy ones still stay unholy. Why? Because those executioners did a wicked thing when they laid their hands upon the holy. And will those who handle and outrage the writings of the holy ones be any more venerable for this than those who executed the martyrs? Would that not be the ultimate foolishness? If the maltreated bodies of the martyrs do not sanctify those who maltreated them but even add to their blood-guilt, much less could the Scriptures, if read without belief, ever help those who read without believing. The very act of deliberately choosing to maltreat the Scriptures convicts them of greater godlessness.
(6) If they did not have the prophets, they would not deserve such punishment; if they had not read the sacred books, they would not be so unclean and so unholy. But, as it is, they have been stripped of all excuse. They do have the heralds of the truth but, with hostile heart, they set themselves against the prophets and the truth they speak. So it is for this reason that they would be all the more profane and blood-guilty: they have the prophets, but they treat them with hostile hearts.
(7) So it is that I exhort you to flee and shun their gatherings. The harm they bring to our weaker brothers is not slight; they offer no slight excuse to sustain to the folly of the Jews. For when they see that you, who worship the Christ whom they crucified, are reverently following their rituals, how can they fail to think that the rites they have performed are the best and that our ceremonies are worthless? For after you worship and adore at our mysteries, you run to the very men who destroy our rites. Paul said: "If a man sees you that have knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not his conscience, being weak, be emboldened to eat those things which are sacrificed to idols"? And let me say: If a man sees you that have knowledge come into the synagogue and participate in the festival of the Trumpets, shall not his conscience, being weak, be emboldened to admire what the Jews do? He who falls not only pays the penalty for his own fall, but he is also punished because he trips others as well. But the man who has stood firm is rewarded not only because of his own virtue but people admire him for leading others to desire the same things.
(8) Therefore, flee the gatherings and holy places of the Jews. Let no man venerate the synagogue because of the holy books; let him hate and avoid it because the Jews outrage and maltreat the holy ones, because they refuse to believe their words, because they accuse them of the ultimate impiety.
That you may know that the sacred books do not make a place holy but that the purpose of those who frequent a place does make it profane, I shall tell an old story. Ptolemy Philadelphus had collected books from all over the world. When he learned that the Jews had writings which treated of God and the ideal state, he sent for men from Judea and had them translate those books, which he then had deposited in the temple of Serapis, for he was a pagan. Up to the present day the translated books remain there in the temple. But will the temple of Serapis be holy because of the holy books? Heaven forbid! Although the books have their own holiness, they do not give a share of it to the place because those who frequent the place are defiled.
(2) You must apply the same argument to the synagogue. Even if there is no idol there, still demons do inhabit the place. And I say this not only about the synagogue here in town but about the one in Daphne as well; for at Daphne you have a more wicked place of perdition which they call Matrona's. I have heard that many of the faithful go up there and sleep beside the place.
(3) But heaven forbid that I call these people faithful. For to me the shrine of Matrona and the temple of Apollo are equally profane. If anyone charges me with boldness, I will in turn charge him with the utmost madness. For, tell me, is not the dwelling place of demons a place of impiety even if no god's statue stands there? Here the slayers of Christ gather together, here the cross is driven out, here God is blasphemed, here the Father is ignored, here the Son is outraged, here the grace of the Spirit is rejected. Does not greater harm come from this place since the Jews themselves are demons? In the pagan temple the impiety is naked and obvious; it would not be of ease to deceive a man of sound and prudent mind or entice him to go there. But in the synagogue there are men who say they worship God and abhor idols, men who say they have prophets and pay them honor. But by their words they make ready an abundance of bait to catch in their nets the simpler souls who are so foolish as to be caught of guard.
(4) So the godlessness of the Jews and the pagans is on a par. But the Jews practice a deceit which is more dangerous. In their synagogue stands an invisible altar of deceit on which they sacrifice not sheep and calves but the souls of men.
(5) Finally, if the ceremonies of the Jews move you to admiration, what do you have in common with us? If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, ours are lies. But if ours are true, as they are true, theirs are filled with deceit. I am not speaking of the Scriptures. Heaven forbid! It was the Scriptures which took me by the hand and led me to Christ. But I am talking about the ungodliness and present madness of the Jews.
(6) Certainly it is the time for me to show that demons dwell in the synagogue, not only in the place itself but also in the souls of the Jews. As Christ said: "When an unclean spirit is gone out, he walks through dry places seeking rest. If he does not find it he says: I shall return to my house. And coming he finds it empty, swept, and garnished. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself and they enter into him and the last state of that man is made worse than the first. So shall it be also to this generations".
(7) Do you see that demons dwell in their souls and that these demons are more dangerous than the ones of old? And this is very reasonable. In the old days the Jews acted impiously toward the prophets; now they outrage the Master of the prophets. Tell me this. Do you not shudder to come into the same place with men possessed, who have so many unclean spirits, who have been reared amid slaughter and bloodshed? Must you share a greeting with them and exchange a bare word? Must you not turn away from them since they are the common disgrace and infection of the whole world? Have they not come to every form of wickedness? Have not all the prophets spent themselves making many and long speeches of accusation against them? What tragedy, what manner of lawlessness have they not eclipsed by their bloodguiltiness? They sacrificed their own sons and daughters to demons. They refused to recognize nature, they forgot the pangs, of birth, they trod underfoot the rearing of their children, they overturned from their foundations the laws of kingship, they became more savage than any wild beast.
(8) Wild beasts oftentimes lay down their lives and scorn their own safety to protect their young. No necessity forced the Jews when they slew their own children with their own hands to pay honor to the avenging demons, the foes of our life. What deed of theirs should strike us with greater astonishment? Their ungodliness or their cruelty or their inhumanity? That they sacrificed their children or that they sacrificed them to demons? Because of their licentiousness, did they not show a lust beyond that of irrational animals? Hear what the prophet says of their excesses. "They are become as amorous stallions. Every one neighed after his neighbor's wife". He did not say: "Everyone lusted after his neighbor's wife", but he expressed the madness which came from their licentiousness with the greatest clarity by speaking of it as the neighing of brute beasts.
What else do you wish me to tell you? Shall I tell you of their plundering, their covetousness, their abandonment of the poor, their thefts, their cheating in trade? the whole day long will not be enough to give you an account of these things. But do their festivals have something solemn and great about them? They have shown that these, too, are impure. Listen to the prophets; rather, listen to God and with how strong a statement he turns his back on them: "I have found your festivals hateful, I have thrust them away from myself".
(2) Does God hate their festivals and do you share in them? He did not say this or that festival, but all of them together. Do you wish to see that God hates the worship paid with kettledrums, with lyres, with harps, and other instruments? God said: "Take away from me the sound of your songs and I will not hear the canticle of you harps". If God said: "Take them away from me", do you run to listen to the trumpets? Are these sacrifices and offerings not an abomination? "If you bring me the finest wheaten flour, it is in vain: incense is an abomination to me". The incense is an abomination. Is not the place also an abomination? Before they committed the crime of crimes, before they killed their Master, before the cross, before the slaying of Christ, it was an abomination. Is it not now all the more an abomination? And yet what is more fragrant than incense? But God looks not to the nature of the gifts but to the intention of those who bring them; it is by this intention that he judges their offerings.
(3) He paid heed to Abel and then to his gifts. He looked at Cain and then turned away from his offering. For Scripture says: "For Cain and his offerings he had no regard". Noah offered to God sacrifices of sheep and calves and birds. The Scripture say: "And the Lord smelled a sweet odor", that is, he accepted the offerings. For God has no nostrils but is a bodiless spirit. Yet what is carried up from the altar is the odor and smoke from burning bodies, and nothing is more malodorous than such a savor. But that you may learn that God attends to the intention of the one offering the sacrifice and then accepts or rejects it, Scripture calls the odor and the smoke a sweet savor; but it calls the incense an abomination because the intention of those offering it reeked with a great stench.
(4) Do you wish to learn that, together with the sacrifices and the musical instruments and the festivals and the incense, God also rejects the temple because of those who enter it? He showed this mostly by his deeds, when he gave it over to barbarian hands, and later when he utterly destroyed it. But even before its destruction, through his prophet he shouted aloud and said: "Put not your trust in deceitful words for it will not help you when you say: "This is the temple of the Lord! The temple of the Lord"! What the prophet says is that the temple does not make holy those who gather there, but those who gather there make the temple holy. If the temple did not help at a time when the Cherubim and the Ark were there, much less will it help now that all those things are gone, now that God's rejection is complete, now that there is greater ground for enmity. How great an act of madness and derangement would it be to take as your partners in the festivals those who have been dishonored, those whom God has forsaken, those who angered the Master?
(5) Tell me this. If a man were to have slain your son, would you endure to look upon him, or accept his greeting? Would you not shun him as a wicked demon, as the devil himself? They slew the Son of your Lord; do you have the boldness to enter with them under the same roof? After he was slain he heaped such honor upon you that he made you his brother and coheir. But you dishonor him so much that you pay honor to those who slew him on the cross, that you observe with them the fellowship of the festivals, that you go to their profane places, enter their unclean doors, and share in the tables of demons. For I am persuaded to call the fasting of the Jews a table of demons because they slew God. If the Jews are acting against God, must they not be serving the demons? Are you looking for demons to cure you? When Christ allowed the demons to enter into the swine, straightway they plunged into the sea. Will these demons spare the bodies of men? I wish they would not kill men's bodies, that they would not plot against them. But they will. The demons cast men from Paradise and deprived them the honor from above. Will they cure their bodies? That is ridiculous, mere stories. The demons know how to plot and do harm, not to cure. They do not spare souls. Tell me, then, will they spare bodies? They try to drive men from the Kingdom. Will they choose to free them from disease?
(6) Did you not hear what the prophet said? Rather, did you hear what God said through the prophet? He said that the demons can do neither good nor evil. Even if they could cure and wanted to do so-which is impossible-you must not take an indestructible and unending punishment in exchange for a slight benefit which can soon be destroyed. Will you cure your body and destroy your soul? You are making a poor exchange. Are you angering God who made your body, and are you calling to your aid the demon who plots against you?
(7) If any demon-fearing pagan has medical knowledge, will he also find it easy to win you over to worship the pagan gods? Those pagans, too, have their skill. They, too, have often cured many diseases and brought the sick back to health. Are we going to share in their godlessness on this account? Heaven forbid! Hear what Moses said to the Jews. "If there arise in the midst of you a prophet or one that says he has dreamed a dream and he foretell a sign and a wonder, and that sign or wonder which he spoke come to pass, and he say to you: "Let us go and serve strange gods whom our fathers did not know, you shall not hear the words of that prophet or dreamer".
(8) What Moses means is this. If some prophet rises up, he says, and performs a sign, by either raising a dead man or cleansing a leper, or curing a maimed man, and after working the wonder calls you to impiety, do not heed him just because his sign comes to pass. Why? "The Lord your God is trying you to see whether you love him with all your heart and all your soul". From this it is clear that demons do not cure. If ever God should permit demons to cure, as he might permit a man to do, his permission is given to test you-not because God does not know what you are, but that he may teach you to reject even the demons who do cure.
(9) And why do I speak of bodily cures? If any man threatens you with gehenna unless you deny Christ, do not heed his words. If someone should promise you a kingdom to revolt from the only-begotten Son of God, turn away from him and hate him. Be a disciple of Paul and emulate those words which his blessed and noble soul exclaimed when he said: "I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, no height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ our Lord".
(10) No angels, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor any other creature separated Paul from the love of Christ. Do you revolt to cure your body? And what excuse could we find? Certainly we must fear Christ more than gehenna and desire him more than a kindom. Even if we be sick, it is better to remain in ill health than to fall into impiety for the sake of a cure; for even if a demon cures you, he has hurt more than he has helped. He has helped the body, which a short time later will altogether die and rot away. But he has hurt the soul, which will never die. Kidnappers often entice little boys by offering them sweets, and cakes, and marbles, and other such things; then they deprive them of their freedom and their very life. So, too, the demons promise cure of a limb and then dash the whole salvation of the soul into the sea.
(11) Beloved, let us not put up with that; in every way let us seek to keep ourselves free from godlessness. Could Job not have heeded his wife, blasphemed against God, and been free from the disaster which beset him? "Curse God and die" she said. But he chose to suffer the pain and to waste away; he chose to endure that unbearable blow rather to blaspheme and be free from the evils which beset him. You must emulate him. If the demon shall promise you ten thousand cures from the ills which beset you, do not heed him, do not put up with him--just as Job refused to heed his wife. Chose to endure your illness rather than destroy your faith and the salvation of your soul. God does not forsake you. It is because he wishes to increase your glory that offentimes he permits you to fall sick. Keep up your courage so that you may also hear him say: "Do you think I have dealt with you otherwise than that you may be shown to be just"?
I could have said more than this, but to keep you from forgetting what I have said, I shall bring my homily to an end here with the words of Moses: "I call heaven and earth to witness against you". If any of you, whether you are here present or not, shall go to the spectacle of the Trumpets, or rush off to the synagogue, or go up to the shrine of Matrona, or take part in fasting, or share in the sabbath, or observe any other Jewish ritual great or small, I call heaven and earth as my witnesses that I am guiltless of the blood of all of you.
(2) These words will stand by your side and mine on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you heed them, they will bring you great confidence; if you heed them not or conceal anyone who dares to do those things, my words shall stand against you as bitter accusations. "For I have not shrunk from declaring to you the whole counsel of God".
(3) I have deposited the money with the bankers. It remains for you to increase the deposit and to use the profit from my words for the salvation of your brothers. Do you find it an oppressive burden to denounce those who commit these sins? It is an oppressive burden to remain silent. For this silence makes you an enemy to God and brings destruction both to you who conceal such sinners and to those whose sins go unrevealed. How much better it is to become hateful to our fellow servants for saving them than to provoke God's anger against yourselves. Even if your fellow servant be vexed with you now, he will not be able to harm you but will be grateful later on for his cure. But if you seek to win your fellow servant's favor, if you remain silent and hurt him by concealing his sin, God will exact from you the ultimate penalty. Your silence will make God your foe and will hurt your brother; if you denounce him and reveal his sin, you will make God propitious and benefit your brother and you will gain as a friend one who was crazed but who learned from experience that you served him well.
(4) Do not think, then, that you are doing your brothers a favor if you should see them pursuing some absurdity and should fail to accuse them with all zeal. If you lose a cloak, do you not consider as your foe not only the one who stole it but also the man who knew of the theft and refused to denounce the thief? Our common Mother (the Church) has lost not a cloak but a brother. The devil stole him and now holds him in Judaism. You know who stole him; you know him who was stolen. Do you see me lighting, as it were, the lamp of my instruction and searching everywhere in my grief? And do you stand silent, refusing to denounce him? What excuse will you have? Will the Church not reckon you among her worst enemies? Will she not consider you a foe and destroyer?
(5) Heaven forbid that anyone who hears my words of advice should commit such a sin as to betray the brother for whom Christ died. Christ poured out his blood on his account. Are you too reluctant to utter a word on this account? I urge you not to be so reluctant. Right after you leave here, stir yourselves to the chase and let each of you bring me one of those suffering from this disease.
(6) But heaven forbid that so many be sick with it. Let two or three, or ten or twenty of you bring me one man. On the day you do and when I see in your nets the game you have caught, I will set before you a more plentiful table. If I see that the advice I gave today has been put to work, I shall be more zealous in undertaking the cure of those men, and this will be a greater boon both for you and them.
(7) Do not regard my words lightly. Be scrupulous in hunting out those who suffer from this sickness. Let the women search for the women, the men for the men, the slaves for the slaves, the freemen for the freemen, and the children for the children. Come all of you to our next meeting with such success that you win praise from me--and, before any praise of mine, that you obtain, from God a great and indescribable reward which in abundant measure surpasses the labors of those who succeed. May all of us obtain this by the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom and with whom be glory to the Father together with the Holy Spirit now and forever, world without end. Amen.
On the Jews
THE WICKED AND UNCLEAN FAST of the Jews is now at our doors. Thought it is a fast, do not wonder that I have called it unclean. What is done contrary to God's purpose, be it sacrifice or fast, is the most abominable of all things. Their wicked fast will begin after five days. Ten days ago, or more than ten, I anticipated this and gave an exhortation with the hope it would make your brothers safe. Let no one find fault and say my discourse was untimely because I gave it so many days beforehand. When a fever threatens, or any other disease, physicians anticipate this and with many remedies make safe and secure the body of the man who will be seized by the fever; they hurry to snatch his body from the dangers which threaten it before the patient experiences their onset.
(2) Since I, too, see that a very serious disease is going to come upon you, long beforehand I gave you solemn warning so that you might apply corrective measures before the evil attacked. This was my reason for not waiting until just before the days of fasting to exhort you. I did not want the lack of time to stop you from hunting out your brothers; I hoped that with the span of many days you might be able to track down with all fearlessness those who are suffering from this disease and restore them to health.
(3) Men who are going to celebrate a wedding or prepare a sumptuous feast do this same thing. They do not wait for the day itself. Long beforehand they speak with the fishermen and bird hunters so that the brevity of time may present no obstacle to preparing for the banquet. Since I, too, am going to set a banquet before you against the obstinacy of the Jews, I have gotten a head start in talking to you, the fishermen, that you may sweep up your weaker brothers in your nets and bring them to hear what I have to say.
(4) Those of you who did fish and have your catch securely in your nets, remain steadfast and bind them tight with your words of exhortation. Those of you who have not yet taken this goodly catch have time enough in these five days to trap and overcome your prey. So let us spread out the nets of instruction; like a pack of hunting dogs let us circle about and surround our quarry; let us drive them together from every side and bring them into subjection to the laws of the Church. If you think it is a good idea, let us send to pursue them the best of huntsmen, the blessed Paul, who once shouted aloud and said: "Behold, I, Paul, tell you that if you be circumcised, Christ will be of no advantage to you."
(5) When wild beasts and savage animals are hiding under a thicket and hear the shout of the hunter, they leap up in fear. The loud clamor drives them from their hiding and, even against their will, the hunter's cry forces them out, and many a time they fall right into the nets. So, too, your brothers are hiding in what I might call the thicket of Judaism. If they hear the shout of Paul, I am sure that they will easily fall into the nets of salvation and will put aside all the error of the Jews. For it is not Paul who spoke, but Christ, who moved Paul's soul. So when you hear him shout and say: "Behold, I, Paul, tell you," consider that only the shout is Paul's; the thought and the teaching are Christ's, who is speaking to Paul from within his heart.
(6) But someone might say: "Is there so much harm in circumcision that it makes Christ's whole plan of redemption useless? Yes, the harm of circumcision is as great as that, not because of its own but because of your obstinacy. There was a time when the law was useful and necessary, but now it has ceased and is fruitless. If you take it on yourself to be circumcised now, when the time is no longer right, it makes the gift of God useless. It is because you are not willing to come to him that Christ will be of no advantage to you. Suppose someone should be caught in the act of adultery and the foulest crimes and then be thrown into prison. Suppose, next, that judgment was going to be passed against him and that he would be condemned. Suppose that just at that moment a letter should come from the Emperor setting free from any accounting or examination all those detained in prison. If the prisoner should refuse to take advantage of the pardon, remain obstinate and choose to be brought to trial, to give an account, and to undergo punishment, he will not be able thereafter to avail himself of the Emperor's favor. For when he made himself accountable to the court, examination, and sentence, he chose of his own accord to deprive himself of the imperial gift.
(7) This is what happened in the case of the Jews. Look how it is. All human nature was taken in the foulest evils. "All have sinned," says Paul. They were locked, as it were, in a prison by the curse of their transgression of the Law. The sentence of the judge was going to be passed against them. A letter from the King came down from heaven. Rather, the King himself came. Without examination, without exacting an account, he set all men free from the claims of their sin.
All, then, who run to Christ are saved by his grace and profit from his gift. But those who wish to find justification from the Law will also fall from grace. They will not be able to enjoy the King's loving-kindness because they are striving to gain salvation by their own efforts; they will draw down on themselves the curse of the Law because from the works of the Law no flesh will find justification. So it is that Paul says: "If you be circumcised, Christ will be of no advantage to you." For the man who strives to gain salvation from the works of the Laws has nothing in common with grace. This is what Paul hinted at when he said: "If out of grace, then not in virtue of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if out of works, no longer is it grace: otherwise work is no longer work." And again: "If justice be by the Law, then Christ died in vain." And again: "You who are justified in the Law are fallen from grace." You have died to the Law, you have become a corpse; hereafter you are no longer under its yoke, you are no longer subject to its necessity. Why, then, do you strive to make trouble for yourself when it is all to no purpose and in vain?
(2) When Paul said: "Behold, I, Paul, tell you," why did he add his name? Why did he not simply say: "Behold, I tell you"? He wanted to remind them of the zeal which he had shown with regard to Judaism. What he is saying is this: "If I were a gentile and knew nothing of Jewish matters, perhaps someone would say that, because I had no share in the Jewish plan and dispensation, because I did not know the power of circumcision, I reject it from the dogmas of the Church." This is why he added his name. He wished to remaind them of what he had done in behalf of the Law. It is almost as if he were to say: "I do this not through hatred of circumcision but in full knowledge of the truth. I, Paul, say this, that Paul who was circumcised on the eighth day, who am an Israelite by birth, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Pharisee according to the Law, who zealously persecuted the Church, who entered houses, dragged out men and women, and handed them over into custody. All this could persuade even those who are very stupid that I set down this law not through any hatred nor in ignorance of things Jewish but in full knowledge of the surpassing truth of Christ. "And I testify again to every man who has himself circumcised, that he is bound to observe the Law".
(3) Why did he not say: "I exhort", or "I command", or "I say"? Why did he say: "I testify? So that he might, by this word, remind us of the future judgment. Where there are witnesses who testify, there also are judgments and sentences. He is frightening his hearer, then, by reminding him of the royal throne and by showing him that those very words will be his witness on that day when each man will give an account of what he has done, what he has said, and what he has heard. The Galatians heard those words in days gone by. Let those who are sick with the Galatians' disease hear them again today. If they are not present, let them hear through you the words that Paul exclaimed and said: "I testify again to every man who has himself circumcised, that he is bound to observe the whole Law.
(4) Do not tell me that circumcision is just a single command; it is that very command which imposes on you the entire yoke of the Law. When you subject yourself to the rule of the Law in one part, you must also obey its commands in all other things. If you do not fulfill it, you must be punished and draw its curse upon yourself. When a sparrow has fallen into the hunter's net, even if only its foot is caught, all the rest of its body is caught as well. So, too, the man who fulfills a single commandment of the Law, be it circumcision or fasting, through that one commandment, has given the Law full power over himself; as long as he is willing, and if he is willing to obey a part of the Law, he cannot avoid obeying the whole Law.
(5) We do not say this in accusation of the Law. Heaven forbid! We say it because we wish to show forth the surpassing riches of the grace of Christ. For the Law is not contrary to Christ. How could it be, when he is the one who gave the Law, when the Law leads us to him? But we are forced to say all these things because of the untimely contentiousness of those who do not use the Law as they should. The ones who outrage the Law are those who bid us stand apart from it once and for all and come to Christ, and then tell us to hold fast to it again. The Law has profited our nature very much. I agree to that and would never deny it. But you Judaizers cling to it beyond the proper time and will not let us see how very useful it has been.
(6) It would be the greatest source of praise for a tutor if his young pupil no longer needed him to keep watch over his conduct because the lad had advanced so greater in virtue. So, too, it would be the greatest praise for the Law that we no longer had need of its help. For the Law has brought that very thing to pass for us: it has prepared our soul to receive a greater philosophy.
(7) So it is that he who still sits at the feet of the Law and can see nothing greater than what is written therein derives no great profit from it. But I put the Law aside and ran to the loftier teachings of Christ; yet I could grant to the Law the greatest dignity because it made me such that I could go beyond the trivialities written therein and rise to the loftiness of the teaching which comes to us from Christ.
(8) The Law did profit our nature greatly, but only if it led us sincerely to Christ. If this be not the case, it did us harm by depriving us of the greater things because of our close attention to those which are less; it also hurt us by still keeping us in the countless wounds of our transgressions. Suppose there were two physicians, one weaker, the other stronger. If the weaker one applied medicines to the ulcers but could not free the sick man once and for all from the pain coming from his sores, then.......
"If therefore you are offering your gift at the altar, and there you remember that your brother has anything against you, leave there your offering before the altar and go first to be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift". Christ did not say: "Submit your offering and then go away", but "Let it stay there unoffered and go first to be reconciled to your brother".
(2) Nor did he do this only here but again in another place. If a man has an infidel wife, that is, a gentile, he is not forced to put her away. For St. Paul said: "If any man has an unbelieving wife and she consents to live with him, let him not put her away. But if he has a wife who is a harlot and an adulteress, there is nothing to stop him from putting her away. For Christ said: "Everyone who puts away his wife save on account of immorality, causes her to commit adultery. And so he is allowed to put her away because of immorality.
(3) Do you see God's loving-kindness and concern? He says: "If your wife be a gentile, do not put her away. But if she be a harlot, I do not stop you from doing so". What he means is this: If she acts outrageously toward Me, do not put her away; if she outrages you, there is no one to stop you from putting her away." If God, then, showed us such honor, will we not deem him deserving of equal honor? Will we let him be outraged by our wives? Will we permit this even though we realize that the greatest punishment and vengeance will be stored up for us when we neglect the salvation of our wives?
(4) This is why he made you to be head of the wife. This is why Paul gave the order: "If wives wish to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home", so that you, like a teacher, a guardian, a patron, might urge her to godliness. Yet when the hour set for the services summons you to the church, you fail to rouse your wife from their sluggish indifference. But now that the devil summons your wives to the feast of the Trumpets and they turn a ready ear to this call, you do not restrain them. You let them entangle themselves in accusations of ungodliness, you let them be dragged off into licentious ways. For, as a rule, it is the harlots, the effeminates, and the whole chorus from the theater who rush to that festival.
(5) And why do I speak of the immorality that goes on there? Are you not afraid that your wife may not come back from there after a demon has possessed her soul? Did you not hear in my previous discourse the argument which clearly proved to us that demons dwell in the very souls of the Jews and in places in which they gather? Tell me, then. How do you Judaizers have the boldness, after dancing with demons, to come back to the assembly of the apostles? After you have gone off and shared with those who shed the blood of Christ, how is it that you do not shudder to come back and share in his sacred banquet, to partake of his precious blood? Do you not shiver, are you not afraid when you commit such outrages? Have you so little respect for that very banquet?
(6) I have spoken these words to you. You will speak them to those Judaizers, and they to their wives. "Fortify one another". If a catechumen is sick with this disease, let him be kept outside the church doors. If the sick one be a believer and already initiated, let him be driven from the holy table. For not all sins need exhortation and counsel; some sins, of their very nature, demand cure by a quick and sharp excision. The wounds we can tolerate respond to more gentle cures; those which have festered and cannot be cured, those which are feeding on the rest of the body, need cauterization with a point of steel. So is it with sins. Some need long exhortation; others need sharp rebuke.
(7) This is why Paul did not enjoin us to exhort in every case but also to rebuke sharply: "Wherefore rebuke them sharply". Therefore, I will now rebuke them sharply, so that they may accuse themselves and feel shame for what they have done. Then they will never again be hurt by that sinful fast.
(8) So I shall put aside exhortation henceforth as I testify and exclaim: "If any man does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let a curse be upon him". What greater evidence could there be that a man does not love our Lord than when he participates in the festival with those who slew Christ? It was not I who hurled the curse at them, but Paul. Rather, it was not Paul but Christ, who spoke through him and said earlier: "Those who are justified in the law have fallen away from grace".
(9) So speak these words to them, read aloud to them these texts. Show all your zeal in saving them. When you have snatched them from the devil's jaws, bring them to me on the day of the Jewish fast. Then, after I have kept the rest of my promise to you, let us, with one accord and with one voice, join our brothers in giving glory to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for to Him is glory forever. Amen.
On the Jews.
A NECESSARY and pressing need has interrupted the sequence of my recent
discourses. I must put aside my struggles with the heretics for today and
turn my attention to this necessary business. For I was ready to address
your loving assembly again on the glory of the only-begotten Son of God.
But the untimely obstinacy of those who wish to keep the first paschal
fast forces me to devote my entire instruction to their cure. For the good
shepherd does more than drive away the wolves; he also is most diligent
in caring for his sheep who are sick. What does he gain if the flocks escape
the jaws of the wild beasts but are then devoured by disease?
(2) The best general is the one
who not only repels the siege engines of the enemy but first puts down
rebellion within his own city. He knows well that there will be no victory
over an outside foe as long as there is civil war within. Do you not know
that there is no more destructive force than rebellion and obstinacy? Listen
to the words of Christ: "A kingdom divided against itself shall not
stand." And yet, what is more powerful than a kingdom which possesses
revenues of money, weapons, walls, fortresses, so large a number of soldiers,
horses, and ten thousand other sources of strength?
(3) But even power as great as that
is destroyed when it revolts against itself. Nothing produces weakness
so effectively as contentiousness and strife; and nothing produces power
and strength so effectively as love and concord. When Solomon grasped this
truth he said: "A brother that is helped by his brother is like a
strong city and kingdom bolted and barred." Do you see the great strength
which comes from concord? And do you see the great harm caused by contentiousness?
A kingdom in revolt destroys itself. When two brothers are bound together
and united into one, they are more unbreakable than any wall.
(4) I know that, by God's grace,
most members of my flock are free from this disease and that the sickness
involves only a few. But this is no reason for me to relax my care. If
only ten, or five, or two, or even one were sick, he must not be neglected.
If there is only one worthless outcast, still he is a brother, and Christ
died for him. And Christ made great account of the weak ones. He said:
"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it were better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck,
and to be drowned in the sea." And again: "As long as you did
not do it for one of these little ones, you did not do it for me."
