Tag Archives: Homily

Homily Four – Gospel of Matthew

“So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.” Matthew 1:17


The author has divided the genealogy into three sections, to show that even under three different forms of government the Jews didn’t do any better under any one type. Under all three, an aristocracy, a king and an oligarchy, they exhibited the same evils and took no advantage towards virtue being lead by priests, kings or leaders from the people.

So why then has the author (in the middle portion) passed over three kings and only listed twelve generations in the last section but called it fourteen? The first question I will leave for you to examine, it’s not necessary for me to explain everything to you, so that you do not grow apathetic, but the second I will explain. It seems to me that in this place, he puts in place of a generation both the time of captivity and Christ Himself, connecting Him to us in every means possible. The author does well to remind us of that captivity, making it known how that not even being in bondage could make them become more sober-minded. This further emphasizes the absolute necessity for Christ to come.

“Why then would Mark not do this, or trace Christ’s genealogy at all, but instead glosses over everything?” someone may ask. It seems to me that Matthew was the first to write his Gospel, and thus he writes out the genealogy with exactness and stops where he needs to. But Mark wrote afterwards, which is why he took the shortcut, affirming Matthew’s work to be true and his own opinion as well. Modern Scholars dispute this view of the order of authorship. However this has always been the position of the church about the order and frankly to me it doesn’t seem all that important.

So why then does Luke not only include a genealogy in his gospel but comes up with a greater number of ancestors? This was only natural, Matthew having paved the way, Luke seeks to teach us something extra on top of what Matthew has already written. Also each imitated their own teacher, Luke (who was under Paul) who writes in fullness like a river and Matthew (under Peter) who is a study in brevity.


Why didn’t Matthew say in the beginning of his Gospel “the vision which I saw,” or “the word which came unto me”? Because he was writing to men inclined to listen attentively to him. For the miracles which had been done cried out as a testimony, and the people who had received the word were exceedingly faithful. But in the case of the prophets there were not nearly as many miracles to serve as proof for them. Not to mention the veritable tribes of false prophets who were constantly harassing them, who the people (the Jews that is) gave even more credence to. This is why the prophets began their writings in such a way. The early days of Christianity were plagued by heretics and charlatans trying to push their own agenda and twist the message of Christ. The first seven councils of the Church were held to battle false teachings like what is being mentioned here.

And if miracles were ever done, it was for the sake of the foreigners, to increase the number of the converts and the manifestation of God’s power. This would remind their enemies, if they got lucky and took them captive and thought that they prevailed due to their own god’s might. Like in Egypt, from which no small “mixed multitude” went up, and after that, in Babylon, what happened with the fiery furnace and the dreams. And there were miracles wrought in the wilderness when they were alone, which was also done for us. For just like us, when we were in the wilderness of error, many wonderful works were done, but afterwards they stopped, when in all countries true religion had taken root.

What took place at later times were few and far between, for example, when the sun stood still in it’s course or when it was sent in the opposite direction. This you can see has happened in our case also. Even in our generation, because of a person who surpasses everyone in ungodliness, I mean of course the emperor Julian, many strange things have happened. Keep in mind where and when this message was originally given, Flavius Claudius Julianus was emperor between 361 and 363. He was marked with controversy by church due to his reinstatement of the former pagan religions. For this he earned the nickname “Julian the Apostate”. Catchy! When the Jews were attempting to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, fire burst out of the foundations, and totally stopped them all. When both Julian’s treasurer and his uncle (who was his namesake) made the sacred vessels the subject of their insolence, one was “eaten with worms and died” and the other “burst asunder in the midst”. In addition, the fountains failing, after sacrifices were made there and the famines that came to the cities when the emperor was there, this was a very great sign. For this is the usual way of God, to do such things when evils are multiplied and He sees his own people afflicted, their adversaries intoxicated with their dominion over the people, then he will display His own power; which he did in Persia for the Jews.


So, it is plain to see from what has been said that the author was not acting without a purpose, or by chance when he distributed Christ’s forefathers into three sections. And take note too, where he begins and where he ends. From Abraham to David, from David to the captivity of Babylon then to Christ Himself. From the beginning the author puts them both in close succession, David and Abraham, and also in conclusion he mentions them both in the same way. This is because (as I have already said) it was to these two that promises were made.

But why is it, that the author mentions the captivity of Babylon, but did not mention the descent into Egypt? Because the Jews were no longer afraid of the Egyptians, but the Babylonians they still dreaded. The Egyptian captivity was ancient, but the other still fresh in their minds and had happened more recently. They were carried into Egypt blameless, but into Babylon, transgression was the cause of their captivity.

In regard to their very names also, if you were to attempt to translate their etymologies, even here you can derive a great matter of divine speculation. Here you will find it is of great importance in regard to the New Testament. Abraham, Jacob, Solomon, Zorobabel, it was with specific purpose that these names were given. But to avoid becoming wearisome by running these all down at great length let us pass it by and move on to what is more urgent.


Having mentioned all Christ’s forefathers and ending with Joseph the author does not stop at this, but adds, “Joseph the husband of Mary”, intimating that it was for her sake that he traced Josephs genealogy. Then, for fear that after hearing “husband of Mary” you would think that Christ was born in the natural order of the world, pay attention to how he sets it right by the next statement. Essentially he says, “you have heard of a husband, a mother, a child and His name, now hear the manner of his birth.” Matthew 1:18 “Of what kind of birth are you telling me? You have already mentioned all His ancestors?” “I still wish to tell you the manner of His birth” Do you see how he awakens the hearer? As if he is about to tell something unusual, he promises to tell about the manner afterwards.

See the admirable order of the things he has mentioned so far. He did not proceed directly to the birth, but prepares us first, counting the generations from Abraham, David and the captivity in Babylon. He gives the careful listener reason to consider the times, showing that this is the Christ who was preached by the prophets. For when you have counted the generations and have learned by the times that this is He (that is the Christ) you will be ready to receive the miracle which took place at his birth. So being about to tell of a certain great thing, His birth by a virgin, he first shadows over the statement, till he has listed the generations, spoken of “a husband of Mary” and doesn’t even put a short description of the birth itself, but proceeds to number all the years, reminding the hearer that this is He, the one the patriarch Jacob said would come at length, when the Jewish rulers had come to an end. The one the prophet Daniel had proclaimed before, that He would come after so many weeks. In the book of Danial Chapter Nine there is a prophecy given speaking of 70 weeks (according to most English translations). It is believed that this also is in reference to the coming of Christ. It’s too complicated to list out here, but know that this number given does relate to a prophecy revealing the time of the coming of the Christ. And if you were to count the years spoken of to Daniel by the angel as a number of weeks, you will trace the time of the building of the city to Christs birth, showing that the two things agree with each other.


So how was he born then I ask. “when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph” Matthew 1:18 He does not say “virgin” but mearly “mother” so that his account would be easy to accept. And so having gotten their attention and prepared them to look for some ordinary thing the author amazes everyone with a marvelous fact saying “before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit”. He did not say “before she was brought to the bridegroom’s house” because she certainly would have already been there. It was the custom of the ancients to keep the fiance in their family home Genesis 19:8-14 at least in those places anyway, you may see the same traditions practiced there even today. This is why Lot’s sons-in-law were in his house with him. Mary herself was likely in the home with Joseph in the same manner.

And what is the purpose that she conceive during her engagement and not before? As I have already said, it was in order that what had taken place could be concealed awhile, and that the Virgin might escape every evil suspicion. Joseph, who had every right (above all others) to feel jealousy, is found recieving and cherishing her after her conception rather than making a show of her or doing anything degrading towards her. It is quite clear that he was fully persuaded that this was done by the operation of the Holy Spirit or he would not have kept her with him, ministering to her in all other things. And most properly the author says “she was ‘found’ with child”, the kind of expression that is rightly used in respect to things that are strange, something that has happened beyond all expectation.

Go no further and do not ask for anything more than what has been written. Do not question “but how could this work, with the Spirit overshadowing the virgin?”. For if it is impossible to explain the manner of formation when nature is at work, how can we explain the working of this miracle? To prevent wearying this author, or disturb him by continually asking questions he has told us who worked this miracle and then gotten out of the way. It is as if he is saying “For I know nothing more, but that what was done was the work of the Holy Spirit.”


Shame on those who busy themselves trying to explain this away naturally. If this birth, which has witnesses without number, was foretold so long ago, that was manifested and handled with human hands cannot be explained by any man, what excess of madness do they suffer from who try to rationalize it away? Neither Gabriel nor Matthew were able to say anything more but only that it was the work of the Spirit. But how it was done, or in what manner, neither of them have explained, for it was not possible for either.

Nor should you think that you have learned everything by hearing only “of the spirit”, for we are ignorant of many things even after what we have learned so far. For instance, how the Infinite is in a womb, how He that contains all things is carried unborn by a woman or how the Virgin bears a child and continues a virgin. How I ask you, did the Spirit frame that Temple? How did He take only a part of the flesh from her womb (not all of it) and caused it to grow, fashioning it? That He did come from the Virgins flesh is declared by Gabriel saying “that which was conceived in her” and by Paul who wrote “born of a woman” Galatians 4:4. In this way he silences those who say that Christ came to us through some kind of conduit. But if this true, why the need of a womb? If this was the case, then He has nothing in common with us, his body would have been of some other kind, not the matter which belongs to us. How would he have been descended from David? How was He a rod? How a Son of man? How was Mary His mother? How did he “take the form of a servant” [Philippians 2:7](https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians 2:7&version=NASB) or how was “the Word made flesh” John 1:14″? Why would Paul say to the Romans “from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all” Romans 9:5. So, that He was one of us, of the same substance, born of the Virgins womb, is made clear by all these things and from more besides, but as to HOW these things were done is not shown. So do not inquire, but receive what has been revealed and do not be curious about what is kept secret.


“And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly” Matthew 1:19

Having explained that this was the work of the Holy Spirit, and without cohabitation, he establishes his statement another way. In case any one should say, “Where does this come from? Here he is reinforcing that Mary was a virgin and that Joseph had no physical part in Jesus conception Who has heard or has ever seen any such thing ever happen?” or in order to prevent you from suspecting the disciple having invented all these things to favor his Master, he introduces Joseph as contributing to the proof of the things mentioned by the virtue of what he underwent. In his narrative the author all but says “if you doubt me or suspect my testimony then believe her husband”. For Joseph he says, “her husband, being a righteous man”. By “a righteous man” he means that he is virtuous in all things. For freedom from covetousness is just, as is universal virtue. It is mostly in this latter sense that the Scripture uses the name of justice; as when it says “and that man was blameless, upright” Job 1:1 and again “they were both righteous in the sight of God” Luke 1:6. So being “just” (that is good and considerate) “he planned to send her away secretly”. So the author tells you what took place before Joseph’s being fully informed, that you will not mistrust what was done after he knew. However, a woman in such a position was not only likely to be made a public example of, but the law also commanded that she be punished. Consider that Joseph set aside not only the greater punishment but the smaller one as well (that is the disgrace). He was so far from punishing, he did not even try to make an example of her. Here you see a man possessing self-restraint and freed from the most tyrannical of passions. You know what an immense thing jealousy is, and that is why He said “For jealousy enrages a man, And he will not spare in the day of vengeance.” Proverbs 6:34 Here Chrysostom is denoting that Christ inspired the writer of this proverb and “Jealousy is as severe as the grave” Song of Solomon 8:6. We know as well that many have chosen to give up their lives rather than fall under the suspicion of jealousy. But in the case of Mary and Joseph it was no slight suspicion, the burden of her womb entirely convicting her. Nonetheless Joseph was so free from passion that he was unwilling to hurt the Virgin in even the smallest matter. To have kept her in his house would seem like a transgression of the law, but to expose her and bring her to trial would condemn her to die. So he does none of these things but conducts himself by a higher rule than the law. For grace having come, there will be many examples of that exalted citizenship. Like the sun, though not yet showing his beams, from far off does illuminate more than half the world. Likewise Christ, when about to rise from that womb, even before he came out, shone over all the world. And so, even before her labor, prophets danced for joy and women foretold what was to come even John not yet born, leaped in the womb. Consequently Joseph also exhibited great self-command, neither accusing nor upbraiding his betrothed, but only sought to put her away quietly.


Everything having come to a head, with everyone at their wits end, the angel comes to solve their difficulties. It is worth asking though, why the angel did not speak sooner, before her husband had such thoughts. The angel did not appear until after “he thought on it” and not before, for it says “While he thought on these things the angel came”. And yet he declared his good tidings to her even before she conceived. But this brings up another difficulty; before the angel spoke to Joseph, for what reason was the Virgin silent, who had already been visited by the angel? And why did she not put an end to his questions when she saw her betrothed in distress?

For what reason did the angel not speak before Joseph was troubled? In order to prevent Joseph from not believing the message, and the same thing happen to him as what happened to Zacharias. For once the pregnancy was visible, belief would become easier. But before it was apparent it would have not been as easy to receive the angels message. For this reason too, the Virgin held her peace. She did not think it likely to be credible with her betrothed husband, if she were to declare something unheard of, but rather that it would provoke him all the more, as if she were trying to cover up some secret sin. Since if she herself, who received such great favor from the Lord had reason to doubt saying “How can this be since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:34 how much more would he have doubted? Especially when hearing it from the woman who was under suspicion. So the Virgin says nothing to him, but the angel, at the right time, presents himself to Joseph.


Why then, you may ask, didn’t the angel come to the Virgin after her conception with his good tidings? He did this to avoid her being greatly troubled or agitated. It was likely that she could have desired to harm herself due to the stress and uncertainty, willing to strangle or stab herself rather than endure the disgrace. She was certainly a wondrous woman, Luke points out her excellency saying that when she heard the angels greeting, she did not faint or shrink away, nor did she blindly accept it but “was troubled” wondering “what manner of salutation this might be” Luke 1:29. Now even she, being of such a perfect sensitivity, would have been distracted with dismay at the thought of her shame, never expecting to convince anyone who would listen to her that she had not committed adultery. So to prevent these things, the angel came before the conception occurred. Besides all this, it was fitting that the womb that would carry the maker of all things be without blemish and the soul of the one worthy to become the minister of such mysteries be rid of all anxiety. For these reasons the angel spoke to the Virgin before the conception but waits to speak to Joseph till the time of his trouble.

