Homilies on Genesis 18–45 (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 82)

Homilies on Genesis 18–45 (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 82)

Translated by ROBERT C. HILL
Copyright Date: 1990
Pages: 493
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  • Book Info
    Homilies on Genesis 18–45 (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 82)
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    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1182-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. HOMILY 18
    (pp. 3-20)

    Did [148] you see yesterday the loving kindness of the Judge? Did you see the examination conducted in a spirit of great goodness? Did you see the difference in the kinds of punishment—how the one who caused their downfall by means of deceit was punished, on the one hand, and how, on the other hand, the punishment inflicted on the fallen demonstrates God’s great love? Did you see of how much benefit this proved to be the occasion for us, to be present in court and see how the examination proceeded? After all, they realized, Adam and Eve both,...

  5. HOMILY 19
    (pp. 21-34)

    Incurable [158] wounds respond neither to the harshest of remedies nor to those with benign properties.² Just so with the soul: once it falls into bondage and surrenders itself to any sin whatever, it has no interest in recognizing what is for its own good. Even if someone makes a fuss about it over and over again, it is all to no avail; instead, as though with deaf ears it gains no benefit from correction—not because it lacks the ability but because it lacks the will. Not that things are exactly the same in the case of the will...

  6. HOMILY 20
    (pp. 35-49)

    Come [166] now, let us once more today take up the thread of the reading and apply to you the teaching from this passage, and let us deliver the customary discourse to you from the book of blessed Moses—or, rather, from the sayings of the Spirit which the divine grace has taught us through the mouth of Moses.² But, so that the sermon may be clearer to you, it behooves your good selves to recall what has been said already and where we concluded our instruction so that today we may be able to resume it at that point...

  7. HOMILY 21
    (pp. 50-67)

    Wonderful [175] and beyond telling, dearly beloved, is the treasure in the words read just now. I realize that for their part many people take one look at a list of names, pay attention only to the surface of the text, and judge that the words contain nothing more than simply a list of names. For my part, on the contrary, I beg you all not to pass heedlessly by the contents of Holy Scripture. I mean, there is nothing in the writings at this point which does not contain a great wealth of thought; after all, since the blessed...

  8. HOMILY 22
    (pp. 68-86)

    The [185] leftovers of yesterday’s meal I would like to put before you today—but don’t get upset, dearly beloved, at the mention of leftovers: while in the case of material viands after a day or two they frequently lose their freshness and are useless as nourishment; in the case of a spiritual meal there is no cause for anything like that. On the contrary, no matter how much time elapses, it gives all the more evidence of grace and is found to be fresher and more potent. So come now, let us put into effect the promise we made...

  9. HOMILY 23
    (pp. 87-103)

    Do [196] you see in what has been said already the extent of God’s loving kindness and the surpassing degree of his longsuffering? Do you see the extremity of the wickedness of the human beings of that time? Have you learnt in the midst of this kind of populace how much virtue the good man had, and that he was quite unaffected either by their universal decline into wickedness or the fact that he alone stood out from the crowd of them and traveled in the opposite direction? In other words, he was like a skillful pilot, controlling the rudder...

  10. HOMILY 24
    (pp. 104-123)

    The [206] benefit that came to us from the good man Noe’s genealogy yesterday was not by chance: we recognized the unusual style of a genealogy, and we saw the good man’s praise sung not for the celebrity of his forebears but for the virtue of his own behavior, because of which he also received such a wonderful testimony from Sacred Scripture. “Noe was a just person,” it said, remember; “he was faultless by comparison with his contemporaries. Noe pleased God.”² We concentrated all yesterday’s instruction, you recall, on those brief words. It is, after all, the nature of the...

  11. HOMILY 25
    (pp. 124-143)

    I want [218] once more to touch on the theme I broached to you, brethren, yesterday and set before you again the story of the good man Noe. You see, the good man’s wealth of virtue was immense, and it is our duty to study it in detail as far as we possibly can and to draw great benefit from it for you. For your part, strain your attention, I beg you, so that none of the ideas contained there may escape you. It is necessary firstly, however, to remind your good selves to what point yesterday’s teaching brought us...

  12. HOMILY 26
    (pp. 144-161)

    Great [229] and indescribable beyond all telling is the loving kindness of God revealed in the verses read just now, along with the extraordinary degree of his goodness, which he manifests not only in regard to this rational being—namely, the human being—but also in regard to the species of irrational beings. I mean, being in fact Creator of them all he extends his characteristic goodness to everything created by him, showing us through everything how much care he takes of the human race and the fact that he undertook everything from the beginning and the very outset for...