And again: "It is not the will of your Father in heaven that a single
one of these little ones should perish."
(5) Is it not absurd, when Christ
shows such care for his little ones, that we should refuse to care for
them? Do not say: "He is one person." Rather, you must say: "He
is one, yes, but if we do not take care of him, he will spread the disease
to the rest." Paul said: "A little leaven ferments the whole
mass." And our neglect of the little ones is what overturns and destroys
everything. Neglected wounds become serious, just as the serious wounds
would easily become minor if they receive the proper care.
(6) Moreover, the first thing I
have to say to the Judaizers is that nothing is worse than contentiousness
and fighting, than tearing the Church asunder and rending into many parts
the robe which the robbers did not dare to rip. Are not all the other heresies
enough without our tearing each other apart? You must listen to Paul when
he says: "But if you bite and devour one another, take heed or you
will be consumed by one another."
(7) Tell me this. Do you stray outside
the flock and have you no fear of the lion that prowls about outside the
fold? "For your enemy, like a lion, goes about seeking whom he may
seize." Here you see a shepherd's wisdom. He does not let the lion
in among the sheep for fear the lion may terrify the flock. Nor does he
drive the lion away from outside the fold. Why? So that he may gather all
the sheep together inside the fold, because they are afraid of the wild
beast outside. Do you have no reverence and respect for your father? Then
fear your foe. If you separate yourself from the flock, your enemy will
surely catch you.
(8) Christ, too, could have driven
the enemy away from the outside of the fold. But to make you sober and
watchful, to make you constantly run to your Mother for refuge, he permitted
him to roar outside the fold. Why did he do this? So that when those within
the fold hear his roar, they may take refuge together and be more closely
bound to one another. Mothers who love their children also do this: when
their children cry, they often threaten to throw them to the jaws of the
wolves. Of course, they would not throw them to the wolves but they say
they will to stop the children from bothering them. Everything Christ did
was done to keep us bound together and living at peace with one another.
And so it was that Paul could have
accused the Corinthians of many great crimes but he accused them of contentiousness
before any other. He could have accused them of fornication, of pride,
of taking their quarrels to the pagan courts, of banquets in the shrines
of idols. He could have charged that the women did not veil their heads
and that the men did. Over and above all tiffs, he could have accused them
of neglecting the poor, of the pride they took in their charismatic gifts,
and in the matter of the resurrection of the body. But since, along with
these, he could also find fault with them because of their dissensions
and quarrels with one another, he passed over all the other crimes, and
corrected their contentiousness first.
(2) If you will not think I am making
a nuisance of myself on this point, I shall clarify it from Paul's own
words. He did give top priority to correcting the Corinthians' obstinacy
and contentiousness. And he did this even though he could charge them with
all those other crimes. Hear what he says about their fornication: "It
is actually reported that there is lewd conduct among you." That they
were puffed up and proud: "As if I were not coming to you, some are
puffed up." Again, that they would plead their cases in the pagan
courts: "Dare any of you, having a matter against another, bring your
case to be judged before unbelievers?" That they ate meat offered
to idols: "You cannot be partakers of the table of the Lord and of
the table of devils." Hear his words of reproach for the women who
do not veil their heads and the men who do. "Every man praying or
prophesying with his head covered, disgraces his head. But every woman
praying or prophesying with her head uncovered, disgraces her head. He
showed that they neglected the poor when he said: "One is hungry and
another drinks over-much.And again: "or do you despise the church
of God and put to shame the needy?" When they were all jumping for
the more important charismatic gifts and no one was satisfied with the
less important, he said: "Are all apostles? Are all prophets?"
We can conclude that they were raising doubts about the resurrection because
he says: "But someone will say: 'How do the dead rise? Or with what
kind of body do they come?"
(3) Although he could make so many
accusations, his first charge against the Corinthians was dissension and
contentiousness. At the very beginning of his letter he said: "I beseech
you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all say the
same thing, and that there be no dissensions among you." For he knew,
he knew clearly, that this problem was more urgent than the others. If
the fornicator, or the braggart, or a man in the grip of any other vice
comes frequently to the church, he will quickly draw profit from the instruction,
thrust aside his sin, and return to health.
(4) But when a man has broken away
from this assembly, when he has withdrawn from the instruction of the fathers,
when he has fled from the physician's clinic, even if he appears to be
in good health, he will soon fall sick. The best physicians first quench
the fires of fever and then cure the wounds and fractures. That is what
Paul did. He first removed the dissension and then cured their wounds limb
by limb. And so he spoke of dissension before the other sins, so that the
Corinthians would not stand apart in strife, so that they would not choose
the leaders whom they should follow, so that they would not divide up the
body of Christ into many parts?
(5) But he was talking not only
to the Corinthians; he was also speaking to those who would come after
them and suffer from the same Corinthian disease. I would be glad to ask
those of us who are sick with this illness: What is the Pasch; what is
Lent? What belongs to the Jews: what belongs to us? Why does their Pasch
come once each year; why do we celebrate ours each time we gather to celebrate
the mysteries? What does the feast of unleavened bread mean? And I would
like to ask them many more questions which contribute to understanding
(6) If I were to ask them, you would
then clearly know how untimely the contentiousness of these men is. They
cannot explain what they do. But they refuse to ask anybody, just as if
they were wiser than anybody else. They deserve the strongest condemnation
because they do not have the answers themselves, but they refuse to follow
those who have been appointed to lead them. They have simply risked all
they have on this silly practice and are throwing themselves head first
down into the depths of danger.
When I have this to say against
them, what argument of theirs will seem clever? They ask: "Did you
not observe this fast before?" It is not your place to say this to
me, but I would be justified in telling you that we, too, fasted at this
time in earlier days, but still we put more importance on peace than on
the observance of dates. And I say to you what Paul said to the Galatians:
"Become like me, because I also have become like you." What does
this mean? He was urging them to renounce circumcision, to scorn the sabbath,
the feast days, and all the other observances of the Law. When he saw they
were frightened and afraid that they might be subjected to chastisement
and punishment for their transgression, he gave them courage by the example
of his own actions when he said: "Become like me, because I also have
become like you."
(2) For, he said, I did not come
from the Gentiles, did I? I was not without experience of the Jewish way
of life under the Law and the punishment set for those who transgress it,
was I? "I am a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as regards the Law, a Pharisee;
as regards zeal, a persecutor of the Church. But the things that were gain
to me, these, for the sake of Christ, I counted loss." That is, once
and for all I stood aloof from them. Therefore, become like me, for I,
too, was as you are.
(3) But why do I speak on my own
account? Three hundred Fathers or even more gathered together in the land
of Bithynia and ordained this by law; yet you disdain their decrees. You
must choose one of two courses: either you charge them with ignorance for
their want of exact knowledge on this matter, or you charge them with cowardice
because they were not ignorant, but played the hypocrite and betrayed the
truth. When you do not abide by what they decreed, this is exactly the
choice you must make. But all the events of the Council make it clear that
they showed great wisdom and courage at that time. The article of faith
they set forth at the Council show how wise they were, because they blocked
up the mouths of heretics and, like an impregnable wall, they repelled
the treachery of every hostile attack. They proved their courage during
the war waged on the Churches and the persecution which had but lately
come to an end.
(4) Like champions in battle who
have set up many memorials of victory and have suffered many wounds, so,
too, these champions of the Churches, who could count the many tortures
they had endured for their confession of the faith, came together from
every side, bearing on their bodies the marks of Christ's wounds. Some
could tell of their hardships in the mines, others of the confiscation
of all their possessions, and still others of starvation and continuous
floggings. Some could show where the flesh had been torn from their ribs,
some where their backs had been broken, some where their eyes had been
dug out, and still others where they had lost some other part of their
bodies for the sake of Christ. At that time the whole synodal gathering,
welded together from these champions, along with their definition of what
Christians must believe, also passed a decree that they celebrate the paschal
feast in harmony together. They refused to betray their faith in those
most difficult times [of persecution]; would they sink to pretense and
deceit on the question of the Easter observance?
(5) Look what you do when you condemn
Fathers so great, so courageous, so wise. If the Pharisee lost all the
blessings he possessed because he condemned the publican, what excuse will
you have, what defense will you make for rising up against these great
teachers beloved of God, especially since your attack is so unjust and
irrational? Did you not hear Christ himself say: "Where two or three
are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them? But if
Christ is in their midst where two or three are gathered together, was
not his presence all the more pervasive among the more than three hundred
Fathers at Nicaea? Christ was present there, it was Christ who formulated
and passed the laws. Yet you condemn not only the Council Fathers but the
whole world which approved their judgment.
(6) Do you consider that the Jews
are wiser than the Fathers who came from everywhere in the world? How can
you do that when the Jews have been driven from their ancestral commonwealth
and way of life and have no sacred festival to celebrate? I hear many say
that the Pasch and the feast of unleavened bread are one. But there is
no feast of unleavened bread among them, nor is there a Pasch. Why is there
no feast of unleavened bread among them? Hear the words of the Lawgiver:
"You may not sacrifice the Passover in any one of the cities which
the Lord your God gives you, but only in the place in which His name shall
be invoked." And Moses was here speaking of Jerusalem.
(7) Do you see how God confined
the festival to one city, and later destroyed the city so that, even if
it was against their wills, he might lead them away from that way of life?
Surely, it is clear to everybody that God foresaw what would come to pass.
Why, then, did he bring them together to that land from all over the world
if he foresaw that their city would be destroyed? Is it not very obvious
that he did this because he wished to bring their ritual to an end? God
did bring the ritual to an end, but you go along with the Jews, of whom
the prophet said: "Who is blind but my children, or deaf but those
who lord it over them?"
(8) And against whom did they show
their want of sense and feeling? Was it not against the apostles, the prophets,
and their teachers? Why must I mention teachers and prophets when they
slaughtered their own children? For they did sacrifice their sons and daughters
to demons. When they ignored the voice of nature, were they going to observe
the festival days? Tell me this. Did they not trample kinship under foot,
did they not forget their children, did they not forget the very God who
created them? Moses said: "You have forsaken the God that begot you,
and have forgotten the God that nurtured you." Were they going to
keep the festivals after they had forsaken God? Who could say that?
(9) Christ did keep the Pasch with
them. Yet he did not do so with the idea that we should keep the Pasch
with them. He did so that he might bring the reality to what foreshadowed
the reality. He also submitted to circumcision, kept the sabbath, observed
the festival days, and ate the unleavened bread. But He did all these things
in Jerusalem. However, we are subject to none of these things, and on this
Paul spoke out loud and clear: "If you be circumcised, Christ shall
be of no advantage to you." And again, speaking of the feast of unleavened
bread, he said: "Therefore let us keep festival, not with the old
leaven, not with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened
bread of sincerity and truth." For our unleavened bread is not a mixed
flour but an uncorrupted and virtuous way of life.
Why did Christ keep the Pasch at
that time? The old Pasch was a type of the Pasch to come, and the reality
had to supplant the type. So Christ first showed the foreshadowing and
then brought the reality to the banquet table. Once the reality has come,
the type which foreshadowed it is henceforth lost in its own shadow and
no longer fills the need. So do not keep pleading this excuse, but show
me that Christ did command us to observe the old Pasch. I am showing you
quite the opposite. I am showing you that Christ not only did not command
us to keep the festival days but even freed us from the obligation to do
(2) Hear what Paul had to say. And
when I speak of Paul, I mean Christ; for it is Christ who moved Paul's
soul to speak. What, then, did Paul say? "You are observing days,
and months, and seasons, and years. I fear for you, lest perhaps I have
labored in vain among you." And again: "As often as you shall
eat this bread and drink this cup, you shall proclaim the death of the
Lord." When he said: "As often as," Paul gave the right
and power to decide this to those who approach the mysteries, and freed
them from any obligation to observe the festival days.
(3) Now our Pasch and Lent are not one and the same thing: the Pasch is one thing, Lent another. Lent comes once each year; our Pasch is celebrated three times each week, sometimes even four times, or rather as often as we wish. For the Pasch is not a fast but the offering and sacrifice which is celebrated at each religious service. That you may know that this is true, listen to Paul when he says: "For Christ, our passover, has been sacrificed," and again: "As often as you shall eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord.
(4) So as often as you approach
the sacrificial banquet with a clean conscience, you celebrate the Pasch.
You celebrate it not when you fast but when you share in that sacrifice.
"For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink this cup, you
proclaim the death of the Lord." Our Pasch is the proclamation of
the Lord's death. The sacrifice which we offer today, that which was offered
yesterday, and each day's sacrifice is alike and the same as the sacrifice
offered on that Sabbath day; the sacrifice offered on that Sabbath is no
more solemn than today's, nor is today's of less value than that; they
are one and the same, alike filled with awe and salvation.
(5) Why, then, do we fast for forty
days? In the past, and especially at the time when Christ entrusted to
us these sacred mysteries, many a man approached the sacrificial banquet
without thought or preparation. Since the Fathers realized that it was
harmful for a person to approach the mysteries in this heedless fashion,
they came together and marked out forty days for people to fast, pray,
and gather together to hear the word of God. Their purpose was that we
might all scrupulously purify ourselves during this time by our prayers,
almsgiving, fasting, vigils, tears, confessions, and all the other pious
practices, so that we might approach the mysteries with our consciences
made as clean as we could make them.
(6) And they did well when they
came to our aid and established for us the practice of this lenten fast.
This is clear because, if we keep shouting and proclaiming a fast the whole
year through, no one listens to what we say. But as soon as the season
of Lent draws near, even the laziest of men rouses himself, even though
no one counsels or advises him. Why? He gets advice and counsel from the
season of Lent.
(7) So if a Jew or pagan ask you
why you are fasting, do not tell him that it is because of the Pasch or
because of the mystery of the cross. If you tell him that, you give him
an ample grip upon you. Tell him we fast because of our sins and because
we are going to approach the mysteries. The Pasch is not a reason for fasting
or grief; it is a reason for cheerfulness and joy. The cross has taken
away sin; it was an expiation for the world, a reconciliation for the ancient
enmity. It opened the gates of heaven, changed those who hated into friends;
it took our human nature, led it up to heaven, and seated it at the right
hand of God's throne. And it brought to us ten thousand other blessings.
(8) There is no need, then, to grieve or be downcast: we must rejoice and glory in all these things. This is why Paul said: "But God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." And again: "But God commends his charity towards us, because when as yet we were sinners, Christ died for us." John put it like this: "God so loved the world. Tell me, how did God love the world? John passed over all the other signs of God's love and put the cross in first place. For after he said: "God so loved the world," he said:"That he gave his only-begotten Son," that he be crucified, "that those who believe in him may not perish but may have life everlasting." If, then, the cross is the basis and boast of love, let us not say that it is a cause for grief. Heaven forbid that we grieve because of the cross. We grieve for our sins, and this is why we fast.
Although the catechumen keeps the
fast each year, he does not celebrate the Pasch since he does not share
in the sacrifice. But even though a man is not observing the lenten fast,
he does celebrate the Pasch as long as he comes to the altar with a clean
conscience and shares in the sacrifice--whether it be today, tomorrow,
or any day whatsoever. The best time to approach the mysteries is determined
by the purity of a man's conscience and not by his observance of suitable
(2) Yet we do just the opposite.
We fail to cleanse our conscience and, even though we are burdened with
ten thousand sins, we consider that we have celebrated the Pasch as long
as we approach the mysteries on that feast day. But this is certainly not
the case. If you approach the altar on the very day of the Sabbath and
your conscience be bad, you fail to share in the mysteries and you leave
without celebrating the Pasch. But if you wash away your sins and share
in the mysteries today, you do celebrate the Pasch in precisely the proper
(3) Therefore you must safeguard
this exactness and vigor of spirit, not in the observance of the proper
times but in your approach to the altar. Now you would elect to endure
all things rather than change this practice. So, too, you must disdain
it and choose to do or suffer anything so as not to approach the mysteries
when you are burdened with sins.
(4) Be sure that God takes no account
of such observance of special seasons. Hear him as he passes judgment on
those at his right hand: "You saw me hungry and gave me to eat; you
saw me thirsty and gave me to drink; you saw me naked and you covered me."
But he charged with quite different conduct those on his left hand. At
another time he brought forward another man in a parable and castigated
him because He remembered the evil the man had done. For he said: "You
wicked servant, I forgave you all the debt. Should not you then have had
compassion also on your fellow servant, even as I had compassion on you?"
Again, when the virgins had no oil in their lamps, he locked them out of
the bridechamber. And he cast out another man who came into the feast without
a wedding garment because this man was garbed in filthy clothes and was
wearing the cloak of his fornication and uncleanness, but no one was ever
punished or accused because he observed the Pasch in this or that month.
(5) But why speak of ourselves since
we have been set free from all such necessity? We are citizens of a city
above in heaven, where there are no months, no sun, no moon, no circle
of seasons. If you wish to give exact attention to the matter, you will
see that, even among the Jews, little account was made of the season of
the Pasch, but they cared greatly about the place for it, namely, Jerusalem.
Some men came up to Moses and said to him: "We are unclean through
touching the dead body of a man. How shall we avoid failing in the Lord's
offering?" He said to them: "Wait here and let me report it to
God." Then, after he reported it, he brought back the law which says:
"If any man be unclean through touching a dead body, or be afar on
a journey and be unable to keep the Pasch in the first month, he shall
keep it in the second."
(6) And so is not the observance
of the time annulled among the Jews so that the Pasch may be observed in
Jerusalem? Will you not show greater concern for the harmony of the Church
than for the season? So that you may seem to be observing the proper days,
will you outrage the common Mother of us all and will you cut asunder the
Holy Synod? How could you deserve pardon when you choose to commit sins
so enormous for no good reason ?
(7) But why must I speak of the
Jews? No matter how eagerly and earnestly we wish it, it is not altogether
possible for us to observe that day on which He was crucified. This will
make it clear. Let us suppose the Jews had not sinned, that they were not
hard of heart, nor senseless, nor indifferent, nor despisers; suppose they
had not fallen from their ancestral way of life but were still carefully
observing it. Even if this was the case, we could not, by following in
their footsteps, put our finger on the very day on which He was crucified
and fulfilled the Pasch. Let me tell how this is the case. When He was
crucified it was the first day of the feast of unleavened bread and the
day of preparation.
(8) But it is not possible for both
of these to fall always on the same day. This year the first day of the
feast of unleavened bread falls on Sunday, and the fast must still last
for a whole week; According to this, after Passiontide, after the cross
and resurrection have come and gone, we are still fasting. And it has often
happened that, after the cross and resurrection, our fast is still being
observed because the week is not yet over. This is why no observance of
the exact time is possible.
Let us not quarrel, let us not say:
"After fasting these many years, am I to change now?" Change
for that very reason. Since you have been so long severed from the Church,
come back now to your Mother. No one says: "After I lived as her enemy
so long a time, I am ashamed to be reconciled now." You have grounds
for shame if you do not change for the better but persist in your untimely
contentiousness. That is what destroyed the Jews. While they always kept
looking for the old customs and life, these were stripped from them and
they turned to impiety.
(2) But why do I speak of fasting
and the observance of special days? Paul continued to observe the Law and
to endure many a toil; he patiently put up with many journeys and hardships;
he surpassed all his contemporaries in the exact observance of that way
of life. But after he achieved the heights of that life and came to realize
that he was doing all this for his own hurt and destruction, he immediately
changed. He did not say to himself: "What is this? Am I to lose the
reward for this great zeal of mine? Am I to waste all this work?"
Rather he was the quicker to change for the very reason that he might continue
to suffer that loss. He scorned justification by the Law so that he might
receive the justification of faith. And so he loudly proclaimed: "The
things that were gain to me I have counted as loss for Christ. And Christ
said: "If you offer your gift at the altar, and there you remember
that your brother has anything against you, go first and be reconciled
to your brother and then come and offer your gift."
(3) What do you mean? If your brother
has something against you, Christ does not permit you to offer your sacrifice
until you are reconciled to your brother. When you have the whole Church
and so many Fathers against you, do you have the hardihood to dare to approach
the divine mysteries before you put aside that unseemly enmity? Since this
is the way you feel, how could you celebrate the Pasch?
(4) I say this not only to those
who are sick but also to you who are in good health. When you who are well
see how many are sick, you will show them great care and kindness, you
will pick them out, gather them together, and bring them back to their
Mother. Whatever they say against us, however they jump at us, no matter
what else they do to us, we must not grow weary and stop until we win them
back. For there is nothing comparable to peace and harmony.
(5) It is for this reason that,
when the Father enters the church, he does not mount to this chair until
he has prayed for all of you; when he rises from this chair, he does not
begin his instruction until he has first given the peace to all. And when
the priests are going to give the blessing, they first pray for peace for
you and then begin the blessing.
(6) And when the deacon bids you
to pray all together, he also enjoins you in his prayer to ask for the
Angel of Peace, and that everything which concerns you be blessed with
peace. As he dismisses you from the assembly, he petitions [peace] for
you and says: "Go in peace." And without this peace, it is altogether
impossible for us to say or do anything. For peace is our nurse and mother.
She is very careful to cherish us and foster us. I am not speaking of what
is merely called by the name of peace, nor of the peace which comes from
sharing meals together, but of the peace which accords with God, the peace
which comes from the harmony sent by the Spirit. Many are now tearing this
peace asunder by destroying us and exalting the Jews. These men consider
the Jews as more trustworthy teachers than their own Fathers; they believe
the account of Christ's passion and death which is given by those who slew
Him. What could be more unreasonable than this?
(7) Do you not see that their Passover
is the type, while our Pasch is the truth? Look at the tremendous difference
between them. The Passover prevented bodily death: whereas the Pasch quelled
God's anger against the whole world; the Passover of old freed the Jews
from Egypt, while the Pasch has set us free from idolatry; the Passover
drowned the Pharaoh, but the Pasch drowned the devil; after the Passover
came Palestine, but after the Pasch will come heaven.
(8) Why, then, do you sit beside
a lamp after the sun has appeared? Why do you wish to nourish yourself
on milk when solid food is being given to you? You were nourished with
milk so that you might not remain satisfied with milk: the lamp shone for
you that it might guide you and lead you by the hand into the light of
the sun. Now that the era of more perfect things has come, let us not run
back to the former times, let us not observe the days and seasons and years:
rather, let us everywhere be careful to follow the Church by paying heed
to charity and peace before all things.
(9) Suppose the Church were to be
tripped up and fall. The accurate computation of dates would not succeed
in making her slip as much as this division and schism would deserve the
blame. But I make no account of the exact date, since God makes
no account of it, as I proved when I devoted many discourses to this subject. But the one thing I seek is that we do all things in peace and concord. If we do so, you will not stay home and get drunk while we are fasting with the rest of the people, and the priests are praying together for the whole world.
(10) Note well that this is of the
devil's doing and that it is not a single sin, nor two, nor three, but
far more than three. It cuts you off from the flock, it makes you ready
to hold so many Fathers in scorn, it hurls you into contentiousness, it
thrusts you over to the Jews, and furthermore it makes you a scandal both
to your own family and to strangers. How can we blame the Jews for waiting
for you in their houses when it is you who go running to them?
(11) These sins are not the only
problem. During those days of the fast great harm could come to you from
your failure to take advantage of the Scripture readings, the religious
meetings in the church, the blessing, and the prayers said in common. Great
harm could come to you while you and your bad conscience are spending this
whole time in fear and dread that, like some foreigner or stranger, you
may be caught in your sinful act. And during all this time, in common with
the Church, you should be discharging all your religious duties in a spirit
of confidence, pleasure, good cheer, and full freedom.
(12) The Church does not recognize
the exact observance of dates. In the beginning the Fathers decided to
come together from widely separated places and to fix the Easter date;
the Church paid respect to the harmony of their thinking, loved their oneness
of mind, and accepted the date they enjoined. My earlier remarks have proved
adequately that it is impossible for us or you or any other man to arrive
at the exact date of the Lord's day. So let us stop fighting with shadows,
let us stop hurting ourselves in the big things while we are indulging
our rivalry over the small.
(13) Fasting at this or that time
is not a matter for blame. But to rend asunder the Church, to be ready
for rivalry, to create dissension, to rob oneself continuously of the benefits
of religious meetings--these are unpardonable, these do demand an accounting,
these do deserve serious punishment.
(14) I could have said much more than this. What I have said is enough for those who heed me; those who fail to heed my words will not be helped even if I should have much more to say. So let me finish my discourse at this point. and let us all pray together that our brothers come back to us. Let us pray that they cling fondly to peace and stand apart from untimely rivalry. Let us pray that they scorn this sluggish spirit of theirs and find a great and lofty understanding. Let us pray that they be set free from this observance of days so that all of us, with one heart and with one voice, may give glory to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and power now and forever, world without end. Amen.
On the Jews
AGAIN THE JEWS, the most miserable and wretched of all men, are going to fast, and again we must make secure the flock of Christ. As long as no wild beast disturbs the flock, shepherds, as they stretch out under an oak or pine tree and play their flutes, let their sheep go off to graze with full freedom. But when the shepherds feel that the wolves will raid, they are quick to throw down the flute and pick up their slingshots; they cast aside the pipe of reeds and arm themselves with clubs and stones. They take their stand in front of the flock, raise a loud and piercing shout, and oftentimes the sound of their shout drives the wolf away before he strikes.
(2) I, too, in the past, frolicked
about in explicating the Scriptures, as if I were sporting in some meadow;
I took no part in polemics because there was no one causing me concern.
But today the Jews, who are more dangerous than any wolves, are bent on
surrounding my sheep; so I must spar with them and fight with them so that
no sheep of mine may fall victim to those wolves.
(3) That fast will not be upon us
for ten days or more. But do not be surprised that from today on I am taking
up my tools and building a fence around your souls. This is what the hard-working
farmer does. When he has a rushing stream nearby which may wash away the
fields he has tilled, he does not wait for winter. Long beforehand he fences
in the banks, builds the dikes, digs ditches, and makes every preparation
against the flood. While the stream runs quietly and is low in its bed,
it is a simpler matter to restrain it; when it has become swollen and is
swept along with a violent rush of waters, it is no longer so simple to
oppose the flood. And so it is that long beforehand the farmer anticipates
the surge of the torrent and contrives by every means to keep his fields
secure in every way.
(4) As well as farmers, every soldier,
sailor, and reaper makes it a practice to prepare ahead. Before the hour
of battle, the soldier cleans off his breastplate, examines his shield,
makes ready the bridle and bit, feeds and cares for his horse, and sees
to it that he is well prepared in every way. Before the sailor launches
his ship into the harbor's waters, he prepares the keel, repairs the sides,
hews and shapes the oars, stitches together the sails, and makes ready
all the other equipment of his ship. Many days before the harvest, the
reaper sharpens his sickle, gets ready the threshing-floor, his oxen, his
wagon, and everything else which may help him in the harvest. Indeed you
can see men everywhere making preparations for their business beforehand
so that, when the time does come, it is an easy matter for them to carry
on their enterprise.
(5) I am following the example of
these men. Many days beforehand I am making your souls secure by exhorting
you to flee from that accursed and unlawful fast. Do not tell me that the
Jews are fasting; prove to me that it is God's will that they fast. If
it be not God's will, then their fasting is more unlawful than any drunkenness.
For we must not only look at what they do but we must also seek out the
reason why they do it.
(6) What is done in accordance with God's will is the best of all things even if it seems to be bad. What is done contrary to God's will and decree is the worst and most unlawful of all things--even if men judge that it is very good. Suppose someone slays another in accordance with God's will. This slaying is better than any loving-kindness. Let someone spare another and show him great love and kindness against God's decree. To spare the other's life would be more unholy than any slaying. For it is God's will and not the nature of things that makes the same actions good or bad.
Listen to me so that you may learn
that this is true. Ahab once captured a king of Syria and, contrary to
God's decree, saved his life. He had the Syrian king enjoy a seat by his
side and sent him off with great honor. About that time a prophet came
to his companion and "said to him: 'In the word of the Lord, strike
me.' But his companion was not willing to strike him. And the prophet said
to him: 'Because you would not hearken to the word of the Lord, behold,
you will depart from me and a lion will strike you.' And he departed from
him, and the lion found him and struck him. Then the prophet found another
man and said: 'Strike me.' And the man did strike him and wounded him,
and the prophet bandaged up his face."
(2) What greater paradox than this
could there be? The man who struck the prophet was saved; the one who spared
the prophet was punished. Why? That you may learn that, when God commands,
you must not question too much the nature of the action; you have only
to obey. So that the first man might not spare him out of reverence, the
prophet did not simply say: "Strike me" but said: "Strike
me in the word of God. That is, God commands it; seek no further. It is
the King who ordains it; reverence the rank of him who commands and with
all eagerness heed his word. But the man lacked the courage to strike him
and, on this account, he paid the ultimate penalty. But by the punishment
he subsequently suffered, he encourages us to yield and obey God's every
(3) But after the second man had
struck and wounded him, the prophet bound his own head with a bandage,
covered his eyes, and disguised himself. Why did he do this? He was going
to accuse the king and condemn him for saving the life of the king of the
Syrians. Now Ahab was an impious man and always a foe to the prophets.
The prophet did not wish Ahab to recognize him and then drive him from
his sight; if the king drove him away, he would not hear the prophet's
words of correction. So the prophet concealed his face and any statement
of his business in the hope that this would give him the advantage when
he did speak and that he might get the king to agree to the terms he wanted.
(4) "When the king was passing
by, the prophet called aloud to him and said: 'Your servant went forth
to the campaign of war. Behold, a man brought another man to me and said
to me: "Guard this man for me. If he shall leap away and bound off,
it will be your life for his life, or you will pay a talent of silver."