Many people (of the simpler sort) not understanding what was just explained claim this is a discordance, because Luke says it was to Mary that the Angel gave his good tidings but Matthew says it was Joseph, not knowing that both took place. It would be at least another 35 years before an “official” cannon of scripture would be accepted by the Church. The Gospels (and any scripture) is still being copied by hand and dispersed by messenger. It’s not hard to imagine one town having only Matthews Gospel and another having Luke’s, leading to disagreements and confusion.


So the angel comes, when Joseph is troubled. In addition to the reasons mentioned, the angel shows its self command by deferring his arrival. But when Joseph was almost to the point of action, THEN he presents himself. “But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream” Matthew

And why did he not come openly as he did to the shepherds, Zacharias and the Virgin? Joseph was exceedingly full of faith, and did not need a vision. Mary, who received exceedingly good tidings (greater than what Zacharias received) even before the conception, needed this marvelous vision. Not to mention the shepherds who generally were rather dull and clownish. But take careful note of what Joseph did, after finding his fiance with child. This man’s self control is thoroughly displayed, his words and actions contributing to his faith, his history is freed from suspicion and shows that he felt what likely any husband would feel.


How then does the angel assure him? Hear and marvel at the wisdom of his words. Having arrived the angel says “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife”. Right away he brings David to mind (from who the Christ was to come) and does not allow him to be greatly disturbed, reminding him of his forefathers title and the promise made to his whole race. Why else would he call him “Son of David”?

And by saying “fear not” the angel signifies that Joseph was afraid, afraid that he might give offense to God by retaining an adulteress. If it had not been for this he would not have even thought of casting her out. So in every way the author points out that the angel came from God, making it clear what Joseph had planned to do and what he felt in his mind.

Now having mentioned her name, he did not stop at that, but added also “your wife”. Consider that he would not have called her this if she had been corrupted. The author also calls her “a wife” even though they are only engaged. This is common in the Scripture, for example to call one betrothed “son in law” even before marriage.

But what does it mean when it is said “to take unto you” ? I have tried to use the NASB version wherever possible. However this version was not available in 361AD (ha ha). Most likely the source of Gospels they had were written in Greek. In places Chrysostom seems to be paraphrasing but this could also be chalked up to translation issues. In any case I have attempted to keep the spirit of what is being said accurate and consistent. It means to retain her in his house, for he intended to send her away at this point. The angel is effectively saying “Mary, who you are putting aside, you should keep with you, God having commanded your commitment to her, not merely her parents. And he commits her to you not for marriage, but to dwell with you. My words to you are the Lords command for this commitment”. This is like the way Christ will latter commit her to his disciple. The church has taught from the beginning that Mary was a virgin the rest of her life. The traditional story handed down (note this is a tradition, not dogma or scripture) is that Joseph was a much older widower when he was engaged to Mary. It is also tradition that out of respect for the Mother of God he did not “know” her (in the biblical sense) even after Christ was born. The mentions of Jesus “brothers” use a word in Greek that means ANY family, cousins, half siblings etc. The fact that Jesus commuted his mother to a disciple and not a sibling speaks to the validity of this story.


Then having indirectly introduced the matter at hand the author does not mention the suspicion of her having done something evil, but in a more reverent and respectful manner he lets us know what is going on by mentioning Josephs troubled spirit. It is implied that the very thing that was giving Joseph concern, something he was preparing to cast her out over, this very thing I say was a just cause for him to retain her in his home. This more than totally did away with his distress. This message effectively tells Joseph, “She is not only free from unlawful intercourse, but has even risen above all nature by this conception. So do not only put away your fear, but rejoice more exceedingly ‘for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit'”.

What the angel came and told him was strange, surpassing man’s understanding and above all the laws of nature. How is he supposed to accept and believe these things, receiving a message unlike anything in human history? “By the things that are past (that is history), by these things revealed to him” I would answer. It was for this reason that all the things were laid out, what he thought, felt, feared and was resolved to do, that by these things he might be assured of this point.

Or rather the angel wins Joseph over to acceptance, not only by things from the past only, but also by things that were to come. It is if he says to Joseph “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus Matthew 1:21 So do not think that you will have no part in the ministry of this gift to mankind because he is born of the Holy Spirit. Although you have no part of His birth, the Virgin living untouched and that honor being uninjured, nonetheless the role of a father I give to you, to give Him his name ‘you shall call His name Jesus’. Although this offspring is not yours, you will exhibit a father’s care towards Him. For this reason I give you this name to call Him right off, to connect you with Him who will be born.”

Then to prevent anyone still suspecting Joseph to be the father, listen carefully to what follows. “She shall bring forth a Son”, he does not say “bring forth to YOU” but merely “she shall bring forth” settling it forever, since she did not bear a Son to Joseph but to the whole world.


For this reason as well the angel came bringing His name from Heaven, and by this intimating that this would be a wondrous birth, seeing as it was God Himself who sent the name from above by way of this angel to Joseph. This was not without purpose, but a treasure of ten thousand blessings. This is why the angel also interprets the name, and suggests good hope, once again leading Joseph to belief. To these good tidings we are more likely to be inclined and are all the more fond of their belief.

So having established Joseph’s faith by all history, present, future and the honor given to him, the angel brings up the prophet as well (all in good time), to give his suffrage in support of all these. But before introducing the prophets sayings, he proclaims first the good that will come to all the world through Him. And what are these things? Sins removed and done away with, “He will save His people from their sins”.

Here again this event is signified to be beyond all human expectation. He did not come to save anyone from a visible war, or attacking barbarians, but something far greater than these, from their sins he declares the glad news of deliverance; a work which had never been possible to anyone before. This was during the beginning of the fall of the roman empire, constantly under attack from the neighboring “barbarians” pushing into Romes territory. Really this applies to any people under threat of war or siege.

Buy why, you may ask, did he say “His people” seeming to exclude the Gentiles? The author did this to keep from startling his audience a while longer. If you listen with understanding the author implies the Gentiles as well. For “His people” are not the Jews only, but all who draw near and receive the knowledge that is from Him.

And take note how he also revealed to us His dignity, by calling the Jewish nation “His people”. This is the message of one implying nothing else but that He who is born is God’s child, and that the King of those on high is the subject of that message. For the forgiving of sins belongs to no other power, but only to that single essence. This clearly speaks to the divinity of Christ right in the Gospels. This was a topic fiercely debated by the Church when defending itself from heresies that sprang up constantly in those first centuries.


For as much as we have so far partaken of such a great gift, let us do everything we can to avoid dishonoring such a benefit. For if the way we lived before was worthy of punishment, much more now that we have received this honor and unspeakable benefit. I do not say this for no reason, but because I see many people after their baptism living more carelessly than the uninitiated, having nothing in particular to distinguish them in their way of life. For this reason you see, that it is impossible to see either in the market or in the Church who is a believer and who is not; unless you are present at the time of the mysteries and see who is removed and who remains within. The phrase “mysteries” refers here to Communion. The early church refereed to the sacraments (Baptism, Communion, Marriage, Confession, etc) as “the mysteries” because who can explain how any of it actually worked? It was taken as a matter of faith and simply obeyed. Not until centuries later (after the Schism of 1054) would the Roman Catholic Church try to “explain” some of these mysteries and only succeeded in making them seem arbitrary and man made. In response to this the reformers would demote these important acts of worship to mere symbols or ignore them altogether. Really, they ought to be distinguished not by their location, but by their way of life. For as a man’s outward dignities are naturally discovered by the outward signs that are invested in, so our dignity ought to be discernible by the soul. That is to say, the believer ought to be manifest not only by partaking of communion but also by a new way of life. The believer ought to be the light and salt of the world. But when you do not give light even to yourself, nor bandage up your own festering wounds, how should anyone know you are a believer? Because you have entered the holy waters? Certainly not! This act becomes a storehouse of punishment. For great honor bestowed upon someone who chooses not to live worthy of that honor stores up an increase of vengeance against himself. The believer ought to shine forth not only by what he has received form God, but also by his own contributions; and be discernible by everything, his walk, his look, his clothing, by his voice. I do not tell you this so that you will put on a show, but that by the rule you live your life by you will profit those who see you.


But now, whatever things I look to recognize you by, I find in every way you are distinguished by the opposite. If I try to know your status by your place, I see you spending your day at the horse races, at the theaters, scenes of lawlessness, in wicked assemblies in the market places and in the company of depraved men. If I look to your behavior and temperament, I see you continually laughing to excess, lax in your morality like a grinning and abandoned harlot. Cultural norms in third century suggested a calmer demeanor than what we are accustomed to nowadays. Being overly loud or mirthful was seen as a sign of disrespect. Sounds kind of boring to me but even we have social norms for when it is appropriate to laugh and goof around. If I look to your clothing, I see you dressing no better than someone on the stage, or to your followers, you are leading around parasites and flatterers. Theater would have been one of the only forms of entertainment they had back then, but there seems to be a shocking overlap in the loose morals of that venue and today’s broadcast TV. I take this statement to mean immodest dress, but it could also mean flashy or expensive clothing. If I listen to your words, I hear you say nothing wholesome, nothing necessary, nothing relevant to our way of life. If I look to your table I see a heavy charge that will be levied against you.

So tell me, what can I use to recognize the believer in you, while all these things I have mentioned are evidence to the contrary? And why do I say “the believer”? Because I cannot clearly make out if you are actually a man or not. When you are like an ass, kicking, bellowing like a bull, like a horse neighing after a woman (i.e. something to mate with). When you are a glutton like a bear, pampering your flesh like a mule and bare malice like a camel. When you prowl around like a wolf, wrathful as a serpent, stinging like the scorpion, decietful as the fox, treasuring poison of wickedness like and asp or viper and war against your brethren like an evil demon; how could I count you amonst men, when you bear none of the marks of a mans nature? Why can’t I find a single difference between a man and a wild beast when looking for the difference between the believer and the catechumen. The catechumen were a class of people who had professed their faith in Christ and wanted to join the corporate Church. Often there was a long waiting period (anywhere from six months to three years) that gave time to ensure the applicant was sincere in their faith. Contrast that with today’s church in America where my wife and I accidentally “joined” a church after attending a luncheon. Yikes. What should I call you? A wild beast? Certainly not, the wild beasts posses only some of these defects, but you heap them all together, far surpassing their brutishness. So then should I call you a devil? No, a devil is not enslaved by the rule of his belly, he also does not focus his love on riches. How can we call you a man when you have more faults than the wild beasts or devils?? and if you are not styled after a man, how can we address you as a believer?


And even more grievous than this, that being in such an evil state, we have no idea whatsoever of the deformity of our own soul, nor discern the hideousness of it. And yet when you are sitting at the hairdresser’s and getting your hair cut, you take the mirror, and examine with care the arrangement of your locks, and ask the people around you, even the hairdresser himself, if he has done a good job with what lays on your forehead. And being old, as is often the case, you are not ashamed of going wild with the fancies of youth while of your own soul, Again, this is a cultural norm concerning the behavior of the older generations. They were generally to be revered and act with some kind of dignity befitting their station. Even today we scoff at the “mid life crisis”, trying to recapture their youthful glory days often at comical expense. is not only deformed but transformed into a wild beast and made into some sort of Scylla or Chimaera (according to the heathen fable) without even the slightest perception. OK, these two are nasty even by Greek mythology standards. I can’t even think of a modern equivalent monster to compare them to. Seriously, google it. And yet in the case of the soul there is a mirror as well, a spiritual mirror, far more excellent and more serviceable than the physical one. For it not only shows our own deformity but transforms it too, if we are willing, into surpassing beauty. This mirror is the memory of good men, and the history of their blessed lives; the reading of the Scriptures; the laws given by God. If you are willing once only to look upon the portraiture of these holy me, you will both see the foulness of your own mind and having seen this will need nothing else to be set free from that deformity. He is referring here to an icon, which is a style of painting used from the very beginning of the Church. While still hiding in Catacombs, images of Christ and the saints were painted as a way to remember and honor them (some survive to this day). From those first days these specific images have been reproduced and used as tools to teach and draw people to God. The style of Byzantine icons are still used to this day for that very same reason.Because this mirror is useful for this purpose also, and makes the change easy. So let no man continue in the form of an irrational creature. For if a slave does not enter into the master’s house, how will you, having become like a wild beast, be able to even set foot within those heavenly vestibules. And why do I say a wild beast? No, someone like this who has changed their natural wildness into unnatural gentleness, what sort of plea will they having trained their own natural meekness into savageness, which is contrary to nature? When you exhibit that which is wild by nature in a gentle mood, but present yourself by nature so gentle, are actually unnaturally savage? You can tame a lion and make it obedient, but your own wrath you manifest wilder than any lion. But in this example there are problems, namely the beast is deprived of reason and whats more, it is the most wrathful of all creatures. Nevertheless by excellent wisdom given to you by God, you are able to overcome even that beasts nature. So how is it that you, who are able to gain victory over the nature of a beast, in your own case you give up the admirable quality of free will?

Furthermore, if I were to suggest that you try and make another man more gentle, what I have said would make it seem like this was an impossible thing. You might rightly object that you do not have full control of another persons disposition and that it cannot be totally up to you. But what about your own wild beast, a thing that does totally rely on you? What plea do you have then? What good excuse can you give, trying to tame yourself, regardless that you yourself are like a man turning into a beast, on the lion you are able to give it tameness above it’s nature, but for yourself you are unable to even preserve what is natural? While the wild beasts are brought into our very homes due to your efforts, you are (at your own hand) are cast down from the throne of the kingdom, thrust out into the madness of beasts. So, imagine, if you will, your wrath to be a kind of wild beast, and as much zeal as others give to taming lions, you should give in regards to yourself, making yourself to become gentle and meek. Because, this beastly nature has grievous teeth and claws and if you do not tame it, it will lay waste to all things. Not even the lion or serpent hsa such power to tear you apart as wrath, with its iron talons continually doing so. Since it scars not only the body alone, but the very health of the soul is also corrupted by it, devouring, rending, tearing to pieces with all it’s strength and making it useless for everything. If a man nourishes worms in his entrails, is unable to even breath, his inward parts all wasting away, how can we do anything noble with such a large serpent (that is wrath) eating up everything within us?