  13. HOMILY 27
    (pp. 162-182)

    Did you notice [239] yesterday the loving Lord’s goodness, how he brought the good man out of the ark, freeing him from life there and releasing him from that strange and distressing prison, and bestowed on him the reward for his endurance in the words, “‘Increase and multiply.’”² Today let us learn about Noe’s gratitude and his thankful soul, through which once more he invited further and greater favor towards him from God. You see, this is what God is like: whenever he sees gratitude in response to initial gifts, [240] he bestows in abundance further gifts from himself. Accordingly...

  14. HOMILY 28
    (pp. 183-197)

    Yesterday [252] i brought to your attention the commendation accorded Noe by the Lord after he had built an altar following his disembarkation from the ark, and was offering sacrifices of thanksgiving and had demonstrated his gratitude. But we were unable to proceed further and deal completely with the reading by showing the loving God’s considerateness and care displayed in regard to the good man. I mean, since our sermon had been prolonged to great length, we concluded it rapidly lest your memory be overwhelmed by the plethora of words and the things yet unspoken be impaired by what has...

  15. HOMILY 29
    (pp. 198-219)

    By now [260] we have reached the final stage of our presentation dealing with the just man. Hence, I beseech you, summon up your attention and heed my words precisely. From today’s reading, you see, it is possible to reap benefits that are not small or accidental: what happened to people of former ages proves to be a subject of the greatest instruction for us, provided we are ready to be alert. This, I mean, is the reason that a record has been kept of their sins, that we may shun the latter and emulate the former—and not only...

  16. HOMILY 30
    (pp. 220-236)

    Lo, [273] at long last we have reached the end of the holy season of Lent, we have completed the voyage of fasting and now, thanks to God’s grace, we have put into port. Don’t become careless on that account, however; instead, let that be an occasion for our giving evidence of so much the greater enthusiasm and vigilance. Navigators, too, when they are on the point of entering port after crossing countless seas, with full sails and cargo brought out of the hold, then most of all exercise great concern and anxiety lest the ship crash on to some...

  17. HOMILY 31
    (pp. 237-253)

    Thank [282] you very much both for receiving kindly [283] my words about prayer yesterday and for assembling with such enthusiasm for listening. This it is, you see, that renders us, too, more eager and prompts us to spread before you in more generous measure this spiritual banquet. Likewise in the case of a farmer, when he sees the soil and the seeds sprouting a crop, he doesn’t stop exerting himself daily by way of providing the necessary attention and being vigilant day and night in case anything should undermine his efforts. Well, in just the same way I too...

  18. HOMILY 32
    (pp. 254-275)

    Great [292] and beyond all telling, dearly beloved, is the treasure in the words read just now, and deserving of heightened attention and a mind active and alert so that we may pass over nothing of the riches hidden in these brief phrases. You see, the reason that the loving God did not allow all the contents of the Scriptures to yield themselves spontaneously clear and obvious at first glance with scant reading was that he might disturb our sloth and we might show signs of alertness [293] and thus reap the benefit of them. It normally happens, after all,...

  19. HOMILY 33
    (pp. 276-288)

    Seeing [305] your gathering here today with such enthusiasm and your interest in listening to me, I want to discharge the debt I owe your good selves. I am aware that you for your part have possibly forgotten everything on account of the lapse of many days in the meantime and the fact that we have directed our sermon to other themes. The arrival of the sacred festival interrupted our series: it was not appropriate for us while celebrating the Lord’s Cross to have instruction on other matters; instead, each time we felt the need to lay before you a...

  20. HOMILY 34
    (pp. 289-303)

    Yesterday, [312] dearly beloved, you learnt of the patriarch’s extraordinary humility, you saw the remarkable degree [313] of his restraint. It was no slight thing for the old man, who had performed so many good deeds and enjoyed so much favor from the Lord of all, to display towards the younger man, his nephew, such equality of esteem as to cede to him pride of place and take second best, and put up with everything for the sake of heading off conflict and eliminating the grounds of rivalry. Let us all be anxious to emulate this conduct, never threatening our...

  21. HOMILY 35
    (pp. 304-323)

    The reading [321] of the holy scriptures, dearly beloved, is a great blessing. This it is that arouses the soul to an appreciation of wisdom, this directs the mind to heaven, this brings the man to a thankful attitude, this prevents our getting excited over any earthly reality, this brings our thinking to rest in the world beyond and ourselves to do everything with a view to reward from the Lord and to deal with the trials of virtue with great readiness. From this source, you see, you can gain a precise understanding of the providence of God’s prompt retribution,...

  22. HOMILY 36
    (pp. 324-339)

    The [332] virtue of the just resembles a treasure that contains great wealth beyond all telling. Just as any person who managed to take from that treasure even a slight part would gain for himself considerable prosperity, exactly the same you will find happening also in the case of the patriarch. Notice, in fact, how almost every day we propose to you some instruction from the narrative about him, providing you with sustenance in generous measure without ever being able to deal adequately with the slightest part of his good deeds even today—such is the abundance of his virtue....