And it happened that as your servant turned his eyes this way and that,
the man was not there.' And the king of Israel said to him: 'This is your
judgment before me: You slew the man.' And the prophet hurried to take
the bandage from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized that he was
one of the sons of the prophets. And he said to the king: 'So says the
Lord: "Because you let go from your hand a man worthy of death, it
will be your life for his life, and your people for his people.' ....
(5) Do you see how not only God
but men make this kind of judgment because both God and men heed the end
and the causes rather than the nature of what is done? Certainly even the
king said to him: "This is your judgment before me: you slew the man."
You are a murderer, he said, because you let an enemy go. The prophet put
on the bandage and presented the case as if it were not the king but somebody
else on trial, so that the king might pass the proper sentence. And, in
fact, this did happen. For after the king condemned him, the prophet tore
off the bandage and said: "Because you let go from your hand a man
worthy of death, it will be your life for his life, and your people for
(6) Did you see what a penalty the
king paid for his act of kindness? And what punishment he endured in return
for his untimely sparing of his foe? The one who spared a life is punished;
another, who slew a man, was held in esteem. Phinehas certainly slew two
people in a single moment of time--a man and his wife; and after he slew
them, he was given the honor of the priesthood. His act of bloodshed did
not defile his hands; it even made them cleaner.
(7) So you see that he who struck
the prophet goes free, while he who refused to strike him perishes; you
see that he who spared a man's life is punished, while he who refused to
spare a life is held in esteem. Therefore, always look into the decrees
of God before you consider the nature of your own actions. Whenever you
find something which accords with His decree, approve that--and only that.
Let us examine the matter of fasting
and apply this rule to it. Suppose we should not apply this rule but merely
take the act of fasting and consider it with no reference to anything else.
The result will be great tumult and confusion. It is true that highwaymen,
grave-robbers, and sorcerers have their sides torn to pieces; it is also
true that the martyrs undergo this same suffering. What is done is the
same, but the purpose and reason why it is done is different. And so it
is that there is a great difference between the criminals and martyrs.
(2) In these cases we not only consider
the torture but we first look for the intention and the reasons why the
torture is inflicted. And this is why we love the martyrs--not because
they are tortured but because they are tortured for the sake of Christ.
But we turn our backs on the robbers--not because they are being punished
but because they are being punished for their wickedness.
(3) So, too, in the matter of fasting,
you must pass a judgment. If you see people fasting for the sake of God,
approve what they do; if you see that they do this against God's will,
turn your back on them and hate them more than you do those who drink,
revel, and carouse. And in the case of this fasting we must inquire not
only into the reason for fasting but we must consider also the place and
(4) But before I draw up my battle
line against the Jews, I will be glad to talk to those who are members
of our own body, those who seem to belong to our ranks although they observe
the Jewish rites and make every effort to defend them. Because they do
this, as I see it, they deserve a stronger condemnation than any Jew. Not
only the wise and intelligent but even those with little reason and understanding
would agree with me in this. I need no clever arguments, no rhetorical
devices, no prolix periodic sentences to prove this. It is enough to ask
them a few simple questions and then trap them by their answers.
(5) What, then, are the questions?
I will ask each one who is sick with this disease: Are you a Christian?
Why, then, this zeal for Jewish practices? Are you a Jew? Why then, are
you making trouble for the Church? Does not a Persian side with the Persians?
Is not a barbarian eager for what concerns the barbarians? Will a man who
lives in the Roman empire not follow our laws and way of life? Tell me
this. If ever anyone living among us is caught in collusion siding with
the barbarians, is he not immediately punished? He is given neither hearing
nor examination, even if he has ten thousand arguments in his own defense.
If ever anyone living among the barbarians is clearly following Roman custom
and law, again, will he not suffer the same punishment? How, then, do you
expect to be saved by defecting to that unlawful way of life?
(6) The difference between the Jews
and us in not a small one, is it? Is the dispute between us over ordinary,
everyday matters, so that you think the two religions are really one and
the same? Why are you mixing what cannot be mixed? They crucified the Christ
whom you adore as God. Do you see how great the difference is? How is it,
then, that you keep running to those who slew Christ when you say that
you worship him whom they crucified? You do not think, do you, that I am
the one who brings up the law on which these charges are based, nor that
I make up the form which the accusation takes? Does not the Scripture treat
the Jews in this way?
(7) Hear what Jeremiah says against
those same Jews: "Go off to Kedar and see; send off to the islands
of the Kittim and find out if such things have happened. What things? "If
the gentiles will change their gods, and indeed they are not gods, but
you have changed your glory and from it you will derive no profit."
He did not say: "You have changed your God," but, "your
glory." What he means is this. Those who worship idols and serve demons
are so unshaken in their errors that they choose not to abandon them nor
desert them for the truth. But you, who worship the true God, have cast
aside the religion of your fathers and have gone over to strange ways of
worship. You did not show the same firmness in regard to the truth that
they did in regard to their error. That is why Jeremiah says: "Find
out if such things have happened, if the gentiles will change their gods,
and indeed they are not gods; but you have changed your glory and from
it you will derive no profit." He did not say: "You have changed
your God," for God does not change. But he did say: "You have
changed your glory." You did no harm to me, God says, because no harm
has come to me. But you did dishonor yourselves. You did not make my glory
less, but you did diminish your own.
(8) Let me also say this to those
who are our own--if I must call our own those who side with the Jews. Go
to the synagogues and see if the Jews have changed their fast; see if they
kept the pre-Paschal fast with us; see if they have taken food on that
day. But theirs is not a fast; it is a transgression of the law, it is
a sin, it is trespassing. Yet they did not change. But you did change your
glory and from it you will derive no profit; you did go over to their rites.
(9) Did the Jews ever observe our
pre-Paschal fast? Did they ever join us in keeping the feast of the martyrs?
Did they ever share with us the day of the Epiphanies? They do not run
to the truth, but you rush to transgression. I call it a transgression
because their observances do not occur at the proper time. Once there was
a proper time when they had to follow those observances, but now there
is not. That is why what was once according to the Law is now opposed to
Let me say what Elijah said against
the Jews. He saw the unholy life the Jews were living: at one time they
paid heed to God, at another they worshipped idols. So he spoke some such
words as these: "How long will you limp on both legs? If the Lord
our God is with you, come, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him."
Let me, too, now say this against these Judaizing Christians. If you judge
that Judaism is the true religion, why are you causing trouble to the Church?
But if Christianity is the true faith, as it really is, stay in it and
follow it. Tell me this. Do you share with us in the mysteries, do you
worship Christ as a Christian, do you ask him for blessings, and do you
then celebrate the festival with his foes? With what purpose, then, do
you come to the church?
(2) I have said enough against those
who say they are on our side but are eager to follow the Jewish rites.
Since it is against the Jews that I wish to draw up my battle line, let
me extend my instruction further. Let me show that, by fasting now, the
Jews dishonor the law and trample underfoot God's commands because they
are always doing everything contrary to his decrees. When God wished them
to fast, they got fat and flabby. When God does not wish them to fast,
they get obstinate and do fast; when he wished them to offer sacrifices,
they rushed off to idols; when he does not wish them to celebrate the feast
days, they are all eager to observe them.
(3) This is why Stephen said to
them: "You always oppose the Holy Spirit." This is the one thing,
he says, in which you show your zeal: in doing the opposite to what God
has commanded. And they are still doing that today. What makes this clear?
The Law itself. In the case of the Jewish festivals the Law demanded observance
not only of the tune but also the place. In speaking about this feast of
the Passover, the Law says to them something such as this: "You will
not be able to keep the Passover in any of the cities which the Lord your
God gives to you." The Law bids them keep the feast on the fourteenth
day of the first month and in the city of Jerusalem. The Law also narrowed
down the time and place for the observance of Pentecost, when it commanded
them to celebrate the feast after seven weeks, and again, when it stated:
"In the place which the Lord your God chooses." So also the Law
fixed the feast of Tabernacles.
(4) Now let us see which of the
two, time or place, is more necessary, even though neither the one nor
the other has the power to save. Must we scorn the place but observe the
time? Or should we scorn the time and keep the place? What I mean is something
such as this. The Law commanded that the Passover be held in the first
month and in Jerusalem, at a prescribed time and in a prescribed place.
Let us suppose that there are two men keeping the Passover. Suppose one
of them neglects the place but observes the time; suppose the other observes
the place but neglects the time. Let the one who observes the time but
neglects the place celebrate the Passover in the first month, but far away
from Jerusalem; and let the one who observes the place but neglects the
time celebrate the feast in Jerusalem but in the second month instead of
(5) Next, let us see which of these
two is charged and accused, and which receives approval and esteem. Will
it be the one who transgressed in the matter of time but observed the place,
or the one who neglected the place but observed the time? If the man who
transgressed about the time so as to celebrate the feast in Jerusalem clearly
deserves esteem, but the one who observed the time while neglecting the
place deserves to be charged and accused for his impious action it is quite
obvious that those who do not keep the Passover in the proper place are
transgressing the Law, even if they maintain a thousand times over that
they are observing the proper time.
(6) Who will make this clear to
us? Moses himself. As he tells it, even after some men had observed the
Passover outside Jerusalem, "they came up to Moses and said: 'We are
unclean through touching the body of a dead man. We should not fail to
offer the Lord's offering at its proper time among the sons of Israel,
should we'?.' And Moses said to them: 'Stay here and I shall listen to
what the Lord will command in your regard.' And the Lord spoke to Moses
and said: 'Speak to the sons of Israel and say: "If any man be unclean
through the body of a dead man, or if he be afar off on a journey, whether
he be one of you or of your descendants, he shall keep the Pasch in the
second month.' ....
(7) He means something such as this.
If anyone be away from home in the first month. let him not keep the Passover
outside the city: but let him return to Jerusalem and keep it in the second
month. Let him disregard the time so as not to fail in the matter of the
city. In this way he shows that observance of the place is more necessary
than observance of the time.
(8) But what could the Jews say
if they observe the Passover outside the city of Jerusalem? Since they
transgress in the more necessary matter of place, their observance in the
less important matter of time cannot be urged in their defense. The result
is that they are guilty of the worst transgression of the Law, even if
it is obvious a thousand times over that they are not neglecting the matter
(9) This is certain not only from
what I have said but also from the prophets. What excuse would the Jews
of today have when it is clear that the Jews of old never offered sacrifice,
nor sang hymns in an alien land, nor did they observe any such fasts as
they do today? To be sure, the Jews of old were expecting to recover the
way of life in which they could observe these rituals. Therefore, they
remained obedient to the Law and did what it commanded, for the Law told
them to expect this. But the Jews of today have no hope of recovering their
forefathers' way of life. In what prophet can they find proof that they
will? They have no hope, but they cannot bear to give up these practices.
And yet, even if they were expecting to recover the old way of life, even
so they ought to be imitating those holy men of old by neither fasting
nor observing any other such ritual.
To prove to you that the Jews in
exile observed none of these rituals, hear what they said to those who
asked them to do so. For their barbarian captors were urging them by force
and demand to play their musical instruments. "Sing to us a hymn of
the Lord," they said. But the Jews clearly understood that the Law
commanded them not to do so. Therefore, they said: "How shall we sing
the song of the Lord in a strange land?" And, again, the three boys
who were captives in Babylon said; "At this time we have no prince
or prophet nor place to offer sacrifice in your sight and find mercy."
Certainly there was much room for a place of sacrifice in the country,
but since the temple was not there, they steadfastly refrained from offering
(2) And again God spoke to his people
through the lips of Zechariah: "For these seventy years you have not
kept a fast for me, have you? He was speaking of the captivity. Tell me.
By what right, then, do you Jews fast today, when your ancestors neither
offered sacrifices, nor fasted, nor kept the feasts? And this makes it
especially clear that they did not observe the Passover. Where there was
no sacrifice, there no festival was held, because all the feasts had to
be celebrated with a sacrifice.
(3) Let me provide proof for this
very point. Listen to the words of Daniel: "In those days I, Daniel,
was mourning for three weeks. I ate not desirable bread, and neither flesh
nor wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself with ointment in those
weeks. And it came to pass on the twenty-fourth day of the first month
that I saw the vision. Pay careful heed to me here, for this text makes
it clear that they did not observe the Passover. Let me tell you how this
is. The Jews were not permitted to fast during the days of the feast of
unleavened bread. But for twenty-one days Daniel took no food at all. And
what proves that the twenty-one days included the days of the feast of
unleavened bread? We learn this from what he said, namely, that it was
on the twenty-fourth day of the first month.
(4) But the Passover comes to an
end on the twenty-first of that month. If they began the feast on the fourteenth
day of the first month and then continued it for seven days, they then
come to the twenty-first. Nonetheless, Daniel steadfastly continued his
fast even after the Passover had come and gone. For if Daniel had begun
his fast on the third day of the first month and then continued through
a full twenty-one days, he passed the fourteenth, went on for seven days
after that, and then kept fasting for three more days.
(5) How, then, do the Jews of today
avoid being cursed and defiled? The holy ones of old followed no such observances
of what the Law prescribed, because they were in a strange land. Are today's
Jews doing just the opposite so that they may stir up contentiousness and
strife? If some of the holy ones of old who spoke and acted this way were
lax and irreverent, perhaps we would have considered their failure to observe
these precepts as a sign of their laxity. But they loved and revered God,
they gave their very lives for what God had decreed. So it is abundantly
clear that failure to keep the Law was not the result of their laxity.
Rather, their failure to keep the Law was prompted by the Law itself, because
the Law said they must not observe those rituals outside Jerusalem.
(6) This brings us to a conclusion
on another matter of great importance. The observances regarding sacrifices,
sabbaths, new moons, and all such things prescribed by the Jewish way of
life of that day were not essential. Even when they were observed they
could make no great contribution to virtue; when neglected they could not
make the excellent man worthless, nor degrade in any way the sanctity of
his soul. But those men of old, while still on earth, manifested by their
piety a way of life that rivals the way the angels live. Yet they followed
none of these observances, they slew no beasts in sacrifice, they kept
no feast, they made no display of fasting. But they were so pleasing to
God that they surpassed this human nature of ours and, by the lives they
lived, they drew the whole world to a knowledge of God.
(7) Who could match a Daniel? Who
could match the three boys in Babylon? Did they not anticipate the greatest
commandment which the Gospels give, the commandment which is the chief
source of all blessings? Had they not already proved this by their deeds?
For John says: "Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down
his life of his friends. But they laid down their lives for God.
(8) We must admire them for this.
But we must also admire them because they were not doing it for any reward.
This is why the boys in Babylon said: "There is a God in heaven, and
he can save us; but if he will not, be it known, O king, that we will not
worship your gods." The prophet means: The reward is sufficient for
us that we are dying for God. And they gave proof of this great virtue
even though they were observing none of the Law's prescriptions.
You Jews will say: "Why, then,
did God impose these prescriptions if he did not wish them observed?"
And I say to you: If he wished them observed, why, then, did he destroy
your city? God had to do one or the other of two things if he wished these
prescriptions to remain in force: either he had to command you not to sacrifice
in one place, since he intended to scatter you to every corner of the world;
or, if he wished you to offer sacrifice only in Jerusalem, he was obliged
not to scatter you to every corner of the world and he should have made
that one city impregnable, because it was there alone that sacrifice has
to be offered.
(2) Again the Jews will say: "What
is this, then? Was God contradicting himself when he ordered the Jews to
sacrifice in one place but then barred them from that very place?"
By no means! God is very consistent. He did not wish you to offer sacrifices
from the beginning, and I bring forward as my witness of this the very
prophet who said: "Hear the word of the . . . Lord, you rulers of
Sodom, give ear to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah." But
it was really to the Jews the prophet spoke, not to those dwelling in Sodom
and Gomorrah. Yet he calls the Jews by the names of these people because,
by imitating their evil lives, the Jews had developed a kinship with those
who dwelt in those cities.
(3) In fact Isaiah called the Jews
dogs and Jeremiah called them mare-mad horses This was not because they
suddenly changed natures with those beasts but because they were pursuing
the lustful habits of those animals. "'What care I for the number
of your sacrifices?' says the Lord. But it is clear that those who dwelt
in Sodom never offered sacrifices. Isaiah is aiming his remarks against
the Jews when he calls them by the name of those brute animals, and he
does so for the reason I just mentioned." 'What care I for the number
of your sacrifices' says the Lord 'I am filled up with your holocausts
of rams, I desire not the fat of sheep, and the blood of bulls, not even
if you come to appear before me. For who required all these things from
your hands?' Did you hear his voice clearly saying that he did not require
these sacrifices from you from the beginning? If he had made sacrifice
a necessity, he would also have subjected the first Jews to this way of
life and all the patriarchs who flourished before the Jews of Isaiah's
(4) Then the Jews will ask: "How
is it that he straightway did permit the Jews to sacrifice?" He was
giving in to their weakness. Suppose a physician sees a man who is suffering
from fever and finds him in a distressed and impatient mood. Suppose the
sick man has his heart set on a drink of cold water and threatens, should
he not get it, to find a noose and hang himself, or to hurl himself over
a cliff. The physician grants his patient the lesser evil, because he wishes
to prevent the greater and to lead the sick man away from a violent death.
(5) This is what God did. He saw
the Jews choking with their mad yearning for sacrifices. He saw that they
were ready to go over to idols if they were deprived of sacrifices. I should
say, he saw that they were not only ready to go over, but that they had
already done so. So he let them have their sacrifices the time when the
permission was granted should make it clear that this is the reason. After
they kept the festival in honor of the evil demons, God yielded and permitted
sacrifices. What he all but said was this: "You are all eager and
avid for sacrifices. If sacrifice you must, then sacrifice to me."
But even if he permitted sacrifices, this permission was not to last forever:
in the wisdom of his ways, he took the sacrifices away from them again.
(6) Let me use the example of the
physician again--there is really no reason why I should not. After he has
given into the patient's craving, he gets a drinking cup from his home
and gives instructions to the sick man to satisfy his thirst from this
cup and no other. When he has gotten his patient to agree, he leaves secret
orders with the servants to smash the cup to bits; in this way he proposes,
without arousing the patient's suspicion, to lead him secretly away from
the craving on which he has set his heart.
(7) This is what God did, too. He
let the Jews offer sacrifice but permitted this to be done in Jerusalem
and nowhere else in the world. After they had offered sacrifices for a
short time, God destroyed the city. Why? The physician saw to it that the
cup was broken. By seeing to it that their city was destroyed, God led
the Jews away from the practice of sacrifice, though it was against their
will. If God were to have come right out and said: "Keep away from
sacrifice," they would not have found it easy to keep away from this
madness for offering victims. But now, by imposing the necessity of offering
sacrifice in Jerusalem, he led them away from this mad practice: and they
never noticed what he had done.
(8) Let me make the analogy clear; the physician is God, the cup is the city of Jerusalem, the patient is the implacable Jewish people, the drink of cold water is the permission and authority to offer sacrifices. The physician has the cup destroyed and, in this way, keeps the sick man from what he demands at an ill-suited time. God destroyed the city itself, made it inaccessible to all, and in this way led the Jews away from sacrifices. If he did not intend to make ready an end to sacrifice, why did God, who is omnipresent and fills the universe, confine so sacred a ritual to a single place? Why did he confine worship to sacrifices, the sacrifices to a place, the place to a time, and the time to a single city, and then destroy the city? It is indeed a strange and surprising thing. the whole world is left open to the Jews, but they are not permitted to sacrifice there; Jerusalem alone is inaccessible to them, and that is the only place where they are permitted to offer sacrifice.
(9) Even if a man is completely
lacking in understanding, should it not be clear and obvious to him why
Jerusalem was destroyed? Suppose a builder lays the foundation for a house,
then raises up the walls, arches over the roof, and binds together the
vault of the roof with a single keystone to support it. If the builder
removes the keystone, he destroys the bond which holds the entire structure
together. This is what God did. He made Jerusalem what we might call the
keystone which held together the structure of worship. When he overthrew
the city, he destroyed the rest of the entire structure of that way of
Let then my battle with the Jews wait awhile. I did fight a skirmish of words with them today, but I said only what was enough to save our brothers from danger. Perhaps I said much more than that. But I must now exhort those of you who are here in church to show great concern for the fellow members of our body. I do not want to hear you say: "What concern is this of mine? Why interfere and meddle in other people's affairs?"
(2) Our Master died for us. Will you not take the trouble
to say a single word? What excuse or defense will you find for this? Tell
me this. If you look the other way when so many souls are perishing, how
will you find the confidence to stand before the judgment seat of Christ.'?
I wish I could know which ones are running off to the synagogue. Then I
would not have needed your help but I would have straightened them out
with all speed.
(3) Whenever your brother needs
correction, even if you must lay down your life, do not refuse him. Follow
the example of your Master. If you have a servant or if you have a wife,
be very careful to keep them at home. If you refuse to let them go to the
theater, you must refuse all the more to let them go to the synagogue.
To go to the synagogue is a greater crime than going to the theater. What
goes on in the theater is, to be sure, sinful; what goes on in the synagogue
is godlessness. When I say this I do not mean that you let them go to the
theater, for the theater is wicked; I say it so that you will be all the
more careful to keep them away from the synagogue.
(4) What is it that you are rushing
to see in the synagogue of the Jews who fight against God? Tell me, is
it to hear the trumpeters? You should stay at home to weep and groan for
them, because they are fighting against God's command, and it is the devil
who leads them in their revels and dance. As I said before, if there once
was a time when God did permit what is against his will, now it is a violation
of his law and grounds for punishments beyond number. Long ago, when the
Jews did have sacrifices, they did sound their trumpets; now God does not
permit them to do this.
(5) At least listen to the reason why they got the trumpets. God said to Moses: "Make for yourself trumpets of beaten silver. Next God explained how the trumpets were to be used, for he went on to say: "You will sound them over the holocausts, and the sacrifices for your deliverance.
(6) But where is the altar? Where is the ark? Where is the tabernacle and the holy of holies? Where is the priest? Where are the cherubim of glory? Where is the golden altar of incense? Where is the mercy-seat? Where is the bowl? Where are the drink offerings? Where is the fire sent down from heaven? Did you lose all those and keep only the trumpets? Do you Christians not see that what the Jews are doing is mockery rather than worship?
(7) I blame the Jews for violating
the Law. But I blame you much more for going along with the lawbreakers,
not only those of you who run to the synagogues but also those of you who
have the power to stop the Judaizers but are unwilling to do so. Do not
say to me: "What do I have in common with him? He is a stranger, and
I do not know him." I say to you that as long as he is a believer,
as long as he shares with you in the same mysteries, as long as he comes
to the same church, he is more closely related to you than your own kinsmen
and friends. Remember, it is not only those who commit robbery who pay
the penalty for their crime; those, too, who could have stopped them but
did not, pay the same penalty. Those guilty of impiety are punished, and
so, too, are those who could have led them from godless ways but did not,
because they were too timid or lazy to be willing to do so.
(8) To be sure, the man who buried
his talent gave it back to his master whole and entire; yet he was punished
because he did not make a profit from it. Suppose, then, that you yourself
remain pure and free from blame; if you fail to make a profit from your
talent, if you fail to bring back to salvation your brother who is perishing,
you will suffer the same punishment which he does.
(9) Is it some great burden I am
asking of you, my beloved? Let each one of you bring back for me one of
your brothers to salvation. Let each one of you interfere and meddle in
your brother's affairs so that we may come to tomorrow's service with great
confidence, because we are bringing gifts more valuable than any others,
because we are bringing back the souls of those who have wandered away.
Even if we must suffer revilement, even if we must be beaten, even if we
must endure any other pain whatsoever, let us do everything to win these
brothers back. Since these are sick brothers who trample us underfoot,
revile us, and rail against us, we are not stung by their insults; we want
to see one thing and only one thing: the return to health of him who behaved
in this outrageous way.
(10) Many a time a sick man tears
the physician's clothes. But the physician does not let this stop him from
trying to cure his patient. It is normal, then, for physicians to show
such concern for their patients' bodily health. When so many souls are
perishing, is it right for us to slacken our efforts and to think we are
suffering no terrible harm, even if our own members are rotting with disease?
Paul did not think so. What did he say? "Who is weak, and I am not
weak? Who is scandalized, and I am not on fire?" See to it that you
catch this fire.
(1l) Suppose you see your brother
perishing. Even if he reviles you, if he insults you, if he strikes you,
if he threatens to become your foe, if he menaces you in any other way,
show your courage and endure all these insults so that you may win his
salvation. If he should become your foe, God will be your friend and will
give you in return many great blessings on that day.
(12) May the prayers of the saints save those who have wandered into error, may you who are faithful be successful in your hunt, may those who have blasphemed God be freed from their ungodliness and come to know Christ, who died for them on the cross, so that all of us may, with one accord and one voice, give glory to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and power together with the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
St. John Chrysostom's
On the Jews
HOW IS IT THAT we have a larger
throng assembled here today? Surely, you have come together to demand that
I keep my promise; you are here to receive the silver tried in the fire
which I pledged to pay over to you. For as the Psalmist says: "The
words of the Lord are pure words: silver tried by the fire, purged from
the earth." Blessed be God because He has put in your hearts the yearning
to hear words good for your souls.
(2) When wine-tipplers get up each morning, they start their meddlesome probing to discover where they will find the day's drinking-bouts, carousals, parties, revels, and drunken brawls; they busy themselves searching for bottles, mixing bowls, and drinking cups. But when you get up each day, you go around asking where you will find exhortation and counsel, encouragement, and instruction, the kind of discourse which draws you to give glory to Christ. This makes me the more eager to hold fast to my topic and, from the fullness of my heart, to keep the promises I have made.
(3) My battle against the Jews did come to a fitting end. The monument marking their rout has been set up, the victory crown belongs to me, and I have captured the prize I sought from my previous discourse. For the task I had undertaken was to prove that what the Jews now do by way of ritual transgresses and violates the Law. It was my desire to show that in these rites we have men doing battle with God, creatures waging war against him. And with God's help, I did give precise proof of this. For even if the Jews were going to recover their own city, if they were about to return to their old commonwealth and way of life and see their temple rebuilt--an event which will never come to pass--even so, they have no defense for their present practices.
(4) The three boys in Babylon, Daniel, and all the others who spent their days in captivity kept expecting to recover their own city and, after seventy years, to see the soil of their fatherland; they kept looking forward to living again under their ancestral laws They had a clear pledge and promise that this would come to pass. However, until the promise was fulfilled, until they did return, they did not dare to perform any of the prescribed rites the way the Jews of today do.
(5) This is the way you, too, can silence and gag the Jews. Ask the Jew why he observes the fast when he has no city. If he shall say: "Because I expect to recover my city," you say to him: "Stop fasting, then, until you do recover it. Certainly, until the holy ones of old returned to their own fatherland, they practiced none of the rites which you now practice. From this it is clear that you are violating the law, even if you are going to recover your city, as you say; you are transgressing your convenant with God and outraging that old commonwealth and way of life." What I have said to your loving assembly both here and in my previous discourse is enough to silence and gag the shameless arguments of the Jews and to prove that they are transgressing the Law.
(6) It was not my sole purpose to stitch shut the mouths of the Jews. I also was anxious to give you more extensive instruction in the teachings of the Church . Come now, and let me give you abundant proof that the temple will not be rebuilt and that the Jews will not return to their former way of life. In this way you will come to a clearer understanding of what the Apostles taught, and the Jews will be all the more convicted of acting in a godless way. As witness I shall produce not an angel, not an archangel, but the very Master of the whole world, our Lord Jesus Christ. When he came into Jerusalem and saw the temple, he said: "Jerusalem will be trodden down by many nations, until the times of many nations be fulfilled." By this he meant the years to come until the consummation of the world. And again, speaking to his disciples about the temple, he made the threat that a stone would not remain upon a stone in that place until the time when it be destroyed. His threat was a prediction that the temple would come to a final devastation and completely disappear.
(7) But the Jew totally rejects this testimony. He refuses to admit what Christ said. What does the Jew say? "The man who said this is my foe. I crucified him. so how am I to accept his testimony?" But this is the marvel of it. You Jews did crucify him. But after he died on the cross, he then destroyed your city; it was then that he dispersed your people; it was then that he scattered your nation over the face of the earth. In doing this, he teaches us that he is risen, alive, and in heaven.
(8) Because you were not willing to recognize his power through his benefactions, he taught you by his punishment and vengeance that no one can struggle with or prevail against his might and strength. But even so, you do not believe in him, you do not recognize that he is God and Master of all the world, but you consider him just another man.
(9) Come then and let us conduct a test as we would in the case of a man. How do we test human beings? If we see that a man tells the truth in all things and never in any way lies to another, we accept his word, even if he happens to be a foe. At least we do so if we have any sense. In the same way, when we see that a man is a liar, even if he tells the truth in some instances, we do not readily accept his word.
Let us look, then, at the character and habits of Christ. Not only did he predict and foretell the destruction of the temple but he also prophesied during his life many other things which were going to come to pass a long time afterwards. Let us, then, bring these predictions into the open. If you see that he is lying in these predictions, then do not accept his prediction about the temple, nor consider it deserving of your belief. But if you see that he tells the truth in all things and that this prediction has been fulfilled, if you see that long years have passed but still testify to the truth of what he foretold, let us have no more of your impudence and stubbornness in matters which are clearer than the light of the sun.
(2) Let us see what else he predicted. There once came up to him a woman with an alabaster jar of precious ointment and she poured it on him. His disciples were indignant at what happened and said: "Why was this not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" He reproved them, however, and said "Why do you trouble the woman. She has done a good deed. For I say to you, wherever on the whole earth this gospel is preached, this also that she has done shall be told in memory of her? Did he not or did he tell the truth? Was his prediction fulfilled or did it fail to come true? Put these questions to the Jew. Even if he counts his shameless acts in the tens of thousands, he will not be able to look at this prophecy in the face and stare it down.
