A Sermon of St Augustine on the Gospel
(portion of Sermon I in Vol VI, NPNF (1st))
17. Consider when this was. When the Lord Jesus, as to His
Human Nature, was twelve years old49 (for as to His Divine Nature He is
before all times, and without time), He tarried behind them in the temple,
and disputed with the elders, and they wondered at His doctrine; and His
parents who were returning from Jerusalem sought Him among their company,
among those, that is, who were journeying with them, and when they found
Him not, they returned in trouble to Jerusalem, and found Him disputing
in the temple with the elders, when He was, as I said, twelve years old.
But what wonder? The Word of God is never silent, though it is not always
heard. He is found then in the temple, and His mother saith to Him, "Why
hast Thou thus dealt with us? Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing;"
and He said, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's service?"50
This He said for that the Son of God was in the temple of God, for that
temple was not Joseph's, but God's. See, says some one, "He did not allow
that He was the Son of Joseph." Wait, brethren, with a little patience,
because of the press of time, that it may be long enough for what I have
to say. When Mary had said, "Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing,"
He answered, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's service?" for
He would not be their Son in such a sense, as not to be understood to be
also the Son of God. For the Son of God He was-ever the Son of God-Creator
even of themselves who spake to Him; but the Son of Man in time; born of
a Virgin without the operation of her husband, yet the Son of both parents.
Whence prove we this? Already have we proved it by the words of Mary, "Thy
father and I have sought Thee sorrowing."
18. Now in the first place for the instruction of the women, our sisters,
such saintly modesty of the Virgin Mary must not be passed over, brethren.
She had given birth to Christ-the Angel had come to her, and said, "Behold,
thou shall conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call
His name Jesus.51 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the
Highest."52 She53 had been thought worthy to give birth to the Son of the
Highest, yet was she most humble; nor did she put herself before her husband,
even in the order of naming him, so as to say," I and Thy father," but
she saith, "Thy father and I." She regarded not the high honour54 of her
womb, but the order of wedlock did she regard, for Christ the humble would
not have taught His mother to be proud. "Thy father and I have sought Thee
sorrowing." Thy father and I, she saith, "for the husband is the head of
the woman."55 How much less then ought other women to be proud! for Mary
herself also is called a woman, not from the loss of virginity, but by
a form of expression peculiar to her country; for of the Lord Jesus the
Apostle also said, "made of a woman,"56 yet there is no interruption hence
to the order and connection of our Creed57 wherein we confess "that He
was born of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary." For as a virgin she conceived
Him, as a virgin brought Him forth, and a virgin she continued; but all
females they called "women,"58 by a peculiarity of the Hebrew tongue. Hear
a most plain example of this. The first woman whom God made, having taken
her out of the side of a man, was called a woman before she "knew" her
husband, which we are told was not till after they went out of Paradise,
for the Scripture saith, "He made her a woman."59
19. The answer then of the Lord Jesus Christ, "I must be about My Father's
service," does not in such sense declare God to be His Father, as to deny
that Joseph was His father also; And whence prove we this? By the Scripture,
which saith on this wise, "And He said unto them, Wist ye not that I must
be about My Father's service; but they understood not what He spake to
them: and when He went down with them, He came to Nazareth, and was subject
to them."60 It did not say, "He was subject to His mother," or was "subject
to her," but "He was subject to them." To whom was He subject? was it not
to His parents? It was to both His parents that He was subject, by the
same condescension by which He was the Son of Man. A little way back women
received their precepts. Now let children receive theirs-to obey their
parents, and to be subject to them. The world was subject unto Christ,
and Christ was subject to His parents.
20. You see then, brethren, that He did not say, "I must needs be about
My Father's service," in any such sense as that we should understand Him
thereby to have said, "You are not My parents." They were His parents in
time, God was His Father eternally. They were the parents of the Son of
Man-"He," the Father of His Word, and Wisdom, and Power, by whom He made
all things. But if all things were made by that Wisdom, "which reacheth
from one end to another mightily, and sweetly ordereth all things,"61 then
were they also made by the Son of God to whom He Himself as Son of Man
was afterwards to be subject; and the Apostle says that He is the Son of
David, "who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh."62 But
yet the Lord Himself proposes a question to the Jews, which the Apostle
solves in these very words; for when he said, "who was made of the seed
of David," he added, "according to the flesh," that it might be understood
that He is not the Son of David according to His Divinity, but that the
Son of God is David's Lord; for thus in another place, when He is setting
forth the63 privileges of the Jewish people, the Apostle saith, "Whose
are the fathers, of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, Who is over
all, God blessed for ever."64 As, "according to the flesh," He is David's
Son; but as being "God over all, blessed for ever," He is David's Lord.
The Lord then saith to the Jews, "Whose Son say ye that Christ is?" They
answered, "The Son of David."65 For this they knew, as they had learnt
it easily from the preaching of the Prophets; and in truth, He was of the
seed of David, "but according to the flesh," by the Virgin Mary, who was
espoused to Joseph. When they answered then that Christ was David's Son,
Jesus said to them, "How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying,
The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My fight hand, till I put Thine
enemies under Thy feet.66 If David then in spirit call Him Lord, how is
He his Son?"67 And the Jews could not answer Him. So we have it in the
Gospel. He did not deny that He was David's Son, so that they could not
understand that He was also David's Lord. For they acknowledged in Christ
that which He became in time, but they did not understand in Him what He
was in all eternity. Wherefore wishing to teach them His Divinity, He proposed
a question touching His Humanity; as though He would say, "You know that
Christ is David's Son, answer Me, how He is also David's Lord?" And that
they might not say, "He is not David's Lord," He introduced the testimony
of David himself. And what doth he say? He saith indeed the truth. For
you find God in the Psalms saying to David, "Of the fruit of thy body will
I set upon thy seat."68 Here then He is the Son of David. But how is He
the Lord of David, who is David's Son? "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit
Thou on My right hand."69 Can you wonder that David's Son is his Lord,
when you see that Mary was the mother of her Lord? He is David's Lord then
as being God. David's Lord, as being Lord of all; and David's Son, as being
the Son of Man. At once Lord and Son. David's Lord, "who, being in the
form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God;"70 and David's
Son, in that "He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant."71
49 Luke ii. 42.
50 Luke ii. 48, 49.
51 Luke i. 31.
52 Luke i. 32.
55 Ephes. v. 23.
56 Gal. iv. 4.
femina mulier omnis aetatis et conditionis, sive nupta
est, sive non est. Gesenius, Lex. Heb., vide exempla, especially Gen. xxiv.
5 and Isa. iv. 1. Vid. Serm. lii. 10.
59 Gen. ii. 22.
60 Luke ii. 49, 50, 51.
61 Wisd. viii. 1.
62 Rom. i. 3.
64 Rom. ix. 5.
65 Matt. xxii. 42.
66 Ps. cx. 1.
67 Matt. xxii. 43, 44, 45.
68 Ps. cxxxii. 11.
69 Ps. cx. 1.
70 Phil. ii. 6.
71 Phil. ii. 7.