John I. 34-51.
1. We rejoice at your numbers, for you have come together with readiness
and in greater numbers than we could have hoped. This it is that delights
and consoles us in all the labors and dangers of this life, your love towards
God, and pious zeal, and assured hope, and fervor of spirit. You heard
when the psalm was read, "that the needy and poor man cries to God in this
world."1 For it is the voice, as you have often heard, and ought to remember,
not of one man, and yet of one man; not of one, because the faithful are
many-many grins groaning amid the chaff diffused throughout the whole world-but
of one, because all are members of Christ, rejoicing of the world is vanity.
With great expectation is it hoped for and it cannot, when it comes, be
held fast. For this day which is a day of rejoicing in this city to the
lost, to-morrow will, of course, cease to be; nor will they themselves
be the same tomorrow that they are to-day. And all things every soul follows
what it loves. "All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof as the
flower of the field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word
of the Lord abideth forever."2 Behold what thou must love if thou dost
desire to abide for ever. But thou hadst this to reply: How can I apprehend
the word of God? "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us."3
2. Wherefore, beloved, let it belong to our neediness and poverty to
grieve for those who seem to themselves to abound. For their joy is as
that of madmen. But as a madman rejoices for the most part in his madness,
and laughs, and grieves over him who is in his senses, so let us, beloved,
if we have received the medicine coming from heaven, because we all were
madmen, as if made whole, because those things which we did love we do
not love,-let us, I say, groan unto God for those who are yet in madness,
for He is able to themselves, they see their own confusion. But until this
take place, let our pursuits be different, let the recreations of our souls
be different; our grief avails more than their joy. As far as regards the
number of the brethren, it is difficult to conceive that any one of the
men should have been carried away by that celebration; but as regards the
number of the sisters, it grieves us, and this is a greater cause for grief,
that they do not rather repair to the Church, whom if not fear, modesty
at all events ought to deter from the public scene. May He see to this
who sees it; and may His mercy be present to heal all. Let us who have
come together feed upon the feast of God, and let our joy be His word.
For He has invited us to His gospel, and He is our food, than whom nothing
is sweeter, if only a man have a healthy palate in his heart.
3. But I imagine, beloved brethren, that you remember that this Gospel
is read in order in suitable portions; and I think that it has not escaped
you what has lately been treated of, specially the recent matters concerning
John and the dove. Concerning John, namely, what new thing he learned concerning
the Lord by means of the dove, although he had already known the Lord.
And this was discovered by the inspiration of the Spirit of God, that John
indeed already knew the Lord, but that the Lord Himself was to baptize,
that the power of baptizing He would not transfer from Himself to any one,
this he learned by means of the dove, because it was said to him, "On whom
thou shalt see the Spirit descending as a dove, and abiding upon Him, this
is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost."4 What is "This is He"? Not
another, although by means of another. But why by means of a dove? Many
things were said, and I am not able, nor is there need that I should go
over all;-principally, however, to denote peace, because also the trees
which were baptized outside, because the dove found in them fruit, it brought
to the ark, as you remember the dove sent out by Noah from the ark, which
floated on the flood and was washed by baptism, was not submerged. When,
then, it was sent forth, it brought an olive branch; but it had not leaves
alone, it had also fruit.5 This, then, we ought to wish for our brethren
who are baptized outside, that they may have fruit; the dove will not permit
them to remain outside, but bring them back to the ark. For the whole of
fruit is charity, without which a man is nothing, whatever else he have.
And this, which is most fully said by the apostle, we have mentioned and
recounted. For he says, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of
angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling
cymbal; and though I should have all knowledge, and know all mysteries,
and have all prophecy, and should have all faith" (but in what sense did
he say all faith?), "so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity,
I am nothing. And though I should distribute all my goods to the poor,
and though I should give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it
profiteth me nothing."6 But in no manner are they able to say that they
have charity who divide unity. These things were said: let us see what
4. John bare record because he saw. What record did he bear? "That this
is the Son of God." It behoved, then, that He should baptize who is God's
only Son, not His adopted son. Adopted sons are the ministers of the only
Son: the only Son has power; the adopted, the ministry. In the case that
a minister baptizes who does not belong to the number of sons, because
he lives evilly and acts evilly, what is our consolation? "This is He which
5. "The next day, John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking
upon Jesus as He walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!" Assuredly,
in a special sense, the Lamb; for the disciples were also called lambs:
"Behold, I send you as lambs in the midst of wolves."7 They were also called
light: "Ye are the light of the world; "8 but in another sense is He called
so, concerning whom it was said, "That was the true light, which lighteth
every man that cometh into the world."9 In like manner was He called the
dove in a special sense, alone without stain, without sin; not one whose
sins have been washed away, but One who never had stain. For what? Because
John said concerning the Lord, "Behold the Lamb of God," was not John himself
a lamb? Was he not a holy man? Was he not the friend of the Bridegroom?
