The Sixth Sunday after Trinity
Chrysostom on Romans
Home of the Sixth Sunday after Trinity
O GOD, who hast prepared for those who love thee such good things as pass man's understanding; Pour into our hearts such love toward thee, that we, loving thee above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Isaiah lvii. 13b, Psalm 16, Romans vi. 3 & St. Matthew v. 20
We also should walk in newness of life
Romans vi. 3KNOW ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
St. Matthew v. 20JESUS said unto his disciples, Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
Extract of Homily X.
Romans vi. 3ff
Ver. 3, 4. “Know ye not,” he says, “my brethren, that so many of us as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death? therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death.”
What does being “baptized into His Death” mean? That it is with a view to our dying as He did. For Baptism is the Cross. What the Cross then, and Burial, is to Christ, that Baptism hath been to us, even if not in the same respects. For He died Himself and was buried in the Flesh, but we have done both to sin. Wherefore he does not say, planted together in His Death, but in the likeness of His Death. For both the one and the other is a death, but not of the same subject; since the one is of the Flesh, that of Christ; the other of sin, which is our own. As then that is real, so is this. But if it be real, then what is of our part again must be contributed. And so he proceeds,
“That as Christ was raised up from the dead by the Glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
Here he hints, along with the duty of a careful walk, at the subject of the resurrection. In what way? Do you believe, he means, that Christ died, and that He was raised again? Believe then the same of thyself. For this is like to the other, since both Cross and Burial is thine. For if thou hast shared in Death and Burial, much more wilt thou in Resurrection and Life. For now the greater is done away with, the sin I mean, it is not right to doubt any longer about the lesser, the doing away of death.
But this he leaves for the present to the conscience of his hearers to reason out, but himself, after the resurrection to come had been set before us, demands of us another, even the new conversation, which is brought about in the present life by a change of habits. When then the fornicator becomes chaste, the covetous man merciful, the harsh subdued, even here a resurrection has taken place, the prelude to the other. And how is it a resurrection? Why, because sin is mortified, and righteousness hath risen again, and the old life hath been made to vanish, and this new and angelic one is being lived in. But when you hear of a new life, look for a great alteration, a wide change. But tears come into my eyes, and I groan deeply to think how great religiousness Paul requires of us, and what listlessness we have yielded ourselves up to, going back after our baptism to the oldness we before had, and returning to Egypt, and remembering the garlic after the manna. (Num. xi. 5.) For ten or twenty days at the very time of our Illumination, we undergo a change, but then take up our former doings again. But it is not for a set number of days, but for our whole life, that Paul requires of us such a conversation. But we go back to our former vomit, thus after the youth of grace building up the old age of sins. For either the love of money, or the slavery to desires not convenient, or any other sin whatsoever, useth to make the worker thereof old. “Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” (Heb. viii. 13.) For there is no body, there surely is none, to be seen as palsied by length of time, as a soul is decayed and tottering with many sins. Such an one gets carried on to the last degree of doting, yielding indistinct sounds, like men that are very old and crazed, being surcharged with rheum, and great distortion of mind, and forgetfulness, and with scales upon its eyes, and disgustful to men, and an easy prey to the devil.
Such then are the souls of sinners; not so those of the righteous, for they are youthful and well-favored, and are in the very prime of life throughout, ever ready for any fight or struggle. But those of sinners, if they receive even a small shock, straightway fall and are undone. And it was this the Prophet made appear, when he said, that like as the chaff which the wind scattereth from the face of the earth (Ps. i. 4), thus are they that live in sin whirled to and fro, and exposed to every sort of harm. For they neither see like a healthy person, nor hear with simplicity, they speak not articulately, but are oppressed with great shortness of breath. They have their mouth overflowing with spittle. And would it were but spittle, and nothing offensive! But now they send forth words more fetid than any mire, and what is worst, they have not power even to spit this saliva of words away from them, but taking it in their hand with much lewdness, they smear it on again, so as to be coagulating, and hard to perspire through. Perhaps ye are sickened with this description. Ought ye not, then to be more so at the reality? For if these things when happening in the body are disgustful, much more when in the soul. Such was that son who wasted out all his share, and was reduced to the greatest wretchedness, and was in a feebler state than any imbecile or disordered person. But when he was willing, he became suddenly young by his decision alone and his change. For as soon as he had said, “I will return to my Father,” this one word conveyed to him all blessings; or rather not the bare word, but the deed which he added to the word. For he did not say, “Let me go back,” and then stay there; but said, Let me go back, and went back, and returned the whole of that way. Thus let us also do; and even if we have gotten carried beyond the boundary, let us go up to our Father’s house, and not stay lingering over the length of the journey. For if we be willing, the way back again is easy and very speedy. Only let us leave the strange and foreign land; for this is what sin is, drawing us far away from our Father’s house; let us leave her then, that we may speedily return to the house of our Father. For our Father hath a natural yearning towards us, and will honor us if we be changed, no less than those that are unattainted, if we change, but even more, just as the father showed that son the greater honor. For he had greater pleasure himself at receiving back his son. And how am I to go back again? one may say. Do but put a beginning upon the business, and the whole is done. Stay from vice, and go no farther into it, and thou hast laid hold of the whole already. For as in the case of the sick, being no worse may be a beginning of getting better, so is the case with vice also. Go no further, and then your deeds of wickedness will have an end. And if you do so for two days, you will keep off on the third day more easily; and after three days you will add ten, then twenty, then an hundred, then your whole life. For the further thou goest on, the easier wilt thou see the way to be, and thou wilt stand on the summit itself, and wilt at once enjoy many goods. For so it was when the prodigal came back, there were flutes, and harps, and dancings, and feasts, and assemblings: and he who might have called his son to account for his ill-timed extravagance, and flight to such a distance, did nothing of the sort, but looked upon him as unattainted, and could not find it in him even to use the language of reproach, or rather, even to mention barely to him the former things, but threw himself upon him, and kissed him, and killed the calf, and put a robe upon him, and placed on him abundant honors. Let us then, as we have such examples before us, be of good cheer and keep from despair. For He is not so well pleased with being called Master, as Father, nor with having a slave as with having a son. And this is what He liketh rather than that.