How then can we be free of this pest? What if there were a medicine that we could drink that would kill the worms and serpent within us? “And what kind of potion could this be, to have such power” you may ask. The precious Blood of Christ, if it is received with full assurance has the power to extinguish every disease of the soul; this, together with charity given to others and the careful reception of the divine scriptures. By all these things we will be able to subjugate the passions that mar our soul. Only then will we truely live, for we surely are in no better state than the dead. It cannot be, that while these passions live, we should live too, but we most certainly will perish. Unless we first kill them here in this life, they will be sure to kill us in the next; or rather, before that final death, they will exact of us, even here, the highest penalty. Every such passion is cruel, tyrannical and insatiable, never ceasing to devour us every day. Because “Its teeth are the teeth of a lion” Joel 1:6 and really even fiercer that that. For the lion, as soon as he is satisfied, decides to leave the carcass that has fallen in his path; but these passions are never satisfied, not leaving the man who they seized until they have set him near the devil. Their grasp is tyrannical and unshakable. Paul’s service to Christ, and Christ’s unshakable grasp on Paul is mirrored by the hold of these Passions over their victim. Paul rejected hell but was willing to give up his reward for Christs sake Romans 9:3 and the passions plaguing us demand the same devotion. Regardless of your entanglement, lust for women (or men), riches or glory, you laugh in the face of hell and abhor the kingdom of God, working the will of your captor. So do not doubt Paul when he says that he loved Christ. When some are found working in the service of their passions, how can this other’s devotion seem incredible? Our longing for Christ is so feeble in comparison because all our strength is consumed loving our passions. We rob and cheat and are slaves to our excessive pride, what could be more worthless?

Even if you stand out above everyone else you will still be no better than the lowest of men. In fact your own vanity will cause you to sink even lower. Because, when people who would be willing to give you glory and make you famous, actually mock you (because of your greed for their attention), how can this fail to embitter you? Look at anyone who has drawn public condemnation for their ill behavior and tell me that they are not harmed. It’s the same for someone who desires to commit adultery or fornication and is flattered or praised, that praise is actually an additional accusation against them. So for someone who desires glory, when they get it, that acclaim is counted against them.


So why would you bring down upon yourself the opposite thing that you are seeking? If you wish to be glorified, despise glory; this will make you more illustrious than any. Why go though what Nebuchadnezzar endured? He erected a statue, thinking that from an inanimate wooden statue he would gain an increase of fame. That he himself would appear more glorious with the help of something that is lifeless. Do you see the madness of this endeavor, how he sought honor but instead insulted himself? He relys on a lifeless thing to garner honor, rather than the living soul in his own body. Why would he raise this hunk of wood to a place of importance, trying to make himself beautiful, not by improving his way of life, but with planks of wood? This is like a man who thinks he is important, putting on airs because of the flooring in his home, or a beautiful kitchen rather than the fact that he is a man. Too many among us imitate this example. Some look to be admired for their clothing, others for their house, for their mule or chariot or for the style and size of their home. Since they have lost their right to be honored as men, they set about gathering glory from various other places, which is utterly ridiculous.

But as for the great and noble servants of God, they do not shine forth through these methods, but by a means much more becoming of them. They were once captives, slaves, youths, strangers and without any material goods of their own. They proved in their time, to be more worthy of awe than those who had been given an abundance of opportunities. And while Nebuchadnezzar found no satisfaction for his desires or a means to show his greatness through his idol, his endless armies and their leaders, his lands, his abundance of gold and all other pomp, these others, these servants, stripped of all these things, found sufficiency in their own high self-restraint. Through their example they showed up this ruler clothed in purple robes and crown, that his own “glory” was inferior to the ones who had nothing, like how the sun is more radiant than a pearl. These children were led before the whole world, captive and enslaved, and at the very sight of them the king was enraged. They stood there surrounded by all the captains and deputies of the armies, the governors and the whole amphitheater of the devil, with the terrible sound of the crowds pounding in their ears till the noise seemed to reach to heaven. The furnace flared to the very sky, and terrified the crowds who saw it, filling them with dismay. But none of these things dismayed the servants of God, but laughed derisively and scorned it all like merry children. And they exhibited their courage and meekness, crying out in a voice that could pierce that din saying “let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” Danial 3:18. They did not wish to disrespect the king, even by as much as one word, but only declared their faith. This is why they kept their speech short, essentially saying “There is a God in heaven who is able to deliver. Why show us the angry crowds, the fiery furnace, the terrible guards? Our Lord is higher and mightier than all of these”.

Then, as they considered that God may be willing to let them burn, they added ( for fear they would seem to be boasting falsely ) “Even if he does not (save us)”. If they had said “our sin is the reason He has not delivered us” the crowds would not have believed them. This is why they stay silent on the subject, though they speak of it in the furnace, over and over confessing their sins. But in front of the king they would say no such thing, only that even at the pain of death they would not give up their faith. This part of the story comes from the song of the three children. This part of Danial (which is removed from modern protestant bibles) was a part of the Greek Septuagint which would have been the version of the bible being used in those days. You can find the text of it online, but it basically tells the story of what happened INSIDE the fiery furnace and a hymn supposedly sung by the three men inside.

Even though they were slaves in a foreign land, deprived of any good thing, they did not do this for any reward or recompense, but out of love alone. They had lost their country, their freedom and all their possessions. Do not tell me about their honors in the kings courts, as holy and righteous as they were, they would have chosen ten thousand times over to be a beggar at home if they could have taken part in the blessings of the temple. It is written “I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness” and “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside”. They would have gladly chosen to be outcasts at home than kings in Babylon. This is made clear by what they declare in the furnace, grieving their continued presence in exile. Although they themselves enjoyed great honors, they were vexed by the calamities that their countrymen suffered. This characteristic is especially common in saints, that no glory, honor or anything else could be more precious than their neighbor’s welfare. See, how even in the furnace they made supplication for the people before God. But we don’t even think about our brethren when we are free and about our business. Earlier, when the king was plagued by his dream, they did not seek to save themselves only but to help the common good. After all this, they do not account themselves to be wholly righteous, but retreat to the faith of their Fathers and offer to the king nothing more than a “contrite spirit”.


So let us imitate the example of these three men, because today also there is a golden image set up before us, the tyranny of Mammon. Mammon is the personification of greed or the love of wealth. But do not be distracted by all the noise, the pomp and circumstance of this world. Even if we have to be thrown into the furnace of poverty, we should choose that rather than worship at the idol of wealth for in that furnace there will be “a moist whistling wind”. Again this is from the song of the three children. The Heavenly presence in the furnace surrounded them with “a moist wind” protecting them from the fire. This imagery is used several times in the song and visited several times by Chrysostom in his message. So do not balk at hearing “a furnace of poverty”, because the three that were thrown into the fire were shown to be glorious, but the ones who worshiped were destroyed. Of course, in that example everything happened all at once, but in our case only part will be accomplished here and the rest on the other side. For those who have chosen poverty as a way to reject the worship of wealth, will be more glorious both here and on the other side, but those people who are rich unjustly here will pay the ultimate penalty.

Lazarus (from the parable of the poor and rich man) went through this furnace of poverty as well and was rendered no less glorious than the three, but the rich man who worshiped at the feet of that idol (i.e. wealth) was condemned to hell. Everything I have laid out here is an analogy like this. In this example the three were thrown into the furnace but sustained no injury, however the people who sat outside were destroyed by the fire. The saints walking through the river of fire will suffer no pain, in fact they will even appear joyful. But those who worshiped the false idol will be totally consumed by fire. So if anyone does not believe in hell, let them take a lesson from the things of this world and the story of the furnace, having no fear of the furnace of poverty, but instead fear the furnace of sin. One is the path to flame and torment, the other dew and refreshment, by one stands the devil, by the other angels wafting away the flame. Again, imagery from the song of the three children, noting the comfort given by God in the form of a comforting, wet wind to protect them from the fire.


So let the rich (who are stoking the furnace of poverty) hear these things. Although those Godly men and women will not be hurt by the fire (“the dew” coming to their aid), the rich will be like kindling to those flames, which they have stoked with their own hands.

Like how the angel went down into the furnace with those three, let us go down with the poor into the furnace of poverty, and by our giving we can make a “dewy air” and waft the flame aside, so that we can partake of their reward as well. Similarly the flames of hell may be scattered by the voice of Christ who said “I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat” Matthew 25:35. This voice will be with us through the flames instead of a “moist wind whistling”. So we should go down into that furnace of poverty with charity, see those with self-restraint walking there across burning coals, see that strange thing, beyond understanding, a man singing praise in the furnace, a man giving thanks in fire, chained to extreme poverty and yet offering praise to Christ. Since those who bear poverty with thankfulness really become equal to those three. There is no flame as terrible as poverty, so likely to light us on fire. But those three were not burned, instead, because of their giving thanks to the Lord they were set free from their bonds at once. In the same way, if you have fallen into poverty and you are thankful, the bonds are loosened and the fire extinguished. Rather (in an even more marvelous way), it is not extinguished but transformed into a fountain of water instead of flame, which is like what happened to those three in the furnace when they enjoyed a pure dew. The fire is may not be quenched, but those who are in it are protected from being burnt. You can see this in the lives of those who abide by the rules of wisdom, because they feel more secure than the rich, even in poverty.

So do not sit idly by, ignoring that furnace and showing no pity towards the poor, otherwise we may share the same fate of those executioners. If you do go down and take your stand with those three, the fire will no longer have any ability to harm you. But if you sit outside that furnace and neglect those in the flames of poverty that same flame will consume you. So go down into that fire so that you will not be consumed, do not sit outside of the fire, or the flame will catch hold of you. If it finds you among the poor, it will leave you untouched, but if you are removed and alienated from them it will run upon you quickly and catch you. So do not keep your distance from those cast into poverty. Do not obey when the devil gives the command to throw those who refused to worship wealth into the furnace of poverty, but be numbered among them who are cast in, so that you may be one of those who are saved and not one of the burned. To associate with the poor and being free from the subjection of the desire for wealth is a very effective fire extinguisher (or dew). People like this are wealthier than anyone, who have put under foot the desire for riches. Like the three who rejected the king and his idol, became more honorable and glorious than the king himself. Like this, if you despise the things of the world will become more honorable than all the world, like those holy men, “of whom the world was not worthy” Hebrews 11:38

So in order to become worthy of the things in Heaven, I bid you laugh to scorn the things of this world. This will make you more glorious here, and able to enjoy the good things to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ; to whom be glory and might for ever and ever. Amen

Homily Three – Gospel of Matthew

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.”

Here we are in the third message and we have not yet gotten past the beginning of the book. I was not joking when I said that it is the nature of these thoughts to have a great depth.

So let us talk today about what is left, what is required? Why Joseph’s genealogy is traced (who had nothing to do with Christs birth), we have already mentioned one of the reasons. But there is another reason that is more mysterious and secret than the first reason. What is that then? The author did not want it to be made clear to the Jews (at the beginning) that Christ was born of a virgin.

Do not be troubled by how strange that may sound. It is not my saying, but of our fathers, wonderful and illustrious men. Christ disguised many things from the start, calling himself the Son of Man for example. Yet everywhere else He clearly laid out to us His equality with the Father. Why do you wonder at the fact that he disguised this for a short time, for he had a specific and marvelous purpose?

  1. But what kind of purpose might He have had it may be asked. That the Virgin would be preserved and delivered from evil suspicion. If the Jews had known about her from the beginning, they would have stoned her to death, using the presumption of her wrongdoing as an excuse for mischief and condemned her for adultery. If you consider how they treated Christ in other matters you will see how they were shamelessly ignorant of the truth. When Christ cast out demons they called Him possessed, because He healed on the Sabbath they assumed him to be an adversary of God (even though this was clearly not the first time the Sabbath and been broken). Given the clear precedent in the Old Testament and the Law imagine what they would have said if they had been told about Mary? Especially since all of human history was on their side that nothing like this had ever happened before. If after so many miracles they still called Him “son of Joseph”, how, before learning of his miracles could they believe that he was born of a virgin?

This is the reason that both Joseph’s genealogy is traced and the Virgin is betrothed to him. If Joseph, who is shown to be a just and wondrous man, required many things in order to accept what had come to pass (the angel, a vision, dreams and the testimony of the prophets) how could the Jews, being dull, depraved and so unfriendly in spirit towards Christ, even admit this idea into their minds? The strangeness and unfamiliarity of this would certainly been greatly disturbing to them. Also the fact that they had never heard of anything like this happening in the time of their forefathers. If someone is finally persuaded that Christ was the Son of God, afterwards they would have no reason to doubt the nature of his birth. But someone who was already convinced he was a deceiver and an adversary of God, how could he not be even more offended by this idea, driving him even farther from the truth? This is why the apostles do not say this from the start. But His resurrection they mention often and in depth (because there were examples of this in times before, although none quite like this). That He was born of a virgin they do not always say, not even His mother herself ventured to utter this. For instance, even what she says to Him herself, “Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for you”. Luke 2:48 If this suspicion had been allowed to be known (that He was not the Son of Joseph) He would no longer have been accounted to be descended from David, and this opinion no longer being held, many other evils would have arisen against Him. This is the reason that the angels did not say this to everyone, but to Mary and Joseph only. When exclaiming the good tidings of what had just come to pass to the shepherds, they left this off (His being born of a virgin).

  1. So why is it that the author mentions Abraham saying “he begot Isaac, and Isaac, Jacob” but did not mention his brother (Esau). But when he gets to Jacob he remembers both “Judah, and his brethren”? Some would say it was because of Esau’s wickedness (and the rest that came before him). But I don’t think so, if it was why just a little bit later mentions the women of poor reputation? It is the contrary notion here that manifests His glory. Not by having great forefathers, but being descended of the low and little account. To the lofty One it is a great glory to be able to abase Himself exceedingly. So why were they not mention them? Because Saracens and Ishmaelite’s and Arabians and all those who sprung from Esau have nothing in common with the Israelites. This is why he passes over Esau in silence and moves on to Christ’s forefathers (and those of the whole Jewish people). And so he says “And Jacob begot Judah and his brethren”, because here the line of the Jews begins to have its unique mark.

“Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar” Matthew 1:3 I hear you saying “What are you doing? Reminding us of history that contains unlawful intercourse?”, but why would you say this? Since if we are recounting the history of a mere man, you might naturally skip over such things. But if you are speaking of God Incarnate, far from being quite, you ought to make a glory of it, making evident his tender care and His power. THIS is why He came, not to escape our disgraces, but to bear them away! For this reason He should be admired even more, not only that He died, but crucified (even though it was shameful and abusive, as bad as it was it shows how much love He possessed for us), this is also like His birth. Not only did he take on human flesh, becoming a man, which we are rightly amazed at, but because he graciously allowed such people to be his relatives, in no way being ashamed of our evils. This He proclaimed from the very beginning by his birth that He is NOT ashamed of any of the things that belong to us. By this He also teaches us to never hide from our forefather’s wickedness, but to seek after one thing alone, virtue. Any man, if he has a foreigner for an ancestor, a prostitute for a mother, or whatever you will, should take offense as a result. If the adulterer or fornicator himself, being changed, is not disgraced by his former life, how much less power will the wickedness of his ancestry have to bring shame to someone born of a harlot or an adulteress if he is virtuous.

