Homilies on Luke

Homilies on Luke

Translated by JOSEPH T. LIENHARD
Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 286
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    Homilies on Luke
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    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1194-7
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xl)

    Origen is the most important theologian of the Church before Nicaea, and one of the most influential Christian writers of all time. Unlike Justin Martyr, Origen did not come to Christianity after a long search through the philosophical schools; he was born into a Christian family. Unlike Irenaeus of Lyons, Origen did not devote his main energies to refuting error, but to explaining God’s Word. Unlike Clement of Alexandria—who may have been his teacher—Origen saw no point in trying to make Christianity more palatable to the sophisticated and the curious; a determined ascetic, he expected his hearers to...

  6. Homilies on Luke
      (pp. 3-4)
    • HOMILY 1. Luke 1.1–4
      (pp. 5-9)

      In the past, many claimed to prophesy among the Jewish people. Some were false prophets; among these was Hananiah, son of Azzur.¹ Others were true prophets. The people, like “well-trained money-changers,”² had the gift of the discernment of spirits. Through this gift they accepted some as prophets and rejected others. Now, in the New Testament also, “many have tried” to write gospels, but not all have found acceptance.³ You should know that not only four Gospels, but very many, were composed. The Gospels we have were chosen from among these gospels and passed on to the churches. We can know...

    • HOMILY 2. Luke 1.6
      (pp. 10-13)

      People who want to offer an excuse for their sins claim that no one is without sin. They appeal to the testimony of the Book of Job, where Scripture says, “No one is clean from filth, not even if his life upon the earth has been only one day long. His months can be numbered.”¹ But they only mouth the words of this verse and are wholly ignorant of its meaning. We shall answer them briefly. “To be without sin” has two meanings in Scripture. One is never to have sinned at all; the other is to have ceased sinning....

    • HOMILY 3. Luke 1.11
      (pp. 14-16)

      Of themselves, beings that are corporeal and lack sensation do nothing to be seen by another. The observer’s eye is simply directed toward them. Whenever the observer directs his gaze and his regard at them, he sees them, whether the objects will it or not. What can a man or any other object that is enclosed in a solid body do to avoid being seen, when they are in fact there? In contrast, things that are from above and divine are not seen, even when they are there, unless they themselves will it. It lies within their will to be...

    • HOMILY 4. Luke 1.13–17
      (pp. 17-19)

      When zechariah saw the angel, he was terrified. If the human gaze beholds a strange form, the mind is agitated and the soul is unsettled. The angel understands that human nature reacts in this way, so he first settles Zechariah’s agitation and says, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah.”¹ He revives the trembling man and gladdens him by announcing his news.² He says, “Your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear a son. You shall name him John. He will bring you joy and elation.”³ When a just man is born into the world and enters the course of...

    • HOMILY 5. Luke 1.22
      (pp. 20-22)

      When the priest Zechariah offers incense in the temple, he is condemned to silence and cannot speak. Or better, he speaks only with gestures. He remains mute until the birth of his son John. What does this mean? Zechariah’s silence is the silence of prophets in the people of Israel.¹ God no longer speaks to them. His “Word, which was with the Father from the beginning, and was God,”² has passed over to us. For us Christ is not silent; for the Jews he is silent even to this day. Therefore, Zechariah the prophet was also silent. His words make...

    • HOMILY 6. Luke 1.24–32
      (pp. 23-27)

      When elizabeth conceived, “she kept herself hidden for five months. She said, ‘The Lord did this for me when he showed concern for me and took away the reason people reproach me.’ ”¹ I ask why she avoided public notice after she realized that she was pregnant.² Unless I am mistaken, the reason is this. Even those who are joined in marriage do not consider every season free for intercourse. At times they abstain from the use of marriage. If the husband and wife are both aged, it is a disgraceful thing for them to yield to lust and turn...

    • HOMILY 7. Luke 1.39–45
      (pp. 28-32)

      Better men go to weaker men to give them some advantage by their visits.¹ Thus the Savior came to John to sanctify John’s baptism.² And as soon as Mary heard the angel announce that she would conceive the Savior and that her relative Elizabeth had a child in her womb, “she rose up in haste and went into the mountain country, and entered Elizabeth’s house.”³ Jesus was in her womb, and he hastened to sanctify John, who was still in his own mother’s womb. That is, before Mary came and greeted Elizabeth, the infant did not rejoice in her womb....