(3) Certainly we do hear her story told in all the churches. Consuls have stood listening to it, and generals, too; men, women, the renowned, the distinguished, the famous ones in every city. Wherever in the world you may go, everyone respectfully listens to the story of her good service; her action is known in every corner of the earth.
(4) How many kings brought many and great blessings on their cities, how many kings waged successful wars, set up many trophies of victory, saved nations, built cities, and in addition, acquired countless revenues? Yet they, for all their great exploits, are buried in the silence of oblivion. Many queens and great ladies have conferred benefits beyond number on those subject to them. Yet some people do not even know them by name. But this worthless woman, who only poured out her ointment, is praised everywhere in the world; the long passage of years has failed to blot out the memory of her, and the time to come will never quench her fame.
(5) And yet hers was not a deed of renown. For what renown was there in pouring out some ointment? Nor was she a distinguished person, for she was a low woman and an outcast. Nor was there a large audience to see, for only the disciples were gathered around her. Nor was the place one where she could be easily seen. She made no entrance onto a theater stage to perform her service but did her good deed in a house with only ten people present.
(6) Nonetheless, even though she was a lowly person, even though only a few were there to witness it, even though the place was undistinguished, neither these facts nor any others could obscure the memory of that woman. Today, she is more illustrious than any king or queen; no passage of years has buried in oblivion the service she performed.
(7) Tell me, now. How do you explain this? Who brought this about? Is it not the work of the God to whom this service was paid? Is it not God who has spread the story of her deed to every corner of the earth? Is it within the scope of human power to predict such things as these? Who in his right mind could say that? We marvel and are astounded when Christ foretells what he, himself, will do. But when he predicts what others will do and then makes these actions of others clear to all the world and worthy of every man's belief, it is still more astounding and marvelous.
(8) Again, he said to Peter: "Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." You Jews tell me how you can attack this prediction of his. How can you show that this prophecy is false? The testimony of the facts will not allow it, even if you are obstinate and dispute it ten thousand times. How many conflagrations of war have been kindled against the Church? Many armies have taken the field, many weapons have been used, every form of punishment and torture has been contrived. There were frying-pans, racks caldrons, ovens, cisterns, cliffs, fangs of wild beasts, seas, confiscations, and ten thousand other means of torture, unmentionable and unendurable? And these were used not only by foreigners but by our own countrymen. Indeed, a sort of civil war held everything in its grip; rather, it was more bitter than any civil war. Not only did citizens do battle with citizens but kinsmen with kinsmen, members of the same household with each other; friends fought friends. Yet none of these things destroyed the Church nor made it weaker.
(9) Certainly, the wonderful and unexpected thing about this is that all these attacks were made against the Church when it was just beginning. If these dread persecutions were let loose against it after it had taken root and after the Gospel message had been planted everywhere in the world, it would not be so strange that the Church had resisted these attacks. But it was at the beginning of her teaching mission, when the seed of faith had just been sown and the understanding of those who heard the word was still somewhat weak, that these violent wars broke out in all their fury. The fact that they did not weaken our position but even made us prosper all the more is the miracle that surpasses all miracles.
(10) You may say that the Church now stands firm because of the peace granted to it by the emperors. To keep you from saying this, God permitted the Church to be attacked and persecuted at a time when it was smaller and seemed to be weaker. God wanted you to learn that the security the Church enjoys today does not come to it from the peace granted by emperors, but from the power of God.
To help you see the truth of this, consider how many men wished to introduce their teachings among the Greeks and to establish a new commonwealth and way of life. Think of such men as Zeno, Plato, Socrates, Diagoras, Pythagoras, and countless others. Yet they fell so far short of success that many people do not even now know them by name. But Christ not only wrote a constitution but even brought a new way of life to the whole world. How many miracles do they say that Apollonius of Tyana worked? But all his deeds were a fraud, a vain show, and devoid of truth. And you may learn this from the fact that, in an instant, they vanished and disappeared.
(2) Let no one consider it an insult to Christ that, while speaking of him, I mentioned Pythagoras, Plato, Zeno and the man from Tyana. I am not doing this of my own choice but out of consideration for the weakness of the Jews, who see in Christ a mere man. This is what Paul did when he came to Athens. On entering the city, he took the topic for his exhortation not from the prophets or the gospels, but from the Athenians' altar to the unknown God. He did not consider their altar more deserving of faith than the gospels, nor did he account the inscription on it more worthy of honor than the prophets. But he was speaking to pagan Greeks, who believed in none of our sacred books, and so he used arguments from their own beliefs to subdue them. He did the same thing at Corinth when he said: "I have become to the Jews a Jew, to those without the Law, as one without the Law (though I am not without the law of God, but am under the law of Christ).
(3) The Old Testament does this, too, in speaking to the Jews about God. It says: "Who is like to you among the gods, O Lord?" What do you mean, Moses? Is there any comparison at all between the true God and false gods? Moses would reply: "I did not say this to make a comparison; but since I was talking to the Jews, who had a lofty opinion of demons, I condescended to their weakness and brought in the lesson I was teaching in this way." Let me also say that since my discussion is with the Jews, who consider that Christ is mere man and one who violated their Law, I compared him with those whom the pagan Greeks admire.
(4) If you wish me to make a comparison with men from among the Jews themselves, men who tried to do what Christ did, men who gathered disciples and were proclaimed as leaders and chiefs but who were immediately forgotten, let me try to prove it in this way. Surely this was what Gamelie did to stop their mouths. When he saw the Sanhedrin in a rage and eager to shed the blood of the disciples, he wished to put a stop to their ungovernable anger. So he gave orders for the apostles to be put outside for a little while and then had this to say to the Jews.
(5) "Take care what you are about to do to these men. For some time ago there rose up Theudas, claiming to be somebody, and four hundred men followed him, but he perished and all his followers were scattered abroad. And after him there rose up Judas the Galilean, who drew a considerable crowd; he too died and his disciples perished. So now I say to you, Take care, for if this work is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow it. Else perhaps you may find yourselves fighting even against God."
(6) Where, then, is the proof that if this is the work of men, it will perish? You had proof of this, said Gamaliel, from the cases of Judas and Theudas. So if the man whom the Apostles proclaim is a leader such as Judas and Theudas, if He does not do all He does by the power of God, wait a little while, and the outcome of events will give credibility to what you say. You will know from the way things turn out whether he is a deceiver, as you say, and one who violates the Law, or the God who rules all things and, with ineffable power, orders and arranges our affairs.
(7) And this did come to pass. They did wait. The very outcome of events did prove that his power was divine and unconquerable. That trick which had deceived many men was turned around and back on the devil's own head. When Satan saw that Christ had come, he wished to cover up the reality of his coming and to hide the true purpose of his Incarnation. So he brought on stage the rogues whom we mentioned, so that Christ might be considered one of them. And he did this on the cross, too, when he had two thieves crucified with Christ; he did the same thing in the case of Christ's coming when he strove to conceal the truth by putting it alongside the false. But he failed in both cases, and his very effort provided the strongest proof of Christ's power.
(8) Tell me this. If three men were crucified in the same place, at the same time, by the same judges, why have the two thieves been lost in silence, while He alone is worshipped? Again, if many men introduced new governments, got themselves adherents, and today not even their names are known, how is it that Christ is paid divine service throughout the world?
(9) Comparison makes facts especially clear. You Jews make this comparison, then, and learn how the truth has prevailed. What deceiver has gotten for himself so many churches all over the world, what rogue extended his worship to the ends of the earth, what imposter has every man bowing down before him, and this in the face of ten thousand obstacles? No one did. It is clear, then, that Christ was not a deceiver: he has saved us, he confers blessings upon us, he takes care of us, he protects our lives.
(10) Let me add one more prediction before I return to the topic on which I proposed to speak. Christ said: " I did not come to send peace upon the earth, but a sword." However, he did not speak of what he would himself desire but he was foretelling the end to which things would come. He went on to say: "For I have come to set a man at variance with his father, and a daughter-in-law with her mother-in-law, and a daughter with her mother."
(11) Tell me this. How did he foretell this if he was a mere man and one of the crowd? For this is what he meant. It sometimes happened that in one and the same house one person would believe, and another would not; then the father would want to lead his own son to deny his faith. This is why Christ predicted this very thing. What he was saying was this: "The power of the gospel will be so strong that sons despise their fathers, daughters their mothers, and parents their children. For they will choose not only to scorn members of their own household, but even to lay down their lives, to endure and suffer all things rather than deny their religion."
(12) How could he have managed to know this if he was just another man out of the crowd? How did it occur to him to reach the conclusion that sons would pay greater veneration to him than to their fathers, that parents would find him dearer than their own children, that wives would have a more ardent love for him than for their own husbands? And how did he know that this would happen not in one home only, nor in two, nor three, nor ten, nor twenty, nor a hundred, but in every corner of the world, in every city and country, on land and sea, in populous places and in those with few, if any, dwellings? No one can say that he foretold this and then failed to fulfill his prediction. Certainly it was not only at the very beginning but it is true even today that, because of their religion, many are hated and cast forth from their fathers' houses. However, they pay no heed to this; the fact that they suffer it for the sake of Christ is consolation enough for them.
(13) Tell me this. What human being ever had the power to do this? Yet this man made all these predictions about that woman, about the Church, and about the wars which would be waged against it. He also predicted that the temple would be destroyed, that Jerusalem would be captured, and that the city would no longer be the city of the Jews as it had been in the past.
(14) If he was wrong and deceived you in all those other predictions, and they did not come true, then refuse to believe what he foretold of Jerusalem and the temple. But you do see those other predictions gloriously fulfilled and their truth waxing stronger with each passing day. The gates of hell did not prevail against the Church, after so many years the story of what that woman did is still told all over the world, and men who believed in him did pay greater veneration to him than to their own parents, wives, and children. If this is true, tell me, why do you reject this one prediction about the temple, especially since the testimony of time puts the gag of silence on your shameless words?
(15) Suppose a mere ten, twenty, thirty, or fifty years were to have passed since the capture of Jerusalem. Even then you would have absolutely no right to show your impudence by rejecting his prediction, but if you wished to be obstinate, you might have had some pretext for protest left to you. But not only fifty years but many more than one, two, or three centuries have passed since Jerusalem was captured. And never has there been seen a single trace or shadow of the change for which you are waiting. Why, then, are you so rash and foolish as to keep up your shameless objections?
We have said enough to prove that the temple will never be rebuilt. But since the abundance of proofs which support this truth is so great, I shall turn from the gospels to the prophets, because the Jews put their belief in them before all others. And from the words of the prophets I shall make it clear that the Jews will recover neither their city nor their temple in days to come. And yet the need was not mine to prove that the temple will not be restored. This was not my obligation; the Jews have the obligation to prove the opposite, namely, that the temple will be rebuilt. For the years that have elapsed stand by my side in the combat and bear witness to the truth of my words.
(2) Even though the outcome of events defeats them, even though they cannot prove in deeds what they maintain in words, even though they are simply making a rash boast, they have a right to present their testimony. The proof for my position is that the events of which I speak did actually occur: Jerusalem did fall and has not been restored after so many years. Their position rests on their unsupported words.
(3) Yet the burden of proof was on them to show that the city would rise again. This is the procedure for giving proofs in courts of law. Suppose two people are in dispute over some matter and the first party presents the claim for his position in writing, while the second party attacks his statement. The second party must then bring forward witnesses or other proofs in refutation of what is said in the written deposition; but the plaintiff need not do so. This is what the Jews must now do. They must produce a prophet who says that by all means Jerusalem will be rebuilt. For if there was going to be an end to the present captivity for you Jews, there was every need for the prophets to foretell this, as is clear to anyone who has even so much as glanced at the prophetic books. For it was the custom of old among the Jews that under inspiration from above, their prophets would foretell the good or evil things which were going to befall the people.
(4) What was the reason for this? It was because the Jews were so arrogant and obstinate. They immediately forgot what God had done for them, they ascribed his kindness to demons and reckoned that his blessings had come from them. Even when the sea was divided for them, as they went forth from Egypt, and while other wonderful things were happening to them, they forgot the God who was performing these miracles and attributed them to others who were not gods. For they said to Aaron: "Make for us gods who will be our leaders?" And they said to Jeremiah: 'We will not listen to what you say in the name of the Lord. Rather we will continue doing what we had proposed: we will burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out libations to her, as we and our fathers, our kings and princes have done. Then we had enough food to eat and we were well off; we suffered no misfortune. But since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven and pouring out libations to her, we are in need of everything and are being destroyed by the sword and by hunger. The inspired prophets, then, foretold what would happen to the Jews so that they would ascribe none of the events to idols, but would believe that both punishments and blessings always come from God: the punishment came for their sins, and the blessings because of God's love and kindness.
(5) So that you may learn that this is the reason for the prophecy, hear what Isaiah, the most eloquent of prophets, had to say to the Jewish people. "I know that you are stubborn and that your neck is an iron sinew" (that is, unbending), "and your forehead bronze" (that is, incapable of blushing)." We, too, make a practice of giving the name 'bronze-faced' to those who cannot blush. And Isaiah went on to say: "I foretold what things would come upon you before they took place and I let you hear of them." Then he added the reason for the prophecy when he said: "So that you may never say: 'My idols did them, my statues and molten images commanded them.'
(6) At another time some of the Jews who were quarrelsome and boastful and, even after the prophecies were fulfilled, were acting as impudently as if they had never heard them. Then the prophets not only foretold what would come to pass but even had witnesses of what they were doing. Again it was Isaiah who said: "Make reliable men my witnesses, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah, son of Jeberechiah." And this was not all Isaiah did. He set his prophecy down in writing in a new book so that, after his prophecy was fulfilled, what he had written might bear witness against the Jews of what the inspired prophet predicted to them a long time before. This is why he did not simply write it in a book, but in a new book, a book capable of staying sturdy for a long time without easily falling apart, a book which could last until the events described in it would come to pass.
I shall prove that this is true, and that God foretold everything which was going to befall the Jews. I shall do so not only from what Isaiah said but from all the things which happened to them, both good and bad. Indeed, the Jews three times endured bondage, very harsh and most severe: but none of these came upon them unpredicted. God saw to it that each captivity was prophesied. He carefully foretold the place, the duration, the kind, the form of their misfortune, the return from slavery, and everything else.
(2) First, I shall speak of the prediction of their slavery in Egypt. Surely, in speaking to Abraham, God said: "Know for certain that your posterity will be strangers in a land not their own; they shall be subjected to slavery and shall be oppressed four hundred years. But I will judge that nation which they shall serve, said God. And in the fourth generation they shall return here with great possessions." Do you see how he mentioned the number of years? Four hundred. The nature of their slavery? He did not simply say: "They shall be subjected to slavery," but: "They shall be oppressed." Listen to Moses' explanation of their misfortune. He said: "No straw is supplied to your servants, and still we are told to make bricks." And each day they were flogged so that you may learn the meaning of the words: "They shall be subjected to slavery and shall be oppressed." When He said: "I will judge that nation which they shall serve," He was speaking of the drowning of the Egyptians in the Red Sea, which Moses described in his canticle when he said: "Horse and chariot he has cast into the sea." Then he also mentioned the manner of their return when he said that they will return here with great possessions: "Each of you take from his neighbor and comrade gold and silver vessels." Since they had been subjected to slavery a long time and had received no pay, God permitted them to make this demand of the Egyptians even though their masters might be unwilling to pay. And the prophet exclaimed and said: "And he led them forth laden with silver and gold, with not a weakling among their tribes." So here we have one bondage which was precisely predicted.
(3) Come now and let us turn our discussion to the second captivity. What one is that? The bondage in Babylon. Jeremiah certainly foretold it exactly when he said: "Thus says the Lord: Only after seventy years have elapsed for Babylon will I visit you and fulfill for you my promise to bring you back to this place. I shall change your bondage; I shall gather you from all the nations and all the places to which I have banished you, says the Lord, and bring you back to the place from which I have exiled you." Do you see how here again he spoke of the city, the number of years, and the places from which and to which he was going to lead them?
(4) This explains why Daniel did not make his prayer for the Jews until he saw that the seventy years had elapsed. Who says so? It was Daniel himself, when he said: "I, Daniel, took care of the king's affairs. But I was appalled at the vision, nor was there anyone to understand it. And I understood in the Scriptures the counting of the years of which the Lord spoke to the prophet Jeremiah: that for the ruins of Jerusalem seventy years must be fulfilled. I turned to the Lord God, seeking to pray and entreat him with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes."
(5) Did you hear how this bondage was foretold and how the prophet did not dare to bring his prayer and entreaty to God before the appointed time? He feared that his prayer might be rash and in vain. He was afraid he would hear what Jeremiah had heard: "Do not pray for this his people, and do not make demand of me for them for I shall not hear your voice." But when he saw that the sentence pronounced against them had been fulfilled and that the time was summoning them to return, he did pray for them. And he did not merely pray, he made his entreaty with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.
(6) The prophet acted toward God in a way quite common among men. When we see that a master has cast his slaves into prison for many serious crimes, we do not make a plea for them immediately, nor at the outset, nor at the beginning of their punishment. We let them be punished for a few days; then we go to the master with our plea and we have time working on our side. This is exactly what the prophet did. Although the penalty the Jews paid was not as severe as their sins deserved, nonetheless they did pay it. And it was only then that the prophet went to God to plead on their behalf.
(7) If you would like to hear it, let us listen to the prayer he made for them. He said: "I confessed and said, 'Lord great and awesome God, you who keep your covenant and your mercy toward those who love you and observe your commandments!' What are you doing, Daniel? When you intercede for those who have sinned and quarreled with God, are you talking about men who keep God's laws? Do those who transgress his commandments deserve pardon? What did Daniel say? "I am not making this prayer for their sake but for the sake of their forefathers, for the sake of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The promise and pledge was made to those who kept God's commandments. These men, then, have no just claim to salvation; this is why I mention their forefathers.
(8) Daniel was not speaking of the Jews in bondage when he said: "You who keep your covenant and your mercy toward those who love you and observe your commandments." That is why he immediately added: "We have sinned, acted lawlessly, done evil, and departed from your commandments and your laws. We have not obeyed your servants the prophets." For there is one defense left to sinners after they have sinned: to confess their sins.
(9) Do you now please consider the virtue of the just man and the arrogance of the Jews. He who is conscious of no evil in himself pronounces a most severe judgment on himself when he says: "We have sinned, acted lawlessly, done evil." But those who were fulfilled with ten thousand evils did quite the opposite when they said: "We kept your commandments; and now we call strangers blessed and evildoers are exalted. Just men usually act modestly after they have done just deeds; the wicked generally exalt themselves after they have sinned. The man who was conscious of no wickedness in himself said: "We have acted lawlessly, we have departed from your laws"; those who are aware of the burden of ten thousand sins say: "We have kept your commandments." I tell you this so that we may shun the sinner and emulate the just.
After he ran through their lawless
acts, the prophet next spoke of the penalty they paid, because he wanted
to use this to win God over to pity them. For he said: "And there
came upon us the malediction recorded in the law of Moses, the servant
of God, because we sinned." What is that malediction? Do you wish
us to read it?
'"If you will not serve the Lord your God, I shall lead forth against you a shameless nation, a nation whose tongue you will not understand, and you will be few in number."The three boys in Babylon also made this same point clear when they showed that the kind of punishment visited upon them came about because of what they had done. They made confession to God for the sins of all Jews when they said: "You have handed us over to our enemies, lawless and hateful rebels; to an unjust king; the worst in all the world. Do you see how God fulfilled the curse which said: "You will be few in number?" And the one which said: "I shall lead forth against you a shameless nation?
(2) This is the very thing which Daniel was hinting at when he said: "There came upon us evils such as never occurred under heaven according to what happened in Israel." What evils were these? Mothers ate their own children. Moses foretold this, but Jeremiah shows that it came true. For Moses said: "The refined and delicate woman, so delicate and refined that she would not venture to put her foot upon the step, shall put her hand to the unholy table and eat her own children." But Jeremiah shows that this came true when he said: "The hands of compassionate women boiled their own children."
(3) But even after he had spoken of the sins of those who had sinned and after he brought into the open the punishment they endured, he did not ask that this should save them. See, then, the prudence of the servant. For after he had made clear that they had not yet paid the penalty their sins deserved, nor had their sufferings discharged the debt for their offenses, he then fled to the mercy of God and the loving-kindness of his way and says: "And now, O Lord, our God, who led your people out of the land of Egypt, and made a name for yourself even to this day, we have sinned and acted against your law." What he is saying is: "You did not save the Jews of old for their good actions but because you saw their affliction and distress, because you heard their cry. In the same way, free us from our present evils because of your loving-kindness and because of that alone. We have no other claim to salvation."
(4) So he spoke and, after many a lament, he brought forward the city of Jerusalem, like a captive woman, and said: "Let your face shine upon your sanctuary. Give ear, O my God, and listen, open your eyes and see our ruins and the ruins of your city, in which your name is invoked." For when he looked among the men and saw no man who could make God propitious, he turned to the buildings and brought up the city. He showed its desolation and, after he completed his discourse on these things, he made God propitious. And this became clear from the events which followed.
(5) But back to what I was talking about. For I must return again to the topic I proposed. Yet I had good reason for bringing in these digressions: I waited to give your minds a brief breathing space, since they were growing weary from the constant conflicts with the Jews. But let me return to the point where I departed from my topic to speak of these matters. Let me prove that the evils which were going to overtake the Jews had been accurately predicted by God's inspiration. My discourse had already shown that those two captivities came upon the Jews neither by chance nor unexpectedly.
(6) It remains for me now to bring up the third captivity. After I have done that, I must speak about the bondage which now encompasses them; I must give clear proof that no prophet ever predicted that there would be any freedom or escape from the ills which now encircle them.
(7) What, then, is this third captivity? It is the bondage that came upon them in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes. After Alexander, king of the Macedonians, conquered the Persian king, Darius, he took over the kingdom. After Alexander died, four kings followed him to the throne. Antiochus was the son of one of Alexander's four successors. Many years later Antiochus burned the temple, laid waste the holy of holies, put an end to the sacrifices, subjected the Jews, and destroyed their whole state.
Daniel foretold all this with the
greatest accuracy, even to the very day. He foretold when it would be,
how, by whom, the manner of it, where it would find all end, and what change
it would bring about. You will understand this better after you have heard
the vision which the prophet set forth in the form of a parable. The ram
is Darius, the Persian king; the goat is the Greek king, Alexander of Macedon;
the four horns are Alexander's successors; the last horn is Antiochus himself.
But it will be better for you to hear the vision itself.
(2) Daniel said: "For I saw in a vision and I was silting at the river Ubal." (The spot in question he calls by a Persian name.) "And I looked up and saw standing by the Ubal a ram with his horns held high; and the one horn was higher than the other, and the high one mounted to the very heights. And I saw the ram butting toward the sea, north, and south. No beast will stand before it, nor was there anyone to rescue a beast from its grasp; it did what it pleased and became very powerful. And as I sat, I understood.'" He was speaking of the Persian power and domain which overran the whole earth.
(3) Next he spoke of Alexander of Macedon and said: "Behold, a he-goat came from the southwest across the whole earth without touching the ground. And the goat had a horn to be seen midway between his eyes." He then spoke of Alexander's encounter with Darius and the victory won by Macedonian might. "The goat came up to the horned ram, grew savage, struck the ram,"-I must cut short the account-"broke both his horns and there was no one to rescue the ram from his power."
(4) After that Daniel spoke of Alexander's death and the four kings who succeeded him: "And at the height of its power the great horn was shattered, and in its place there came up four others, facing the four winds of heaven." Daniel then passed from this point to the reign of Antiochus and showed that he came from one of those four when he said: "Out of one of them came one strong horn, and it became very powerful toward the south and the east." Daniel then went on to show that Antiochus destroyed the Jewish commonwealth and way of life when he said: "And through him the sacrifice was disordered by transgression; and it came to pass. that he prospered. And the holy place will be laid waste and sin replaced the sacrifice. After the altar was destroyed and the holy places trampled underfoot, he set up an idol within and offered unlawful sacrifices to the demons; righteousness was cast to the ground. He both did this and prospered.
(5) Then again, for a second time, he spoke of the same reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, the bondage, and the capture and desolation of the temple; this time, however, he gave the date of these events. He again began, toward the end of the book, with the empire of Alexander and described all the intervening accomplishments of the Seleucids and the Ptolemies in their wars against each other, the exploits of their generals, the strategies, the victories, the armies, the battles fought on land and sea. When he came to Antiochus he ended by saying: "His armed forces shall rise up, defile the sanctuary, and remove the continuity" (and by the continuity he meant the uninterrupted daily sacrifices) "and in its place they will put an abomination. By treachery they will lead off those who violate the covenant" (that is, the transgressors among the Jews whom they will remove and keep with themselves); "but the people who know their God shall take strong action" (he means the events in the time of the Maccabees: Judas. Simon, and John). "And the wise men of the people will have understanding of many things but they will fall by the sword and by fire" (here again he describes the burning of Jerusalem) "and by exile and the plunder days. And when they fall, they will receive a little help" (he means that, in the midst of those evils, they will be able to draw a breath and rise from the dread things which have overtaken them), "but many will join them out of treachery. And they shall fall from the number of the wise?" He said this to show that even many of those who stood firm will fall.
(6) Next, Daniel gave the reason why God permitted them to be involved in such trials. What is the reason? "To purge them, to choose them, and to make them white until the time of the end." This is why, said Daniel, God permitted these evils so as to cleanse them and to show who among them was genuine and approved. In telling of the same king's power and might he said: "He shall do as he pleases, he shall exalt himself and become very powerful. In speaking of the king's blasphemous spirit, he went on to say: "He shall utter excessive haughty thoughts against the God of gods: he shall prosper until the wrath be accomplished."' Daniel was here making it clear that it was not of Antiochus' own will but because of God's wrath against the Jews that he was so victorious.
(7) After Daniel told in many other passages what evils the king would bring on Egypt and Palestine, how he would return, at whose bidding, and under the pressure of what cause, the prophet then recounted a change of fortune and said that, after enduring all these evils, the Jews would find some aid from an angel sent to help them as "At that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince, guardian over the sons of your people. It shall be a time unsurpassed in distress since nations began on earth until that time. At that time your people will escape, everyone who is found written in the book." By that he meant those deserving to be saved.
But I have not yet given a proof
for the question I am investigating. What is that question? That God set
a time limit for those involved in these trials, just as he set a limit
of four hundred years for the exile in Egypt and seventy years for the
bondage in Babylon. Let us see, then, if he set any time limit for this
third slavery. Where can we find the answer to this? In what Daniel said
in the verses following those I discussed.
(2) Since he had heard of the many great evils which would befall the Jews -the burning of Jerusalem. the toppling of their state, the bondage of his people- he then wanted to learn what would be the end of these trials, and if there would be any change in their disastrous condition. So he asked the angel who had appeared to him and said: "Lord, what is to be the outcome of this? .... Come here, Daniel," he said, "because the words are to be kept secret and sealed" (indicating the obscurity of the words) "until the time of the end. Then the angel mentioned the reason why God consented to these evils: "As long as many are chosen, made white, and purged, as long as the lawless act lawlessly, as long as all the unholy ones shall not understand and the holy ones do understand."
(3) Next, in predicting the length of time these evils would last, Daniel's angel said: "From the time of the changing of the continuity." The daily sacrifice was called the continuity, for what is continuous is frequent and unceasing. And among the Jews it was customary to offer sacrifice to God in the evening and about dawn each day; this is why they called that daily sacrifice a continuity.
(4) But when Antiochus came, he completely did away with this practice. That is what the angel meant when he said: "From the time of the changing of the continuity" (that is, from the time the sacrifice was abolished) "there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days," that is, three and a half years and a little more. Then to show that there will be an end and deliverance from these woes, the angel went on to say: "Blessed is the man who stands firm and attains one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days," adding forty-five days to the one thousand and two hundred and ninety days. He did this because it happened that the conflict lasted a month and a half and in that time the victory became complete, as did also the deliverance of the Jews from the evils which weighed heavy upon them. And when he said: "Blessed is the man who stands firm one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days," he revealed their deliverance. He did not simply say, "the man who attains," but "the man who stands firm and attains." The reason for this is that many of the unholy ones saw the change, but he does not call them happy; he calls blessed only those who gave witness during the time of troubles, who did not desert their religion, and who then found abatement of their ills. This is why he did not simply say: "the man who attains," but "the man who stands
firm and attains."
(5) What could be clearer than this? Do you see how very carefully the prophet foretold their captivity and release from bondage? He gave the time not in terms of years, or months, but to the very day. That you may know that my words are not based on mere conjecture, come, let us bring in another witness to what I have said, a witness whom the Jews regard with the highest trust, I mean Josephus, who has made their disasters a subject of tragic history and who has paraphrased the entire Old Testament. He was born after Christ's coming and, in speaking of the captivity predicted by Christ, he also discussed this captivity and set forth Daniel's vision about the ram, the goat, the four horns, and the last horn which arose after the others. I do not wish anyone to be suspicious of what I have said; come, then, and let us compare his words with mine.
(6) Josephus praised Daniel and showed exceedingly high admiration for him, setting him above all the other prophets.When he came to the story of Daniel's vision, he had this to say. Daniel left us a book in which he made clear the accuracy and fidelity to
truth's of his prophecy. For he tells us that after he and some companions had gone forth to a plain at Susa,the metropolis of Persia, suddenly the earth quaked and shook violently. His friends fled and he was left alone. He fell face down and was fixed fast to the spot leaning on both hands. Then someone touched him and at the same time ordered him to get up and see what would happen to his people after many generations
(7) Daniel then arose and was shown a large ram with many horns growing from his head, but the last horn was the highest. Then he looked to the west and saw a goat borne through the air. The goat rushed at the ram, struck him twice with his horns, knocked him to the ground, and trampled on him. Next he saw the goat grown larger and putting forth a very large horn from his forehead. This horn was broken off, but four others grew up, turned to the four winds. As Josephus told the story, Daniel saw a smaller horn rise up from these and it grew strong. God, who showed Daniel the vision, was telling him that war would come upon his nation, that Jerusalem would be taken by storm, the temple would be pillaged, the sacrifices would be hindered and cut short, and that this would last for one thousand two hundred and ninety days?