  23. HOMILY 37
    (pp. 340-354)

    Wonderful is [341] the power of Sacred Scripture, and immense the wealth of ideas concealed in its expressions. Hence it behooves us to attend precisely and give ourselves to close study so as to reap the lavish benefits it offers. You see, the reason Christ himself gave this command, “Search the Scriptures,”² was that, far from idly listening to the mere reading, we should rather descend to its very depths and be in a position to grasp the true sense of Scripture. This, after all, is the way with Scripture: in a few words it is often possible to find...

  24. HOMILY 38
    (pp. 355-373)

    Today’s [350] reading as well bids our tongue follow the theme of the patriarch. Don’t be surprised if after giving an exposition of this story on so many days we haven’t yet been able to bring it to a close. You see, there is great richness in the just man’s virtue, and the extent of his good deeds taxes every human tongue. What human being, after all, could worthily commend the man whom God rewarded and eulogized from on high? Still, even if we fall far short of doing him justice, at least we have dealt with him to the...

  25. HOMILY 39
    (pp. 374-388)

    Do you see, [360] dearly beloved, how there is nothing idle in the contents of Sacred Scripture? Did you notice yesterday how in drawing to your attention the story of Hagar and her return home we gained considerable advantage from the exercise? We came to know, you recall, the patriarch’s great restraint, the extraordinary degree of his self-control, the regard he showed for Sarah out of the value he placed on concord with her above all other things. We saw God’s loving kindness beyond all telling, how on account of his regard for the good man he not only brought...

  26. HOMILY 40
    (pp. 389-399)

    Come [368] now, let us spread before you the leftovers from yesterday’s table and let us desire the goal of today’s sermon—or, rather, the blessing and promise that the God of all made to the patriarch. But when you hear “table leftovers,” don’t form an impression of anything material; you see, the leftovers from food are not the same as spiritual [369] leftovers: while the former don’t provide eaters with the same enjoyment once they have gone stale, but if left a day or two become completely useless, these other leftovers, on the contrary, provide equal benefit even if...

  27. HOMILY 41
    (pp. 400-417)

    Today [374] I shrink back in distaste from unfolding the teaching. I mean, I have in mind the fact that day in day out we are dinning in the message, exhorting you, laying before you this spiritual meal, while many of those who attend here and share in this spiritual teaching and awesome [375] repast waste their time at the races² and have profited nothing from our zeal. Instead, as though slaves to habit, at a mere nod from the devil they rush off in a trance to those illicit spectacles and fall willingly into the evil demon’s snares, neither...

  28. HOMILY 42
    (pp. 418-435)

    From [385] what was read yesterday, dearly beloved, we learnt the extraordinary degree of the just man’s hospitality. Today, too, let us move to what follows and come to discover the patriarch’s love and compassion. You see, this good man possessed each of the virtues to an extraordinary degree: he was not only loving, hospitable and compassionate, but he gave evidence as well of all the other virtues in generous measure. If there is need for him to display endurance, you will find him reaching the very height of that virtue; if humility, you will see him in turn, far...

  29. HOMILY 43
    (pp. 436-454)

    As a flowery [395] meadow displays in itself different flowers of many hues, so Sacred Scripture displays to us the virtues of good people, not so that we may enjoy only for a short time their fragrance as with the flowers, but for us to gain from them a benefit that is lasting. You see, in the former case we only picked flowers by hand, and after a short time they faded and lost their particular beauty. But in the present case it is different; instead, when we come by the virtues of good people through hearing and lay them...

  30. HOMILY 44
    (pp. 455-468)

    Yesterday’s [405] theme of the Samaritan woman gave us adequate [406] instruction in the Lord’s ineffable longsuffering and surpassing concern for her, as well as her gratitude.² You saw how she came to draw material water but in fact drew from divine streams coming from an invisible spring, and thus went off home, fulfilling the word of the Lord, “The water that I shall give will become a spring of water in him gushing forth to life everlasting.”³ Once she had drunk her fill of that divine and spiritual spring, remember, she did not keep the waters to herself but...

  31. HOMILY 45
    (pp. 469-483)

    I am pleased [413] to see you hurrying to listen and receiving our instruction with great relish. For this reason I for my part make it my concern to set before you this meager table, the little I have to offer, with greater enthusiasm each day. [414] Your keen appetite disguises the meager quality of the meal and makes the scraps appear lavish. You can observe this in the case of material food, too: when someone has guests that are already satiated, even if food of great variety and large amount is offered, the condition of the guests undercuts the...