Wherefore, with a special meaning, said John of Him, "This is the Lamb
of God;" because solely by the blood of this Lamb alone could men be redeemed.
6. My brethren, if we acknowledge our price, that it is the blood of
the Lamb, who are they who this day celebrate the festival of the blood
of I know not what woman, and how ungrateful are they! The gold was snatched,
they say, from the ear of a woman, and the blood ran, and the gold was
placed on a pair of scales or on a balance, and the advantage was much
on the side of the blood. If the blood of a woman was sufficiently weighty
to outweigh the gold, what power to outweigh the world has the blood of
the Lamb by whom the world was made? And, indeed, that spirit, I know not
who, was pacified by the blood that he should depress the weight. Impure
spirits knew that Jesus Christ would come, they had heard of His coming
from the angels, they had heard of it from the prophets, and they expected
it. For if they were not expecting it, why did they exclaim, "What have
we to do with Thee? Art Thou come before the time to destroy us? We know
who Thou art; the Holy One of God."10 They expected that He would come,
but they were ignorant of the time. But what have you heard in the psalm
regarding Jerusalem? "For Thy servants have taken pleasure in her stones,
and will pity the dust thereof. Thou shall arise," says he, "and have mercy
upon Zion: for the time is come that Thou wilt have mercy upon her."11
When the time came for God to have mercy, the Lamb came. What sort of a
Lamb whom wolves fear? What sort of a Lamb is it who, when slain, slew
a lion? For the devil is called a lion, going about and roaring, seeking
whom he may devour.12 By the blood of the Lamb the lion was vanquished.
Behold the spectacles of Christians. And what is more: they with the eyes
of the flesh behold vanity, we with the eyes of the heart behold truth.
Do not think, brethren, that our Lord God has dismissed us without spectacles;
for if there are no spectacles, why have ye come together to-day? Behold,
what we have said you saw, and you exclaimed; you would not have exclaimed
if you had not seen. And this is a great thing to see in the whole world,
the lion vanquished by the blood of the Lamb: members of Christ delivered
from the teeth of the lions, and joined to the body of Christ. Therefore
some spirit or other contrived the counterfeit that His image should be
bought for blood, because he knew that the human race was at some time
to be redeemed by the precious blood. For evil spirits counterfeit certain
shadows of honor to themselves, that they may deceive those who follow
Christ. So much so, my brethren, that those who seduce by means of amulets,
by incantations, by the devices of the enemy, mingle the name of Christ
with their incantations: because they are not now able to seduce Christians,
so as to give them poison they add some honey, that by means of the sweet
the bitter may be concealed, and be drunk to ruin. So much so, that I know
that the priest of that Pilleatus was sometimes in the habit of saying,
Pilleatus himself also is a Christian. Why so, brethren, unless that they
were not able otherwise to seduce Christians?
7. Do not, then, seek Christ elsewhere than where Christ wished Himself
to be preached to you; and as He wished Himself to be preached to you,
in that fashion hold Him fast, in that manner write Him on your heart.
It is a wall against all the assaults, and against all the snares of the
enemy. Do not fear, he does not tempt unless he has been permitted; it
is certain that he does nothing unless permitted or sent. He is sent as
an evil angel by a power holding him in control: he is permitted when he
asks anything; and this, brethren, does not take place unless that the
just may be tried, the unjust punished. Why, then, dost thou fear? Walk
in the Lord thy God; be thou assured, what He does not wish thee to suffer
thou dost not suffer; what He permits thee to suffer is the scourge of
one correcting, not the punishment of one condemning. We are being educated
for an eternal inheritance, and do we spurn to be scourged? My brethren,
if a boy were to refuse the punishment of cuffs or stripes from his father,
would he not be called proud, incorrigible, ungrateful towards paternal
discipline? And for what does an earthly father educate his son? That he
may not lose the temporal things which he has acquired for him, which he
has collected for him, which he does not wish him to lose, which he who
leaves them cannot retain eternally. He does not teach a son with whom
he is to possess, but one who is to possess after him My brethren, if a
father teaches a son who is to succeed him, and teaches him also that he
will have to pass through all these things, in same way as he who is admonishing
him is destined to pass through them, how do you wish that He educate us,
our Father to whom we are not to succeed, but to whom we are to approach,
and with whom we are to abide eternally in an inheritance which does not
decay nor die, and which no storms can desolate? He is Himself both the
inheritance and the Father. Shall we possess Him, and ought we not to undergo
training? Let us hear the instruction of the Father. When our head aches,
let us not have recourse to the superstitious intercessor, to the diviners
and remedies of vanity. My brethren, shall I not mourn over you? Daily
do I find these things; and what shall I do? Not yet have I persuaded Christians
that their hope ought to be placed in God. Behold, if one dies to whom
one of these remedies has been given (and how many have died with remedies,
and how many have lived without them!), with what confidence does the spirit
go forth to God? He has lost the sign of Christ, and has received the sign
of the devil. Perhaps he may say that he has not lost the sign of Christ.