    • HOMILY 8. Luke 1.46–51
      (pp. 33-36)

      Elizabeth prophesies before John; before the birth of the Lord and Savior, Mary prophesies. Sin began from the woman and then spread to the man. In the same way, salvation had its first beginnings from women.¹ Thus the rest of women can also lay aside the weakness of their sex and imitate as closely as possible the lives and conduct of these holy women whom the Gospel now describes. Let us consider the Virgin’s prophecy. She says, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”² Two subjects, “soul” and “spirit,” carry out a double...

    • HOMILY 9. Luke 1.56–64
      (pp. 37-39)

      Our explanation both of what is said in Scripture and of the deeds recorded there should be worthy of the Holy Spirit and of faith in Christ, that faith to which we believers are called. Hence, we should now ask why Mary went to Elizabeth after she conceived and “remained with her for three months.”¹ We should also ask why Luke, who was writing a narrative of the Gospel,² also inserted the words, “She remained with her for three months and afterwards returned to her home.”³ Surely there ought to be some explanation; and, if the Lord opens our hearts,...

    • HOMILY 10. Luke 1.67–76
      (pp. 40-43)

      Filled with the Holy Spirit, Zechariah utters two general prophecies: the first about Christ, the second about John. This is clearly shown by his words. He speaks of the Savior as if he were already present and active in the world; then he speaks of John. “Filled with the Holy Spirit, he prophesied and said, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, because he visited his people and worked their redemption.’ ”¹ For, when God visited and willed to redeem his people, “Mary remained for three months”² with Elizabeth after the angel had spoken to her. By some ineffable...

    • HOMILY 11. Luke 1.80–2.2
      (pp. 44-47)

      In the holy scriptures, something is said to “grow” in two senses. One sense is corporeal, that is, when the human will contributes nothing. The other sense is spiritual, that is, when human effort is the cause of the growth. The evangelist now speaks of this latter sense, that is, the spiritual one—which we laid out second—when he says, “But the boy grew and was strengthened in spirit.”¹ What it means follows: “He grew in spirit.” His spirit did not remain in the same condition in which it had begun, but always kept growing in him. In each...

    • HOMILY 12. Luke 2.8–11
      (pp. 48-51)

      My lord jesus¹ has been born, and an angel has come down from heaven to announce his birth. Let us see whom the angel sought out to announce his coming. He did not go to Jerusalem. He did not seek out Scribes and Pharisees. He did not enter a synagogue of the Jews. Instead, he found “shepherds in the fields keeping watch over their flock”² and said to them, “Today a Savior is born for you, who is Christ the Lord.”³

      2.Do you think that the words of the Scriptures signify nothing else, nothing more divine, but only say this,...

    • HOMILY 13. Luke 2.13–16
      (pp. 52-55)

      Our lord and Savior is born in Bethlehem. And a “great number of the heavenly army”¹ praises God and says, “Glory to God on high, and peace on earth among men of good will.”² This “great number of the heavenly army” speaks thus because they had already failed to provide assistance to men. They realized they could not fulfill the task that had been entrusted to them without him who could truly save and who could also help the governing angels themselves, so that men could be saved. The Gospel records³ that certain men were ploughing the sea with oars...

    • HOMILY 14. Luke 2.21–24
      (pp. 56-61)

      When christ died, “he died to sin”¹—not that he himself sinned; “for he did not commit sin, and treachery was not found in his mouth.”² He died so that, once he had died to sins, we who were dead might no longer live to sin and vices. Hence Scripture says, “If we have died with him, we shall also live with him.”³ So, when he died, we died with him, and, when he rose, we rose with him. So too we were circumcised along with him. After the circumcision, we were cleansed in a solemn purification. Hence, we have...

    • HOMILY 15. Luke 2.25–29
      (pp. 62-64)

      We must seek an explanation worthy of God’s purpose as to why, as is written in the Gospel, “Simeon, a holy man and one pleasing to God, awaiting the consolation of Israel, received an answer from the Holy Spirit that he would not perish in death before he saw the Lord’s Anointed.”¹ What did he gain from seeing Christ? Did he have only this promised to him, that he would see him, and derive no profit from seeing him? Or is some gift worthy of God concealed here, a gift that the blessed Simeon both merited and received? “The woman...