The author did not write these things merely to instruct us, but also to bring down the self-importance of the Jews. Since they were negligent about the virtue of their own souls and were parading about the name of Abraham, as if they had claim to their forefather’s virtue. Here the author shows from the very beginning that your decent is not where a man should hold their honor, but in their own good deeds.

Besides this the author establishes another point, that all are subject to sin, even their forefathers. As a single example their patriarch and namesake (Judah) is shown to commit no small sin, Thamar stands against him to accuse him of fornication and whoredom. David too had Solomon by the wife who he corrupted. So if the great men of the past could not fulfil the law, how much less will the lowly? And if the law was not fulfilled and all have sinned then Christ’s coming is necessary.

This is why the author mentions the twelve patriarchs, once again knocking down the Jews pride in noble birth from their forefathers. Many of these were born of women who were slaves, but the station of the parents did not make a difference in the children. For all were patriarchs and the heads of their tribes. This is the precedence of the Church, the privilege of the nobility among us, being shown from the beginning. So whether you are slave or free, you are not more or less than any other. The only thing that matters is the mind, and the disposition of your soul.

  1. Aside from all this there is another cause for why he has mentioned these histories. To be sure, Zerah’s name was not thrown out at random (or Perez for that matter). It would seem to be superfluous and unnecessary to mention Zerah after tracing the lineage through Perez. So why was he mentioned? “Moreover, it took place while she was giving birth, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” But it came about as he drew back his hand that behold, his brother came out. Then she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” So he was named Perez. Afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand; and he was named Zerah. ” Genesis 38:27

Do you see the dark expression of mysteries? It was not without purpose that these things are recorded for us. What the midwife had to say or who stuck out their hand first or was born second hardly seems worth telling, let alone studying. What then is this mysterious lesson? The first clue is held in the name of the child, “Perez” means ” a division or a breach”. And what’s more, from the birth itself what took place. It certainly is not normal for a child to thrust out their hand and draw it back again during birth. This was not what you would normally expect to happen nor does it seem to have a natural cause. After one child was near enough to be birthed, to withdraw and allow the other child to be born first is not the manner of natural birth, but the grace of God was present ordering these things and sketching out for us a sort of image of things that were to come.

It can accurately be said that these children are a foreshadowing of the two nations to come (Israel first. To illustrate that the Law of the latter people was known before the origin of the former, the child that stretched his hand out does not show itself entirely, but draws it back in again. After this his brother glided out completely and only then does the other come and appears entirely. This is what happened with our two nations. I mean to say, after the body of the Church was manifested in the times of Abraham, it was then withdrawn and the Jewish people came to be, along with the Law and afterwards a new people (the Christians) appeared whole with their own laws. To show this the midwife says “What a breach you have made for yourself” because the old law broke in upon the freedom of the future law. The Scripture in many places likens the law to a wall or barrier. As the prophet says, “Why have You broken down its hedges, So that all who pass that way pick its fruit?” and, “I have set a hedge about it:” and Paul, “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall”. Yet some others say that the saying “What a breach you have made for yourself” was spoken to the later people (the Christians), for this at its coming put the law aside.

  1. Do you see now that it was for no small cause that he brought the whole history concerning Judah to our remembrance? This is the reason the author mentions Ruth and Rahab as well, (one a foreigner the other a harlot) that you may learn that Christ came to do away with our ills. He has come as a Physician, not as a Judge. In a similar fashion as those men of old who took harlots for wives, even so God espoused Himself to the nature which had played the harlot. This also the prophets declared from the beginning with respect to the Synagogue. But that spouse was ungrateful towards her husband whereas the Church, once delivered from the evils that plagued our fathers, continued to embrace her Bridegroom.

Now take for instance, what happened to Ruth and how it relates to our lives today. For she was born an outsider, reduced to the utmost poverty and yet Boaz did not despise her poverty or low birth when he saw her. In the same manner Christ has taken His Church, who is both a foreigner to God and utterly impoverished and given her great blessings to partake in. But Ruth, if she had not left her Father, renounced her household and culture, country and kindred, would not have entered into this alliance. So the Church too must forsake the customs of men handed down from their fathers before she will be lovely for her Bridegroom. The prophet speaks about this to her saying “Forget your people and your father’s house; Then the King will desire your beauty”. Ruth did this and because of her obedience became the mother of kings (even as the Church would later), David being her decedent. So the author, in order to shame them and urge them to not be prideful, has composed the genealogy and mentioned these lowly women. For Ruth, through her descendants was mother to the great king and David is not ashamed of her. It cannot be that a man should be good or bad, obscure or famous by the virtue or vice of his forefathers. You might say (somewhat paradoxically) that someone without worthy ancestors shines all the brighter if they still become excellent.

  1. Let no one be prideful on account of his birth then, but let him consider the forefathers of the Lord, and put away all his haughtiness and let him take pride in his good deeds, and really, not even these. It was because of this kind of pride that the Pharisee became inferior to the Tax Collector. So, if you would show your good works to be great, take no pride in them and you will have proved it so much greater. Consider that you have done nothing, and then you will have done all. If being a sinner, when we accept ourselves to be what we are (that is a sinner) we become righteous, as certainly the Tax Collector did. How much better, when acting righteously we account ourselves sinners! Since sinful men are made righteous by a humble mind (although I do not mean humble as in simple, but to be right-minded), if being right-minded avails so much in the case of sinners, consider what the humility of mind will do in respect to righteous men.

So do not spoil your labors, or cast away the fruits of your effort. Do not run in vain, frustrating all your labor after all the work you have done. Your Lord knows your good works better than you do. Even if you only give a cup of cold water, even this He does not overlook. Even if you only contribute a single dime, even if you have nothing to give but your voice, He receives it all with great favor and remembers it, assigning to you great rewards.

Why then do you look to do your own deeds and make a show of it before us continually? Don’t you know, if you praise yourself, God will have no need to praise you Himself? But if you deplore your own works, He will proclaim you before all without ceasing. In no way does He wish for your labors to be depreciated. And why do I say depreciated? He is working and engineering all things, so that even for a little work He may crown you. He goes about seeking every excuse by which you may be delivered from hell. This is the reason that even if you start work at the very end of the day He gives you the entire wage. And even though you have no grounds for salvation, He says, “I do it for my own sake, that my name will not be profaned” Ezekiel 36:22. Even if you only sigh, though you should only weep, all these things He quickly catches ahold of as a reason to save you.

Let us declare ourselves unprofitable rather than lifting ourselves up, so that we will become profitable. For if you call yourself approved you have become unprofitable, even though you were approved. If you are useless you have become profitable, even though you were wicked.

  1. So is it necessary to forget our own good actions. “But how is it possible to not know the things which we are fully aware of?” you might say, but how can you say this? Offending your Lord perpetually, you live daintily, laughing, and do not so much as know that you have sinned, but have consigned it all to oblivion, but of your good actions you can’t put away the memory? On one hand we offend each day and do not so much as think about it at all, on the other, if we give a little money to a poor person over this we obsess. This way of life is utter madness and is a great loss to the one that lives this way. The secure storehouse of good works is to forget them. If you were to wear fancy clothes and gold openly in the market-place, we attract many ill-meaning people. But if we put them away at home and hide them, we will be certain they are secure. This is the way our good deeds are to be treated. If we continually replay them in our memory, we provoke the Lord and arm the enemy. We invite him to steal them away! But if no one knows about them, besides Him alone who should know, they will lay in safety.

So do not go around constantly flaunting them, lest someone should take them away. This was the case with the Pharisee, while bearing them always on his lips, the devil caught them away. But it was with thanksgiving that they were mentioned and referred everything to God. But even this did not suffice. For it is not a thankful heart that reviles others, to be vainglorious before many or to exalt yourself over those who have fallen. Rather if you are giving thanks to God, be content with Him only, and do not publicize it before men, or condemn your neighbor, this is not thanksgiving. Would you learn what true thanksgiving is? Listen to the Three Children, saying “We have sinned, we have transgressed. You are righteous, O Lord, in all that you have done unto us, because you have brought all things upon us by a true judgment”. To confess your own sins, this is giving thanks with confession unto God, implying guilt to numberless offenses, yet being saved of the due penalty. The one who does this is most of all the giver of thanks.

  1. Therefore let us beware of saying anything about ourselves, for this will render us odious with men and abominable to God. This is why the greater the good we do, the less we should say of ourselves. This is the way to reap the greatest glory with both men and God. And not only glory, but a reward also, in fact a great reward. So do not demand a reward here so that you may receive an eternal reward in heaven. Confess yourself to be saved by grace, that Christ may profess Himself a debtor to you. Not only for your good works, but for such rightness of mind. When we do good works, we have Christ as a debtor for those good works only. But when we do not so much as think we have done any good work, then also we will gain for this character and all the more than for just the good deed. Unless we do this, none of our deeds will appear great. In the same way, when we have servants, don’t we appreciate them all the more when they do their service with a good attitude and do not act as though they have done anything great? So if you would make your good deeds greater, do not think that they are and they will be great. Luke 17:10

This is the way that the centurion said “I am not worthy for You to come under my roof”. Because of his humility he became worthy and was “marveled at” above all the Jews. Matthew 8:8 In this way also Paul says “I am not fit to be called an apostle” 1 Corinthians 15:9 and because of this he became first of all. John as well said “It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie” and was called the “friend of the Bridegroom”, the hand he considered unworthy to touch His shoes, Christ drew to his own head. Peter as well said “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man” Luke 5:8 and for this he was made the foundation of the Church.

Nothing is so acceptable to God as to consider yourself with the least of men. This is a first principle of all practical wisdom. He who is humbled and wounded in the heart, will not be vainglorious, not envious of his neighbor and will not harbor any other passion. When your hand is wounded, though you try ten thousand times you cannot lift it up high. If we likewise bruise our own heart, though it is stirred by ten thousand swelling passions, it cannot be lifted up, even a little bit. For if a man, by mourning for things pertaining to this life, drives out all the diseases of his soul, how much more he who mourns for his sins enjoy the blessing of self-restraint.

  1. “But who is able to bruise his own heart this way?” you might say. Listen to David, who became illustrious mainly because of this, and see the contrition of his soul. How After ten thousand good works, on the point of being deprived of his country, home and life itself, at the very moment of his calamity, he sees a vile and outcast common soldier trample on his poor fortunes and revile him. David, so far from returning the favor, utterly forbad one of his captains who wanted to slay him and said “Leave him alone, for the lord has bidden him. 2 Samuel 16:10 And again, when the priests desired to carry the ark of God with him he would not allow it. How did he respond? “Let me set it down in the temple, and if God delivers me from the dangers before me, I shall see the beauty thereof; but if He says to me, I have no delight in you, behold, here am I, let Him do to me as seems good to Him”. And what was done in regards to Saul, over and over, even frequently, what excellent self-restraint is shown? Certainly he surpassed the old law and came close to the apostolic injunctions. For this reason he bore with contentment all that came from the Lord’s hand. Not contending with what happened to him, but aiming at one thing alone, that is, in everything to obey and follow the laws set by Him. And when after so many noble deeds on his part, he saw a tyrant, guilty of parricide, murderer of his own brother, an injurious and frenzied man possessing the kingdom in his stead, even then he was not offended. But “if this please God that I should be chased, wander, flee, and that one such as he should be in honor, I acquiesce and accept it, and do thank God for His many afflictions”. Not at all like one of the many shameless and impudent ones, when they have done nothing good, not even a fraction of the good of David, when they are enduring a small discouragement see anyone else prosperous, ruin their own souls by ten thousand blasphemies. But David was not one of these, rather he exhibited humility. This is why God has said “I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart.”

Let us seek to acquire a spirit like this as well and bear whatever we may suffer without complaint. And before the Kingdom we will reap the reward accruing from lowliness of mind. So Christ tells us, “learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” Matthew 11:29 In order that we may enjoy rest both here and hereafter, with all diligence implant in your souls humility, which is the mother of all good things. In this way we will be enabled to pass over the sea of this life without waves and end our voyage in that calm harbor. By the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might for ever and ever. Amen

Homily Two – Gospel of Matthew

“The book of the generations of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.”

Do you remember the task that I recently gave you, imploring you to listen to my teaching with stillness and reverence? Today we are gathered together here in this holy building, where I implored you to undertake this task.

Since if when the Jews were to meet the Lord at “a burning mountain, fire, darkness and a black tempest” (or rather since they were not allowed to approach, they viewed it from far off) they were commanded for the three days before to abstain from their wives, wash their clothing and to stand in fear and trembling, both them and Moses with them before approaching that mountain. When we are here to listen to the word, we are not standing off from a smoking mountain, but rather to enter into Heaven itself. We should show a greater self-denial than those of the past, not washing our clothes, but wiping clean the robe of our soul and ridding ourselves of any worldly stains. We will not see darkness, smoke or storm but the King Himself sitting on the throne of unspeakable glory, and angles and archangels standing round Him, along with the family of the saints in endless numbers.

This is the way it is in God’s city, having “the Church of the first-born, the spirits of the just, the general assembly of the angels, the blood of sprinkling,” all knit together as one. Heaven has received the things of the earth and earth the things of Heaven and the peace which was longed for of old by both angels and saints.

Here stands the trophy won by the cross, glorious and visible, the prize won by Christ, the first fruits of our nature, the gains of our King. All of this we will know with certainty by studying the Gospels. If you listen quietly we will be able to show you the way, where death itself is crucified, where sin is hung and where the many wonderful things to be gained in this battle lay.

Here you will also see the tyrant bound, the multitude of captives following and the fortress where that unholy demon overran all things in time past. You will see the hiding places and the den of the robber now broken and laid open, for even there now our King is present.

But do not be weary beloved, if I was describing a visible war and trophies and victories, you would find no satisfaction at all, it would leave you feeling hollow and hungry still. But I have a much more satisfying story to tell you. Consider this, I will tell you how God in Heaven got up from “the royal throne and leaped down” Wisdom 18:15 to the earth, even hell itself and stood in the midst of battle. And how the devil set himself in battle against him, not just God unveiled, but God hidden in man’s nature.