Thou canst have, then, the sign of Christ along with the sign of the devil.
Christ does not desire community of ownership, but He desires to possess
alone what He has purchased. He has bought at so great a price that He
may possess alone: thou makest Him the partner of that devil to whom thou
didst sell thyself by thy sin. "Woe to the double-hearted,"13 to those
who in their hearts give part to God and part to the devil. God, being
angry that the devil has part there, departs, and the devil will possess
the whole. Not in vain, therefore, says the apostle, "Neither give place
to the devil."14 Let us know the Lamb, then, brethren; let us know our
8. "John stood, and two of his disciples." Behold two of John's disciples:
since John, the friend of the Bridegroom, was such as he was, he sought
not his own glory, but bore witness to the truth. Did he wish that his
disciples should remain with him and not follow the Lord? Rather he himself
showed hisdisciples whom they should follow. For they accounted of him
as though he were the lamb; and he said, "Why do you give heed to me? I
am not the lamb; behold the Lamb of God," of whom also he had already said,
Behold the Lamb of God. And what benefit does the Lamb of God confer upon
us? "Behold," he says, "who taketh away the sin of the world." The two
who were with John followed Him when they heard this.
9. Let us see what follows: "Behold the Lamb of God." This John said,
and the two disciples heard him speak, and followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned
and saw them following, and saith unto them, "What seek ye?" And they said,
"Rabbi (that is to say, being interpreted, Master), where dwellest Thou?"
They did not follow Him in such manner as that they should cleave to Him;
for it is plain when they cleave unto Him, for He called them from the
ship. For one of the two was Andrew, as you have just heard, and Andrew
was the brother of Peter; and we know from the Gospel that the Lord called
Peter and Andrew from the ship, saying, "Come ye after me, and I will make
you fishers of men."15 And from that time they clave unto Him, so as not
to go away. On the present occasion these two followed Him, not as those
who were not again to leave Him, but to see where He dwelt, and to fulfill
the Scripture: "Let thy foot wear out the threshold of His doors; arise
to come to Him continually, and be instructed in His precepts."16 He showed
them where He dwelt: they came and remained with Him. What a blessed day
they spent, what a blessed night! Who can make known to us those things
which they heard from the Lord? Let us also build in our heart, and make
a house into which He may come and teach us, and have converse with us.
10. "What seek ye?" They said unto Him, "Rabbi (which is to say, being
interpreted, Master), where dwellest Thou? Hesays to them, Come and see.
And they came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day: and
it was about the tenth hour." Do we think that it did in no wise pertain
to the evangelist to tell us what hour it was? Is it possible that he wished
us to give heed to nothing in that, to inquire after nothing? It was the
tenth hour. That number signifies the law, because the law was given in
ten commandments. But the time had come for the law to be fulfilled by
love, because it could not be fulfilled by the Jews by fear. Hence the
Lord says, "I am not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill."17 Suitably,
then, at the tenth hour did these two follow Him, at the testimony of the
friend of the Bridegroom, andthat He at the tenth hour heard" Rabbi (which
is interpreted, Master)." If at the tenth hour the Lord heard Rabbi, and
the tenth number pertains to the law, the master of the law is no other
than the giver of the law. Let no one say that one gave the law, and that
another teaches the law: for the same teaches it who gave it; He is the
Master of His own law, and teaches it. And mercy is in His tongue therefore
mercifully teacheth He the law, as it is said regarding wisdom, The law
and mercy doth she carry in her tongue."18 Do not fear that thou art not
able to fulfill the law, flee to mercy. If thou canst not fulfill the law,
make use of that covenant, make use of the bond, make use of the prayers
which the heavenly One, skilled in the law, has ordained and composed for
11. For those who have a cause, and wish to supplicate the emperor,
seek for some one skilled in the law, and trained in the schools, to compose
their petition for them; lest perchance, if they ask in an unbecoming manner,
they not only do not obtain what they seek, but get punishment instead
of a benefit. When, therefore, the apostles sought to petition, and could
not find how to approach the Emperor God, they said unto Christ, "Lord,
teach us to pray;" that is to say, "O thou who art our skilled One in the
law, our Assessor, yea, the Concessor of God, compose for us prayers."