    • HOMILY 16. Luke 2.33–34
      (pp. 65-69)

      The gospel says, “And his father and mother were astonished at these things that were being said about him.”¹ Let us gather into one those things that were said and written about Jesus at his birth. Then we shall be able to know the single points, each of which merits our astonishment. Wherefore, both his father—for Joseph has also been called this because he was his foster-father—and his mother were astonished at all that was being said about him. What are these things that had been reported about the infant Jesus? “There were shepherds in that region, who...

    • HOMILY 17. Luke 2.33–38
      (pp. 70-75)

      It is luke who wrote, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. For this reason, what will be born is holy. He will be called the Son of God.”¹ He clearly handed down to us that Jesus was the son of a virgin, and was not conceived by human seed. But Luke has also attested that Joseph was his father when he said, “And his father and mother were astonished by the things that were being said about him.”² Therefore, what reason was there that Luke should call him a...

    • HOMILY 18. Luke 2.40–49
      (pp. 76-79)

      Jesus my lord has been born. His parents have gone up to Jerusalem to fulfill what was commanded in the law. They went to offer “a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons”¹ for him. Simeon held him in his arms, as was read earlier. He prophesied about him those things that the narrative relates. After everything was accomplished in the traditional way, his parents returned. How old was Jesus then? Certainly he was still but a small child. Yet “he grew and was strengthened, and he was filled with wisdom” and grace.² He had not yet completed the forty...

    • HOMILY 19. Luke 2.40–46
      (pp. 80-83)

      Some who appear to believe the Sacred Scriptures deny the Savior’s divinity for the sake—as they think—of the glory of Almighty God.¹ Hence, it seems right to me that they should be instructed by the authority of those very Scriptures. They should learn that a divine being came into a human body—and not only into a human body, but also into a human soul. Yet, if we pay careful attention to the meaning of Scripture, we realize that his soul had something more than the souls of other men. Every human soul, before it turns to virtue,...

    • HOMILY 20. Luke 2.49–51
      (pp. 84-87)

      Mary and Joseph kept seeking Jesus “among the relatives”¹ and did not find him. They looked “in the crowd”² and could not find him. They looked “in the temple”³—and not only “in the temple,” but amid the teachers—and they find him “in the midst of the teachers.”⁴ Wherever there are teachers, Jesus is found “in their midst,” provided that the teacher sits “in the temple” and never goes out of it. Jesus benefited his teachers, and as he spoke in their midst taught those of whom he appeared to be asking questions. In some way, too, he impelled...

    • HOMILY 21. Luke 3.1–4
      (pp. 88-91)

      When the prophetic word was sent only to the Jews, the names of Jewish kings were put in the headings of the prophecies. For example, “The vision that Isaiah, the son of Arnoz, saw, against Judea and against Jerusalem, during the reign of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.”¹ In the time of Isaiah, I see no one else named except the kings of Judah. In some prophets we also read the names of the kings of Israel, as in this instance: “And in the days of Jeroboam, the son of Joash, king of Israel.”² But then the mystery of the...

    • HOMILY 22. Luke 3.5–8
      (pp. 92-96)

      Let us see what things are preached at Christ’s coming. Among them, it is first written of John, “The voice of one crying in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight.’ ”¹ What follows applies properly to the Lord and Savior. For, “every valley has been filled”² not by John, but by the Lord and Savior. Each one should reflect on himself, about who he was before he believed. Then he should observe that he has been a lowly valley, a steep valley, one that dropped down into the depths. But, when the Lord Jesus...

    • HOMILY 23. Luke 3.9–12
      (pp. 97-102)

      At that time John was already saying, “Behold, the ax has been laid to the root of the trees.”¹ And, if indeed the consummation were imminent and the end of the ages were at hand, I would have no questions. The Gospel says, “Behold, the ax has been laid to the root of the trees,” and, “Hence every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and cast into the fire.”² I would say that these prophecies were uttered because they were being fulfilled at that time. But, since long ages passed afterwards, and countless years have...

    • HOMILY 24. Luke 3.15–16
      (pp. 103-104)

      The people received John, who was less than Christ. They reflected and thought, “Perhaps he is the Christ.” But they did not receive him who had come, who was greater than John. Do you want to know the reason? Recognize this: John’s baptism could be seen; the Baptism of Christ was invisible. John said, “For I baptize you in water, but he who comes after me is greater than I. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire.”¹ When does Jesus baptize “with the Holy Spirit”? And again, when does he baptize “with fire”? Does he baptize...