You will see something marvelous, death destroyed by death, curse extinguished by curse and the dominion of the devil put down by the very things he used to prevail. So, let us be alert and do not sleep, I see the gates opening to us. But let us enter in properly, in order and with reverence, stepping right into the vestibule itself.

What do I mean by vestibule? “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham.”

“Wait what?!? You promised to talk about the Only-begotten Son of God, but here you have just mentioned David, a man born a thousand generations ago but you call him both His father AND ancestor?” Hold on, do not try to learn everything at once, but gently and little by little. We are only here, standing in the vestibule, practically still on the front porch! Why are you trying to rush in to the inner shrine? I have not yet even explained the other genealogy, and what comes after is unutterable and holy. The prophet Isaiah before me told you this, when proclaiming Christ’s passion, His great love for this world, admiring who He was, what He would become and where He would descend he cried out loud and clear “Who shall declare his genealogy?”.

But this is getting ahead of ourselves, we are talking about what took place here on earth, seen by ten thousand witnesses. We will eventually talk about all this when it is possible to do so, with the grace of the Spirit. Not even this can be laid out simply by anyone, for even this is worthy of awe. But do not think these things are small or unimportant when we talk of his ancestors but rouse your mind and tremble with reverence having been told that God has come to earth. This is so marvelous and beyond expectation, that angels formed a choir and sang praise on behalf of the earth. The prophets were amazed at this in times before, saying “He was seen on the earth and conversed with men”. Baruch 3:37 For it is unconceivable to hear that God the Unspeakable, the Unutterable, the Incomprehensible, He that is equal to the Father, has passed through a virgin’s womb and has graciously allowed himself to be born of a woman, to have Abraham and David as forefathers. But even more amazing are the lowly women listed that were mentioned recently.

Hearing all this do not think any of it lowly, even at this thing you should marvel, that being the Son of the Unoriginated God, His true Son, He lowered Himself to also be called the Son of David, that He might make you a son of God. He suffered a slave to be his father that He might make the Lord Father to you who are as a slave.

Do you see the nature of the Gospels, evident from the very beginning? It is far more difficult (by human reasoning), for God to become man, than for a man to be declared a Son of God. For this reason, when you are told that the Son of God is descended from David and Abraham, do not doubt that you too, a son of Adam shall be a son of God. It was not at random or in vain that he humbled himself so greatly, his chief aim was to raise us up. This is why he was born of flesh, so that you can be born of the Spirit. He was born of a woman, so that you might cease to be the son of a woman.

His birth was twofold, He was both made like us and surpassed us. It was our lot to be born of a woman, but “not to be born of blood, or the will of the flesh, or man” but of the Holy Spirit John 1:13 was prophesized before birth that surpasses us, the birth to come, which He would freely give to us by the Spirit. Everything in His life was like this. His baptism was of the old sort, and yet it foreshadowed the new. The mark of the old baptism was the prophet, but the coming down of the spirit marked the new. It is like Christ placed himself in the place between two people who were separated by animosity, and stretching out his hands took hold of either side and tied them together. Even this He has done, joining the old covenant with the new, God’s nature with men, and the thing that are His with ours.

Do you see the flashing brightness of that city, what splendor it dazzles you with from the very beginning? How it has directly shown the King in your own form? The King does not always appear bearing his proper dignity, but laying aside the purple and diadem, he often disguises himself in the garb of a common man. But He stays disguised, not to hide in fear from a hostile enemy, but on the contrary to prevent the enemy from fleeing from him. If he were to show himself in his glory all would tremble before Him and his purpose was to save and not to dismay.

This is why right off, He was called by this title, being named Jesus. This name, Jesus, is not Greek, but in the Hebrew language it means “A Savior”, and indeed He is called Savior, for He saved all His people.

Do you see how he raises up the listener, speaking of familiar things but also indicating to us things beyond all hope? Both of these names were well known to the Jews. Because what was to come was beyond imagination even the names were shown before, in order that from the very beginning any unsettling feelings from something new or different might be removed. This is why he was called Jesus, who after Moses brought his people into the Promised Land. Do you see the foreshadowing? Behold the truth! Moses lead his people to the Promised Land, Jesus led his to Heaven, and gave the good things of the heavens, long after Moses was dead and the law had ceased. This is a leader, this is a King.

However, having only heard the name Jesus, to prevent any confusion (for this was a common name) the author has added, “Jesus Christ, Son of David”.

And why does he call this a “book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ” while it is not just a list of his ancestors only, but the whole of his life? Because this is the summary of the whole dispensation, and shows the origin and root of all our blessings. As Moses began by calling it “a book of heaven and earth” [Genesis 2:4]() even though he speaks of everything between, so also this is the summary of his work. So this man has named his book with a title that sums up all the great things within. What could be more astonishing, and beyond all hope or expectation, than God becoming man. But this did happen, and everything hereafter follows in reasonable consequence.

But why did he not say “the Son of Abraham” and then “the Son of David”? Some may think (incorrectly) that he is trying to start at the lower and move up, but then he would have done the same as Luke and here he does the opposite. So why does he mention David? David was still spoken about by everyone due to his distinction since he was not so far removed in the past as Abraham. Although God made promises to both, the older (Abraham) is passed over in silence, while the other, fresher and more recent is mentioned by all. Didn’t they say, “Doesn’t Christ himself come from the seed of David, from Bethlehem where David was from?” John 7:42 Notice no one called him the Son of Abraham, but everyone said He was descended of David. This was because David was more prominent in their minds, both on his being more recent and because of his royalty. On this principle all the kings after were honored with his name, both by the people and by God. Both Ezekiel and other prophets speak of David as coming and rising again, not meaning the one long dead, but one who would emulate his virtue. To Hezekiah he says “I will defend this city, for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake” 2 Kings 19:34 And to Solomon he said that for David’s sake He would not tear the kingdom apart during his lifetime. For great was the glory of the man (David), both with God and with men.

This is why he starts with the one more well-known and then builds up to his ancestor, accounting it superfluous (considering his audience) to go farther. For these two were the persons principally held in admiration by the Jews, one as a prophet and a king, the other as a prophet and patriarch.

“But how is it evident that He is descended from David?” someone may say. If he was not born of a man, but from a woman only and the Virgin does not have her genealogy traced how do we know that he was from David’s decent? Here there are two things questioned; both why His mother’s genealogy is not listed, and why Joseph is mentioned at all since he has no part of his birth. One seems unnecessary and the other a mistake.

Which one should we speak to first? How the Virgin is descended from David. How do we know that she is his descendant? Listen to God who told Gabriel to go to “a virgin engaged to a man (whose name was Joseph), of the house and lineage of David”. What is planer than this?

Here it is evident that Joseph was also descended from the same. For there was a law which meant it was unlawful to take a wife from any other line, but that they must be of the same tribe. The patriarch Jacob also foretold that He would arise out of the tribe of Judah, saying “there shall not fail a ruler out of Judah, nor a governor out of his loins, until He come for who it is appointed and He is the expectation of the Gentiles”

“Well” they may reply, “This prophecy DOES make it clear that He was from the tribe of Judah, but NOT that he was descended from David. Is the Whole tribe of Judah descended from David or were there many others? Maybe he was only part of the tribe of Judah and not descended from David”.

In order to answer anyone who might make such a claim as this, the author clearly states that He was “of the house and lineage of David”.

But if that is not enough for you, we are not lacking another proof. Not only was it not allowed to marry outside of your own tribe, but not even from another lineage, that is, outside their kindred. So either you take the author at his words (“of the house and lineage of David), or by the fact that Joseph was allowed to marry her by law. If Joseph was of the house and lineage of David he certainly would not have taken his wife from a tribe or line other than his own.

“What if he ignored the law?” you might ask. Anticipating this question the author testifies that Joseph was righteous, to prevent such an accusation. We are told of his virtue, so we can be sure he would not have so blatantly transgressed the law. He was so benevolent and free from such strong emotion that he did not even wish to punish the Virgin (even though he had reason to suspect that she had done wrong by him), how could he have transgressed the law for his own lust? He showed wisdom and self-restraint beyond the law, (to cancel the marriage quietly was showing self-restraint beyond what the law demanded), and how could he have done anything contrary to the law when there was no cause to make him?

So it is clear from these explanations that the Virgin was descended from David, but the fact that the author not give her genealogy, but instead Joseph’s requires explanation. For what reason did he do this? It was not customary (or even demanded by the law) among the Jews to trace the genealogy of a woman. So to keep with custom, and not seem to be making alterations at the very beginning but still make the Virgin’s history known to us, he passes over her ancestors in silence and traced Joseph’s genealogy. If he had done this for the Virgin, he would have seemed to be adding something new and unusual. If he had ignored Joseph then we would have known nothing of the Virgins forefathers. So in order to teach us about Mary, who she was and her origin, without disturbing the law, the author traces the genealogy of her espoused husband, and shown that he was descended from the house of David. So having clearly proved Joseph’s history, Mary’s is demonstrated with it, as I have already explained, because this righteous man would have never taken a wife from other decent.

There is another reason that I could mention, of a more mysterious nature, why the Virgin’s forefathers are ignored. But now is not the time or place to discuss it because so much has already been said.

Let us then stay at this point in our discourse concerning these questions and retain accurately what has been revealed to us. Why the author mentioned David first, why he called his book “A book of the genealogy”, why he called Him “Jesus Christ”, how his birth was both common and uncommon, how Mary was shown to be descended from David and why Joseph’s genealogy is traced while her ancestors are left out.

If you retain these things, you will be ready for the things that are to come, but if you reject them and forget them you will seem as ignorant as the rest. This is just like a farmer would not pay attention to soil that had not sprouted seed recently planted.

So I earnestly ask you to focus on these things. If you contemplate such matters, there springs in the soul a great good, leading to salvation. For by these meditations we will be able to please God Himself. Our mouths will be pure from insults, filthy speech and abuse when arming our tongue with such words, we will draw God’s grace to ourselves all the more, and it will render our eyes more discerning. Certainly our eyes, mouth and ears He gave us with this intent that all our members serve Him. That we may speak His words, do his work, sing to Him in continual hymns and offer up sacrifices of thanksgiving and by these we will thoroughly purify our consciences.

As our bodies are healthier when enjoying the benefit of pure air, even so will a soul be endowed with practical wisdom when nourished with exercises like these. Don’t you see, even your physical eyes, when they are subjected to smoke they are filled with tears, but in the clear air of a meadow or in a fountain or garden they become more quick sighted and healthier. This is like the soul’s eye as well, for it should feed in the meadow of spiritual wisdom and it will be clear and perceptive. But if your soul departs into the smoke of the things of this life it will weep without end, wailing both now and hereafter. For indeed the things of this life are like smoke. This is why it was written “My days have failed like smoke” He was referring to their short duration and unsubstantial nature. But I would say we should take this at face value, not just the point of life’s shortness but also of its murky character.

Nothing is as damaging and dimming to the eye of the soul as the crowd of worldly anxieties and swarm of desires. These are the wood that feeds the smoke. Like fire, when it gets ahold of any damp and saturated fuel a lot of smoke is made. Likewise is desire, vehement and burning when it lays hold of a soul that is (so to speak) damp and intemperate, producing in its own way a great deal of smoke. This is why we need the dew of the Spirit, and of that air, that it may extinguish the fire, and scatter the smoke and lift up our thoughts. For it cannot be that one weighted down with such evils should soar up to heaven; it would be good if being without impediment we can manage to get there, or rather, even unburdened it is not possible unless we obtain the lifting efforts of the Spirit.

Now if we need both an unencumbered mind and spiritual grace to raise to that height, what if we have neither of those things, but instead move towards the opposite adding a devilish weight? How will we be able to soar upwards when dragged down by such a great load? If anyone was to try to weigh their words (as on a scale) to see if they were in good balance, in ten thousand pounds of worldly talk you wouldn’t find a pound and a half of spiritual words, really, I should say, not even an ounce. Is it not a disgrace (and an extreme mockery) then, when we have a servant and employ him for needed work, but having a tongue, we do not use it as well as another person (our servant). But on the contrary, we use it for things unprofitable and merely wasting time? If only we only used it to waste time, but instead we use it for things contrary and hurtful and in no way advantageous to us. If the things we spoke were profitable to us, they would certainly be pleasing to God as well. But as things stand now, whatever the devil might suggest, we speak it all, now laughing, speaking wittily, cursing and insulting, swearing, lying and taking false oaths, complaining, babbling vainly and talking of trifles more than old wives; uttering all things that are of no concern to us.

Tell me, of all the people standing here, if you were required could you repeat ONE psalm, or any other portion of the divine Scriptures? No, I say not one.

This is not the only grievous thing, but while you have become so backwards concerning things that are spiritual, in regard to what belongs to Satan you are more passionate than fire! Should anyone ask you about the songs of devils and impure musicals, they will find many who know these things perfectly and repeat them with great pleasure.

What is your answer to these charges? “I am not one of the monks, I have a wife and children and the care of my household” you might say. Why this is what has ruined it all, your supposing that the reading of the divine Scriptures pertains only to others, when you need it much more than they do! For those who dwell in the world, and each day receive wounds, these are the ones that have the most need of medicine. So it is far worse to merely not read the Scripture, but to consider it “superfluous” is a diabolical invention. Don’t you hear Paul saying “that all these things are written for our admonition?” 1 Corinthians 10:11

And if you had to take up a Gospel, would you choose not to because your hands are dirty? But the things that are written within it, don’t you think they are highly necessary? It is because of this that everything is turned around for you.

If you want to learn what great profit is in the Scriptures, examine yourself, what you become by hearing the Psalms, and what you become after listening to a song of Satan. How you fell when staying in a Church and when sitting in a theatre and you will see that there is a great difference between the effects of each. This is why Paul said, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 This is the reason we continually need Godly songs which serve as appeals from the Spirit. This is where we can excel over the irrational creatures, since in worldly things we are exceedingly inferior to them.

This is a souls food, its adornment, its security, even as to not hear is famine and wasting. For “I will give them not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the word of the Lord” Amos 8:11

What then can be more wretched? When the very evil that God threatens as punishment, you are drawing down upon yourself of your own accord? Bringing to your soul a kind of grevious famine and making it the feeblest thing in the world? It is the nature of the soul to waste away or to be saved by words. Words lead it to anger, and the same thing (words) makes it meek. A filthy expression is likely to kindle it to lust, and it is trained to temperance by serious speech.