And the Lord taught them from the book of the celestial law, taught them
how to pray; and in that which He taught, He laid down a certain condition:
"Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors."19 If thou seekest
not according to the law, thou becomest guilty. Dost thou not tremble before
the Emperor, having become guilty? Offer the sacrifice of humility, offer
the sacrifice of mercy; pray, saying, Forgive me, for I also forgive. But
if thou sayest, do. For what wilt thou do? whither wilt thou go if thou
hast lied in thy prayers? Not as it is said in the forum, thou shalt lose
the benefit of the rescript; but thou shall not obtain a rescript. For
it is the law of the forum that he who shall have lied in his petition
shall derive no benefit from that which he has obtained. But this among
men, because a man can be deceived: the emperor might have been deceived,
when thou didst address to him thy petition; for thou saidest what thou
wouldest, and he to whom thou didst speak knew not whether it was true
or false; he sent thee away to thy adversary to be confuted if possible,
so that if before the judge thou shouldest be convicted of falsehood (because
he was not able not to grant the rescript, not knowing whether thou hadst
lied), thou shouldest lose the benefit of the rescript, in the place to
which thou hadst taken it. But God, who knows whether thou liest or speakest
the truth, does not cause thee to lose in the judgment the benefit, but
does not permit thee to obtain it, because thou hast dared to lie to the
12. What, then, wilt thou do? Tell me. To fulfill the law in every part,
so as to offend in nothing, is difficult: the condition of guilt is therefore
certain; wilt thou refuse to use the remedy? Behold, my brethren, what
a remedy the Lord hath provided for the sicknesses of the soul! What then?
When thy head aches, we praise thee if thou placest the gospel at thy head,
instead of having recourse to an amulet. For so far has human weakness
proceeded, and so lamentable is the estate of those who have recourse to
amulets, that we rejoice when we see a man who is upon his bed, and tossed
about with fevers and pains, placing his hope on nothing else than that
the gospel lies at his head; not because it is done for this purpose, but
because the gospel is preferred to amulets. If, then, it is placed at the
head to allay the pain of the head, is it not placed at the heart to heal
it from sin? Let it be done then. Let what be done? Let it be placed at
the heart, let the heart be healed. It is well,-well that thou shouldest
have no further care regarding the safety of the body, than to ask it from
God. If He knows that it will do thee good, He will give it thee; if He
give it not to thee, it would not have profited thee to have it. How many
are sick in bed, and for that reason are innocent! for if they were to
recover, they would go forth to commit acts of wickedness. To how many
is health an injury! The robber who goes forth to the narrow path to slay
a man, how much better for him would it have been to have been sick! And
he who rises by night to dig through his neighbor's wall, how much better
for him to be tossed by fever! If he were ill, he would have been comparatively
innocent; being well, he is guilty of wickedness. It is known, then, to
God what is expedient for us: let us make this only our endeavor, that
our hearts be whole from sins; and when it happens that we are scourged
in the body, let us pray to Him for relief. The Apostle Paul besought Him
that He would take away the thorn in his flesh, and He would not. Was he
disturbed? Was he filled with sadness, and did he speak of himself as deserted?
Rather did he say that he was not deserted, because that was not taken
away which he desired to be taken away, to the end that infirmity might
be cured. For this he found in the voice of the Physician, "My grace is
sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness."20 Whence
knowest thou, then, that God does not wish to heal thee? As yet it is expedient
for thee to be scourged. Whence knowest thou how diseased that is which
the physician cuts, using his knife on the diseased parts? Does he not
know the measure, what he is to do, and how far he is to do it? Does the
shrieking of him he cuts restrain the hands of the physician cutting according
to his art? The one cries, the other cuts. Is he cruel who does not listen
to the man crying out, or is he not rather merciful in following the wound,
that he may heal the sick man? These things have I said, my brethren, in
order that no one seek any other aid than that of God, when we happen to
be under the reproof of God. See that ye perish not; see that ye do not
depart from the Lamb, and be devoured by the lion.
13. We have declared, then, why it was at the tenth hour. Let us see
what follows: "One of the two which heard John speak, and followed Him,
was Andrew. Simon Peter's brother. He findeth his own brother Simon, and
saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted,
the Christ." Messias, in Hebrew; Christ, in Greek; in Latin, Anointed.
xrtsma is anointing in Greek; Christ, therefore, is the Anointed. He is
peculiarly anointed, pre-eminently anointed; wherewith all Christians are
anointed, He is pre-eminently anointed. Hear how He speaks in the psalm:
"Wherefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above
Thy fellows." For all the holy ones are His fellows, but He in a peculiar
sense is the Holy of Holies, peculiarly anointed, peculiarly Christ.