(8) Daniel wrote that he had seen these events in the plain at Susa; he also made it clear that God explained to him what he had seen in the vision. God said that the ram signified the empire of the Persians and Medes, and the horns, those who would hold royal power. He further said that the last horn signified that there would come a king who would surpass those others in wealth and glory. God then explained that the goat would be a ruler from among the Greeks who would twice clash with the Persian king, defeat him in battle, and take over all his empire. The first large horn on the goat's forehead signified the first king. After this fell off, the growth of the four horns and the turning of each of these to the four regions of the earth was a sign that, after the death of the first king, who had neither sons nor family, his successors would divide the empire among them and would rule the world for many years.
(9) And from these successors, the explanation continued, there would arise a king who would make war on the Jewish laws, take away their from of government, pillage their temple, and prevent their sacrifices from being offered for three years. And it did happen that the nation of our fathers underwent these sufferings under Antiochus Epiphanes just as Daniel had seen many years before and had written would come to pass.
What could be clearer than this?
Now it is time, unless you think I am making you weary, now it is time
to come back to the question we proposed for investigation, namely, the
Jews' present slavery and their bondage of today. This was the reason for
going through all their exiles. Pay careful heed to me, for our contest
is not concerned with ordinary, everyday matters. At the Olympic contests
people have the patience to sit from midnight to noon waiting to see who
will win the crown; they take the hot rays of the sun on their bare heads,
and do not leave before the winners are decided. Our contest today is not
for an Olympic prize but for an incorruptible crown. It would be a shame,
then, for us to grow weary and give in to our fatigue.
(2) What I have said has sufficiently proved that the three captivities were predicted, the first lasting for four hundred years, the second for seventy, and the third for three and a half years. Now let us talk about the present bondage of the Jews. To show that the prophet also predicted this one, I shall offer as my witness that same Josephus, who is on the side of the Jews. Listen to what he says subsequence to his account of Daniel's vision. He said: "In the same manner Daniel also wrote about the empire of the Romans and that they would capture Jerusalem and devastate the temple."
(3) Please consider that even if the man who wrote that was a Jew, he did not, on that account, let himself emulate the obstinacy of you Jews. After he said that Jerusalem would be captured, he did not dare to go on to say that it would be rebuilt, nor to mention a definite time for its restoration, because he knew that the prophet had not fixed a definite time. Yet when Josephus spoke previously of the victory of Antiochus and his devastation of Jerusalem, he did state how many days and years the captivity was going to last.But Josephus said nothing of this sort about the bondage under the Romans. He wrote that Jerusalem and the temple would be despoiled, but he did not add that what had been devastated would be restored. For he saw that the prophet had not added anything about such a restoration. Josephus did say: "All these things, as God revealed them to him, Daniel left behind in his writings, so that those who read them and observe how they have come to pass must wonder that Daniel was so honored by God."
(4) But let us consider where it was that Daniel said that the temple would be despoiled. After he had made his prayer in sackcloth and ashes, Gabriel came to him and said: "Seventy weeks are cut short for your people and for your holy city." " Look," the Jews will say, "he did mention the time." Yes, but the time is not the time of the captivity; what is mentioned is the length of time after which the captivity is going to come upon them. It is one thing to speak of how long the captivity will last and another thing to state the number of years before it will arrive and be upon them.
(5) We read: "Seventy weeks are cut short for your people"; no longer does God say: "for my people." And yet the prophet said: "Let your face shine upon your people," but God thereafter was estranged from them because of the bold crime they were going to commit. Presently the prophet gave the reason: "Until transgression will stop and sin will end?" What does he mean by the words: "Until sin will end?" What the prophet is saying is that the Jews are committing many sins, but the end of their evil deeds will be the day they slay their Master. Christ also said this: "Fill up the measure of your fathers." "You killed your servants," he said. "Now add to that the blood of your Master."
(6) See how the thoughts of Christ and Daniel agree, Christ said: "Fill up"; the prophet says: "Until transgression will stop and sin will end." What does "end" mean? That no sin thereafter is left to commit. "And until everlasting justice will be introduced." But what is everlasting justice except the justification given by Christ? "And until the sealing of the vision and the prophet and a holy of holies be anointed," that is, until prophecies shall cease. For this is what is meant by "to seat," namely, to bring anointing to an end, to bring vision to an end. This is why Christ said: "The law and the prophets until John." Do you see how this threatens utter desolation and the payment for sins and acts of injustice? For God did not threaten that he will forgive the sins of the Jews but that he will execute vengeance upon then.
And when did this happen? When were
prophecies completely done away with? When was anointing ended so as never
again to return? Even if we be silent, the stones will shout out, because
the voice of the facts is so clear. For we could not mention a time at
which these predictions were accomplished other than the long and many
years already past and the years which are going to be longer and more
numerous still. Daniel put it more precisely when he said: "And you
will know and understand that from the going forth of the word of the answer
that Jerusalem was to be rebuilt until the coming of an anointed leader,
there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.
(2) Pay careful attention to me here, because here lies the whole question. The seven weeks and the sixty-two weeks make four hundred and eighty-three years, for he is here speaking not of weeks of days or months but weeks of years. From Cyrus to Antiochus Epiphanes and the captivity there were three hundred and ninety-four years. However, Daniel makes it clear that he is not talking about the destruction of the temple under Antiochus but the subsequent destruction under Pompey, Vespasian, and Titus. He further extends the time and instructs us from what point we must start counting by showing us that our reckoning is not to start from the day of the return from captivity. From what point must we reckon? "From the going forth of the word of the answer that Jerusalem was to be rebuilt."
(3) Jerusalem, however, was not rebuilt under Cyrus but under Artaxerxes, who was called the Long-handed. For after the return of the Jews, Cambyses was ruler, then the Magians, and after them Darius Hystaspes. Next came Darius' son, Xerxes, and after him Artabanus. After Artabanus, Artaxerxes the Long-handed, ruled Persia. During the twentieth year of his kingship Nehemiah returned and restored Jerusalem. Ezra has given us an exact account of this. So then, if we count four hundred and eighty-three years from this point, we will surely come to the time of the last destruction. And so it is that the prophet said: "It shall be rebuilt with streets and a surrounding wall." Therefore what he says is this: after the city has been rebuilt and has recovered its own appearance and form, count the seventy weeks from that point and you will see the slavery which has not yet come to an end.
(4) To make still more clear this very point, namely, that the evils which now grip the Jews will not come to an end, he goes on to say: "After the seventy weeks the anointing will be utterly destroyed and there will be no judgment on it; he will destroy the city and the sanctuary with the help of a leader who comes and they will be cut off as in a deluge? There will be no remnant left, nor a root to grow up again, "until the end of a war which is brought to an end by the vanishing of the people."
(5) And again, in speaking of this slavery, he said: "The incense and the oblation will be abolished and, furthermore, on the holy place will be the abomination of desolation: and accomplishment shall be given to the desolation until the end of time." When you hear him say: "Until the end of time," what else is left for you Jews to look forward to? "And furthermore." What does this mean? "Furthermore," that is, in addition to what he has said, that is, in addition to the destruction of the sacrifice and the oblation, there will be some other greater evil. What is that evil? "On the holy place will be the abomination of desolation." By the holy place he means the temple; by the abomination of desolation he means the statue set up in the temple by Antiochus, who destroyed the city.
(6) And he went on to say: "Desolation until the end." It is true that Christ came into the world according to the flesh long after the day of Antiochus Epiphanes, but when he prophesied the captivity to come, he showed that Daniel had predicted it. This was his reason for saying: "When you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place--let him who reads understand.' The Jews called every image and statue made by man an abomination. So by his veiled reference to that statue, Daniel showed both when and under whom the captivity would take place. As I showed before, Josephus also assured us that these words were spoken about the Romans.
(7) What is there for me to say to you now that has not already been said? When the prophets predicted the other captivities, they spoke not only of the captivity but also of the length of time it was appointed for each bondage to last; for this present captivity, however, they set no time but, to the contrary, said that the desolation would endure until the end. And to prove that what they said is true, come now and let me offer as witnesses the events themselves.
If the Jews had never attempted to rebuild the temple, they could say: "If we had wished to set our hands to the task and to begin to rebuild it, we could by all means have completed the task." But now I shall show that not once, nor twice, but three times they did attempt it and three times, like wrestlers in the Olympic games, they were thrown to the ground. Therefore there can be no dispute or question but that the Church has won the victory crown.
Yet what kind of men were they who
set their hands to the task? They were men who constantly resisted the
Holy Spirit, revolutionists bent on stirring up sedition. After the destruction
which occurred under Vespasian and Titus, these Jews rebelled during the
reign of Hadrian and tried to go back to the old commonwealth and way of
life. What they failed to realize was that they were fighting against the
decree of God, who had ordered that Jerusalem remain forever in ruins.
(2) But it is impossible for a man to wage war on God and win So it was that, when these Jews made their attack against the Emperor, they forced him again to destroy Jerusalem completely. For Hadrian came and utterly subdued them; he obliterated every remnant of their city. To prevent the Jews from making such an impudent attempt in the future, he set up a statue of himself. But he realized that, with the passage of time, his statue would one day fall. So he gave his own name to the ruined city and, in this way, burned on the Jews a permanent brand which would mark their defeat and testify to the impudence of their revolt. Since he was called Aelius Hadrianus, he ordained that from this name the city was to be called Aelia and to this day it is called by the name of the Emperor who conquered it and destroyed it.
(3) Do you see the first attempt of the impudent Jews? Now look at the next. They tried the same thing in the time of Constantine. But the Emperor saw what they tried to do, cut off their ears, and left on their bodies this mark of their disobedience. He then had them led around everywhere, like runaway slaves and scoundrels, so all might see their mutilated bodies and always think twice before ever attempting such a revolt. "Yet these things happened very long ago," the Jews will say. But I tell you that the incident is well known to those of us who are somewhat on in years and are already old men.
(4) But what I am going to tell you is clear and obvious even to the very young. For it did not happen in the time of Hadrian or Constantine, but during our own lifetime, in the reign of the Emperor of twenty years ago. Julian, who surpassed all the emperors in irreligion, invited the Jews to sacrifice to idols in an attempt to drag them to his own level of ungodliness. He used their old way of sacrifice as an excuse and said: "In the days of your ancestors, God was worshipped in this way."
(5) They refused his invitation, but, at that time, they did admit to the very things I just lately proved to you, namely, that they were not allowed to offer their sacrifices outside Jerusalem. Their answer was that those who offered any sacrifice whatsoever in a foreign land were violating the Law. So they said to the Emperor: "If you wish to see us offer sacrifices, give us back Jerusalem, rebuild the temple, show us the holy of holies, restore the altar, and we will offer sacrifices again just as we did before."
(6) These abominable and shameless men had the impudence to ask these things from an impious pagan and to invite him to rebuild their sanctuary with his polluted hands. They failed to see that they were attempting the impossible. They did not realize that if human hands had put an end to those things, then human hands could not get them back for them. But it was God who destroyed their city, and no human power could ever change what God had decreed. "For what God, the Holy One, has planned who shall dissipate? His hand is stretched out; who will turn it back?" What God has reared up and wishes to remain, no man can tear down. In the same way, what he has destroyed and wishes to stay destroyed, no man can rebuild.
(7) I grant you that the Emperor did give you Jews back your temple and did build you an altar, just as you foolishly suspected he would. But he could not send down to you the heavenly fire from on high, could he? Yet if you could not have this fire, your sacrifice had to be an abomination and unclean. This is why the sons of Aaron perished; they brought in a foreign fire.
(8) Nonetheless, these Jews, who were blind to all things, called on the Emperor for help and begged him to aid them in undertaking to rebuild the temple. The Emperor, for his part, spared no expense, sent engineers from all over the empire to oversee the work, summoned craftsmen from every land; he left nothing undone, nothing untried. He overlooked nothing but worked quietly and a little at a time to bring the Jews to offer sacrifice; in this way he expected that it would be easy for them to go from sacrifice to the worship of idols. At the same time, in his mad folly, he was hoping to cancel out the sentence passed by Christ which forbade the rebuilding of the temple. But he who catches the wise in their craftiness straightway made clear to him by His action that the decrees of God are mightier than any man's and that works get their strength from the word of God.
(9) They started to work in earnest on that forbidden task, they removed a great mound of earth and began to lay bare the foundations. They were just about to start building when suddenly fire leaped forth from the foundations and completely consumed not only a great number of the workmen but even the stones piled up there to support the structure. This put a stop to the untimely obstinacy of those who had undertaken the project. Many of the Jews, too, who had seen what had happened, were astonished and struck with shame. The Emperor Julian had been madly eager to finish the work. But when he heard what had happened, he was afraid that, if he went on with it, he might call down the fire on his own head. So he and the whole Jewish people withdrew in defeat.
(10) Even today, if you go into Jerusalem, you will see the bare foundation, if you ask why this is so, you will hear no explanation other than the one I gave. We are all witnesses to this, for it happened not long ago but in our own time. Consider how conspicuous our victory is. This did not happen in the times of the good emperors; no one can say that the Christians came and prevented the work from being finished. It happened at a time when our religion was subject to persecution. when all our lives were in danger, when every man was afraid to speak, when paganism flourished. Some of the faithful hid in their homes, others fled the marketplaces and moved to the deserts. That is when these events occurred. So the Jews have no excuse left to them for their impudence.
Are you Jews still disputing the
question? Do you not see that you are condemned by the testimony of what
Christ and the prophets predicted and which the facts have proved? But
why should this surprise me? That is the kind of people you are. From the
beginning you have been shameless and obstinate, ready to fight at
all times against obvious facts.
(2) Do you wish me to bring forward against you other prophets who clearly state the same fact, namely, that your religion will come to an end, that ours will flourish and spread the message of Christ to every corner of the world, that a different kind of sacrifice will be introduced which will put an end to yours? At least listen to Malachi who came later than the other prophets. Let me not at this time bring in the testimony of Isaiah and Jeremiah or the other prophets who came before the captivity. I do not want you Jews to say that their predictions came true during the bondage. Let me bring forward a prophet who came after the return from Babylon and after the restoration of Jerusalem, a prophet who clearly predicted what was to happen to you.
(3) The Jews did return from Babylon, they did recover their city, they did rebuild their temple, and they did offer sacrifices. But it was only after all this that Malachi predicted the coming of the present desolation and the abolition of the Jewish sacrifices. This is what he said, speaking in God's behalf: "Shall I for your sakes accept your persons? says the Lord Almighty. For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, my name is glorified among the nations; and everywhere they bring incense to my name, and a pure offering. But you have profaned it."
(4) When do you Jews think that this happened? When was incense offered to God in every place? When a pure offering? You could not mention a time other than the time after the coming of Christ. Suppose Malachi did not speak of our time, suppose he did not speak of our sacrifice but of the Jewish sacrifice. Then his prophecy will be opposed to the Law. Moses had forbidden the Jews to bring their sacrifice to any place other than that which the Lord God would choose, and then he confined their sacrifices to one particular place. If Malachi said that sacrifices were going to be offered everywhere and that it would be a pure offering, he was contradicting and opposing what Moses had said.
(5) But there is no contradiction nor quarrel. For Moses spoke about one kind of sacrifice, and Malachi later predicted another. What makes this clear? It is clear both from the prophet's words and also from many other indications. The first indication has to do with the place. For Malachi predicted that the sacrifice would be offered not in one city, as in the time of the Jewish sacrifice, but "from the rising of the sun even to its setting." The second indication has to do with the kind of sacrifice. By calling it "a pure offering," he showed the kind of sacrifice of which he spoke.
(6) A further indication deals with those who are going to offer this sacrifice. He did not say "in Israel," but "among the nations." He did not want you to think that the worship given in this sacrifice would be confined to one, two, or three cities; therefore, he did not simply say "everywhere," but from the rising of the sun, even to its setting. By these words he showed that every corner of the earth seen by the sun will receive the message of the gospel. He called it a "pure offering," as opposed to the old sacrifice, which was impure. And it was--not by its own nature but because of the disposition and intention of those who offered it. This is why the Lord said: "Your incense is loathsome to me."
(7) And yet, in other respects, if you should put the two sacrifices side by side to compare them, you will find that the difference between them is so great and unmeasurable that, according to the nature of comparison, only this new sacrifice is properly called pure. Paul contrasted the old Law with the new Law of grace and said that the old Law had been glorified but is now without glory, because of the surpassing glory of the new Law.I, too, would make so bold as to say in this case that, if the new sacrifice should be compared to the old, only this new sacrifice would properly be called pure. For it is not offered by smoke and fat, nor by blood and the price of ransom, but by the grace of the Spirit.
(8) Now hear another prophet who made the same prediction and said that the worship of God would not be confined to one place, but that the time would come when all men would know him. It is Zephaniah who said: "The Lord shall appear to all nations, and will make all the gods of the nations waste away; then each from its own place shall adore Him. Yet this was forbidden to the Jews since Moses commanded them to worship in one place.
(9) You hear that the prophets foretold and predicted that men will no longer be bound to come from all over the earth to offer sacrifice in one city or in one place, but that each one will sit in his own home and pay service and honor to God. What time other than the present could you mention as fulfilling these prophecies? At any rate listen to how the gospels and the Apostle Paul agree with Zephaniah. The prophet said: "The Lord shall appear"; Paul said: "The grace of God our Savior has appeared to all men instructing us, Zephaniah said: "To all nations"; Paul said: "To all men." Zephaniah said: "He will make their gods waste away;" Paul said: "Instructing us, in order that rejecting ungodliness and worldly lusts, we may live temperately and justly."
(10) Again, Christ said to the Samaritan woman: "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. God is spirit, and they who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth." So, when Christ said this, he removed from us for the future the obligation to observe one place of worship and introduced a more lofty and spiritual way of worship.
(11) These arguments would suffice to establish that, for the future, there will be no sacrifice, no priesthood, no king among the Jews. Above all, the destruction of the city has proved all these points. But I could also bring forward the prophets as my witnesses, and they distinctly said the same thing. But I see that you have become weary with the length of my discourse; I am afraid that you may think I am foolish and rash to keep annoying you. For this reason I promise that I will speak to you on this same subject at another time.
(12) Meanwhile, I ask you to rescue your brothers, to set them free from their error, and to bring them back to the truth. There is no benefit in listening to me unless the example of your deeds will match my words. What I said was not for your sakes but for the sake of those who are sick. I want them to learn these facts from you and to free themselves from their wicked association with the Jews. I want them then to show themselves sincere and genuine Christians. I want them to shun the evil gatherings of the Jews and their synagogues, both in the city and in the suburbs, because these are robbers' dens and dwellings of demons!
(13) So, then, do not neglect the salvation of those brothers. Be meddlesome, be busybodies, but bring the sick ones to Christ. In this way, we shall receive a far greater reward for our good deeds both in the present life and in the life to come. And we shall receive it by the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom and with whom be glory to the Father together with the Holy Spirit, the giver of life, now and forever, world without end. Amen.
On the Jews
WILD BEASTS ARE less savage and fierce as long they live in the forests and have had no experience fighting against men. But when the hunters capture them, they drag them into the cities, lock them in cages, and goad them on to do battle with beast-fighting gladiators. Then the beasts spring upon their prey, taste human flesh and drink human blood. After that, they would find it no easy task to keep away from such a feast but they avidly rush to this bloody banquet.
(2) This has been my experience, too. Once I took up my fight against the Jews and rushed to meet their shameless assaults, "I destroyed their reasoning and every lofty thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and I brought their minds into captivity to the obedience of Christ. And after that I somehow acquired a stronger yearning to do battle against them.
(3) But what is the matter with me? You see that my voice has grown weaker and cannot again last for so long a time. I think that what has happened to me is much the same as what happens to a soldier in battle. He cuts to pieces a number of his foes, courageously throws himself against the enemy lines, strews the ground with corpses, but then breaks his sword; disheartened by this mishap he must retreat to his own ranks. Indeed, what has happened to me is worse. The soldier who has broken his sword can snatch another from some bystander, prove his courage, and show how eager he is for victory. But when the voice becomes weak and exhausted, you cannot borrow another from somebody else.
(4) What shall I do, then? Shall I, too, run away? The power your loving assembly holds over me does not let me run away. I reverence and respect our father, who is here. I reverence and respect your eagerness and earnestness. Therefore, I shall entrust the whole undertaking to his prayers and your charity and I will attempt what lies beyond my power.
(5) It is true that today's feast of the martyrs invites me to recount the conflicts they underwent. If I neglect this topic, if I strip and get ready to enter the arena against the Jews, let no one accuse me of choosing the wrong time for my discourse. The martyrs would find a discourse against the Jews more desirable than any panegyric of mine, since I could never make them more illustrious than they are.
(6) What need could they have of my tongue? Their own struggles surpass our mortal nature. The prizes they won go beyond our powers and understanding. They laughed at the life lived on earth; they trampled underfoot the punishment of the rack; they scorned death and took wing to heaven; they escaped from the storms of temporal things and sailed into a calm harbor; they brought with them no gold or silver or expensive garments; they carried along no treasure which could be plundered, but the riches of patience, courage, and love. Now they belong to Paul's choral band while they still await their crowns, but they find delight in the expectation of their crowns, because they have escaped henceforth the uncertainty of the future.
(7) What need could they have of any words of mine? Therefore, they will find this topic more desirable than any panegyric of mine which, as I said before, will bring no increase to their personal glory. But it could be that they will derive great pleasure from my conflict with the Jews; they might well listen most intently to a discourse given for God's glory. For the martyrs have a special hatred for the Jews since the Jews crucified him for whom they have a special love. The Jews said: "His blood be on us and on our children" the martyrs poured out their own blood for him whom the Jews had slain. So the martyrs would be glad to hear this discourse.
If the present captivity of the
Jews were going to come to an end, the prophets would not have remained
silent on this but would have foretold it. I gave adequate proof of this
when I showed that all their bondages were brought upon them after they
had been predicted: the bondage in Egypt, the bondage in Babylon, and the
bondage in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. I proved that for each of these
the Sacred Scriptures had proclaimed beforehand both a time and a place.
But no prophet defined a duration for the present bondage, although Daniel
did predict that it would come, that it would bring total desolation, that
it would change their old commonwealth and way of life, and how long after
the return from Babylon it would come to pass.
(2) But Daniel did not reveal that it would come to an end nor that these troubles would ever stop. Nor did any other prophet. Daniel did, however, predict the opposite, namely, that this bondage would hold them in slavery until the end of time The great number of years which have come and gone since that day are witnesses to the truth of what he said. And the years have shown neither trace nor beginning of a change for the better, even though the Jews tried many times to rebuild their temple. Not once, not twice, but three times they tried. They tried in the time of Hadrian, in the time of Constantine, and in the time of Julian. But each time they tried they were stopped. The first two times they were stopped by military force; later it was by the fire which leaped forth from the foundations and restrained them from their untimely obstinacy.
(3) Now I would be glad to ask them a few questions. Why, tell me, did you recover your own country after spending so many years in Egypt? And after you had been again dragged away into Babylon, why did you come back to Jerusalem? Again, in the time of Antiochus, you suffered many evils, but you came back to your old state, you again recovered your sacrifices, your altar, your holy of holies, and all the rest, along with the dignity these things once had. But nothing such as this has happened in your present bondage. One hundred, two hundred, three hundred, four hundred years and many more than that have passed. This is the five hundredth year up to our own day, but we see no hint of such a change for the better on the horizon. What we do see is that the Jewish fortunes have completely collapsed; they do not even have a dream to show they might have any expectation such as they had in their former captivities.
(4) Suppose the Jews should plead their sins as an excuse. Suppose they should say: "We sinned against God and offended him. This is the reason why we are not recovering our homeland. We did treat shamelessly the prophets who never ceased to accuse us, we did deny the blood-guilt of which the prophets spoke in tragic phrases, but we will now confess and condemn ourselves for our own sins." If the Jews should plead this excuse, I will be glad to question each one of them again.
(5) Is it because of your sins that you Jews have been living for so long a time outside Jerusalem? What is strange and unusual about that? It is not only now that your people are living sin filled lives. Did you, in the beginning, live your lives in justice and good deeds? Is it not true that from the beginning and long before today you lived with countless transgressions of the Law? Did not the prophet Ezechiel accuse you ten thousand times when he brought in the two harlots, Oholah and Oholibah, and said "You built a brothel in Egypt; you passionately loved barbarians, and you worshipped strange gods."
(6) What about this? After the waters of the sea were divided, after the rocks were broken asunder, after so many miracles were worked in the desert, did you not worship the calf? Did you not try many times to kill Moses, now by stoning him, now by driving him into exile, and in ten thousand other ways? Did you ever stop hurling blasphemies at God? Were you not initiated in the rites of Baal of Peor? Did you not sacrifice your sons and daughters to demons? Did you not make a display of every form of ungodliness and sin?
(7) Did not the prophet, speaking in behalf of God, say to you: "Forty years I was offended with that generation, and I said: 'These always err in heart.' "' How was it, then, that at that time God did not turn himself away from you? How is it that after you slew your children, after your idolatries, after your many acts of arrogance, after your unspeakable ingratitude, that God even allowed the great Moses to be a prophet among you and that he worked wondrous and marvelous signs himself? What happened in the case of no human being did happen to you. A cloud was stretched over you in place of a roof; a pillar instead of a lamp served to guide you; your enemies retreated of their own accord; cities were captured almost at the first battle-shout. You had no need of weapons. no need of an army in array, no need to do battle. You had only to sound your trumpets and the walls came tumbling down of their own accord. And you had a strange and marvelous food which the prophet spoke of when
he exclaimed: "He gave them the bread of heaven. Man ate the bread of angels: he sent them provisions in abundance.
(8) Tell me this. In those days you were guilty of ungodliness, you worshipped idols, you slew your children, you stoned the prophets, and you did ten thousand dreadful deeds. Why, then, did you enjoy such great kindness and good will from Him? Why did He offer you such protection at that time? Now you do not worship idols, you do not slay your children, you do not stone the prophets. Why are you now spending your lives in endless captivity? God was not one kind of God then and a different kind now, was he? Is it not the same God who governed those past events and who brings to pass what goes on today? Tell me this. Why did you have great honor from God when your sins were greater? Now that your sins are less serious, he has turned himself altogether away from you and has given you over to unending disgrace.
(9) If he turns away from you now because of your sins, he should have done so all the more in those days. If he put up with you when you were living lives of ungodliness, he ought to put up with you all the more now that you venture no such enormities. Why, then, has he not put up with you? Even if you are too ashamed to give the reason, I will state it clearly. Rather, I will not state it, but the truth of the facts will do so.
(10) You did slay Christ, you did lift violent hands against the Master, you did spill his precious blood. This is why you have no chance for atonement, excuse, or defense. In the old days your reckless deeds were aimed against his servants, against Moses, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. Even if there was ungodliness in your acts then, your boldness had not yet dared the crowning crime. But now you have put all the sins of your fathers into the shade. Your mad rage against Christ, the Anointed One, left no way for anyone to surpass your sin. This is why the penalty you now pay is greater than that paid by your fathers. If this is not the reason for your present disgrace, why is it that God put up with you in the old days when you sacrificed your children to idols, but turns himself away from you now when you are not so bold as to commit such a crime? Is it not clear that you dared a deed much worse and much greater than any sacrifice of children or transgression of the Law when you slew Christ?
Tell me this. Will you still dare
to call him an imposter and lawbreaker? Will you not instead go off and
bury yourselves somewhere, when you look the facts in the face, since their
truth is so obvious? If Jesus were an imposter and lawbreaker, as you say
he was, you should have been held in high honor for putting him to death.
Phinehas slew a man and put an end to all God's wrath against the people?
The Psalmist said: "Then Phinehas stood up and propitiated him and
the slaughter stopped." He rescued a great many ungodly men
from the wrath of God by slaying a single lawbreaker. This should have
happened all the more in your case, if indeed the man you crucified was
a transgressor of the Law.
(2) Phinehas, then, was held guiltless after he slew a lawbreaker; indeed, he was honored with the priesthood. But after you crucified an imposter, as you say, who made himself equal to God, you did not receive esteem nor were you held in honor. Instead you suffered a more grievous punishment than you did when you sacrificed your children to idols. Why is this so? Is it not clear even to the dullest minds? You committed outrage on him who saved and rules the world; now you are enduring this great punishment. Is this not the reason?
(3) Yet even today you abstain from blood which would defile you and you observe the sabbath. But at the time you slew Christ, you violated the sabbath. God even promised, through Jeremiah, to spare your city if you would stop carrying burdens on the sabbath. Look, you are observing this law now; you are not carrying burdens on the sabbath. But God is not reconciled to you on this account. Since that sin of yours surpassed all sins, it is useless to say your sins are keeping you from recovering your homeland. You are in the grip of your present sufferings not because of the sins committed in the rest of your lives but because of that one reckless act. If this were not the case, God would not have turned his back on you in such a way, even if you had sinned ten thousand times. This is clear not only from all I have already said but from what I am now going to tell you.
(4) What is this? Oftentimes we have heard God speak to your fathers through the prophets and say: "You deserve countless evils. But I do this for my name's sake, that it may not be profaned among the nations." And again: "It is not for your sakes
that I do this, O house of Israel, but for my name's sake." What God is saying is this: "You deserved heavier vengeance and punishment. But so that no one may say that God let the Jews stay in the power of their enemies because God was weak and
unable to save them, I am helping you and protecting you."