    • HOMILY 25. Luke 3.15
      (pp. 105-108)

      Even love entails a risk, if it is excessive. If someone loves another, he should consider the nature and the causes of his loving, and not love that person more than he deserves. For, if he goes beyond the measure and the limit of charity, then both he who loves and he who is loved will be in sin. To make this clearer, we can take John as an example. The people revered and loved him. And indeed he was a worthy object of wonder. More deference was paid to him than to the rest of men, for he had...

    • HOMILY 26. Luke 3.16–17
      (pp. 109-111)

      God is spirit, and those who worship him should worship in spirit and in truth.”¹ Our God is also “a consuming fire.”² Therefore, God is called by two names: “spirit” and “fire.” To the just he is spirit; to sinners he is fire. But the angels are also called “spirit” and “fire.” Scripture says, “He makes his angels spirits and his servants a burning fire.”³ To those who are saints, the angels are spirits; but to those who deserve punishment, they administer fire and burning. In this sense, our Lord and Savior, because he is spirit, also “came to cast...

    • HOMILY 27. Luke 3.18–22
      (pp. 112-114)

      One who teaches the word of the Gospel proclaims not one thing, but many. Scripture indicates this when it says, “He was also proclaiming many other things [to the people] and encouraging [them].”¹ Therefore, John also preached “other things” to the people, which have not been recorded. But consider how many things there are that have been recorded. He proclaimed Christ. He pointed him out. He preached the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He taught the tax collectors salvation and the soldiers discipline. He taught that the threshing floor was being cleansed, trees cut down, and the rest, which the...

    • HOMILY 28. Luke 3.23–38
      (pp. 115-118)

      Our lord and Savior was greater than Melchizedek, whose genealogy Scripture does not trace. Now, the Lord is described as being born according to the order of his ancestors. Although his divinity has no human origin, for your sake he willed to be born, since you have your origin in flesh. But the evangelists do not give the same account of his genealogy. This fact has disquieted some people very much. Matthew begins to construct his genealogy from Abraham, and reaches the point at which he says, “But the birth of Jesus Christ was thus,”¹ and describes him not at...

    • HOMILY 29. Luke 4.1–4
      (pp. 119-122)

      In the gospel, you read, “But Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned.”¹ In the Acts of the Apostles, Scripture says of the apostles that they “were filled with the Holy Spirit.”² Beware of thinking that the apostles are on a par with the Savior. Realize that Jesus, and the apostles, and any others, are full of the Holy Spirit according to the capacity of the vessel. For example, if you wish to say, “These containers are full of wine, or oil,” you do not immediately indicate that they are full in an equal measure. Perhaps one can hold a...

    • HOMILY 30. Luke 4.5–8
      (pp. 123-124)

      Both the son of God and the Antichrist are eager to reign. But the Antichrist wants to kill those he has subjected to himself. Christ reigns to save. And, if we are faithful, Christ, who is Word, Wisdom, Justice, and Truth, reigns over each of us. But, if we are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, then sin reigns over us. The Apostle says of it, “Therefore, let not sin reign in your mortal body.”¹ Hence, two rival kings eagerly strive to reign: the devil, the king of sin, over sinners; and Christ, the King of Justice, over...

    • HOMILY 31. Luke 4.9–12
      (pp. 125-129)

      Search the scriptures,¹ and even on points that are thought to be simple you will find no small mysteries. We can search the beginning of the Gospel reading that we heard today and let what was hidden come forth into open view. The passage says that the devil “led” Jesus “into Jerusalem.”² This is unbelievable—that the devil should lead the Son of God and he should follow. Obviously, he followed like an athlete who freely sets out for a competition. He was not afraid of his competitor, nor did he dread the deceits of his extremely cunning enemy. He...

    • HOMILY 32. Luke 4.14–20
      (pp. 130-133)

      First of all, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days.”¹ When he was being tempted by the devil, since he was still to struggle against him, the word “spirit” is put down twice without any qualification. But, when he has fought and overcome the three temptations that Scripture mentions, then see what is written of the Spirit, emphatically and carefully. The passage says, “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit.” “Power” has been added, because he had trodden down the dragon and conquered the...