14. "And he brought him to Jesus; and when Jesus beheld him, He said,
Thou art Simon the son of Joannes: thou shall be called Cephas, which is,
by interpretation, Peter." It is not a great thing that the Lord said whose
son Peter was. What is great to the Lord? He knew all the names of His
own saints, whom He predestinated before the foundation of the world; and
dost thou wonder that He said to one man, Thou art the son of this man,
and thou shall be called this or that? Is it a great matter that He changed
his name, and converted it from Simon to Peter? Peter is from petra, a
rock, but the petra [rock]; is the Church; in the name of Peter, then,
was the Church figured. And who is safe, unless he who builds upon the
rock? And what saith the Lord Himself? "He that heareth these my words,
and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man building his house upon
a rock" (he doth not yield to temptation). "The rain descended, the floods
came, the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it
was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth my words, and doeth them not"
(now let each one of us fear and beware), "I will liken him to a foolish
man, who built his house upon the sand: the rain descended, the floods
came, the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great
was the fall of it."21 What profit is it to enter the Church for him who
builds upon the sand? For, by hearing and not doing, he builds indeed,
but on the sand. For if he hears nothing, he builds nothing; but if he
hears, he builds. But we ask, Where? For if he hears and does, he builds
upon the rock; if he hears and does not, he builds upon the sand. There
are two kinds of builders, those building upon the rock, and those building
upon the sand. What, then, are those who do not hear? Are they safe? Does
He say that they are safe because they do not build? They are naked beneath
the rains, before the winds, before the floods; when these come, they carry
away: those persons before they overthrow the houses. It is then the only
security, both to build, and to build upon the rock. If thou wilt hear
and do not, thou buildest; but thou buildest a ruin: and when temptation
comes it overthrows the house, and carries away thee with the ruin. But
if thou dost not hear, thou art naked; thou thyself art dragged away by
those temptations. Hear, then, and do; it is the only remedy. How many,
perchance, on this day, by hearing and not doing, are hurried away on the
stream of this festival! For, through hearing and not doing, the flood
cometh, this annual festival; the torrent is filled, it will pass away
and become dry, but woe to him whom it shall carry away! Know this, then,
beloved, that unless a man hears and does, he builds not upon the rock,
and he does not belong to that great name which the Lord so commended.
For He hascalled thy attention. For if Simon had been called Peter before,
thou wouldest not have so clearly seen the mystery of the rock, and thou
wouldest have thought that he was called so by chance, not by the providence
of God; therefore God willed that he should be called first something else,
that by the very change of name the reality of the sacrament might be commended
to our notice.
15. "And the day following He would go forth into Galilee, and finding
Philip, He saith unto him, Follow me. Now he was of the city of Andrew
and Peter. And Philip findeth Nathanael" (Philip who had been already called
by the Lord); "and he said units him, We have found Him, of whom Moses
in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus, the son of Joseph." He
was called the son of that man to whom His mother had been espoused. For
that He was conceived and born while she was still a virgin, all Christians
know well from the Gospel. This Philip said to Nathanael, and he added
the place, "from Nazareth." And Nathanael said unto him, "From Nazareth
something good can come." What is the meaning, brethren? Not as some read,
for it is likewise wont to be read, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?"
For the words of Philip follow, who says, "Come and see." But the words
of Philip can suitably follow both readings, whether you read it thus,
as confirming, "From Nazareth something good can come," to which Philip
replies, "Come and see;" or whether as doubting, and making the whole a
question, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? Come and see." Since
then, whether read in this manner or in that, the words following are not
incompatible, it is for us to inquire which of the two interpretations
we shall adopt.
16. What sort of a man this Nathanael was, we prove by the words which
follow. Hear what sort of a man he was; the Lord Himself bears testimony.
Great is the Lord, known by the testimony of John; blessed Nathanael, known
by the testimony of the truth. Because the Lord, although He had not been
commended by the testimony of John, Himself to Himself bore testimony,
because the truth is sufficient for its own testimony. But because men
were not able to receive the truth, they sought the truth by means of a
lamp, and therefore John was sent to show them the Lord. Hear the Lord
bearing testimony to Nathanael: "Nathanael said unto him, Can any good
thing come out of Nazareth? Philip says to him, Come and see. And Jesus
sees Nathanael coming to Him, and says concerning him, Behold an Israelite
indeed, in whom is no guile." Great testimony! Not of Andrew, nor of Peter,
nor of Philip was that said which was said of Nathanael, "Behold an Israelite
indeed, in whom is no guile."