(5) Suppose Christ were a lawbreaker and you crucified him; suppose you had committed countless sins and much worse ones than the sins of your fathers. God would still have saved you to keep his name from being profaned. If Christ were a lawbreaker, God would not have let him be considered a great man, God would not want people putting the blame on Christ for your misfortunes. If God clearly overlooks your sins for His glory's sake, he would have done so all the more if you crucified a lawbreaker. He would have approved of this slaughter and would have blotted out your sins, many as they are. But when God clearly and completely turns himself from you, it is obvious that, by his anger and by abandoning you forever, he is proving even to the most shameless that he who was slain was not a lawbreaker, but the lawgiver who has come as the author of countless blessings. You acted outrageously against him and you are now held in indignity and dishonor. We worship him and, even though heretofore we were held in greater dishonor than all of you, now, through the grace of God, we are more venerable than all of you and are held in higher esteem.
(6) But the Jews will say: "Where is the evidence that God has turned away front us?" Does this still need proof in words? Tell me this. Do not the facts themselves shout it out? Do they not send forth a sound clearer titan the trumpet's call? Do you still
ask for proof in words when you see the destruction of your city, the desolation of your temple, and all the other misfortunes which have come upon you? "But men brought these things upon us, not God." Rather it was God above all others who did these things. If you attribute them to men. then you must consider that, even if men were to have the boldness, they would not have had the power to bring these things to accomplishment, unless it were by God's decree.
(7) The barbarian came down upon you and brought all Persia with him. He expected that he would catch you all by the suddenness of his attack and he kept you all locked up in the city as if you were caught in the net of a hunter or fisherman. Because God was gracious to you at that time-I repeat, at that time- without a battle, without a war, without a hostile encounter, the barbarian king left one hundred and eighty-five thousand of his slain soldiers among you and fled, contented that he alone was saved. And God often decided countless other battles in this way. So also now, if God had not deserted you once and for all, your enemies would not have had the power to destroy your city and leave your temple desolate. If God had not abandoned you, the ruin of desolation would not have lasted so long a time, nor would your frequent efforts to rebuild the temple have been in vain.
These are not my only arguments.
I shall use other sources as well in my efforts to prevail upon you to
agree that it was not by their own power that the Roman emperors did what
they did. They did what they did because God was angry with the Jews and
had abandoned them. If the things that happened were the work of men, your
misfortunes should have ended with the capture of Jerusalem and your disgrace
should not have gone beyond it. Let me grant, according to your argument,
that men demolished the walls, destroyed the city, and overturned the altar,
Was it the work of men that you have no more prophets? Men did not take
away the grace of the Spirit, did they? Did men destroy the other things
you held solemn, such as the voice from the propitiatory, the power which
came in the anointing, the declaration made by the priest from the stones?
(2) The Jewish religious way of life did not have all its origins from here below; the greater number and the more solemn things came from heaven above. For example, God permitted the sacrifices. The altar was from here below as were the faggots, the
knife, and the priest. But the rite which was going to enter the sanctuary and consume the sacrifices had its source from on high; no man carried the fire into the temple, but a flame came down from above and by this the ministry for the sacrifice was fulfilled.
(3) And, again, if they ever had to know something, a voice came forth from the propitiatory, or mercy-seat, from between the cherubim, and foretold the future. Again from the stones which were on the breast of the high priest, which they called the declaration, there came a sort of flashing which indicated the future. Furthermore, whenever someone had to be chosen and anointed, the grace of the Spirit would wing its way down and the oil would run on the forehead of the elect. Prophets fulfilled these ministries. And many a time a cloud of smoke obscured the sanctuary. To keep the Jews from continuing their shameless ways and attributing their desolation to men, God not only permitted the city to fall and the temple to be destroyed but he also removed the things which had their source from heaven above: the fire, the voice, the flashing of the stones, and all other such things.
(4) The Jews will tell you: "Men waged war on us; men plotted against us." When they say this, tell them that men would certainly not have waged war against them unless God had permitted it. Granted that men tore down your walls. Did a man keep the fire from coming down from heaven? Did a man stop the voice which was continually heard from the propitiatory? Did a man stop the declaration from the stones? Did a man put an end to the anointing of your priests? Did a man take away all those other things? Was it not God who withdrew them? Surely, this is clear to everybody. Why, then, did God take them away? Is it not obvious that he hated you and turned his back on you once and for all? The Jews will say: "By no means! The reason why we do not have these is because we do not have our mother-city." But why do you not have your mother-city? Is it not because God has abandoned you?
(5) Let us, rather, stop their shameless mouths with still more proof. To do this, let me prove from the Scriptures themselves that the destruction of the temple was not the reason for destroying the ritual given to the prophets. The real reason was the wrath of God. And he is much more provoked to anger now, because of the Jews' mad rage against Christ, than he was when they worshipped the calf. Surely, when Moses was their prophet, there was neither temple nor altar. Even though they kept committing countless acts of ungodliness, his gift of prophecy did not desert him. To be sure, he was a great and noble man, but, in addition to him, there were again seventy other men who, at that time, were proclaimed as prophets.
(6) This was true not only in Moses' day but also thereafter, when they had been given a temple and the rest of the ritual. Even after this temple was burned and they all had been led off to Babylon, Ezechiel and Daniel saw no holy of holies, stood beside no altar. But even though they were in the middle of a barbarian land and in the midst of unclean transgressors of the Law, they were filled with the Spirit and foretold the future, predicting events far more numerous and marvelous than those prophesied by their predecessors. And they saw divine visions insofar as it was possible for them to see.
(7) Tell me this. Why is it that you have no prophets now? Is it not clear that it is because God has turned his back on your religion? Why did he turn his back on you? It is again obvious that he did so because of him whom you crucified and because of your recklessness in committing that outrage. What makes this so obvious? It is obvious from this: when you Jews lived the life of ungodliness before, you got everything; now, after the cross, although you seem to be living a more moderate life, you 'endure a greater vengeance and have none of your former blessings.
The prophets clearly and distinctly
put the truth before you so that you could learn the reason for your troubles.
hear how Isaiah predicted not only the blessings that will come to all
through Christ but also your senseless arrogance. He said: "By his
we were healed," and by these words he foretold the salvation which has come to all through the cross. Then, to show the kind of men we are, he went on to say: "We had all gone astray like sheep, each turned aside on his own way." In describing the
manner of his execution on the cross, he said: "Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearer, he was silent and opened not his mouth. In his humiliation his legal trial was taken away."
(2) And where can we see that all these things came true? In Pilate's unlawful court of law. Although they testified to so many things against him, as Matthew said, Jesus made no answer to them. Pilate, the presiding official, said to him: "Do you hear what witness these men bear against you? And he made no answer but stood there silent. This is what the heaven-inspired prophet meant when he said: "Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearer, he was silent." Then he showed the lawlessness of the law court when he said: "In his humiliation his legal trial was taken away." No one at that time cast a truly just vote against him, but they accepted the false testimony against him. What was the reason for this? Because he did not wish to proceed against them.
(3) If he wished to do so, he would have stirred up everything and shaken the world to its depths. When he was on the cross, he split the rocks, darkened the earth, turned aside the rays of the sun, and made night out of day over the whole world. If he did this on the cross, he could have done it in the courtroom. Yet he did not wish to do it but, instead, showed us his mildness and moderation. This is why Isaiah said: "In his humiliation his legal trial was taken away." Then, to show that Jesus was not just anybody, he went on to say: "Who shall declare his generation? Who is this man of whom Isaiah said: "His life is taken from the earth? This is why Paul also said: "Our life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, our life, shall appear, then you too will appear with him in glory."
(4) But let me return to the topic which I proposed to discuss and prove, namely, that the Jews are enduring their present troubles because of Christ. It is time now to bring in my witness, Isaiah, who spoke these words. Where, then, did he say this? After he spoke of the trial, death, and ascension, after he said: "His life is taken from the earth," he went on to say: "And I shall give the ungodly for his burial, and the rich for his death." He did not simply say "the Jews," but "the ungodly." What could be more ungodly than those who first received so many good things and then slew the author of those blessings?
(5) If these prophecies have not been fulfilled, if you Jews are not now held in dishonor, if you are not now bereft of everything your fathers had, if your city did not fall, if your temple is not in ruins, if your disaster has not surpassed every tragedy, then you Jews should refuse to believe me. But if the facts shout out and prophecy has been fulfilled, why do you keep up your foolish and unavailing impudence?
(6) Where are the things you held as solemn, where is your high priest, where are his robe, his breastpiece, and stones of declaration? So do not talk to me about those patriarchs of yours who are hucksters and merchants and filled with all iniquity. Tell me, what kind of priest is he if the ancient oil for anointing priests no longer exists nor any other ritual of consecration? What kind of a priest is he if there is neither sacrifice, nor altar, nor worship? Do you wish me to speak of the laws governing the priesthood and how priests were consecrated in olden times? In this way you would find out that those among you who are today called patriarchs are not priests at all. They act the part of priests and are playing a role as if they were on the stage, but they cannot carry the role because they are so far removed from both the reality and even the pretense of priesthood.
(7) Recall how in those days Aaron was made a priest, how many sacrifices Moses offered, how many victims he slew, how he bathed Aaron, anointed the lobe of his ear, his right hand and right foot. Only then did Moses lead Aaron into the holy of holies; only then did he bid him remain there a set number of days. But it is worth your while to hear his very words. "This is the anointing of Aaron and the anointing of his sons. And the Lord spoke to Moses saying 'Take Aaron with his sons, their vestments, and the oil of unction, the calf for sin, and a ram, and gather together the community at the entrance of the meeting tent.' And Moses spoke to the whole assembly: 'This is the word which the Lord has commanded.' And after he brought them forward" (for I must cut the account short), "he washed them with water, put the tunic [on Aaron], girded him with the sash, clothed him with the robe, placed the ephod on him, girded him and fastened it around him. He then set the breastpiece on him with the declaration of doctrine and truth on it, and put the miters on his head, and on the miter, the gold plate. Taking the anointing oil he sprinkled the altar with it and consecrated it and the vessels; the laver and its base he also consecrated. And he poured some of the oil on Aaron's head and did in like manner to his sons. And he brought forward the calf. After he sacrificed it, when Aaron and his sons had put their hands upon it, he took some of its blood and put it on the horns of the altar and purified the altar. And he poured the blood on the base of the altar and consecrated it by performing the rite of atonement over it. After he burned portions of the calf, some within on the altar, others outside the camp, he brought in a ram and offered it for a holocaust.
(8) And again he brought a second ram, the ordination ram. Aaron and his sons laid their hands on it and Moses immolated it. He took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron's right ear, the thumb of his right hand, and the big toe of his right foot. And he did the same thing to Aaron's sons. Then he took some parts of the sacrifice and put them into Aaron's hands and those of his sons and in this way he made the offering. And again he took the blood and some oil and sprinkled Aaron and his vestments with it, and his sons and their vestments. He consecrated them and ordered them to cook the flesh at the entrance to the tent of meeting and to eat it there. And he said: 'You shall not go forth from the entrance to the tent of meeting for seven days until the day when the day of your ordination is complete."'
(9) Moses said that by all these rites Aaron was ordained, purified, and consecrated, and that they appeased God. But we find none of these today: no sacrifice, no holocaust, no sprinkling of blood, no anointing with oil, no tent of meeting where they must sit for a definite number of days. This makes it obvious that the priest among the Jews today is unordained, unclean, under a curse, and profane; he only provokes God's wrath. If a priest could not be ordained in any other way than by these rites, and these rites no longer exist, then there is no possible way that their priesthood could have continued to exist. You see that was right when I said they had gotten somewhere far off and had been far removed from both the reality and even the pretense of the priesthood.
We can also learn from other sources
how awesome was the dignity of the priesthood. Indeed, there was a day
when some wicked and evil men revolted against Aaron, quarreled with him
over his position in the community, and tried to drive him from his leadership.
Moses, the mildest of men, wanted to persuade them by the facts themselves
that he had not brought Aaron to the leadership because he was a brother,
relative, or member of his family, but that it was in obedience to God's
decree that he had entrusted the priesthood to him. So he ordered each
tribe to bring a staff, and Aaron was instructed to do the same.
(2) When each tribe had brought a staff, Moses took all of them and put them inside the meeting tent. Once he had put them there, he gave orders that they await the decision of God which would come to them through those staves. Then all the other staves kept their same appearance, but a single one-Aaron's-blossomed and put forth leaves and fruit. So the Lord of nature used leaves instead of letters to teach them that he had again elected Aaron.
(3) God said in the beginning: "Let the earth bring forth vegetation," and he stirred up its power to bear fruit; in Aaron's day, he also took that dry and fruitless wood and made it blossom without earth or root. That staff was thereafter a proof and witness both of the wickedness of those men and of God's choice. It uttered no word, but the very sight of it, in tones clearer than any trumpet's call, urged every man never to attempt such things as did Aaron's foes.
(4) Not only in this case but at another time and in another way God made clear his choice of Aaron. Many men conspired against Aaron in their lust for the leadership for which God selected him. (And leadership is the kind of thing many men fight over and desire.) Moses ordered them to bring their censers, put incense in them, and to wait for a decision from heaven. As they were burning their incense, the earth split apart and gulped down all their supporters, and a flame from heaven consumed those who had taken up their censers.
(5) Moses did not want anyone to forget, with the passage of time, what had happened. Nor did he want men of a later day to remain ignorant of God's wondrous decision. Therefore, he gave orders that those bronze censers be picked up and beaten into plates for the altar. Just as the very sight of the voiceless staff sent forth a voice, so these bronze plates would speak to all men thereafter, to exhort and advise them never to imitate the madness of those men of old, for fear that they might suffer the same judgment.
(6) Do you see how priests were chosen in former days? But everything that goes on among the Jews today is a ridiculous sport, a trading in shame, filled with outrages beyond number. Tell me, then. Do you let yourself be led by these men who stubbornly oppose God's laws in their every word and deed? Do you rush to their synagogues? Are you not afraid that a bolt of lightning may come down from above and consume your head? Even if a man is not a thief himself but is seen in a den of robbers, he pays the same penalty as they. You do know this, do you not? But why talk about robbers and their crimes?
(7) Surely you all know and remember the time when some evil tricksters in our midst tore down the statues? You remember how not only those who did this reckless deed but also those who were seen simply standing there when it happened were all arrested and dragged off to court together. And you remember that they all paid the supreme penalty. Tell me, then. Are you all agog to run off to a place where they outrage the Father, blaspheme the Son, and reject the Holy Spirit, the giver of life? Are you not afraid, do you not shudder to set foot inside those profane and unclean places? Tell me. What defense or excuse will you have since it is you who have thrust yourself into ruin and perdition, since it is you who have hurled yourself from the precipice?
(8) Do not tell me that the Law and the books of the prophets are there. These do not make it a holy place? Which is the better thing? Is it better to have the books there or to speak out the truths they contain? Obviously it is better to speak out these truths and to keep them in your heart. Tell me, what about this? The devil quoted Scripture. This did not make his mouth holy, did it? You cannot say it did, since the devil kept on being the devil. What about the demons? Just because they spoke out and proclaimed: "These men are servants of the most high God and they proclaim to you a way of salvation," do we on this account rank them among the apostles? By no means! Just as before, we keep right on turning our backs on them and hating them.
(9) If spoken words do not make the mouth holy, does the presence of the Scriptures make a place holy? But how could this be right? This is my strongest reason for hating the synagogue: it does have the Law and the prophets. And now I hate it more than if it had none of these. Why is this? Because in the Law and the prophets they have a great allurement and many a snare to attract the more simple-minded sort of men. This is why Paul drove out the demon which did not remain silent but spoke out. As the author of Acts says: "Being very much grieved, he said to the spirit, 'Go out of her.' Why? Because the demon kept shouting: "These men are servants of the most high God.
(10) As long as the demons remained silent, they did not deceive people by their words; when they spoke out, they did so with the intention of enticing many of the simpler sort into listening and heeding them in these other matters. The demons wish to open the door to their deceits and to create confidence in their lies. And so they give some admixture of truth, in the same way that those who mix lethal drugs smear the lip of the cup with honey to make the harmful potion easy to drink.
(11) This is why Paul was very much grieved and why he hurried to stop up the demons' mouths when they took to themselves a dignity which ill became them. This is why I hate the Jews. Although they possess the Law, they put it to outrageous use. For it is by means of the Law that they try to entice and catch the more simple-minded sort of men. If they refused to believe in Christ because they did not believe in the prophets, the charge against them would not be so severe. As it is, they have deprived themselves of every excuse because they say that they do believe in the prophets but they have heaped outrage on him whom the prophets foretold.
In short, if you believe the place
is holy because the Law and the books of prophets are there, then it is
time for you to believe that idols and the temples of idols are holy. Once,
when the Jews were at war, the people of Ashdod conquered them, took their
ark, and brought it into their own temple. Did the fact that it contained
the ark make their temple a holy place? By no means! It continued to be
profane and unclean, as the events straightway proved. For God wanted to
teach the enemies of the Jews that the defeat was not due to God's weakness
but to the transgressions of those who worshipped him. And so the ark,
which had been taken as booty in war, gave proof of its own power in an
alien land by twice throwing the idol to the ground so that the idol was
broken. The ark was so far from making that temple a holy place that it
even openly attacked it.
(2) Look at it in another way. What sort of ark is it that the Jews now have, where we find no propitiatory, no tables of the law, no holy of holies, no veil, no high priest, no incense, no holocaust, no sacrifice, none of the other things that made the ark of old solemn and august? It seems to me that the ark the Jews now have is no better off than those toy arks which you can buy in the market place, in fact it is much worse. Those little toy arks cannot hurt anybody who comes close to them. But the ark which the Jews now have does great harm each day to those who come near it.
(3) "Brethren, do not become children in mind, but in malice be children, and rescue from their untimely anguish those who are frightened by these things. Teach them what should really terrify them and make them afraid. They should not be terrified by that ark but they should be afraid that they will bring destruction to the temple of God. How will they destroy the temple of God? By constantly rushing off to the synagogue, by a conscience which is inclined toward Judaism, and by the untimely observance of the Jewish rites.
(4) "You who would be justified in the Law have fallen away from grace." This is what you must fear. On that day of judgment you must be afraid of hearing him who will judge you say: "Depart, I know you not." "You made common cause with those
who crucified me. You were obstinate toward me and started up again the festivals to which I had put an end. You ran to the synagogues of the Jews who sinned against me. I destroyed the temple and made ruins of that august place together with all the awe-inspiring things it contained. But you frequented shrines that are no better than hucksters' shops or dens of thieves."
(5) The cherubim and the ark were still there, the grace of the Spirit still abounded in the temple when Christ said: "You have made it a den of thieves" and "a house of business." And He said this because of the transgressions and blood-guilt of the Jews.
Now, after the grace of the Spirit has abandoned them, after all those august solemnities have been taken away, they are still stubborn with God and carry on their irreligious rites. What worthy name can we find to call their synagogues?
(6) The temple was already a den of thieves when the Jewish commonwealth and way of life still prevailed. Now you give it a
name more worthy than it deserves if you call it a brothel, a stronghold of sin, a lodging-place for demons, a fortress of the devil, the destruction of the soul, the precipice and pit of all perdition, or whatever other name you give it.
(7) Do you wish to see the temple? Don't run to the synagogue; be a temple yourself. God destroyed one temple in Jerusalem but he reared up temples beyond number, temples more august than that old one ever was. Paul said: "You are the temple of the living God. Make that temple beautiful, drive out every evil thought, so that you may be a precious member of Christ, a temple of the Spirit. And make others be temples such as you are yourselves. When you see the poor, you would not find it easy to pass them by. When any of you see some Christian running to the synagogue, do not look the other way. Find some argument you can use as a halter to bring him back to the Church. This kind of almsgiving is greater than giving to the poor, and the profit from it is worth more than ten thousand talents.
(8) Why do I speak of being worth more than tell thousand talents? Or worth more than the whole visible world? A human
being is worth more than the whole world. Heaven and earth and sea and sun and stars were made for his sake.
(9) Consider well, then, the dignity and worth of the man you save. Do not think lightly of the care you show to him. Even if a
man gives away more money than you can count, he does not do as great a thing as the man who saves a soul, leads it from its error, and takes it by the hand along the road to godliness. The man who gives to the poor takes away the poor man's hunger; the man who sets a Judaizing Christian straight, wins a victory over godlessness. The first man gave consolation to the poor; the second put a stop to reckless transgression. The first freed the body from pain, the other snatched a soul from the fires of hell.
(10) I showed you the treasure; do not forsake the profit. You cannot dare put the blame on your poverty or excuse yourself because you are indigent. The only expense is one of phrases; the only cost is one of words. Therefore, let us not shrink back from the task but, with all the zeal and desire we possess, let us go hunting for our brothers. Even though they be unwilling, let us drag them into our own houses, let us sit down with them at table and put a meal before them. Let us do this so that after they have broken their fast before our eyes, after they have given us a full and sufficient guarantee of their conversion and return to better ways, they may help both themselves and us to a share in eternal blessings through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom and with whom be glory to the Father together with the Holy Spirit, now and forever, world without end. Amen.
On the Jews
HAVE you had enough of the fight against the Jews? Or do you wish me to take up the same topic today? Even if I have already had much to say on it, I still think you want to hear the same thing again. The man who does not have enough of loving Christ will never have enough of fighting against those who hate Christ. Besides, there is another reason which makes a discourse on this theme necessary. These feasts of theirs are not yet over; some traces still remain.
(2) Their trumpets were a greater outrage than those heard in the theaters; their fasts were more disgraceful than any drunken revel. So, too, the tents which at this moment are pitched among them are no better than the inns where harlots and flute girls ply their trades. Let no one condemn me for the boldness of my words; it is the height of boldness and outrage not to suspect the Jews of these excesses. Since they stubbornly fight against God and resist the Holy Spirit, how can we avoid the necessity of passing such sentence upon them?
(3) This festival used to be a holy one when it was observed according to the Law and at God's command. But this is no longer true. All its dignity has been destroyed because it is observed against God's will. Those who, above all others, treat the Law and the ancient festivals with the least respect are the very ones who are ready today to observe the Law and festivals more than anyone else. But we are the ones who honor the Law above all others, even if we let it rest like a man who has grown old and infirm, even if we do not drag it, gray with age, to the arena, even if we do not force it to enter the contests which are not suited to its years. In my past discourses I gave adequate proof that today is not the day of the Law nor of the old commonwealth and the old way of life.
(4) But come now, let me investigate what remains to be discussed. I did enough to complete my task when I proved from all the prophets that any such observance of ritual outside Jerusalem is transgression of the Law and sacrilege. But they never stop whispering in everybody's ear and bragging that they will get their city back again. Even if this were true, they could not escape the charge of transgressing the Law. But I gave you abundant evidence to prove that the city will not be restored nor will they get back their old commonwealth and way of life.
(5) Once that has been proved, there is no room for disagreement on any of the other points. For example, neither the form of sacrifice, nor of the holocaust, nor the binding force of the Law, nor any other aspect of their old commonwealth and way of life can stand. To begin with, the Law commanded that three times each year every male go up to the temple. But they could not do this once the temple was destroyed. Then, too, the Law commanded that sacrifices be offered for the man afflicted with gonorrhea, the leper, the woman in her menstrual period, the woman who had given birth to a child. But this is impossible since the place no longer exists nor is there an altar to be seen. The Law commanded them to sing sacred hymns but, as I showed before, the place they were living in prevented them; the prophets condemned them and said they were reading the Law and making their confession of praise to God in a foreign land. Since they could not even read the Law outside Jerusalem, how could they observe it outside Jerusalem?
(6) This is why God threatened them and said: 'I will not visit your daughters when they commit fornication nor your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery.' What does this mean? First, I shall read to you the old Law and then I shall try to make his meaning clearer. What, then, does the Law say? 'If a woman transgresses against her husband, disdaining and disregarding him, and if someone sleeps with her the sleep of intercourse, and if she escapes the eye of her husband and there is no witness against her, nor is she caught in the act, nor if a spirit of jealousy comes over her husband when she has not been defiled...'
(7) This is what the Law means. If a woman commits adultery and her husband suspects it, or if he suspects her when she has not committed adultery, but there is no witness nor conception to prove the suspicion, 'he will bring her to the priest and take along barley meal as an offering for her.' Why, I ask, must it be barley meal rather than fine flour or the meal of wheat? Since what happened was a source of pain, accusation, and wicked suspicion, the form of the sacrifice intimated a household disaster. This is why the Lord said: 'You will not pour oil on it nor put frankincense over it.' ''Then'' (for I must cut the account short) ''The priest shall lead her forward and will take pure water in an earthen vessel; he will pick up some of the dust which is on the floor and throw it into the water; he will make the woman stand, will make her swear an oath, and he will say to her: 'If you did not transgress so as to become defiled for your husband, be immune from the water of reproof. But if you did transgress and you are defiled, if someone other than your husband did have intercourse with you, may the Lord make of you an execration and a curse among your people.'
(8) What is the meaning of 'an execration and a curse'? As the saying goes; May what happened to that poor woman not happen to me! 'By the Lord causing your belly to swell and the water that brings a curse will enter your belly to make it swell.' And the woman will say: 'Amen, Amen'. And it will come to pass, if the woman is defiled, that the water of the curse will enter her belly to make it swell, and the woman will be an execration. If she is not defiled, she will be unharmed and will conceive offspring.' Once the Jews had gone off into bondage, none of these things could be done because there was no temple, no altar, no Meeting Tent, no sacrifice to be offered. Because this was the case, when God threatened them, he said: 'I shall not visit your daughters when they commit fornication nor your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery.'
Do you see that the Law takes its force from the place? And since the city is gone, there can no longer be a priesthood. There can be no emperor if there are no armies, no crown, no purple robe, none of the other things which weld together an empire. So, too, there can be no priesthood if sacrifice has been destroyed, if offerings are forbidden, if the sanctuary has been trampled into the dust, if everything which constituted it has disappeared. For the priesthood depend on all these things.
(2) As I said before, it was enough for my purpose to prove that neither the sacrifices, nor the holocausts, nor the other purifications, nor any other part of the Jewish commonwealth and way of life would return. It was enough, finally, to prove that the temple will never rise again. Now that it is no more, everything has been taken away; if something ritualistic seems to be going on, it is against the Law and a reckless crime. In the same way, once I have proved that the temple will never be restored to its former state, I have at the same time also proved that the rest of the ritual of worship will not return to its former condition, that there will be no priest, there will be no king. If not even a commoner of Jewish blood was allowed to be a servant to foreigners, it would be all the more forbidden for their king himself to be subject to others.
(3) But since my effort and zeal are here devoted not only to stopping up the mouths of the Jews but also to instructing your loving assembly, come now and let me take another authority and prove this same point. Let me prove that both the sacrifices of the Jews and their priesthood have completely ended that day and will never again return to their former status.
(4) Who says this? That great and wonderful prophet, David. He made it clear that the one kind of sacrifice would be abolished and another brought in to take its place when he said: 'Many are the wondrous works you have done. O Lord my God: and in your thoughts there is no one like to you. I have declared and I have spoken.' See how wise the prophet is. He said: 'Many are the wondrous works you have done,' and he stood aghast at God's power to work miracles. But he did not go on to tell us about the creation of the things we see: of heaven, earth, and ocean, of water and fire; he did not tell us of those strange marvels which happened in Egypt, or of any other miracles like those. What did he say were wondrous works? 'Sacrifice and oblation you did not desire.'
(5) What do you mean, David? Is this a strange marvel? No, he said. For this was not the only thing he saw. Inspired by heaven, he saw with prophetic eyes how God would lead the nations to him; he saw how those who were nailed to their gods, who worshipped stones, who were worse off than brute beasts suddenly looked up and recognized the Master of all creation; he saw how these men put aside their foul worship of demons and gave pure and bloodless worship to God. At the same time he saw that the Jews, too, who were even more imperfect than the pagans, would put aside their worship through sacrifices, holocausts, and other material things and be led to our way of life. And he pondered on God's ineffable loving-kindness which surpasses all understanding; he stood aghast at how greatly things had changed, how God had reshaped them, how he had made men from demons into angels, and how he had introduced a commonwealth and way of life worthy of heaven.
(6) All this was to take place after the old sacrifice had been abolished and after God had brought into its place the new sacrifice through the body of Christ. This is why David stood aghast and marveled and said: 'Many are the wondrous works you have done, O Lord my God.' To show that he made this whole prophetic prediction in behalf of Christ when he said: 'Sacrifice and oblation you did not desire,' David went on to say: 'But a body you have fitted to me.' By this he meant the Lord's body which became the common sacrifice for the whole world, the sacrifice which cleansed our soul, cancelled our sin, put down death, opened heaven, gave us many great hopes, and made ready all the other things which Paul knew well and spoke of when he exclaimed: 'Oh, the depth of the riches and of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments and how unsearchable are his ways.'
(7) David, then, foresaw all this when he said: 'Many are the wondrous works you have done, O Lord my God.' He went to say, speaking in the person of Christ: 'In holocausts and sin offerings you had no pleasure, and then continued: 'Then I said, Behold I came.' When was 'then'? When the time was ripe for more perfect instructions. We had to learn the less perfect lessons through his servants, but the loftier lessons which surpass the nature of man we had to learn from the Lawgiver himself.
(8) This is why Paul said: 'God, who at sundry times and in varied ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all in these days has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world.' And again, John said: 'For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.' And this is the highest panegyric for the Law, namely that it prepared human nature for the Teacher.
(9) But he did not want you to look on him as a new God or any kind of innovation. Hear what he said: 'In the head of the book it is written of me.' What he meant was this: 'Long ago the prophets foretold my coming and at the beginning of the Scriptures they opened them a little to give men a glimpse of the knowledge that I am God.'