    • HOMILY 33. Luke 4.23–27
      (pp. 134-136)

      Insofar as luke‘s narrative is concerned, Jesus has not yet stayed in Capernaum. Nor is he said to have performed any sign in that place, because he had not been there. Before he comes to Capernaum, it is recorded that he was in his native territory, that is, in Nazareth. He says to his fellow-citizens, “Doubtless you will quote me this saying: ‘Physician, cure yourself. Do here, too, in your native territory, whatever we heard was done in Capernaum.’ ”¹ For this reason, I think that some mystery is hidden in this passage before us. Capernaum, a type...

    • HOMILY 34. Luke 10.25–37
      (pp. 137-141)

      While in the law there are many precepts, in the Gospel the Savior laid down only two. By a kind of short cut, they lead those who obey them to eternal life. In this regard, the teacher of the Law had questioned Jesus and said, “Master, what shall I do to possess eternal life?”¹ This passage, from the Gospel According to Luke, was read to you today. Jesus responded to this as follows: “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” [The teacher replied,] “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart and with your...

    • HOMILY 35. Luke 12.57–59
      (pp. 142-150)

      Unless we were by nature suited to judge what is just, the Savior would never have said, “But why do you not judge for yourselves what is just?”¹ We should not digress too long on the examination of this sentence, since much more difficult verses follow in this chapter. Let it suffice to have said this much about it. We should rather spread out the sails of our souls to God and pray for the coming of his Word.² Then God’s Word could interpret the parable in Scripture which reads, “When you go on your way to a ruler with...

    • HOMILY 36. Luke 17·20–21, 33
      (pp. 151-152)

      Jesus says, “Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it. And, whoever loses it will save it.”¹ The martyrs seek “to save their souls.”² They lose their lives to save their souls. But those who wish to save their souls without losing their lives lose “both their bodies and their souls in Gehenna.”³ Hence, Jesus says, “Do not fear those who can kill the body, but fear rather him who can destroy soul and body in Gehenna.”⁴ We can say something on this topic, according to the ability of our intelligence. “But the animal man does not receive things...

    • HOMILY 37. Luke 19.29–40
      (pp. 153-155)

      From the gospel According to Luke, the account was read of how, when the Savior had come “to Bethphage and Bethany near Mount Olivet, he sent two of his disciples” to untie “the foal of an ass”¹ that had been tied, “on which no man had ever sat.”² This seems to me to pertain more to the deeper sense than to the simple narrative.³ The ass had been bound. Where? “Across from Bethphage and Bethany.” “Bethany” means “house of obedience,” and “Bethphage” “house of jaws”—that is, a priestly place.⁴ For, jaw-bones were given to priests, as the Law commands.⁵ So,...

    • HOMILY 38. Luke 19.41–45
      (pp. 156-158)

      When our lord and Savior approached Jerusalem, he saw the city, wept, and said, “If only you had known on that day what meant peace for you! But now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will surround you with earthworks.”¹ These are mysteries that are spoken. If God reveals their significance, we hope we can open to you what is hidden. We must first contemplate his weeping. By his example, Jesus confirms all the beatitudes that he speaks in the Gospel. By his own witness, he confirms what he teaches. “Blessed...

    • HOMILY 39. Luke 20.21–40
      (pp. 159-162)

      There is a sect of the Jews called the Sadducees. They deny “the resurrection of the dead”¹ and think that the soul dies with the body, so that after death there is no longer any consciousness. These Sadducees put a question to the Lord. They made up a story of a woman with seven husbands. After the first husband died, she married the second to raise up the seed of the first. When he died she also married the third, and again the fourth, and in this fashion reached the seventh. Hence, they ask which of the seven brothers will...

  7. Fragments on Luke
      (pp. 165-228)

      This is what we can understand about the Lord’s temptation: when he learned the Evil One’s intention, he went into the desert and was willingly hungry.¹ The Evil One thought that, if Christ were hungry, he could deceive him with food, as he had deceived Adam. And, again in accord with the Evil One’s intention, Christ went up to the pinnacle of the temple. The Evil One said, “If I could also bring him up to the mountain, I would show him ‘all the kingdoms of the earth.’ ”² It follows that Christ went up willingly. Thus too, long ago,...

  8. Indices