17. What do we then, brethren? Ought this man to be the first among
the apostles? Not only is Nathanael not found as first among the apostles,
but he is neither the middle nor the last among the twelve, although the
Son of God bore such testimony to him, saying, "Behold an Israelite indeed,
in whom is no guile." Is the reason asked for? In so far as the Lord intimates,
we find a probable reason. For we ought to understand that Nathanael was
learned and skilled in the law and for that reason was the Lord unwilling
to place him among His disciples, because He chose unlearned persons, that
He might by them confound the world. Listen to the apostle speaking these
things: "For ye see," saith he, "your calling, brethren, how that not many
wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
but God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things
which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things that are despised,
hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, as though they were things
that are, to bring to nought things that are.22 If a learned man had been
chosen, perhaps he would have said that he was chosen for the reason that
his learning made him worthy of choice. Our Lord Jesus Christ, wishing
to break the necks of the proud, did not seek the orator by means of the
fisherman, but bythe fisherman He gained the emperor. Great was Cyprian
as an orator, but before him was Peter the fisherman, by means of whom
not only the orator, but also the emperor, should believe. No noble was
chosen in the first place, no learned man, because God chose the weak things
of the world that He might confound the strong. This man, then, was great
and without guile, and for this reason only was not chosen, lest the Lord
should seem to any to have chosen the learned. And from this same learning
in the law, it came that when he heard "from Nazareth,"- for he had searched
the Scripture, and knew that the Saviour was to be expected thence, what
the other scribes and Pharisees had difficulty in knowing,-this man, then,
very learned in the law, when he heard Philip saying, "We have found Him,
of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth,
the son of Joseph; "-this man, who knew the Scriptures excellently well,
when he heard the name "Nazareth," was filled with hope, and said, "From
Nazareth something good can come."
18. Let us now see the rest concerning this man. "Behold an Israelite
indeed, in whom is no guile." What is" in whom is no guile?" Perhaps he
had no sin? Perhaps he was not sick? Perhaps he did not need a physician?
God forbid. No one is born here in such fashion as not to need that Physician.
What, then, is the meaning of the words, "in whom is no guile"? Let us
search a little more intently-it will appear presently-in the name of the
Lord. The Lord says dolus [guile]; and every one who understands Latin
knows that dolus is when one thing is done and another feigned. Give heed,
beloved. Dolus (guile) is not dolor (pain). I say this because many brethren,
not well skilled in Latin, so speak as to say, Dolus torments him, using
it for dolor. Dolus is fraud, it is deceit. When a man conceals one thing
in his heart, and speaks another, it is guile, and he has, as it were,
two hearts; he has, as it were, one recess of his heart where he sees the
truth, and another recess where he conceives falsehood. And that you may
know that this is guile, it is said in the Psalms, "Lips of guile." What
are "lips of guile"? It follows, "In a heart and in a heart have they spoken
evil."23 What is "in a heart and in a heart," unless in a double heart?
If, then, guile was not in Nathanael, the Physician judged him to be curable,
not whole. A whole man is one thing, a curable another, an incurable a
third: he who is sick, but not hopelessly sick, is called curable; he who
is sick hopelessly, incurable; but he who is already whole does not need
a physician. The Physician, then, who had come to cure, saw that he was
curable, because there was no guile in him. How was guile not in him, if
he is a sinner? He confesses that he is a sinner. For if he is a sinner,
and says that he is a just man, there is guile in his mouth. Therefore
in Nathanael He praised the confession of sin, He did not judge that he
was not a sinner.
19. Wherefore, when the Pharisees, who seemed righteous to themselves,
blamed the Lord, because, as physician, he mixed with the sick, and when
they said, "Behold with whom he eats, with publicans and sinners," the
Physician replied to the madmen, "They that are whole need not a physician,
but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."24
That is to say, because you call yourselves righteous when you are sinners,
because you judge yourselves to be whole when you are languishing, you
put away from you the medicine, and do not hold fast health. Hence that
Pharisee who had asked the Lord to dinner, was whole in his own eyes; but
that sick woman rushed into the house to which she had not been invited,
and, made impudent by the desire of health, approached not the head of
the Lord, nor the hands, but the feet; washed them with tears, wiped them
with her hair, kissed them, anointed them with ointment,-made peace, sinner
as she was, with the footprints of the Lord. The Pharisee who sat at meat
there, as though whole himself, blamed the Physician, and said within himself,
"This man, if he were a prophet, would have known what woman touched his
feet." He suspected that He knew not, because He did not repulse her to
prevent His being touched with unclean hands; but He did know, He permitted
Himself to be touched, that the touch itself might heal. The Lord, seeing
the heart of the Pharisee, put forth a parable: "There was a certain creditor,
which had two debtors; the one owed five hundred denars, and the other
fifty; and when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both.