This then is why He did all that He has done; and “spared not even His Only-begotten Son” (Rom. viii. 32), that we might receive the adoption of sons, that we might love Him, not as a Master only, but as a Father. And if He obtained this of us He taketh delight therein as one that has glory given him, and proclaimeth it to all though He needeth nothing of ours. This is what, in Abraham’s case for instance, He everywhere does, using these words, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” And yet it was they of His household who should have found an honor in this; but now it is the Lord evidently who does this; for this is why He says to Peter, “Lovest thou Me more than these?” (John xxi. 17) to show that He seeketh nothing so much as this from us. For this too He bade Abraham offer his son to Him, that He might make it known to all that He was greatly beloved by the patriarch. Now this desire to be loved exceedingly comes from loving exceedingly. For this cause too He said to the Apostles, “He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me.” (Matt. x. 37.) For this cause He bids us esteem that even which is in the most close connection with us, our soul (or, life, v. 39, and John xii. 25), as second to the love of him, since He wisheth to be beloved by us with exceeding entireness. For we too, if we have no strong feelings about a person, have no strong desire for his friendship either, though he be great and noble; whereas when we love any one warmly and really, though the person loved be of low rank and humble, yet we esteem love from him as a very great honor. And for this reason He Himself also called it glory not to be loved by us only, but even to suffer those shameful things in our behalf. (ib. 23.) However, those things were a glory owing to love only. But whatever we suffer for Him, it is not for love alone; but even for the sake of the greatness and dignity of Him we long for, that it would with good reason both be called glory, and be so indeed. Let us then incur dangers for Him as if running for the greatest crowns, and let us esteem neither poverty, nor disease, nor affront, nor calumny, nor death itself, to be heavy and burdensome, when it is for Him that we suffer these things. For if we be right-minded, we are the greatest possible gainers by these things, as neither from the contrary to these shall we if not right-minded gain any advantage. But consider; does any one affront thee and war against thee? Doth he not thereby set thee upon thy guard, and give thee an opportunity of growing like unto God? For if thou lovest him that plots against thee, thou wilt be like Him that “maketh His Sun to rise upon the evil and good.” (Matt. v. 45.) Does another take thy money away? If thou bearest it nobly, thou shalt receive the same reward as they who have spent all they have upon the poor. For it says, “Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” (Heb. x. 34.) Has any one reviled thee and abused thee, whether truly or falsely, he weaves for thee a very great crown if thou bearest meekly his contumely; since he too, who calumniates, provides for us an abundant reward. For “rejoice,” it says, “and be exceeding glad, when men say all manner of evil against you falsely, because great is your reward in Heaven.” (Matt. v. 12, 11.) And he too that speaketh truth against us is of the greatest service, if we do but bear meekly what is said. For the Pharisee spake evil of the Publican, and with truth, still instead of a Publican he made him a righteous man. (Luke xviii. 11.) And what need to go into particular instances. For any one that will go to the conflicts of Job may learn all these points accurately. And this is why Paul said, “God for us, who against us?” (Rom. viii. 31.) As then by being earnest, we gain even from things that vex us, so by being listless, we do not even improve from things that favor us. For what did Judas profit, tell me, by being with Christ? or what profit was the Law to the Jew? or Paradise to Adam? or what did Moses profit those in the wilderness? And so we should leave all, and look to one point only, how we may husband aright our own resources. And if we do this, not even the devil himself will ever get the better of us, but will make our profiting the greater, by putting us upon being watchful. Now in this way it is that Paul rouses the Ephesians, by describing his fierceness. Yet we sleep and snore, though we have to do with so crafty an enemy. And if we were aware of a serpent nestling by our bed, we should make much ado to kill him. But when the devil nestleth in our souls, we fancy that we take no harm, but lie at our ease; and the reason is, that we see him not with the eyes of our body. And yet this is why we should rouse us the more and be sober. For against an enemy whom one can perceive, one may easily be on guard; but one that cannot be seen, if we be not continually in arms, we shall not easily escape. And the more so, because he hath no notion of open combat (for he would surely be soon defeated), but often under the appearance of friendship he insinuates the venom of his cruel malice. In this way it was that he suborned Job’s wife, by putting on the mask of natural affectionateness, to give that wretchless advice. And so when conversing with Adam, he puts on the air of one concerned and watching over his interests, and saith, that “your eyes shall be opened in the day that ye eat of the tree.” (Gen. iii. 5.) Thus Jephtha too he persuaded, under the pretext of religion, to slay his daughter, and to offer the sacrifice the Law forbade. Do you see what his wiles are, what his varying warfare? Be then on thy guard, and arm thyself at all points with the weapons of the Spirit, get exactly acquainted with his plans, that thou mayest both keep from being caught, and easily catch him. For it was thus that Paul got the better of him, by getting exactly acquainted with these. And so he says, “for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2 Cor. ii. 11.) Let us then also be earnest in learning and avoiding his stratagems, that after obtaining a victory over him, we may, whether in this present life or in that which is to come, be proclaimed conquerors, and obtain those unalloyed blessings, by the grace and love toward man, etc.