And so, at the beginning of creation, when God said: 'Let us make mankind in our image and likeness,' he was revealing to us in a rather obscure way the divinity of his Son, to whom he was then speaking. Later on the Psalmist showed that this new religious way of life did not contradict the old, but that it was God's will that the old sacrifice be abolished and the new sacrifice replace the old. The new was an extension of the right way of worship; it did not oppose or fight with the old. He showed this when he said: 'In the head of the book it is written of me,' and added: 'That I should do your will, O my God; I have desired it and your law in the midst of my heart.' And when he explained what God's will was, he made no mention of sacrifice or holocausts or offerings or toil and sweat, but said: 'I have declared your justice in a great assembly.'
(2) What does he mean when he says: 'I have declared your justice?' He did not simply say: 'I have given,' 'I have declared.' What does this mean? That he has justified our race not by right actions, nor by toils, not by barter and exchange, but by grace alone. Paul, too, made this clear when he said: 'But now the justice of God has been made manifest independently of the Law.' But the justice of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ and not through any labor and suffering. And Paul took up again the testimony of this Psalm when he spoke as follows: 'For the Law, having but a shadow of the good things to come, and not the exact image of the objects, is never able by the sacrifices which they offer continually, year after year the same, to perfect those who draw near. Therefore in coming into the world, he says: 'Sacrifice and oblation you wished not, but a body you have fitted to me.' By this he meant the entrance into the world of the Only-begotten, the dispensation through the flesh. For this is the way he came to us. He did not change place-how could he since he is every-where and fills all things-but he was made visible to us through the flesh.
(3) Here we are fighting not only against the Jews but also against the pagans and many heretics. So let me uncover for you the deeper meaning here; let me search out the reason why Paul mentioned this text when he had countless testimonies to show that the Law and the old commonwealth and way of life are no longer productive. He did not cite this simply by chance but he did it with good reason and ineffable wisdom. Everybody would agree that he had on this subject other testimonies, both of greater length and more vehement, if he had wished to bring them foreward.
(4) For example, Isaiah said: 'I have no pleasure in you. I have had enough of whole-burnt rams. I desire not fat of fatlings and blood of bulls and goats, not even if you come into my sight. Who required these things at your hands? If you offer me wheaten flour, it is in vain. Incense is an abomination to me.' And again, in another place: 'I did not call you now, Jacob, nor, Israel, did I make you weary. You did not honor me with sacrifices nor did you worship me with your gifts; I did not weary you with frankincense, nor did you get incense for me with silver.' And Jeremiah said: 'Why do you bring me incense from Sheba and cinnamon from a far country? Your holocausts have not pleased me.' And again: 'Heap up your holocausts upon your sacrifices and eat up the flesh.' And another prophet said: 'Take away from me the sound of your songs: I will not hear the canticle
of your harps.' And again, there was another text, where the Jews were saying: 'Will the Lord receive it in place of holocausts if I give my first-born for my wickedness, the fruit of my body for the sin of my souls?' And the prophet reproved them and said: 'It has been announced to you what is good and what the Lord God requires of you, that you love mercy, do judgment and justice, and be ready to walk behind your God.' David also spoke in the same vein when he said: 'I will not take calves from your house nor goats from your flocks.'
(5) When Paul had so many testimonies in which God surely rejects those sacrifices, the times of the new moon, the sabbaths, the festivals, why did he omit all these and mention just that one text? Many of the infidels and many of the Jews themselves who are now doing battle with me maintain that their commonwealth and way of life was not abolished because it was imperfect or its place taken by a greater way of life-I mean ours-but because of the sinfulness of those who offered the sacrifices in those days. And Isaiah certainly did say: 'If you stretch out your hands, I will turn away my eyes from you: and if you multiply your prayers, I will not hear.' Then, to give the reason for this, he went on to say: 'For your hands are full of blood.' These words are not an accusation made against the sacrifices; they are an indictment of the sinfulness of those who offered them. God rejected their sacrifices because they offered them with bloodstained hands.
(6) Again, when David said: 'I will not take calves from your house nor goats from your flocks,' he went on to add: 'But to the sinner God said: 'Why do you declare my justices and take my covenant in your mouth? You hated discipline and cast my words behind you. If you saw a thief, you ran along with him and you threw in your lot with adulterers. Your mouth abounded with injustice and your tongue wrapped up deceits in your words. You sat down and spoke slander against your brother and set a stumbling-block for your mother's son.' This makes it clear that in this instance God did not simply reject sacrifices, but that he rejected them because those who offered them were adulterers and thieves and plotted against their brothers. So these enemies of mine maintain that, since each prophet accuses those who offer the sacrifices, his prophecy is saying that this is the reason why God rejected their sacrifices.
This is what my opponents say to me. But Paul dealt them a knockout blow and said enough to shut their shameless mouths when he cited as his witness the text I have discussed. When Paul wished to prove that God had rejected the old commonwealth and way of life, because it was imperfect, and that he had rendered it inoperative, he took as testimony that text in which no accusation is made against those who offered the sacrifices. He used a text which makes it clear that the sacrifice was in itself imperfect. For the prophet David made no accusation against the Jews; he simply said: 'Sacrifice and oblation you did not desire, but a body you fitted to me: in holocausts and sin offerings you had no pleasure.'
(2) In explanation of this text Paul said: ' He annuls the first covenant in order to establish the second.' If David had said: 'Sacrifice and oblation you did not desire,' and then said no more, their argument would have some place to defend itself. But since he also said: 'But a body you fitted to me,' and showed that another sacrifice was brought in to replace it, he left no hope for the future that the old sacrifice would return. And in explaining this, Paul said: 'Through this offering we have been sanctified in the will of Christ;' and also: 'If the blood of bulls and goats and the sprinkled ashes of a heifer sanctify the unclean for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the Holy Spirit offered himself unblemished, cleanse our conscience from dead works? This gives us abundant proof, then, that those old rituals have stopped, that a new rite has been brought forward to replace them, and that the old will not hereafter be restored.
(3) What is left to discuss now? For some time I have been anxious to prove to you that their kind of priesthood has disappeared and will never return. Let me make this expressly clear from the Scriptures themselves. First I must preface this with a few remarks, so that my explanation of what the scriptures say may be even more obvious.
(4) On his return from Persia, Abraham begot Isaac; Isaac then begot Jacob; Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs from whom arose the twelve tribes-or, rather, the thirteen, because, in Joseph's place, his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, became leaders of tribes. A tribe was named after each of Jacob's sons: for example, the tribe of Ruben, of Simeon, of Levi, of Judah, of Naphthali, of Gad, of Asher, of Benjamin. So also in Joseph's case, his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, gave their names to two tribes; one was called the tribe of Ephraim and the other the tribe of Manasseh. Of these thirteen tribes all but one had fields and large incomes, all but one tilled the fields and devoted themselves to all the other secular pursuits. But the tribe of Levi was honored with the priesthood; it alone was freed from secular work. They did not till the farms, nor do anything else of the sort, but devoted their attention exclusively to the priesthood. From all the people they received tithes of wine and wheat and barley and everything else; all gave them tithes and this was their income. No one from any other tribe could ever become a priest. From this tribe-I mean the tribe of Levi-came Aaron, and by succession, his descendants received the priesthood; no one from another tribe ever become a priest. And so these Levites received tithes from the rest and, in this way, supported themselves.
(5) But in the time of Abraham, before the day of Jacob and Isaac, before the coming of Moses, when the Law had not yet been written, when the priesthood did not clearly to the Levites, when there was no Meeting Tent or Temple, before the division of the people into tribes, before Jerusalem existed, before anyone at all had yet taken control of the government among the Jews, there was a man named Melchizedek, a priest of the Most High God. This Melchizedek was at the same time both priest and king; he was to be a type of Christ, and Scripture makes clear mention of this. For Abraham attacked the Persians, rescued his nephew Lot from their hands, seized all the spoils, and was returning from his mighty victory over his foes. After describing those events the Scripture had this to say about Melchizedek. 'Melchizedek, the king of Salem, brought out bread and wine, for he was a priest of the Most High God. He blessed Abraham and said, 'Blessed by the Most High God, creator of heaven and earth: blessed be the Most High God who has delivered your enemies into your hand.' Then Abraham gave him a tenth of everything.'
(6) If, then, any prophet clearly says that after Aaron, after that priesthood, after those sacrifices and oblations, there will rise up another priest, not from Levi's tribe but from another tribe from which no one ever became a priest, a priest not according to the order of Aaron but according to the order of Melchizedek, it is just as clear that the old priesthood has ceased to exist and another, a new priesthood has been brought in to take its place. If the old priesthood were going to remain effective, it would have to be called a priesthood according to the order of Aaron and not according to the order of Melchizedek. Did any prophet speak of this new priesthood? Yes, that same prophet who before spoke about the sacrifices and who was speaking of Christ when he said: 'The Lord said to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand.'
To prevent anyone from suspecting that this was said about some ordinary man, it was not Isaiah nor Jeremiah, nor any prophet who was a common man that said it, but King David himself. But a king cannot call any man his Lord; it is God alone whom he can call Lord. If David were a common man, perhaps one of those shameless people would have said that he was talking about a mere human being. But now, since David was a king, he would not have called a man his Lord. If David were talking about some ordinary person, how could he have said that this person sat at the right hand of that ineffable and mighty Majesty? That would have been impossible. But of this person said: ' The Lord said to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand till I make your enemies your footstool.'
(2) Then, to keep you from thinking that this person was weak and powerless, David went on to say: 'With you is the principality in the day of your strength.' And he made it still clearer when he said: 'From whom before the daystar I begot you.' But no mere man was begotten before the daystar. 'You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.' He did not say: 'According to the order of Aaron.' So ask the Jews why David brought in another priest, according to the order of Melchizedek, if the old priesthood was not going to be abolish.
(3) At any rate, see how Paul made this clearer when he came to this text. After Paul said of Christ: 'As he (David) says also in another place. 'You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek,' the Apostle went on to say: 'On this point we have much to say, and it is difficult to explain it.' After he reproved his disciples-but I must cut the account short-he went on to tell them who Melchizedek was and to tell the story. 'He met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him; to whom Abraham divided the tithes of all.' Then, to give some insight into Melchizedek, the type, he said: 'Now consider how great this man is, to whom even Abraham the patriarch gave tithes of all.' He did not say this for no purpose but because he wanted to show that our priesthood is much greater than the Jewish priesthood. And the excellence of the realities is shown beforehand in the very types which foreshadow them.
(4) Abraham was the father of Isaac, the grandfather of Jacob, and the ancestor of Levi, for Levi was Jacob's son. The priesthood among the Jews began with Levi. So this man Abraham was the ancestor of the Levites and the Jewish priests. But in the time if Melchizedek, who is the type of our priesthood, Abraham had the rank of a layman. Two things make this clear. First, he gave tithes to Melchizedek, and it is the laymen who give tithes to the priests. Second, he was blessed by Melchizedek, and laymen are blessed by priests.
5) We again see the excellence of our priesthood when we find Abraham, the patriarch of the Jews, the ancestor of the Levites, receiving a blessing from Melchizedek and giving tithes to him. Surely the Old Testament says that Melchizedek blessed Abraham and exacted a tenth part from him. And Paul brought these very points to the fore and said: 'Consider how great this man is.' Who is 'this man'? Paul told us. Melchizedek, 'to whom even Abraham their patriarch gave tithes from the best portion of the spoils.' 'And indeed they who are of the priestly sons of Levi have a commandment to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brethren, though these also have come from the loins of Abraham.'
(6) What Paul means in this. He said that the Levites, who were priests among the Jews, received a commandment, according to the Law, to take tithes from the other Jews. Although they all were descended from Abraham, both the Levites and the rest of the people, nonetheless the Levites took tithes from their brothers. But Melchizedek, who was not of their descent, because he was not a descendant of Abraham, and who was not of the tribe of Levi but from another nation, exacted a tenth part from Abraham, that is, he took tithes from him.
(7) Not only this, but he did something further. What is that? He again blessed Abraham, even though it was Abraham who had received the promises. What does this show? That Abraham was much inferior to Melchizedek. How can this be? 'Beyond all contradiction, that which is less is blessed by the superior,' so that, unless Abraham, the ancestor of the Levites, were inferior to Melchizedek, Melchizedek would not have blessed him, nor would Abraham have given tithes to Melchizedek. But Paul wished to show that, because of the excellence of Melchizedek, that inferiority might have continued, so he went on to say: 'Even Levi, the receiver of tithes, was also, so to speak, made subject to tithes, though Abraham.'
(8) What does he mean by 'was made subject to tithes'? Although Levi was not yet born, through his father, he, too, gave tithes to Melchizedek. As Paul said: 'He was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek meet him.' This is why Paul was careful to say: 'So to speak.' He went on to tell why he said this. 'If the perfection was by the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the Law), what further need was there that another priest should rise, according to the order of Melchizedek, and said not to be according of Aaron?'
(9) What is it that Paul meant? He meant this. If the Jewish religion was perfect, if the Law was not a foreshadowing of future blessing but had been efficacious in every respect, if it was not going to yield to another Law, if the old priesthood was not going to disappear and make way for another priesthood, why did the prophet say: 'You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek?' He should have said: 'according to the order of Aaron.' This is why Paul said: 'If then perfection was by the Levitical priesthood, what further need was there that another priest should rise, according the order of Melchizedek, and said not to be according to the order of Aaron.'
(10) This surely made it clear that the old priesthood was ended and that another much better and more sublime priesthood has been brought in to replace it. When we admit this, we would also agree that another way of life suited to the new priesthood will be brought in and another Law given, and clearly this is ours. Paul prepared us for this when he said: 'When the priesthood is changed, it is necessary that a change of law be made also, for the author of these is one.'
(11) Many of the prescriptions of the Law were devoted to the ministries of the priesthood, and the old priesthood has been abolished. Since another priesthood was brought in to replace the old, it is clear also that a greater Law had to be brought in to replace the old. To make clear who it was of whom these words were spoken, Paul said: 'For he of whom these things are said is from another tribe, from which no one has ever done service at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord has sprung out of Judah, and Moses spoke nothing at all about priests when referring to this tribe.'
(12) Christ clearly is sprung from that tribe, namely the tribe of Judah; Christ surely is a priest according to the order of Melchizedek; Melchizedek is surely much more venerable than Abraham. Then we must also admit from every angle that one priesthood is being brought in to replace another and that it is much more sublime than the old priesthood. If the type was such, if it was more magnificent than the Jewish priesthood, the reality which it foreshadowed is itself still much more magnificent. This is the point which Paul was making when he said: 'And it is yet far more evident if there arise another priest, according to the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become so not according to the Law of carnal commandment, but according to a life that cannot end.'
(13) What did Paul mean when he said: 'Not according to the Law of carnal commandment, but according to a life that cannot end'? He meant that none of Christ's commandments are carnal commandments. He did not order the sacrifice of sheep and calves; he ordered us to worship God through the virtue of our lives; as our reward for this, he set the prize of a life that cannot end. And again, after he had died as the price of our sins, he came and raised us up; he saved us by freeing us from a double death: the death from sin and the death of the flesh. Since he came bringing us such gifts, Paul said: 'Not according to the Law of carnal commandment, but according to a life that cannot end.'
I have, therefore, now proved what was left to be proved. I have proved that, because the priesthood was changed, it was reasonable and necessary that there also be a change of Law. And again I was able to prove this very point by bringing forward as my witnesses the prophets. They testified that the Law will be changed, that the old commonwealth and way of life will be transformed for the better, and that never again will a king arise for the Jews.
(2) But I must say only as much as my audience can listen to and heed; I must not crowd everything together and say it all at once. Therefore, I will store up the rest for another occasion and, for the present, I will stop my instruction at this point. But let me first exhort you loving assembly to keep in mind what I have said and to connect it up with what I said before. And what I asked you before, I shall now ask you again. Rescue your brothers and show great concern for our members who have grown negligent. I do not undertake this great task just to hear myself talk or to enjoy the tumult of your applause; I do it to bring those who have been cut off back to the path of truth.
(3) Let no one say to me: 'I have nothing in common with him, I would be lucky to manage well my own affairs.' No one can manage his own affairs if he does not love his neighbor and work for his salvation. This is what Paul meant when he said: 'Let no one seek his own interest, but those of his neighbor.' He knew that your own interests lie in what benefits your neighbor. You are in good health, but your brother is sick. So then, if you are in your right mind, you will be distressed over him who is in distress and you will, in this matter, follow the example of that blessed soul who said: 'Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I am not inflamed?'
(4) If we find joy in tossing down a couple of idols and spending a little money on the poor, what great pleasure will we reap if we can save men's souls? What recompense will we enjoy in the life to come? Certainly, in this world, as often as we run into these men, we will derive great pleasure from meeting them, because we recall the good turn we did for them. When we see them in the next world before the dread tribunal of judgment, we will experience a great confidence. When the unjust, the greedy, the plunderers, and those who have inflicted countless evils on their neighbors go before this tribunal and see their victims-and they surely will see them, as Christ says, and as is clear from the story of the rich man and Lazarus - they will not be able to open their mouths nor to say a word in their own defense. They will be overwhelmed with the great shame of their condemnation and will be swept off from the sight of their victims into the rivers of flame.
(5) But when those who taught and instructed their neighbors in this life stand before the tribunal, they will see those whom they saved pleading in their behalf. And they will be filled with great confidence and trust. Paul made this clear when he said: 'We are your boast, as you will also be ours.' Tell me, when will this be? 'In the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.'
(6) And, again, Christ gave good counsel when he said: 'Make friends for yourselves with the mammon of wickedness, so that when you fail they may receive you into the everlasting dwellings.' You see that much confidence will come to us from those to whom we have done good in this life. But if there are so many prizes, such great recompense, such ample repayment for the money we spent on others, how will we fail to gain many a great blessing when we help a soul? Tabitha clothed widows and aided the poor and came back to life from the dead. If the tears of those to whom she did good brought her departed soul back to her body-and this before the day of resurrection-will not the tears of those whom you rescued and saved do something to help you? The widows who stood around Tabitha's corpse pointed out that she who had died was alive. In the same way, those whom you saved in this life will stand around you on the day of judgement. They will snatch you from the fire of gehenna and do it that you enjoy His loving-kindness in abundance.
(7) Knowing, then, what we now know, let us not be roused to fervor only for the present hour; fan the fire you now have, go forth, and spread salvation over the city; even if you do not know them, get busy and find those who have this sickness. I shall be all the more eager to speak to you when I have found out from your very deeds that I did not scatter my seed on rocky ground. And you yourselves will be more eager to practice virtue. In money matters, the man who has made a profit of two gold pieces gets a greater enthusiasm to collect and amass a profit of ten or twenty pieces. This happens, too, in the matter of virtue. The man who has succeeded in doing a good deed gets some encouragement and motivation from doing this right action. The result is that he will undertake other good deeds.
(8) Let us, then, rescue our brothers and store up beforehand pardon for our sins. Much more, let us first store up abundant confidence and, before all else, let us see to it that God's name is glorified. To do this, let us take our wives, children, and households and go out after this game and quarry. Let us free from the snares of the devil those whom he has made captive to his will. And let us not stop until we have done everything in our power to rescue them, whether they heed or reject our words. But it would be impossible, if they are Christians, for them not to heed us.
(9) Still, I do not want you to have even the excuse that they would not heed you. Let me say this. If you pour out many words and do everything in your power and still see that he refuses to heed you, then bring him to the priests. By the help of God's grace the priests will surely overcome their quarry. But it will all be your doing, because is was you who took him by the hand and led him to us. Let husbands talk to their wives and wives to their husbands, fathers to their children and friends to friends.
(10) Let the Jews learn how we feel. Let it also become known to those who side with the Jews, even though they pretend to be ranked with us. We have an eager and vigilant concern for our brothers who have deserted over the Jewish side. When the Jews find this out, it will be they, rather than we, who thrust out those of our number who frequent their synagogue. I should say, there will be no one hereafter who will dare to flee to them, and the body of the Church will be unsullied and pure.
(11) It is God's will that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. May he give you strength for this hunt and may he lead them back from this error. May he save us all together and make us worthy of the kingdom of heaven for his glory, since it is fitting that his be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
On the Jews
GONE IS THE FASTING of the Jews, or rather, the drunkenness of the Jews. Yes, it is possible to be drunk without wine; it is possible for a sober man to act as if he is drunk and to revel like a prodigal. If a man could not get drunk without wine, the prophet would never have said: 'Woe to those who are drunk not from wine;' if a man could not get drunk without wine, Paul would never have said: 'Do not be drunk with wine.' For he said this as if there were a possibility of getting drunk some other way. And it is possible. A man can be drunk with anger, with unseemly desire, with greed, with vainglory, with ten thousand other passions. For drunkenness is nothing other than a loss of right reason, a derangement, and depriving the soul of its health.
(2) Therefore, I would not be making too strong a statement if I should say that we find a drunkard not only in the man who is a heavy drinker of strong wine but we also find one in the man who nurtures some other passion in his soul. For the man in love with a woman who is not his wife, the man who spends his time with prostitutes, is a drunkard. The heavy drinker cannot walk straight, his speech is rude, his eyes cannot see things as they really are. In the same way, the drunkard who is filled with the strong wine of his undisciplined passion is also unsound of speech; everything he utters is disgraceful, corrupt, crude, and ridiculous; he, too, cannot see things as they really are because he is blind to what he sees. Like a deranged man or one who is out of his wits, he imagines he sees everywhere the woman he yearns to ravish. No matter how many people speak to him at gatherings or banquets, at any time or place, he seems not to hear them; he strains after her and dreams of his sin; he is suspicious of everything and afraid of everything; he is no better off than some trap-shy animal.
(3) Again, the man in the grip of anger is drunk. In the same way as other drunkards, his face becomes swollen, his voice grows rough, his eyes are bloodshot, his mind is darkened, his reason is submerged, his tongue trembles, his eyes are out of focus, and he does not hear what is really said. His anger affects his brain worse than strong wine; it stirs up a storm and causes a distress that cannot be calmed.
(4) But if the man in the grip of passion or anger is drunk, this is all more true of the impious man who blasphemes God, who goes against his laws and never is willing to renounce his untimely obstinacy. This man is drunk, mad, and much worse off than insane revelers, even if he does not seem aware of his condition. And this is the characteristic which most marks a drunkard: he has no awareness of his unseemly behavior. This, in fact, is the special danger of madness: those who suffer from it do not know they are sick. So, too, the Jews are drunk but do not know they are drunk.
(5) Indeed, the fasting of the Jews, which is more disgraceful than any drunkenness, is over and gone. But let us not stop thinking ahead for our brothers, let us not consider that our concern for them is now no longer timely. See what soldiers do. Suppose they have met the enemy and routed them. As they return from pursuing the foe, they do not immediately rush back to camp. First they go back to the battlefield to pick up their fallen comrades. They bury the dead but, if they see among the corpses men who are not mortally wounded but are still breathing, they give them as much first aid as they can, they pick them up, and carry them back to their camp. Then they extract the dart, call the physicians, wash away the blood, apply remedies to the wounds, and by giving them every care, they bring the wounded back to health.
(6) Therefore, we must do the same. By God's grace, we made the prophets our warriors against the Jews and routed them. As we return from pursuing out foes, let us look all around to see if any of our brothers have fallen, if the fast has swept some of them off, if any of them have shared in the festival of the Jews. Let us bury no one; let us, however, pick up every fallen man and give him the treatment he needs. In battles between armies of this world, a soldier cannot bring back life or recover for further service a comrade who has fallen once and for all and died. But in a battle of this war of ours, even if a man has been mortally wounded, if we have good will and the help of God's grace, we can take him by the hand and lead him back to life. Unlike a casualty in war, here is not a man's body that dies, but his will and his resolution. And it is possible to restore to life a will that has died; it is possible to persuade a dead soul to come back to its own proper life and to acknowledge again its Master.
We must not grow weary, my brothers, we must not became exhausted, we must not lose heart. Let no one say: 'We should have done all we could to put them on their guard before the fast. Now that they have fasted, now that they have sinned, now that their transgression is complete, what use is there in helping them now?'
(2) If anyone knows what it means to look out for his brothers, he also knows that he must look for them and show this concern now more than ever. We must not only put them on their guard before they sin but we must also extend a helping hand after they have fallen. Suppose God had done that from the beginning; suppose he had put us on guard only before we sinned; suppose, after we had sinned, he had given us up and let us lie where we had fallen from one end of our life to the other. Then no one of us would ever have been saved.
(3) But God does not act that way. He loves men, he is kind to them, he desires their salvation above all things. And so he looks out for them even after they have sinned. He said to Adam: 'From every tree in the garden you will eat; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil do not eat; for on the day you eat of it; you will surely die.' God put Adam on his guard by giving him every warning he would need: he showed him the ease of fulfilling the Law, the liberality of what it permitted, the harshness of the future punishment, and the speed with which it would come. For God did not say: 'After one, two, or three days, but, 'on the very day you eat of it, you will surely die.'
(4) God looked out for Adam very carefully; he instructed him, exhorted him, and gave him many blessings. But even so, Adam disregarded his commands and fell into sin. Still God did not say: 'What good will it do now? What is the use of helping now? He ate the fruit, he fell into sin, he transgressed the law, he believed the devil, he dishonored my commandment, he was wounded, he became subject to death and died, he came under the judgment. What need have I to speak to him now?
(5) But God said none of these things. Rather, he came immediately to Adam, spoke to him, and consoled him. Again God gave Adam another remedy-the remedy of toil and sweat. God kept right on doing everything and exerting himself until he raised up fallen nature, rescued it from dead, led it by the hand to heaven, and gave it greater blessings than it had lost. By the things God himself did, he taught the devil that he would reap no profit from his plot. Satan had succeeded in driving men from Paradise but he would soon see them in heaven mingling with the angels.
(6) In the case of Cain, God did the same thing. Before Cain's great sin, God spoke plainly to him, warned him, and said: 'You sinned; stop it. His (Abel's) refuge is in you and you will rule over him.' See God's wisdom and understanding. He said: 'Because I have honored Abel, you are afraid he will take from you the privilege of the first-born; you are afraid he will take the first place, which is due to you.' For the first-born necessarily had a more honored position than the second-born. So God said: 'Take courage, do not be afraid, feel no anguish over this. His refuge is in you, and you will rule over him.' This is what God meant: 'Stay in the honored position of the first-born; be a refuge, a shelter, and a protection for your brother. But do not jump to bloodshed; do not come to that impious act of murder.' Even so, Cain did not listen, he did not stop, he did commit that murder, he did bathe his hands in blood from his brother's throat.
(7) But then what happened? God did not say: 'Let him go now. What further use is there in helping him? He did commit the murder, he did slay his brother. He scorned my advice; he dared to do that mad and unforgivable deed of slaughter. Even though I was looking out for him, instructing him, even though he enjoyed such benefit from me, he drove all these from his mind and paid them no heed. Let him go, then, and be hereafter cast from my sight. He has deserved no consideration from me.'
(8) God neither said nor did anything like that. Instead, he came again to him, corrected him, and said: 'Where is your brother Abel? When Cain said he did not know, God still did not desert him but he brought him, in spite of himself, to admit what he had done. After Cain said: 'I do not know, 'God said: 'The voice of your brother's blood cries to me.' What God was telling Cain was that the very deed proclaimed who the murderer was. And what did Cain say? 'My guilt is too great to be forgiven. If you drive me from the land, I shall also be hidden from your face.'
(9) What Cain meant was this. 'I have committed a sin too great for pardon, defense, or forgiveness; if it is your will to punish my crime, I shall lie exposed to every harm because your helping hand has abandoned me.' And what did God do then? He said: 'Not so! Whoever kills Cain shall be punished sevenfold.' What God said was this: 'Do not fear that. You will live a long life. If any man does kill you, he will be subject to many punishments.' For the number seven in the Scriptures means an indefinitely large number. So, then, Cain was stricken with many punishments-with torment and trembling, with grief and discouragement, with paralysis of his body. After he had undergone these penalties, as God put it: 'Whoever kills you and frees you from these punishments will draw the same vengeance upon himself.'
(10) The punishment of which God spoke seems to be excessively harsh but it does give us a glimpse of his great solicitude. God wanted men of later times to exercise self-control; therefore, he designed the kind of punishment which was capable of setting Cain free from his sin. If God had immediately destroyed him, Cain would have disappeared, his sin would have stayed concealed, and he would have remained unknown to men of after days. But as it is, God let him live a long time with that bodily tremor of his. The sight of Cain's palsied limbs was a lesson for all he met; it served to teach all men and exhort them never to dare do what he had done, so that they might not suffer the same punishment. And Cain himself became a better man again. His trembling, his fear, the mental torment which never left him, his physical paralysis kept him, as it were, shackled. They kept him from leaping again to any other like deed of boldness; they constantly reminded him of his former crime; through them he achieved greater self-control in his soul.
As I was speaking, it occurred to me to bring up a further question. Cain confessed his sin and condemned what he had done; he said his crime was too great to be forgiven and that he deserved no defense. Why, then, could he not wash away his sins? The prophet Isaiah said: 'Be the first to tell your iniquities, that you may be justified.' Why, then, was Cain condemned? Because he did not tell his sins as the prophet commanded. Isaiah did not simply say: 'Tell your iniquities.' What did he say? He said: 'Be the first to tell your iniquities.'
(2) The question here is this. It is not simply a matter of telling, but of being the first to tell and not waiting for an accuser to convict you. But Cain did not tell first; he waited for God to accuse him. And then, when God did accuse him, he denied it. After God had once and for all given clear proof of what he had done, Cain then told his sin. But this is no longer a confession.