But if a mere word has so great a power, tell me, how is it that you despise the Scripture? If an admonition can do such great things, far greater things can be done when it is the admonitions of the Spirit. A word from the divine Scriptures, heard by the ear, does more than fire to soften the hardened soul and renders it fit for all good things.

This how Paul dealt with the Corinthians when he found them puffed up and inflamed, making them more considerate and composed. They were priding themselves on the very things which they ought to have been ashamed of and hid their faces. But after they received the letter, see the change in them, which their Teacher himself bore witness to saying “For behold what earnestness this very thing, this [a]godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.” 2 Corinthians 7:11 This is the way we straighten out servants and children, wives and friends, and make our enemies friends.

This is the way that great men who were dear to God became better also. David for example, after his sin, when he heard certain words came to that most excellent repentance; and the apostles also became what they were by the word, drawing the whole world after them.

“And what is the profit, when someone hears but does not do what is said” someone may say? Very little profit if any is had by merely hearing. For he will go on to convict himself, groaning inwardly but will come in time to do the things he learns not to do. But he that does not even know that he has sinned, when will he stop being negligent? How can he correct himself?

So do not let us despise the hearing of the divine Scriptures. This is of Satan’s devising; not letting us see the treasure, lest we should gain those riches. So he says that hearing the divine law is nothing, for fear that he should see us acquire the practice of those laws having heard them.

Knowing that this is his evil art, let us defend ourselves against him on all sides, that being protected with this armor, we may abide unconquered ourselves and smite him on the head. Doing this, having crowned ourselves with the glorious wreaths of victory we may obtain the good things to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might for ever and ever. Amen.

Homily Thirty Five – Gospel of Matthew

The purpose of this blog is not to discuss politics or social movements, it is here to shine a light on the only one who can heal our broken hearts (and our broken Nation), Jesus Christ. So when I heard the words of this message (Especially the second half) I felt like it was relevant to what is going on all over the world and should be shared. Kindness, Mercy and Charity are the overwhelming call to action for anyone who calls themselves a Christian. We will all answer to the Lord of all for what we have done with the life we are given.

I challenge you to read the standard set for Christian behavior here and compare your opinions and life against it. If you find yourself lacking (as I did) DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT

Homily Thirty Five, A Commentary On Matthew

Original text of this message

Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” Matthew 10:34. Once again He brings up something more difficult (and quite aggravating). The crowd was sure to object with something like “So you have come to destroy us and our offspring and to fill the world with war?!?” so he starts with “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth”

Why then does he command the disciples to pronounce peace on entering every home? And why would the angels have proclaimed “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace” Luke 2:14? Why would all the prophets also write this as a good tiding? Because this is truest form of peace, when something diseased is cut off and the insubordinate removed. For in this way it is possible for Heaven to be united to earth. This is comparable to a doctor who uses this method to preserve the rest of the body when amputating an incurable body part or the general when he removes soldiers who refused to follow orders. Also in the case of that infamous tower, for their evil peace was ended by their good discord (that is they were peaceful doing evil but good was done by their discord) Genesis 11:7-8 . Paul also confused those who were conspiring against him. Acts 23:6-7 And in Naboths example, their agreement was worse than any war 1 Kings 21. For peace or agreement is not in every case something good, since even thieves act in agreement.

Discord is not the outcome of His purpose, but of the peoples disposition. His will certainly is that all should agree in the word of Godliness; But because they disobey discord arises. But this is not what he said, what did he say? “I did not come to bring peace” to comfort them. It is if he said, “do not think that this is your fault, it is I who order them, because men are so disposed. Do not be confused, is if this was unexpected. For this reason I have come, to send war among men, for this is my will. Do not be troubled when the earth is at war, as if it were subject to some hostile plan. For when the worst part is torn away, then (and only then) Heaven will be knit into the better part left over”.

And these things Christ says, to strengthening them against the evil suspicion of the multitudes.

And he did not say “war” but something worse than that, “a sword”. If these sayings seem painful or cause alarm do not be surprised. It was his purpose to get and hold their attention by the severe nature of His words. He fashioned his words this way, so that in some future difficult circumstance they would not forget and turn away. Also to avoid anyone saying that he had only persuaded them with flattery and hiding the hardships to come. So even though there were other kinder things that he could have said, He used harsh words with the more galling and painful touch because it is better to see someone’s gentleness in actions rather than in words.

He was not yet satisfied with this but explains the very nature of this war, signifying that it is even worse than a civil war. He explains “For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household”.

Not merely friends only, He says, or fellow citizens but their very family will stand opposed one to the other. “for I came” He says, “to set man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law”. This is to say, not only members of the same household are at war, but the nearest and dearest to each other. More than anything this signifies His power, that hearing these things, they not only accepted Him but set out to persuade all others.

But of course it was not Him that did this, but the other peoples wickedness and yet he claims it as his own doing. This is the custom of the Scripture. In another place he says in a similar vein “God gave them a spirit of stupor, Eyes to see not and ears to hear not” Romans 11:8. Here He speaks in this way so as to once again encourage them so they are not confounded when suffering reproach and insults.

If anyone thinks this is intolerable let them be reminded of an ancient history. In days of old there was an event that shows how the old covenant is similar to the new and how Christ was the same one giving these commands. I am referring to the Hebrews, when each had slain his neighbor and He laid aside his anger against them. Both when they had made the golden calf and when they were worshiping Ball Peor. Where are those who say “That God was evil and this God Good?” For behold He has filled the world with blood, shed by brothers and family. Nevertheless even this we claim to be a work of great love towards man.

But if any think these things intolerable, let them be reminded of an ancient history. For in times of old also this came to pass, which thing especially shows the old covenant to be akin to the new, and Him who is here speaking, the same with the giver of those commands. I mean that in the case of the Jews also, when each had slain his neighbor, then He laid aside His anger against them; both when they made the calf Exodus 32:26-28, and when they were joined to Baal Peor Numbers 25:1-5. Where then are they that say, “That God of old is evil, and the God of this age is good?” For behold He has filled the world with blood, shed by kinsmen. Nevertheless even this we affirm to be a work of great love towards man.

So you see, He implies that it was Himself who approved those other acts of old. He also mentions a prophecy, which even if not specifically for this purpose implies the same meaning. And what is this prophecy? “a man’s enemies will be the members of his household” Matthew 10:36

Even among the Jews something like this took place. That is, there were prophets and false prophets, and the people were divided, families were in dissension. Some believed the one, and the rest the other. So the prophet admonishes them saying “Do not trust in a neighbor; Do not have confidence in a friend. From her who lies in your bosom Guard your lips.” and also “A man’s enemies are the men of his own household.” Micah 7:5-6

This He said to prepare the ones who would receive the word that was above all. For to to die is not evil, unless it is without Christ. For this reason he adds, “I have come to cast fire upon the earth” Luke 12:49 All this he said to declare the passion and temperature of the love that he requires. Because He loves us so very much He should also be loved by us. These sayings would strengthen the people present and lift them up. “For if those others” He says, “are to despise brothers, children and parents, imagine what kind of men their teachers ought to be. Since the hardships will not stop with you but also pass on to the next. For since I have come bringing great blessings, I demand great obedience and dedication of heart”

“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” Matthew 10:37-38

Do you see how He has a teacher’s dignity? How he shows himself to be a true Son of Him that begot Him, commanding us to let go of earthly things and to take up instead the love of Him?

“And why do I speak” He says, “of friends and kinsmen? Even if it is your own life that you prefer to my love, your place is far from my disciples”. So now what? Aren’t these things all contrary to the Old Testament? Far from it! Rather they are quite in harmony with it. For in the past He commands not only to hate the worshipers of idols, but even to stone them; And once again in Deuteronomy He says, “Who said of his father and his mother, ‘I did not consider them’; And he did not acknowledge his brothers, Nor did he regard his own sons, For they observed Your word, And kept Your covenant.” Deuteronomy 33:9 And if Paul gives a lot of instructions to parents, telling us to obey them in all things, do not be confused; He commands us to obey them, but only if it does not interfere with Godliness. It is certainly a sacred duty to render them all due honor, but if they overstep those bounds, we should not obey. This is why Luke says, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26 He is not commanding us to simply hate them, since this would be quite contrary to the law; but “when one desires to be loved more than I am, hate him in this respect. For this ruins both the beloved himself, and the lover.” These things he has said, to render the children more determined, and to make the fathers more gentle. For when they saw that Christ had such strength and power as to sever their children from them, they saw that this seemed impossible and would desist. For this reason He then turns His discourse to the children, instructing the them to not to make the attempt, as trying to do something that is unfeasible.

So that they would not become indignant or think this is too hard watch how he leads his arguments along saying “Those that hate their father and mother” and adds “and his own life”. Why would you bring up all of your family He says, when your own life is the most important thing to anyone. However if you do not despise even your own life you will endure all of the things that happens to someone who does not love me.

Not only are we to hate it (according to His command), but expose it to war, battles, slaughter and blood. “For he that bears not his cross, and comes after me, cannot be my disciple”. We must not merely stand against death, but against a violent and humiliating end.

He does not yet mention his future passion, so that once the disciples had come to understand what He was teaching they would be more ready to hear about it. Isn’t it amazing, that after hearing these things their soul did not fly from their body? With hardships lining the road ahead and good things only promised in the future? How did they bear to hear these things, how did they not flee? Great was the power of the speaker, and the love that they had for Him. So that even hearing these intolerable and galling things (far worse than what Moses and Jeremiah dealt with) they continued to obey and not one of them spoke out against it.

“He who has found his life ” He says”, “will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39 Do you see how how damaging it is to love your own life excessively? What a great gain it is for those who despise it? Because these commands are disagreeable, when he tells them to set themselves against their own parents, children, nature, friends, the world and even their own soul, He shows them the benefit also (which is very great). It is as if he is saying “These things, are far from harming you, but will very greatly profit you, and their opposites will injure you”. He urges them (as he continually does) by the very things people naturally desire. Why are you willing to despise your own life? Because you love it? Then for that very reason despise it and you will gain advantage in the highest degree.

And for instance take note of this unfathomable consideration. Not only in respect to our parents does he extend this reasoning, but to our children as well, but in regard to our own life, which is dearest of all. That the point of this discourse will be unquestionable and they may learn what they will extend this profit even to their family as well. Since by our own benefit those around us are blessed as well.

Now these things were good enough for the disciples to receive, who were the appointed future healers. Who would not choose to readily receive these noble men, true heros, like lions running around the earth, who despised their own needs and wants so that others might be saved? And yet he offers up another reward, indicating that He will care for the workers even more than for the patients.

And the first honor he bestows on them is by saying “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” Matthew 10:40 What can compare to this? That someone would recieve the Father and the Son! But he gives them another reward as well, He says, “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward” Matthew 10:41 As before he threatens punishment to those who do not receive them, here He defines another benifit for their good. So as to teach you His greater care for them, he did not simply say “He who receives a prophet” or “he who receives a righteous man” but added, “in the name of a righteous man”. Based on receiving them as a prophet or a righteous man, not for any worldly preference or for any material thing and because of this they will receive a prophets reward and a righteous mans reward. It is good to receive one such as these, and to gain the same blessing due to that prophet or righteous man. Paul also said something like this, “your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need” 2 Corinthians 8:14

Now then, so that no one can allege that they are in poverty Christ says, “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward” Matthew 10:42

“Though a cup of cold water is your only gift, which is free to you, even for this service a reward will be stored up for you. For I do all things for the sake of you the receivers.”

Do you see the strong persuasion He used and how he opened to them the houses of the whole world? Truly He signified that men are in their debt. First by saying “the workman is worthy of his hire” secondly by sending them into the world with nothing. Thirdly by giving them up to wars and fighting on behalf of the ones who receive them, Fourth by working miracles through them, fifth, by speaking through them, introducing peace and the font of all blessings into the homes of those who receive them. Sixth, by threatening things more grievous than Sodom to those who do not receive them. Seventh, that whoever receives them is receiving the Son and the Father. Eighth, by promising both a prophets and a righteous mans reward. Ninth, by promising that the reward will be great, even for a cup of cold water. Now each of these things, even by itself would be enough to attract them, Tell me, who, when a leader of an army who is wounded in innumerable places and dyed in blood came in sight, returning after many victories in war and conflict, would not receive him, throwing open every door in his house?

You might say, “Who in the world is like this?”. This is why he adds “In the name of a disciple or a prophet or a righteous man” to teach you that it is not the worth of the visitor himself that you receive him for, but for the worth of his purpose. This is why the reward is given to the one who receives. While here he speaks of prophets and righteous men and disciples, elsewhere he commands men to receive the lowliest outcasts and promises punishment for those who fail to do so. He said “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me. These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:45

Even though this man may not be doing any great work, he is still a man, inhabiting the same world as you, seeing the same sun and having the same kind of soul, having the same Lord, a partaker with you of the same mysteries (communion), Called to the same Heaven as you. His claim to that future reward is strong, because of his poverty and want of necessary food. But those who waken you with flutes and pipes in the winter season, disturb you without purpose or benefit leave from your home with many gifts. Those who carry around swallows and cover themselves with dirt and harass everyone receive a reward for their noise. But if someone comes to you, a poor man wanting only bread, there is no end of your abusive complaints and lecturing. You accuse him of idleness, jeer and reprimand him. You do not stop to consider that you yourself are idle and God give you His good gifts. Do not tell me that you are busy with work, try and convince me that anything you are doing is important. If you try and tell me that you are busy earning money, or dealing with traffic, or taking care of the things you have (or getting more) I would say to you, These things are not work. But giving money to the poor, and prayer and protecting the injured and things like this are actual work, which is why we should all be considered completely idle. And yet God has never told us “because you are idle I will not light up the sun for you, because you aren’t doing anything of real consequence I will quench the moon, paralyze the womb of the earth, restrain the lakes, the fountains, the river, blot out the atmosphere, I will withhold the annual rains” but he gives to all of us abundantly. And to those who are not merely idle bur are actively doing evil He still freely gives the benefit of these good things.

So when you see a poor man and say “It takes my breath away that this young healthy fellow who has nothing, would rather be fed without working. He must be some kind of slave and runaway and has deserted his proper master”. I tell you to speak these same words to yourself, or even better, freely allow him to speak them to you and he will speak with fuller justice. “It takes my breath away that you, being healthy are idle and practice none of the things which God has commanded, but you have run away from the commandments of your Lord, going about your life, dwelling in wickedness, in drunkenness, gluttony, theft, extortion and subverting other mens homes”. You may impute idleness on him, but I impute evil works on you, for your plotting and swearing, lying and eagerness to do all this and more acts like it, without number.