Which of them loved him most?" He answered, "I suppose, Lord, he to whom
he forgave most." And turning to the woman, He said unto Simon, "Seest
thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for
my feet; but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the
hairs of her head: thou gavest me no kiss; she hath not ceased to kiss
my feet: thou gavest me no oil; she hath anointed my feet with ointment.
Wherefore, I say unto thee, to her are forgiven many sins, for she loved
much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little."25 That is
to say, thou art more sick, but thou thinkest thyself whole; thou thinkest
that little is forgiven thee when thou owest more. Well did she, because
guile was not in her, deserve medicine. What means, guile was not in her?
She confessed her sins. This He also praises in Nathanael, that guile was
not in him; for many Pharisees who abounded in sins said that they were
righteous, and brought guile withthem, which made it impossible for them
to be healed.
20. Jesus then saw this man in whom was no guile, and said, "Behold
an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile." Nathanael saith unto Him, "Whence
knowest Thou me?" Jesus answered and said, "Before that Philip called thee,
when thou wast under the fig (that is, under the fig-tree), I saw thee."
Nathanael answered and said unto Him, "Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God;
Thou art the King of Israel." Some great thing Nathanael may have understood
in the saying, "When thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee, before that
Philip called thee;" for his words, "Thou art the Son of God, Thou art
the King of Israel," were not dissimilar to those of Peter so long afterwards,
when the Lord said unto him, "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh
and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven."
And there He named the rock, and praised the strength of the Church's support
in this faith. Here already Nathanael says, "Thou art the Son of God; Thou
art the King of Israel." Wherefore? Because it was said to him, "Before
that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee."
21. We must inquire whether this fig-tree signifies anything. Listen,
my brethren. We find the fig-tree cursed because it had leaves only, and
not fruit.26 In the beginning of the human race, when Adam and Eve had
sinned, they made themselves girdles of fig leaves.27 Fig leaves then signify
sins. Nathanael then was under the fig-tree, as it were under the shadow
of death. The Lord saw him, he concerning whom it was said, "They that
sat under the shadow of death, unto them hath light arisen."28 What then
was said to Nathanael? Thou sayest to me, O Nathanael, "Whence knowest
thou me?" Even now thou speakest to me, because Philip called thee. He
whom an apostle had already called, He perceived to belong to His Church.
O thou Church, O thou Israel, in whom is no guile! if thou art the people,
Israel, in whom is no guile, thou hast even now known Christ by His apostles,
as Nathanael knew Christ by Philip. But His compassion beheld thee before
thou knewest Him, when thou wert lying under sin. For did we first seek
Christ, and not He seek us? Did we come sick to the Physician, and not
the PhySician to the sick? Was not that sheep lost, and did not the shepherd,
leaving the ninety and nine in the wilderness, seek and find it, and joyfully
carry it back on his shoulders? Was not that piece of money lost, and the
woman lighted the lamp, and searched in the whole house until she found
it? And when she had found it, "Rejoice with me," she said to her neighbors,
"for I have found the piece of money which I lost."29 In like manner were
we lost as the sheep, lost as the piece of money; and our Shepherd found
the sheep, but sought the sheep; the woman found the piece of money, but
sought the piece of money. What is the woman? The flesh of Christ. What
is the lamp? "I have prepared a lamp for my Christ."30 Therefore were we
sought that we might be found; having been found, we speak. Let us not
be proud, for before we were found we were lost, if we had not been sought.
Let them then not say to us whom we love, and whom we desire to gain to
the peace of the Catholic Church, "What do you wish with us? Why seek you
us if we are sinners?" We seek you for this reason that you perish not:
we seek you because we were sought; we wish to find you because we have
22. When, then, Nathanael had said "Whence knowest Thou me?" the Lord
said to him, "Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the
fig-tree, I saw thee." O thou Israel without guile, whosoever thou art
O people living by faith, before I called thee by my apostles, when thou
wast under the shadow of death, and thou sawest not me, I saw thee. The
Lord then says to him, "Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the
fig-tree, thou believest: thou shalt see a greater thing than these." What
is this, thou shalt see a greater thing than these? And He saith unto him,
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye shall see heaven open, and angels ascending
and descending upon the Son of man." Brethren, this is something greater
than "under the fig-tree I saw thee." For it is more that the Lord justified
us when called than that He saw us lying under the shadow of death. For
what profit would it have been to us if we had remained where He saw us?