(3) Therefore, beloved, when you commit sin, do not wait for another man to accuse you but, before you are accused and indicted, do you yourself condemn what you have done. Then, if someone accuses you later on, it is no longer a matter of your doing the right thing in confessing, but of your correcting the accusation which he makes. And so it is that someone else has said: 'The just man begins his speech by accusing himself.' So it is not a question of accusing but of being the first to accuse yourself and not waiting for others to accuse you.
(4) Peter certainly sinned gravely in denying Christ. But he was quick to remind himself of his sin and, before anyone accused him, he told of his error and wept bitterly. He so effectively washed away his sin of denial that he became the chief of the apostles and the whole world was entrusted to him.
(5) But I must get back to my main topic. What I said has given us sufficient proof that we must not neglect or scorn our brothers who fall into sin. We must put them on their guard before they sin and we must show great concern for them after they have fallen. This is what physicians do. They tell people in good health what can preserve their health and what can ward off every disease. But if people have disregarded their instructions and have fallen sick, physicians do not neglect them but, especially at that time, they look out for the patients so that they may free them from their ailments.
(6) And Paul certainly did this too. Incest is a sin and serious transgression which is not even found among the pagans. But Paul did not scorn the man who had committed incest. Even though this man rebelled and refused to be cured, even though he kicked about and was unmanageable, Paul led him back to health and he did it in such a way as to unite him again to the body of the Church. Paul did not say to himself: 'What good would it do? What would be the use? He committed incest, he has sinned; he does not want to give up his licentious ways; he is puffed up and boastful and has made his wound incurable. So let us be done with him and leave him in the lurch.'
(7) Paul said none of these things. The very reason why he showed great concern for this sinner was that he saw the man had slipped into unspeakable wickedness. So Paul never gave up frightening him, threatening him, punishing him both through his own efforts and with the help of others. Paul left nothing undone, nothing untried until he brought the man to acknowledge his sin, to see his transgression. And, at last, Paul freed the man from every stain of sin.
(8) Now you do the same thing Paul did. Imitate the Samaritan in the gospel who showed such concern for the man who had been wounded. For a Levite passed that way, a Pharisee passed by, but neither of them turned to the man lying there. They just went their way and, like the cruel, pitiless men they were, they left him there. But a Samaritan, who was in no way related to this man, did not hurry past but stopped, took pity on him, poured oil and wine on his wounds, put him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn. There he gave some money to the innkeeper and promised him more for taking care of a man who was in no way related to him.
(9) He did not say to himself: 'What do I care about him? I am a Samaritan. I have nothing in common with him. We are far from the city and he cannot even walk. What about this? Suppose he is not strong enough to make the long journey. Am I going to bring in a corpse, will I be arrested for murder, will I be held accountable for his death?' Many a time people people go along a road and see men who have have been wounded but are still breathing. But they pass them by not because they are stingy with their money, but because they are afraid that they themselves may be dragged into court and held accountable for the murder.
(10) That gentle and benevolent Samaritan feared none of these things. He scorned all such fears, put the man on his own beast, and brought him to an inn. He did not think of any of these things, neither the danger, nor the expense, nor anything else. If the Samaritan was so kind and gentle to a stranger, what excuse would we have for neglecting our brothers when they are in deeper trouble? For those who have just observed the fast have fallen among robbers, the Jews. And the Jews are more savage than any highwaymen; they do greater harm to those who have fallen among them. They did not strip off their victim's clothes nor inflict wounds on his body as did those robbers on the road to Jericho. The Jews have mortally hurt their victim's soul, inflicted on it ten thousand wounds, and left it lying in the pit of ungodliness.
Let us not overlook such a tragedy as that. Let us not hurry past so pitiable a sight without taking pity. Even if others do so, you must not. Do not say to yourself: 'I am no priest or monk; I have have a wife and children. This is a work for the priests; this is work for the monks.' The Samaritan did not say: 'Where are the priests now? Where are the Pharisees now? Where are the teachers of the Jews?' But the Samaritan is like a man who found some great store of booty and got the profit.
(2) Therefore, when you see someone in need of treatment for some ailment of the body or soul, do not say to yourself: 'Why did so-and-so or so-and-so not take care of him?' You free him from his sickness; do not demand an accounting from others for their negligence. Tell me this. If you find a gold coin lying on the ground, do you say to yourself: 'Why didn't so-and-so pick it up?' Do you not rush to snatch it up before somebody else does?
(3) Think the same way about your fallen brothers; consider that tending his wounds is like finding a treasure. If you pour the word of instruction on his wounds like oil, if you bind them up with your mildness, and cure them with your patience, your wounded brother has made you a richer man that any treasure could. Jeremiah said: 'He who has brought forth the precious from the vile will be as my mouth.' What could we compare to that? No fasting, no sleeping on the ground, no watching and praying all night, nor anything else can do as much for you as saving your brother can accomplish.
4) Consider how frequent and numerous are the sins you commit with your mouth. How many obscene things has it said? How many blasphemies, how many abuses has it uttered? If you give some thoughts to this, you will surely never hesitate to look out for your fallen brother. By this one good deed can cleanse every stain from your mouth. Why do I say cleanse? Because you will make your mouth as the mouth of God. And what honor could be equal to that? It is not I who make this promise to you. God himself said it. If you bring back one person, he said, your mouth will be cleansed and holy, as my mouth is.
5) So let us not neglect our brothers, let us not go around saying: 'How many kept the fast? How many were filched away from us?' Rather, let us show our concern for them. Even if those who observed the fast are many, you my beloved, must not make a show and a parade of this calamity in the Church; you must cure it. If someone tells you that many have observed the fast, stop him from talking so the rumor may not get around and become public knowledge. You say to him: 'For my part, I don't know of anyone who observed it. You are mistaken, sir, and deceived. If you see two or three filched away, you say that these few are many.' So stop this accuser from talking. But you must also see to it that you show your concern for those who were snatched away. Then you will keep the Church safe from a double hurt: first, by preventing the rumor from making the rounds and, secondly, by bringing back to the sacred fold the sheep who were snatched away.
6) Therefore, let us not go around asking: 'Who fell into sin?' Let our only zeal be to set straight those who have sinned. It is a dangerous practice and a terrible thing only to accuse your brothers and not to come to their aid, to parade in public the sins of the sick and not cure them. Let us, then, get rid of this wicked practice, my beloved, for it leads to no small harm.
7) Let me tell you how it does this. Somebody hears you say that there were many who observed the fast with the Jews and, without any further investigation, he spreads the story to somebody else. And the second man, without inquiring into the truth of the rumor, again tells it to still another. Then, as the evil rumor little by little grows greater, it spreads a great disgrace over the Church. And this does no good for those who have fallen away; in fact, it causes considerable harm both to them and to many others.
8) Even is those who did fall are in number, we make them a multitude by the multitude of our rumors; we weaken those who resisted and we give a push to those on the point of falling. If one of our brothers hears the rumor that a large number joined in keeping the fast, he will be more inclined to be careless himself; again, if it is one of weak ones who hears the story, he will rush to join the strong of those who have fallen. Even if many have sinned, let us not join with those who rejoice at this or any other evil. If we do, we make a parade of the sinners and say that their name is legion. Rather, let us stop the rumormongers and keep them from spreading the story.
9) Do not tell me that those who observed the fast are many. Even if they are many, you must set them straight. I did not expend all these words for you to accuse many, but for you to make the many few and to save even these few. Therefore, do not put their sins on parade, but treat their wounds. Some people parade rumors and have time only for that. They see to it that the number of those who have sinned is judged to be large even if only a few have fallen. In the same way, if people reprove the rumormongers and shut their mouths, if they show concern for those who have fallen, no matter how many they be, it is no hard task for them to set the sinner straight. And furthermore, they keep those rumors from doing harm to anyone else.
10) You have heard David's lament for Saul when he said: 'How the mighty have fallen. Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the street of Ashkelon so that the daughters of foreign tribes may not rejoice, so that the daughters of the uncircumcised may not exult in arrogance.' If David did not wish the matter paraded in public so that it might not be a source of joy to his foes, so much the more must we avoid spreading the story to alien ears. Rather, we must not spread it even among ourselves for fear that our enemies may hear it and rejoice, for fear that our own may learn of it and fall. We must hush it up and keep it guarded on every side. Do not say to me, 'I told so-and-so.' Keep the story to yourself. If you did not manage to keep quiet, neither will he manage to keep his tongue from wagging.
What I say applies not only to the actual observance of the fast but also to ten thousand other sins. Let us not only ask if many were filched away; let us ask how we may bring them back. Let us not exalt our enemies' side and destroy our own. Let us not show that they are strong and that our side is weak. Let us do quite the opposite. Rumor can often destroy a soul but, just as often, it can lift it up; it can put zeal in a soul where was none and, again, it can destroy the zeal that was there.
2) So I urge you to increase the rumors which exalt our cause and show its greatness, but not the rumors which spread shame on the community of our brothers. If we hear something good, let us broadcast it to all; if we hear something bad or evil, let us keep that hidden among ourselves and do everything we can to get rid of the evil. Therefore, let us now go forth, let us get busy and search for the sinner, let us not shrink back even if we must go into his home. If you do not know him, if you have no connection with him, get busy and find some friend or relative of his, someone to whom he pays particular attention. Take this man with you and go into his home.
3) Do not blush or feel ashamed. If you were going there to ask for money or to get some favor from him, you have reason to feeling ashamed. If you hurry to save the man, no one can find fault with your motive for entering his home. Sit down and talk with him. But start your conversation on other topics so that he does not suspect that the real purpose of your visit is to set him straight.
4) Say to him: 'Tell me, do you approve of the Jews for crucifying Christ, for blaspheming him as they do, and for calling him a lawbreaker?' If the man is a Christian, he will never put up with this; even he be a Judaizer times without number, he will never bring himself to say: 'I do approve.' Rather, he will stop up his ears and say to you: 'Heaven forbid! Be quiet, man.' Next, after you find that he agrees with you, take the matter again and say: 'How is it that you attend their services, how is it you participate in the festival, how is it you join them in observing the fast?' Then accuse the Jews of being obstinate. Tell him about their every transgression which I recounted to your loving assembly in the days just past. Tell him of their transgressions connected with the place, the time and the temple, and how the prophets gave proof of these in their predictions. Show him how the whole ritual of the Jews is useless and unavailing. Show him that they will never return to their old commonwealth and way of life and that they are forbidden to fulfill, except in Jerusalem, what the old life demanded.
5) Furthermore, remind him of gehenna. Remind him of the test he will undergo before the Lord's dread tribunal of judgment. Remind him that we will give an accounting for all these things and that no small punishment awaits those who dare to do what he is doing. Remind him that Paul said: 'You who are justified in the Law have fallen away from grace.' Remind him of Paul's threat: 'If you be circumcised, Christ will be no advantage to you.' Tell him that, as is the case with circumcision, so, too, the fasting of the Jews drives from heaven the man who observes the fast, even if he has ten thousand other good works to his credit. Tell him that we have the name of Christians because we believe in Christ and not because we run to those who are His foes.
6) Suppose he uses the cures which the Jews effect as his excuse; suppose he says: 'They promise to make me well, and so I go to them.' Then you must reveal the tricks they use, their incantations, their amulets, their charms and spells. This is the only way in which they have a reputation for healing; they do not effect genuine cures. Heaven forbid they should! Let me go so far as to say that even if they really do cure you, it is better to die than to run to God's enemies and be cured that way. What use is it to have your body cured if you lose your soul? What profit is there that you find some relief from your pain in this world if you are going to be consigned to eternal fire?
7) So that no Jew may say they will cure you, listen to what God said: 'If there arise among you a prophet or dreamer of dreams who gives you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he spoke come to pass, and if he says: 'Let us go and worship other gods,' do not listen to that prophet; for the Lord, your God, is testing you to see if you love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul.'
8) What God means is this. Suppose some prophet says to you: 'I can raise a dead man to life or cure a blind man. But you must obey me when I say:
'Let us worship demons, or let us offer sacrifice to idols.' Then, suppose the man who said this can cure a blind man or raise a dead man to life. God said that you must not heed him because of these sign and wonders which he works. Why? Because God is testing you, he permitted that man to have this power. It is not that God does not know your thoughts but that he is giving you a chance to prove if you really love him. And there are men who are eager to drag us away from our Beloved. Even if they show dead men brought back to life, the man who truly loves God will not stand apart from God because he has seen such signs and wonders.
9) If God said this to the Jews, he says it all the more to us. We are the ones he led to a greater life of virtue. He opened the door for us to rise again. He gave the command to us not to love our dwelling here on earth but to keep all our hopes aimed at the life to come.
But what are you saying? Is it that a bodily ailment is afflicting you and crushing you? You have not suffered as many ills as did blessed Job. You have not endured even the slightest part of his pain. First, he lost the whole throng of his flocks, his herds, and every other possession. Then the whole chorus of his children was snatched off. And all this happened on a single day, so that not only the nature of his calamities but also the unbroken succession of his losses might crush this athlete down to earth.
2) After all that, he received a lethal blow on his body, he saw worms swarming forth from his flesh, he sat naked on a dung hill, a public spectacle of disaster for all men there to see, Job the just, truthful, God-fearing man who kept himself aloof from every evil deed. And his troubles did not stop there. All day, all night, he suffered distress, and a strange and unusual hunger assailed him. He said: 'I see my food is a stench.' Each day he was reproached, scoffed at, mocked, and ridiculed. He said: 'My servants and the children of my concubines have risen up against me, my dreams are filled with terror, my thoughts are tossed with constant storms.'
3) But his wife promised him freedom from all these things when she said: 'Speak some word against the Lord and die.' What she meant was: 'Curse God and you will be free from the troubles which oppress you.' Did her advice change the mind of that holy man? It did just the opposite; it gave him great strength so that he even reproached his wife. He chose to feel pain, to endure hardship, and to suffer ten thousand terrible things rather than curse God and so find release from his terrible troubles.
4) The man who had been thirty-eight years in the grip of his infirmity used to rush each year to the pool and each year he was driven back and found no cure. Each year he would see others cured because they had many to take them. But he had no one to put him in the water ahead of the others and so remained in the constant grip of his paralysis. Even so, he did not run to the soothsayers, he did not go to the charm-users, he did not tie an amulet around his neck, but he waited for God to help him. That is why he finally found a wonderful and unexpected cure.
5) Lazarus wrestled all his days with hunger, disease, and poverty, not only for thirty-eight years but for his whole life. At any rate, he died while he was lying at the gateway of the rich man, scorned, scoffed at, famished, laid out before the dogs for food. For his body had grown too weak to scare away the dogs who came and licked his wounds. Yet he did not search for a soothsayer, he did not tie tokens around his neck, and he did not resort to the charm-users, he did not call in those skilled in witchcraft, nor did he do anything he was forbidden to do. He chose to die from these troubles of his rather than betray in any small way his life of godliness.
6) Look at the torments and sufferings those men endured! What excuse will we have if for our fevers and hurts we run to the synagogues, if we summon into our own house these sorcerers, these dealers in witchcraft? Hear what the Scripture says: 'My son, if you come to serve the Lord, prepare your soul for trial, put straight your heart, and be steadfast. Be obedient to him in sickness and in poverty. As gold is tested in the fire, so the chosen man is tested in the furnace of humiliation.'
7) Suppose you flog your servant. Suppose, that, after you have dealt him thirty or fifty lashes, he then loudly demands his freedom, or that he flees from your control to take refuge with men who hate you. Suppose that he then incites them against you. Tell me this. Can he get you to forgive him? Can anyone offer a defense in his behalf? Of course not.
8) But why? Because it is a master's duty to punish his servant. And this is not the only reason. If the slave had to run away, he should not gone to the enemies who hated his master; he should have gone to his master's true friends. You must do the same. When you see that God is punishing you, do not flee to his enemies, the Jews, so that you may not rouse his anger against you still further. Run instead to martyrs, to the saints, to those in whom he is well pleased and who can speak to him with great confidence and freedom.
9) But why talk about slaves and masters? If a father flogs his son, the son cannot do what the slave did, nor can he deny his relationship to his father. Suppose the father flogs his son, suppose he keeps him from his table, suppose he drives him from his house, and punishes him every way he can. Both the laws of nature and those established by man command the son to be brave and endure all this. No one ever excuses the son if he refuses to obey his father and put up with the punishment. Even if the boy who was flogged lifts his voice in ten thousand bitter laments, everybody tell him that it was his father who flogged him, that his father is the master and the power to do whatever he wants, that the son must meekly endure it all.
10) So, then, slaves put up with their masters and sons put up with their fathers even though the punishments they get often do not fit the fault. Will you refuse to put up with God when He corrects you? Is he not more your master than your master is? Does he not love you more than any father? When he interferes and does something, it is not done from anger. He does everything for you own good. If you get some slight illness, will you reject him as your master and rush off to the demons and desert over to the synagogues? What pardon will you find after that? How can you call on Him for help again? Who else will be able to plead your cause even if he could speak with the freedom and confidence of a Moses? There is no one.
11) Do you not hear what God said to Jeremiah about the Jews? 'Do not intercede for this people because even Moses and Samuel shall stand (before my face), I will not listen to them.' That is how far some sins go beyond forgiveness and how incapable of defense they are. Therefore, let us not draw down such anger on ourselves. Even if the Jews seem to relieve your fever with their incantations, they are not relieving it. They are bringing down on your conscience another more dangerous fever. Every day you will feel the sting of remorse; every day your conscience will flog you. And what will your conscience say? 'You sinned against God, you transgressed his Law, you violated your covenant with Christ. For an insignificant ailment you betrayed your faith. You are not the only one who has suffered this ailment, are you? Have not others been much more seriously ill than you? Still, not one of them dared commit such a sin. But you were so soft and weak that you sacrificed your soul. What defense will you make to Christ? How will you ask for his help in your prayers? With what conscience will you set foot in the church? With what eyes will you look at the priest? With what hands will you touch the sacred banquet? With what ears will you listen to the reading of the scriptures there?'
Every day your reason will sting you and your conscience will flog you with these words. What kind of health is this when we have such thoughts in our minds to accuse us? But if you put up with your fever for a little while, if you scorn those who want to chant over you an incantation or tie an amulet to your body, if you insult them roundly and drive them from your house, your conscience will immediately bring you relief like a drink of water. Even if the fever recurs time and time again, even if it is burning up your body, your soul brings you a solace that is better and more profitable than any relief from water or perspiration.
2) Even if you recover your health after the incantation, the thought of the sin you committed leaves you worse off than those who are tossed with fever. And if you are the one who has the fever now, if you are the one who suffers ten thousand torments, you will be better off than any healthy man, because you have gotten rid of those foul sorcerers. Your reason will exult, your soul will rejoice and be glad, your conscience will praise you and voice its approval.
3) And what will your conscience say? 'Well done, well done, good man. You are the servant of Christ, you are the man of faith, the athlete of the godly life. You chose to die in torment rather than betray the life of godliness entrusted to your care. You will stand with the martyrs on that day. The martyrs chose to be flogged and torn on the rack that God might hold them in honor. So you chose this day to be flogged and racked with fever and wounds rather than submit to profane incantations and amulets. Because you nurture yourself with these hopes, you will not feel the torments which assail you.'
4) If this fever does not carry you off, another one surely will; if we do not die now, we are sure to die later. It is our lot to have a body doomed to die. But we do not have this body so that we may heed its passions and take to ourselves a life of godlessness, but that we may use its passions for the godly life. If we live the sober life, this corruption, this same mortal body will become the basis for our honor and will give us great confidence not only on that day but also in the present life.
5) So, go ahead and insult those sorcerers roundly and drive them from your house. Everybody who hears of it will praise you and marvel at you. People will say one to the other: 'So and so was sick and in pain. Time and time again people came to him and urged him, and advised him to subject himself to magic incantations. He did not give in but said: 'It is better to die the way I am than to betray my faith and the godly life.' 'Those who hear these words will applaud him long and loud; they will be astounded and give glory to God.
6) Do you not think this will be more rich in honor than many statues, more brilliant in its magnificence than many portraits, more remarkable in its distinction than many dignities? Everyone will praise you, everyone will count you happy, everyone will crown you with the victor's wreath. And they will be better themselves, they will experience a return to zeal, they will imitate your courage. If somebody else does what you did, you will carry off the reward because it was you who gave him his start, it is you whom he emulates.
7) Your good deeds will not only bring praise to you but also rapid release from your sickness. The nobility of your choice will win God to even greater good will; all the saints will rejoice at what you have done; they will pray for you from the bottom of their hearts. If such courage brings these rewards in this life, consider what reward you will receive in heaven. In the presence of all the angels and archangels, Christ will come forward, take you by the hand, and lead you to the middle of that stage. Everyone will listen when he says:
8) 'This man was once gripped by fever. Many people urged him to be rid of his ailment, but, for my name's sake and because he feared he might offend me in some way, he scorned these people and thrust aside those who were promising to cure him in that fashion. He chose to die of his illness rather than betray his love for me.'
9) If Christ leads to the center of this stage those who gave him to drink, who clothed and fed him, he will do this all the more for those who endured fevers for his sake. Giving food and clothing is not the same thing as submitting to a long continuing disease. To submit to the disease is a much greater thing. And the greater the suffering, the more glorious will be the reward.
10) In sickness and in health, let us rehearse for this day and talk about it one to the other. If we find ourselves in the grip of a fever we cannot endure, let us say to ourselves: 'What about this? If someone brought a charge against me and I was dragged into court, if I were tied to the whipping post and my sides were torn with lashes, would I not have to put up with it at any rate, even though I would get no profit or reward?'
11) Now let us ponder on this. Suppose there is set before you a reward for your patience and endurance; suppose the reward is large enough to encourage your fallen spirit. 'But my fever is severe,' you say, 'and hard to bear.' Then compare your fever to the fire of gehenna. You will surely escape that fire if you show great endurance in putting up with your fever.
12) Remember how many sufferings the apostles endured. Remember that the just were constantly afflicted. Remember that blessed Timothy had not rest from his illness, but lived with his disease from one end of his life to the other. Paul made this clear when he said: 'Use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities.' That just and holy man took in hand the superintendence of the world, brought the dead back to life, drove out demons, and cured ten thousand ailments in others. If he experienced such terrible suffering, what defense will you have for groaning and grieving over ailments with will last only for a time?
13) Did you not listen to the Scripture? It says: 'Whom the Lord loves he chastises; and he scourges every son whom he receives.' How many times and how many men have yearned to receive the crown of martyrdom? In this you have a perfect martyr's crown. A martyr is made not only when someone is ordered to offer sacrifices or die rather than offer the sacrifice. If a man shuns any practice, and to shun it can only bring on death, he is certainly a martyr.
So that you may know that this is true, remember how John (the Baptist) died, from what motive and why. Remember, too, how Abel died. Neither John nor Abel saw an altar with its fire, nor a statue standing before them. They heard no voice commanding them to offer sacrifice. John only reproached Herod and had his head cut off; Abel merely honored God with a more excellent sacrifice than his brother did, and Cain slew him. They were not deprived of martyr's crowns, were they? Who would dare to say that? The very way they died is enough to make everyone agree that they belong in the front ranks of the martyrs.
2) If you are looking for some divine proclamation about these two men, listen to what Paul said. He made it clear that his words are the words of the Holy Spirit when he said: 'I think that I also have the Spirit of God.' What then, did Paul say? He began with Abel and told how Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, and through his faith, through he is dead, he yet speaks.
3) Then Paul continued his account down through the prophets and came to John. After he said: 'They were put to death by the sword, and others were tortured,' after he recounted many and different modes of martyrdom, he went on to say: 'Therefore, let us also, having such a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, put away every encumbrance and run with patience.' Do you see that he also called Abel a martyr, along with Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? For some of these died for God's sake in the same way that Paul spoke of when he said: 'I die daily', they died not by dying but only by their willingness to endure death.
4) If you do this, if you reject the incantations, the spells, and the charms, and if you then die of your disease, you will be a perfect martyr. Even though others promised your relief along with an ungodly life, you chose death with godliness. And I have spoken these words to those boastful talkers who say that the demons do effect cures. To learn how false this is, listen to what Christ said about the devil: 'He was a murderer from the beginning.' God says he is a murderer; do you rush to him as you would to a physician?
5) Tell me this. When you stand indicted before God's tribunal, what reason will you be able to give for considering the Jews' witchcraft more worthy of your belief than what Christ has said? God said that the devil is a murderer; they say that he can cure diseases, in contradiction to God's word. When you accept their charms and incantations, your actions show that you consider the Jews more worthy of your belief than God, even if you do not say it in so many words.
6) If the devil is a murderer, it is clear that the demons who serve him are murderers, too. What Christ did has taught you this lesson. At any rate, he gave the demons leave to enter into the herd of swine and the demons drove the whole herd down the cliff and drowned them. He did this so that you might know that the demons would have done the same thing to human beings and would have drowned them if God had allowed them to do so. But he restrained the demons, stopped them, and permitted them to do no such thing. Once they had gotten power over the swine, the demons made quite clear what they would have done to us. If they did not spare the swine, it is all the more sure they would not have kept their hands off us. Therefore, beloved, do not be swept off by the deceits of the demons but stand firm in your fear of God.
7) But how will you go into the synagogue? If you make the sign of the cross on your forehead, the evil power that dwells in the synagogue immediately takes to flight. If you fail to sign your forehead, you have immediately thrown away your weapon at the doors. Then the devil will lay hold of you, naked and unarmed as you are, and he will overwhelm you with ten thousand terrible wounds.
8) What need is there for me to say this? The way you act when you get to the synagogue makes it clear that you consider it a very serious sin to go to that wicked place. You are anxious that no one notice your arrival there; you urge your household, friends, and neighbors not to report you to the priests. If someone does report you, you fly into a rage. Would it not be the height of folly to try to hide from men your bold and shamelessness when God, who is present everywhere see it?
9) Are you not afraid of God? Then, at least, stand in some awe and fear of the Jews. How will you look them in the eye? How will you speak to them? You profess you are a Christian, but you rush off to their synagogues and beg them to help you. Do not realize how they laugh at you, scoff at you, jeer at you, dishonor you, and reproach you? Even if they do not do it openly, do you not understand that they are doing this deep down in their hearts?
Tell me, then. Will you put up with their jibes? Will you tolerate them? Suppose you had to suffer incurable ills; suppose you had to die ten thousand deaths. Would it not be much better to endure all that rather than have those abominable people laugh and scoff at you, rather than live with a bad conscience?
2) My purpose in speaking is not to have you hear this for yourselves; I want you also to work to cure those who have this sickness. They are feeble in their faith, and for this I blame them. I also blame you for your unwillingness to set the sick ones straight. It is not in question that, when you come here to the church, you listen to what is said; you leave yourself open to condemnation when you fail to follow through with action the words you hear.
3) Why are you a Christian? Is it not that you may imitate Christ and obey his Laws? What did Christ do? He did not sit in Jerusalem and call the sick to come to him. He went around to cities and towns and cured sickness of both body and soul. He could have stayed sitting in the same place and still have drawn all men to himself. But he did not do this. Why? So that he might give us the example of going around in search of those who are perishing.
4) He gave us another glimpse of this example in the parable of the shepherd. The shepherd did not sit down with the ninety-nine sheep and wait for the lost one to come to him. He went out himself and found it. And after he found the lost sheep, he lifted it to his shoulders and brought it back. Do you not see that a physician does this same thing? He does not force patients who are confined to bed to be brought to his home. The physician himself hurries to the homes of the sick.
5) You must do this, too, beloved. You know that the present life is short; if we do not earn our profits here, we will have no salvation hereafter. Gaining a single soul can often erase the burden of countless sins and be the price which buys us life on that day. Ponder on this question. Why were we sent prophets, apostles, just men, and often even angels? Why did the only-begotten Son of God come among us himself? Was it not to save men? Was it not to bring back those who had strayed?
6) You must do this with all the strength you have. You must devote all your zeal and concern to bringing back those who have strayed. At every religious service let me keep exhorting you to do this; whether you pay attention or not, I will not stop saying it. Whether you listen or not, it is God's law that I fulfill this ministry. If you listen to me and do what I say, I will keep on doing this and feel great joy. If you disregard it and become indifferent to what I say, I will keep on saying it but I will have great fear instead of joy.
7) If you disobey, it will involve no risk for me hereafter. I have fulfilled my part. Even if there will be no danger for me because I have carried out my full fair share, I will feel sorrow for you when you are accused on that day. Even listening to me will be fraught with danger, when you fail to follow up my words with your deeds.
8) Hear, at any rate, how Christ both reproved the teachers who buried the meaning of his message but how he also terrified those whom they taught. For after he said: 'You should have deposited my money with the bankers,' he went on to add: 'And on my return I should have demanded it back with interest.'
9) What Christ showed by the parable was this. After hearing a sermon (for this is depositing the money), those who have received the instruction must make it produce interest. The interest from the teaching is nothing other than proving through deeds what you have been taught through words. Since I have deposited my money in your ears, you must now pay your teacher back the interest, that is, you must save your brothers. So, if you should just keep holding on to what I said and produce no interest by action on your own part, I am afraid that you will pay the same penalty as the servant who buried his talent in the ground. And for this he was bound hand and foot and cast into the darkness outside, because the words he heard brought no profit to others.
10) So that we may not have this happen to us, let us imitate the servant who received five talents and the one who received two. Whatever you will be asked to spend to save your neighbor, be it words, money, bodily pain, or anything else whatsoever, we must not shrink back or hesitate. Then each of us, in every way, will multiply proportionately the talent given him by God. Then each of us will be able to hear those happy words: 'Well done, good and faithful servant; because you have been faithful over a few things I will set you over many; enter into the joy of your Master.'
May we all gain this by the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ through whom and with whom be glory and power to the Father together with the Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen.
- CATHOLIC APOLOGETICS -