All this I do not say to suggest that idleness should be the norm, far from it. But rather I earnestly wish for everyone to be employed because sloth is the teacher of wickedness, yet I beg you, do not be unmerciful or cruel. Since Paul having spoke of this said, “If any will not work, neither let him eat” and did not stop there but added “But you, do not be weary in well doing”. But this seems to be contradictory! If he has commanded them not to eat how can he tell us to give? Paul justifies this by another commandment saying “have no company with them” and also “count them not as enemies but admonish them”. 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 He did not give these as contradictory laws, but they are quite harmonious with each other. Because if you are prompt to mercy, the poor man will soon be rid of his idleness and you of your cruelty.

“But he is a lier and makes up all kinds of excuses” you reply. Well, here again he is pitiable, because he has fallen into such distress that he has become so hardened that he has come to this. But we, so far from feeling pity for him cruelly add, “Haven’t you received charity more than once?”. So what? Because he was fed once, he will never need to eat again? Why don’t you try that for yourself? Tell your own stomach the same, “you ate yesterday and the day before, why are you hungry AGAIN?”. But while you fill your own stomach beyond measure, even to bursting, from him you turn away when he only asks for what is moderate. You aught to feel pity for him because he is forced to come to YOU every day. Surely, if nothing else moves you to pity you should pity him for this reason, because of the constraint of his poverty he is forced to seek charity. And Yet you do not feel pity for him, because being treated so poorly he still feels no shame and continues to seek, because his need was still to strong in him.

And even more, instead of showing pity you even make a show of helping him. While God has commanded you to give secretly, you stand exposing publicly the fellow who has asked you for help and make him feel even worse. Why, if you didn’t really want to give would you make it even worse, bruising that weary and wretched soul? He came to you, seeking safe harbor, looking to you for help. Why stir up waves and make the storm worse? Why do you ascribe to him wretchedness? Seriously? If he had thought that you would treat him this way would he have considered coming to you? If he actually expected this and still came, there certainly is good cause to pity him, and shudder at your own cruelty! How is it that when you see such a someone with such a pressing need, you do not treat him with gentleness and do not judge him to have an understandable reason for his hunger but instead you accuse him of impudence. And yet you yourself have often practiced greater impudence in matters far more grievous. At least his behavior has grounds for a pardon, while you brazenly go on doing things that aught to be punished. While we aught to keep all this in mind and be humble, we trample on those miserable men, adding to their pain when they seek solace. I say, if you will not give, why do you strike at them? If you will not be generous, why be insolent?

“but he will not stop begging if I act in any other way” Well then, do as that wise man commanded “Answer him peaceable words with meekness” Sirach 4:8 Certainly he is not so persistent for his own sake. No man desires to be put to shame for no reason. Whatever anyone may argue, I cannot be convinced that a man who was living in plenty would choose to beg.

Do not let anyone charm us with pleasant arguments. Even though Paul says “If any will not work, neither let him eat” 2 Thessalonians 3:10 This is directed to those who are not working, to us he says “Be not weary in well doing.” 2 Thessalonians 3:13. Even we do this in our homes, when two people are fighting with each other. We take each one apart and give them the opposite advice. God did this as well, and Moses. For to God he said “If you will forgive them their sin, forgive it; else blot me out also;” and on the contrary he commanded the Hebrews to slay one another. These things are contrary yet nevertheless they both were aimed to one end.

Again, God said to Moses (which Moses later retold to the Hebrews) “Let me alone, that I may consume the people” Exodus 32:10 but privately He gives him directions of the opposite tenor. And this, Moses being forced, revealed afterwards saying “What? Did I conceive them, that you say to me, Carry them, as a nurse would carry the sucking child in her bosom?”

This is what is commonly done in our homes, often a father, while blaming the tutor in private for being to strict saying “don’t be rough or too hard” to the youth he says the opposite, “Even if he is too hard on you, bear it gracefully”, out of these two opposites making up one wholesome result. In this way also Paul has said to the healthy man who is begging for food “If any man will not work, neither let him eat,” that he may urge them into employment: but those who can show mercy, “You, for your part, be not weary in well doing:” that he may lead them to give to the poor.

So also, when he was admonishing those who were Gentiles, in his Epistle to the Romans, so as to arrogant against the Jews, he mentions the wild olive, and he seems to be saying one thing to these, another to those. Romans 11:17

Do not let us fall into being cruel, but listen to Paul who tells us “Be not weary in well doing”. Let us listen to the Lord who says, “Give to every man that asks of you” Luke 6:30 and “Be merciful as your Father” Luke 6:36 And though He has spoken of many things, nowhere else has He used this expression, but in respect to our deeds of mercy only. For nothing so brings us to God as doing good.

“But nothing is more shameless than a poor man” someone might say, Why I pray you? Because he runs up and cries out after you? Let me point out then, how we are more shameless than this. Remember, now that it is the season of the fast how often, when your table was set in the evening and you had called out your table servant for moving rather leisurely. You upset everything, kicking, insulting, and reviling merely over a small delay. Even though you well know, that if not immediately, but in a short while you will enjoy your meal. And yet you do not call yourself impudent, even though you seem to be changed into a wild beast over nothing. But the poor man, alarmed and trembling about his greater interests (not worried about a delay, but about absolute famine is his fear), him you call audacious and shameless and impudence, and all the most disparaging names? How is this anything but extreme impudence.

But we do not think about any of this, we think such men annoying and troublesome. Since if we all considered our own doings and compared them to the poor man, we would not have thought them intolerable.

So do not be such a severe judge, Even if you were perfect (and clear of all sins), not even then would the law of God permit you to act in such a way concerning other men’s sins. And if the Pharisee failed on this account, what defense do we have? If God would not suffer those who do well to be bitter in dealing with another mans doings, then far less will He suffer we who are worse off.

Let us not be savage, cruel, without natural feeling, implacable or worse than the wild beasts. I know many who have gone so far, acting brutishly over a little annoyance, just to slight famishing persons. They say something like “I have no servant with me right now; we are far from home; there is no money-changer that I know”. Oh cruelty! Did you promise more and fulfill even less? To save yourself walking a little way, will he parish with hunger? Oh insolence! Oh pride! Why, if it was a mile to be walked should you balk? Do you not even consider that your reward is made greater? If you give a gift, you receive a reward for the gift only: when you go along yourself this is appointed to you a further recompense.

The patriarch himself we admire for this, that he ran out to the herd and snatched up the calf himself Genesis 18:7 and that when he had three hundred and eighteen servants in his house. But now some people are filled with so much pride, that they only do these things by servants and are not ashamed. “But do you require me to do these things myself?” one might say, “How then should I not seem to be arrogant”? And more than that, you are led by another kind of arrogance, being ashamed to be seen talking with a poor man.

But I am in no way totally strict about this, simply give, and do not accuse, do not smite, do not revile. For help, not hurt the one in need comes to you, mercy, not a sword. Tell me, if anyone was struck by a stone in the head, were to run up and fall at your knees, drenched in his own blood, would you really strike him with another stone and add another wound? I certainly think not, but I think that you would try to help him. Why then do you do the opposite with the poor? Don’t you realize how much power a word has, to raise someone up or to cast them down? “for a word is better than a gift” Sirach 18:16

Don’t you realize that you are thrusting a sword into yourself and receiving a terrible wound when he is rejected and silently withdraws with tears and sorrow? Certainly God had sent him to you. Think about who you are truly hurting, when you insult the poor, after God had set him on your path and commands you to give, but you, so far removed from charity, insult him at the outset.

And if you are not aware of how backwards this is, look at a worldly example and you will see what a great sin this is. If you had commanded your servant to go retrieve money of yours from another of your servants and the first came back not only empty handed but abused and downtrodden, what would you do to the servant who had done this wrong? What penalty would you levy against him after this, as if it had been you yourself who had been treated like this?

This is how we should imagine God to be as well, for certainly He sends the poor to us, and it is of his goods that we give to them (if we actually do). But, if besides not giving to them, we also insult them and send them away, consider how much lightning and thunder we deserve having behaived this way.

Duly considering all these things, let us hold our tongue, put away inhumanity and be ready at all times to give to the poor. Not just with money, but with words as well, let us be kind and put at ease those who are in need. So that we will escape the punishment for abusing the poor, and may inherit the kingdom which is for blessing and charity. By the grace of love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might forever and ever. Amen

Homily One – Gospel of Matthew

This is the first sermon given by St. John Chrystosom on the book of Matthew. I have tried to render the rather outdated language of the english translation (done in the 1800’s) into something a modern reader can easily understand while keeping the meaning of the text intact.

A quick breakdown of the contents of this message:

  • The need for the written word
  • The giving of the law vs the new covenant
  • The writing of the Gospels
  • The truth of the Gospel vs worldly philosophy
  • Problems and inconsisencies
  • The keys to understanding

There are some real pearls in this sermon that is really just a set up for the rest of his series on Matthew. The honor and reverence shown to the scripture is obvious yet nowhere is it raised to the unhealthy level you see in modern evangelical circles. He starts out saying what a shame it is that we have to rely on the written word, rather than relying on the Holy Spirit for direction. He openly discusses the humanity of the authors and the mistakes that they may have introduced. Yet he defends its testamony and holds it up as a guide to our ultimate goal, Christ our King.

If you have read Cold case Christianty you might be suprised to see the same defense of the Gospels given (only 1700 years earlier than the book by J. Warner Wallace). I know I was 😀
Also towards the end if you think that he’s harsh towards his congregatoin JUST WAIT. Dude has some serious fire to throw their way. Its also worth noting that for the first thousand years of the Church (and for the most part to this day in the eastern Church) they stood through the whole service. No wonder he had people milling about or looking uncomfortable.

Homily One – A commentary on Matthew

Original Text

It would certainly be a benefit to us if we did not require the help of the written word (i.e. the Bible), instead living a life so pure, that the grace of the Spirit would be written on our souls as if they were books themselves. But since we are so far removed from this condition let us consider at any rate, the second best option.

That the first option is better God has clearly shown in his Word and by His actions. Since Noah, Abraham and his decedents, Job and Moses he instructed not by written word, but by direct interaction, having found their minds pure. But after the entire nation of Israel had fallen into the very pit of wickedness, that is when His word was written down for their future instruction.

And you can see this is the case, not only of the saints in the Old Testament, but also of those in the New. None of the apostles were given a written word but instead He promised that He would give them the grace of the Holy Spirit who “shall bring all things to your remembrance.” And so that you will learn that this was far better, hear what he said by the Prophet: “I will make a new covenant with you, putting my laws into their mind, and in their heart I will write them,” and “they shall be all taught of God.” And Paul too, pointing out the same superiority said they had received a law “not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart”.

But over time they too ran ashore as a shipwreck, some with regard to doctrine, others in their life and manners once again necessitating that these teachings be put in the form of written word.

Now reflect on how terrible it is for us, who should be living a pure life as to not NEED the written word, yielding up our hearts as blank books to the Holy Spirit, who have lost that honor and need the written word. Yet still we fail daily to even take advantage of this easier option. Because if it is a charge against us standing in need of the written word and to not avail ourselves of the grace and gift of the Holy Spirit; imagine what greater charge we are liable for by not choosing to profit ourselves by this ready assistance. We treat what is written with neglect, as if it was not given to us for a purpose, treating it like some random book and bring down on ourselves a greater punishment.

But to save ourselves from such an event, let us pay great attention to what is written and discern how the old Law was given and in contrast the New Covenant.

So how was the Law given to the Hebrews and when and where? After the destruction of the Egyptians, in the wilderness, on Mt Sinai, with smoke and fire rising up out of the mountain, the sounds of trumpets, thunder and lightning. Moses entered up into the depths of the clouds that had descended on the mountain to receive the Law. But nothing like this happened with the reception of the new covenant. In the beginning of the day, in a house, while all were sitting together, with great quietness it all took place. The people of the past, being more unreasonable and hard to lead, had need of great signs, to be removed to the wilderness at a mountain covered in smoke, with the sounds of trumpets and the like. But those who were of a higher character, submissive to God, who had risen above the crass material imaginations of the past, the new Covenant was given. It was the lifting of punishment, the remission of sins, righteousness, sanctification, redemption, adoption, an inheritance of heaven and a relationship with the Son of God, which He came declaring to all, even to His enemies, to the perverse, to those sitting in darkness. What could ever come close to these good tidings? God on Earth, man in Heaven, all mingling together, angels joining the choirs of men, men fellowshiping with the angels and with the other powers above. One might see the long war brought to an end and reconciliation made between God and our nature, the devil brought to shame, demons fleeing, death destroyed, Paradise opened, the curse blotted out, sin put out of the way, error driven off, truth returned, the word of Godliness everywhere sown and and flourishing in its growth, the government of those above planted here on earth, the power of heaven in secure communion with us and hope abundant touching all things to come.

He has deemed this history a good tiding, for all other things are certainly meaningless. For example, greatness of power or wealth, kingdoms and honors and whatever else men tend to think are good. But the words set down by the fishermen can be legitimately and properly called good tidings: not only are they certain and immovable blessings, beyond what we would dream of yet well within our grasp and ability to use them.

We have received these gifts from Him, not by labor or sweat or suffering and fatigue, but by simply because God loves us.

Some will say, “how is it that if there were so many disciples that only two of the Apostles wrote their story and two from among their followers wrote the others?”. (One of the authors was a disciple of Paul and another of Peter, and Matthew and John. These four wrote the Gospels). My answer is that they avoided personal glory at all costs and only did what was necessary.

“Wouldn’t just one version of the Gospel be enough to tell us everything?” Of course one would have sufficed. But with four separate authors, written in different places and without collaboration, all communicated a coherent testimony as if they were one. This is a great demonstration of the truth of their message.

“But that is not the case!” it may be said, “in many places their stories do not agree”. Not at all, in fact it is evidence to their validity. If they had all agreed exactly, down to the words, our enemies would have come to think that they had all gotten together and agreed on their story because such a perfect agreement does not come about naturally. So even the small differences which seem to exist (all in unimportant areas) deliver them from all suspicion of collusion and is a clear testament to the character of the authors.