Should we not be lying there? What is this greater thing? When have we
seen angels ascending and descending upon the Son of man?
23. Already on a former occasion I have spoken of these ascending and
descending angels; but lest you should have forgotten, I shall speak of
the latter briefly by way of recalling it to your recollection. I should
use more words if I were introducing, not recalling the subject. Jacob
saw a ladder in a dream; and on a ladder he saw angels ascending and descending:
and he anointed the stone which he had placed at his head.31 You have heard
that the Messias is Christ; you have heard that Christ is the Anointed.
For Jacob did not place the stone, the anointed stone, that he might come
and adore it: otherwise that would have been idolatry, not a pointing out
of Christ. What was done was a pointing out of Christ, so far as it behoved
such a pointing out to be made, and it was Christ that was pointed out.
A stone was anointed, but not for an idol. A stone anointed; why a stone?
"Behold, I lay in Zion a stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth
on Him shall not be confounded."32 Why anointed? Because Christus comes
from chrisma. But what saw he then on the ladder? Ascending and descending
angels. So it is the Church, brethren: the angels of God are good preachers,
preaching Christ; this is the meaning of, "they ascend and descend upon
the Son of man." How do they ascend, and how do they descend? In one case
we have an example; listen to the Apostle Paul. What we find in him, let
us believe regarding the other preachers of the truth. Behold Paul ascending:
"I know a man in Christ fourteen years ago was caught up into the third
heaven (whether in the body, or whether out of the body, I cannot tell:
God knoweth), and that he heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful
for a man to utter."33 You have heard him ascending, hear him descending:
"I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal; as babes
in Christ I have fed you with milk, not with meat."34 Behold he descended
who had ascended. Ask whether he ascended to the third heaven. Ask whether
he descended to give milk to babes. Hear that he descended: "I became a
babe in the midst of you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children."35 For
we see both nurses and mothers descend to babes, and although they be able
to speak Latin, they shorten the words, shake their tongues in a certain
manner, in order to frame childish endearments from a methodical language;
because if they speak according to rule, the infant does not understand
nor profit. And if there be a father well skilled in speaking, and such
an orator that the forum resounds with his eloquence, and the judgment-seats
shake, if he have a little son, on his return home he puts aside the forensic
eloquence to which he had ascended, and in child's language descends to
his little one. Hear in one place the apostle himself ascending and descending
inthe same sentence: "For whether," says he,"we be beside ourselves, it
is to God; or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. "36 What is "we
are beside ourselves "? Thatwe see those things which it is not lawful
for a man to speak. What is "we are sober for your cause? Have I judged
myself to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified?"
If the Lord Himself ascended and descended, it is evident that His preachers
ascend by imitation. descend by preaching.
24. And if we have detained you somewhat longer than is our wont, the
design was that the dangerous hours might pass: we imagine that those people
have now brought their vanity to a close. But let us, brethren, having
fed upon the feasts of salvation, do what remains, that we may in a religious
manner fill up the Lord's day with spiritual joys, and compare the joys
of verity with the joys of vanity;' and if we are horrified, let us grieve;
if we grieve, let us pray; if we pray, may we be heard; if we are heard,
we gain them also.
1 Ps. lxxiv. 21.
2 Isa. xl. 1-8.
3 John i. 14.
4 John i. 33.
5 Gen. viii. 8-11.
6 1 Cor. xiii. 1-3.
7 Matt. x. 16.
8 Matt. v. 14.
9 John i. 9.
10 Mark i. 24.
11 Ps. cii. 13, 14.
12 1 Pet. v. 8.
13 Ecclus. ii. 12.
14 Eph. iv. 27.
15 Matt. iv. 19.
16 Ecclus. vi. 36, 37.
17 Matt. v. 17.
18 Prov. xxxi. 26.
19 Luke xi. 1-4.
20 2 Cor. xii. 8, 9.
21 Matt. vii. 24-27.
22 1 Cor. i. 20-28.
23 Ps. xi. 3.
24 Matt. xi. 11-13.
25 Luke vii. 36-47.
26 Matt. xx. 19.
27 Gen. iii. 7.
28 Isa. ix. 2.
29 Luke xv. 4-10.
30 Ps. cxxxii. 17.
31 Gen. xxviii. 12-18.
32 Isa. xxviii. 16; 1 Pet. ii. 6.
33 2 Cor. xii. 2-4.
34 1 Cor. iii. 1, 2.
35 1 Thess. ii. 7.
36 2 Cor. v. 13.