In any of these differences (mostly in regard to times or locations) that have been written there is nothing that endangers the truth of what has been said. As much as God will enable us, we will strive to point out these differences as we proceed. Keep in mind what has already been said and you will see that in the most important places, which are key to our life and underpin our doctrine, that none of these vital concepts disagree, not even a little bit.

And what are these key points? They are as follows, That God became man, that he performed miracles, that He was crucified, that He was buried, that He rose again, that He ascended, that He will judge, that He has given commandments leading to salvation, that He has brought us a law that is not contrary to the Old Testament, that He is a Son, that He is the only-begotten, that He is a true Son and is of the same substance with the Father, and many more like this. In all these points we find that the four Gospels are in full agreement.

And if among the miracles written not all are written by all, but one author mentions a story and another author mentions a different story, do not let this trouble you. If all four authors had mentioned every story it would have been overkill. Also if all four had written different stories then the proof of their agreement would be gone. Each author has included their common recollections along with things that were personal and important to them as individuals, leaving a work that we are able to verify as true.

Luke also tells us the reason he wrote his Gospel: “so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been told”, that is, to have a persistent reminder so that you will be certain of the truth.

As for John however, he has remained silent about his motivation, yet as the traditional story handed down from the beginning of the church, even from the Church Fathers he most certainly did write with a purpose. For as the three prior Gospels focused on the account of the dispensation, the doctrine of the Godhead was nearly ignored. John, moved by Christ finally sat down and composed his Gospel. This is clear from both history itself and from reading his work. He does not simply begin like the other three from the start of a simple narrative, but from a higher level, with the end clearly in sight from the beginning. All throughout his Gospel you can see the elevated thought and speech that clearly denotes his lofty goal.

Matthew it is said wrote his Gospel in response to the believers among the Jews who begged him to leave something in writing of the things he had spoken to them and so he did. Mark also (who was in Egypt) is said to have responded to his disciples in the same way.

This is why, when writing his Gospel for the Jews, Matthew strives to emphasize that Christ was descended from Abraham and David. Yet Luke who wrote his Gospel for a more general audience goes all the way back to Adam (showing that he was of common decent to all mankind). One begins with his genealogy because it was greatly soothing to the Jew that Christ was the offspring of their forefathers; the other author begins his story where you would (at the beginning) and then proceeds to a genealogy.

But the harmony between them we can establish, both by the whole world, who has received these Gospels in their entirety and by the very enemies of the truth who have not. Many sects have sprung up since the Gospels were first written, holding options opposed to the Gospels. Some have taken these Gospels in their whole as they should, yet other others pick and choose what they will believe, ignoring the parts that contradict their novel interpretations. It is clear when they do this, their own selections betray them and makes it clear. For example, if you were to take one part of an animal (it’s rib for example), even in that one little part you will find everything that makes up the whole creature, nerves, blood, veins, bone, etc. It is the same with the Scriptures, every part is connected with a clear theme appearing. If the Scriptures were discordant this would not be the case. Jesus said “for every kingdom divided against itself shall not stand”, and most certainly the Scriptures have stood the test of time.

Now, where each author was living at the time they wrote their Gospel it is not right for us to affirm with any certainty. But that they are harmonized throughout their entirety and not opposed to each other we will endeavor to prove.

There is a question that I would like to explore, why were these differing accounts believed? How did they come to survive and spread, being admired and celebrated everywhere in the world? There were many witnesses of what was being written and also many enemies. They did not write all this in one corner of the world and bury it, but wrote and sent it everywhere, by land and sea they witnessed to everyone. All of their writings were read in the presence of enemies (even as they are now) and none of what was said offended anyone. This is natural because it was by divine power that made it to prosper with all men.

If this was not true, how could the tax collector, the fishermen and the unlearned have attained to such artistry? There are things that have never before been imagined, not even in a dream that are published (with certainty) and made convincing by these simple men. Not only are these few convinced, but even after they have passed away people are swayed by their words. Not just a few, or twenty or a hundred, not a thousand or ten thousand, but to whole cities, nations and peoples, to the Greeks and barbarians, both inhabited lands and desert. All of this written concerning things far beyond our human nature and things of this world. Their discourse is concerning the things of heaven, a principle of life unlike what comes naturally to us. A way of life for the wealthy and poor, free and slave, life and death our world and it’s government, all changed by it’s power.

This is unlike the writings of Plato, who composed that ridiculous Republic, or Zeno or anyone else who has devised such a government or framed laws to live by. It seems plain to me, considering all these worldly works, that some evil spirit, some cruel demon at war with our race, an enemy of modesty and good order, seeking to overturn all things has made its voice to be heard in their soul. Take for example when they gave up their women to anyone, stripping virgins naked in the gymnasium, bringing them into the gaze of men. Or when they establish secret marriages, mingling all things together and confusing decency, overturning the limits of nature, what else can be said about them? That these sayings are all inventions of devils and contrary to nature even nature herself would testify. They invent these sayings not being persecuted, not in danger, not fighting at all, but in all security and freedom. But these doctrines of the fishermen, chased as they were, scourged and in jeopardy, the learned and unlearned, both bond and free, kings and citizen, have received and written happily.

You cannot argue that it was because these things were simple or meaningless, that they were happily accepted by all manor of man. Rather, these doctrines are far higher than anything else. For the doctrine of chastity, voluntary poverty, fasting and all else they taught are higher than what any human imagination could create.

But these doctrines do not only exterminate lust, they forbid not only the act itself, but mearly an unchaste look. Insulting language, disorderly laughter and dress, lifestyle and noise, they carry on their instruction even to the smallest of things. They have filled the whole world with the seeds of chastity, growing up even to God, touching the things of heaven. They persuade men to be wise with knowledge that no one in the past has ever been able to conceive in their mind. How could they? The ones who made for gods images of beasts, of monsters that crawl on the earth and of other things even more grotesque.

And even so, these doctrines were both accepted and believed, flourishing every day and increasing; but the others have passed away and perish, having disappeared like a spiders web in the wind.

This is quite natural, for what could be more ridiculous than that “republic” which I have mentioned, where the author has spent countless lines in order to show his version of justice and spent all his energy to produce something so indistinct? This work, even if there was anything profitable in it, is essentially useless for guiding a mans life. If the farmer and the smith, the builder and the sailor and everyone who subsists by the labor of his hands is to leave his trade and honest toil and spend so many years in order to learn what justice is, he will be destroyed by hunger and perish because of this “justice”. Nothing will have been learn that is of use and his life will come to an end by a cruel death.

Our lessons however are not like that, rather Christ has taught what is just, good, expedient, encompassing all virtue in general in plain and concise words. Christ told us “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets”, that is to say we should love God and love the people around us. Another time he tells us, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets”

These things are simple, even for the common man or a child, they are simple to comprehend and easy to learn. For the truth is like this and the results bear witness to this fact. This way everyone can know what they are supposed to do, not only in knowledge but by action also. Here you will see true wisdom abounding, choirs of angels shining forth in a human body and the common wealth of Heaven manifest here on earth. A common wealth the fishermen wrote for all of us, not with commands to be obeyed only from childhood, like the others, or a law that in order to be virtuous a man must reach a certain age, but addressing their discourse to every age of man. For the others lessons are like children’s toys, but ours are the true reality of this world.

As a home for this common wealth they have assigned Heaven and God they have brought in as the creator and as a lawgiver of the statutes for this land as was their duty. And the rewards in this common wealth are not leaves of bay nor olive (as in the games) or an allowance of meat in the public hall or statues of brass, these are cold and common things. Our reward is a life that has no end, to become the children of God, to join the angels choir and to stand by the royal throne, to always be with Christ. The popular occupants of this common wealth are tax collectors, fishermen and tent makers. Not people who have lived short lives (for all our lives are short) but all who are living forever. Thus even after their death they may possibly do the greatest good to the governed.

This republic is not at war with men but with the devils and those unseen powers. The captain of this land is no mere man, nor even an angel but God Himself. And the armor of these warriors suits the nature of the warfare for it is not formed of leather and steel but of truth, righteousness, faith and all true love of wisdom.

Since the republic we have been talking about is both the subject of these Gospels written let us carefully investigate Matthew who wrote plainly on this subject. All the things he had to say about this were not his own, but Christ’s, who made the laws of this land. Let us pay great attention so that we will be able to enroll in it’s citizenry and of shining forth among those who have already become citizens there and are awaiting those incorruptible crowns. To many this discourse may seem easy while the prophetic writings are difficult. But this is the view of men who do not understand the depth of the contents of this book. Consequently I ask you to follow diligently so that you can wade into the ocean of things written, with Christ for our guide at this our beginning.

So in order to make this easier to understand I would ask you to read ahead the portion of scripture that we will be studying. This will prepare the way for your understanding (as was the case of the eunuch by the roadside) and so will greatly facilitate our task.

From the beginning the questions are many and often. For instance right at the beginning of the Gospel, many issues can be raised one after the other. First how the genealogy of Joseph (who was NOT the father of Christ) is traced. Second how can it be shown that He is descended from David while the forefathers of Mary (who bore Him) are not known for the Virgin’s genealogy is not traced? Third, why is Joseph’s genealogy traced when he had nothing to do with the Birth, while the Virgin His very mother, does not have her decent shown?

Along with these things, it is also worth noticing that when tracing the genealogy through the men he has mentioned women also. While he determined to do this he did not mention all of the women, but passed over the more prominent such as Sara, Rebecca and many like them. He has highlighted only the ones that are famous for some bad thing, for example if any of them was a harlot or an adulteress or a mother by unlawful marriage or a stranger or barbarian. You can see he mentioned the wife of Uriah, and of Thamar and Rahab and Ruth. Among these women was one who was not a Hebrew, one who was a harlot, another defiled by her near kinsman (and not even by marriage but by illicit intercourse as she pretended to be a harlot). Concerning the wife of Uriah no one is ignorant because of the notoriety of the crime committed. And yet the evangelist has passed by all the rest (more reputable) and included these alone. If any women were to be mentioned certainly he should mention all of them, but if only some, then ones known for their virtue and not some evil deed.

So you can see how much care is required right away from the very beginning and this is just a listing of names which aught to be a simple thing.

Another thing worth mentioning is that he has committed three kings. And while they may have been known for being ungodly, he included the women (who certainly were not spotless) so why would he ignore royalty?

And another question, why after listing fourteen generations he has not maintained the number in the third section?

Also why Luke has made mention of other names, many of them the same (as Matthew’s list) but also many more are listed, while Matthew has both fewer listed with more differences though he also ended with Joseph (as did Luke). Additionally how is it that Elizabeth (who was of the Levetical tribe), was kinswoman to Mary?

So as not to overwhelm our memory by stringing too many things together let us stop here before moving forward. It is enough for now that we have been thoroughly roused by learning these questions alone. But if you truly desire to learn the answers also this will depend on you before we go on. If I see that you are alert and longing to learn I will strive to add the answers also. But if you are yawning and not paying attention I will leave these hidden in obedience to a divine law. Christ said “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces”

But who is it that tramples them under foot? He who does not account these things precious and venerable. And who (you might ask) is so wretched that he would not esteem these things precious and more venerable than all? The same one who would not spend as much time learning these things as spending time watching the harlots in the theaters of Satan. The multitudes spend their whole day there, and give up many of their families concerns for the sake of this reprehensible pastime. They perfectly remember everything they have heard even though it is to the injury of their own souls that they retain it. But here, where God is speaking to them, they can not stand to sit even a little while.

On this account let me warn you, we have nothing in common with Heaven, but our citizenship goes no further than mere words. And yet because of this God has threatened even hell, not so that he can throw us in, but to persuade us to flee from this grievous tyranny. And yet we do the opposite and run each day the way that leads to hell, while God is commanding us not only to hear but also to do what he has said. We do not obey even enough to sit and listen.

I ask you, how will be be able to do what is commanded and put our hand to these works, if we cannot even endure to stand awhile and hear the words that relate these commands to us, but are impatient and restless about the amount of time we are here listening even though it is an exceedingly short time?

And besides, in regards to trivial matters, if we see someone that has not attended one of these lesser functions, we call what they have done an insult. But do we consider that we are provoking God, if, while he is speaking to us of such venerable things we despise what is said and look to something else?

Why do we listen, when someone who has traveled over much country, tells us with detail the number of theaters and the status of the cities and their plans, of their harbors and markets but we ourselves do not know even how far we are from the city that is in Heaven. For certainly we would have worked to shorten the space if we knew the distance. That city is farther from us than the earth from the heavens if we are negligent. Yet if we are diligent and do our best even in an instant we will come to the gates of that city. For not by physical location, but by moral dispensation are these distances defined.

But you know the current affairs of this world and its history, you can list the rulers of the games and who won them, the leaders of armies, the heads of state and their successors, and all matters that are of no concern to you. But the details of that heavenly city you cannot know, not even in a dream. The laws of this city you will not endure to hear or try to obey them, even when others try to tell you about them. How then do you expect to obtain the blessings that are promised when you do not even pay attention to what is said?

But even if you have never tried before, at any rate, let us do this now. For certainly we are on the point of entering into a city of gold (if God permit), more precious than any earthly treasure.

So, let us mark out the foundations of this city, her gates consisting of sapphires and pearls; indeed in Matthew we have an excellent guide. For through this gate we will now enter in but much diligence is required of us. For if He should see anyone not being attentive He will cast him out of the city.

For this city is most kingly and glorious; not like our earthly cities, divided into markets and royal courts. For there all is the court of the King. Open the gates of your mind, open your ears and with great trembling (here, about to set foot on the threshold of this city) let us worship the King that rules.

For now we find the gates closed; but when we see them thrown open (for this is the solution to all of the difficulties we have mentioned) we will see the great splendor within. For in this city, leading you with the eyes of the Spirit, is one who offers to show you all, the Tax Collector. This tax collector will show where the King sits, who of his hosts stand by Him, where the angels and archangels are, what place is set apart for the new citizens of this city, what kind of path leads there, what they will recieve, who first were citizens there and who came after them and who will follow.

Let us enter in quietly, without noise or disturbance, but with a mystical silence.

It is like a theater, when a great silence has fallen to allow the letters of the king to be read, much more in this heavenly city must all be composed and stand with soul and ear erect. It is no earthly masters words being read but the Lord of the angels, which we are about to read.

If we compose ourselves this way, the grace of the Holy Spirit will lead us in great perfection and we will arrive at the royal throne and accomplish all good things by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might, together with the Father and the Holy Ghost, now and always, even for ever and ever Amen.