June 12 Gospel Reading

Matthew 7:24 – 8:4

[24] Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth
them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a
rock:[25] And the rain descended, and the floods came, and
the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was
founded upon a rock.[26] And every one that heareth these
sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish
man, which built his house upon the sand:[27] And the rain
descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that
house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.[28] And it
came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were
astonished at his doctrine:[29] For he taught them as one
having authority, and not as the scribes.[1] When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes
followed him.[2] And, behold, there came a leper and
worshiped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.[3]
And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou
clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.[4] And Jesus
saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to
the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony
unto them.

In St. John Chrysostom's Homily 24, he said (referring to v.24-27):

"…all His discourse had been touching the future; of a kingdom, and an unspeakable reward and consolation…His will is, out of things here also to give them their fruits, and to signify how great is the strength of virtue even in the present life. What then is this her strength? To live in safety, to be easily subdued by no terror, to stand superior to all that despitefully use us. To this what can be equal? For this, not even he that wears the diadem can provide for himself, but that man who follows after virtue. For he alone is possessed of it in full abundance: in the ebb and flow of the things present he enjoys a great calm…but when the storm is vehement, and the turmoil great, and the temptations continual, he cannot be shaken ever so little…"

"…he is expressing metaphorically the calamities and afflictions that befall men; such as false accusations, plots, bereavements, deaths, loss of friends, vexations from strangers, all the ills in our life that any one could mention…he calls the steadfastness of His doctrine a rock; because in truth His commands are stronger than any rock, setting one above all the waves of human affairs…it is not vain boasting so to speak, Job is our witness, who received all the assaults of the devil, and stood unmoveable; and the apostles too are our witnesses, for that when the waves of the whole world were beating against them…they stood firmer than a rock, and dispersed it all."

"And now, what can be happier than this kind of life?…not wealth, not strength of body, not glory, not power, nor ought else will be able to secure, but only the possession of virtue. For there is not, nay there is not another life we may find free from all evils, but this alone."

"And well did He call this man 'foolish': for what can be more senseless than one building a house on the sand, and while he submits to the labor, depriving himself of the fruit and refreshment, and instead thereof undergoing punishment?…For Paul too intimated this when he said, 'He that soweth to his flesh, shall of his flesh reap corruption.' To this man are they like also, who build on the sand; as those that are given up to fornication, to wantonness, to drunkenness, to anger, to all the other things." 

Later in Chrysostom's Homily 25, he spoke of v. 28ff:

"…it was rather natural for them to grieve at the unpleasantness of His sayings, and to shudder at the loftiness of His injunctions; but now so great was the power of the Teacher, that many of them were even caught thereby, and thrown into very great admiration, and persuaded by reason of the sweetness of His sayings, not even when He ceased to speak, to depart from Him at all afterwards. For neither did the hearers depart, He having come down from the mountain, but even the whole auditory followed Him; so great a love for His sayings had He instilled into them…they were astonished most of all at His authority…everywhere indicating Himself to be the person that had the power of deciding."

Then came the leper (v2), healed and sent on his way to show himself at the temple…

"But what, it may be said, doth this saying, 'Show thyself to the priest,' contribute to the keeping of the law? No little. Because it was an ancient law, that the leper when cleansed should not entrust to himself the judgment of his cleansing, but should show himself to the priest, and present the demonstration thereof to his eyes, and by that sentence be numbered amongst the clean. For if the priest said not 'The leper is cleansed,' he remained still with the unclean without the camp. Wherefore he saith, 'Show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded.' He said not, 'which I command,' but for a time remits him to the law, by every means stopping their mouths. Thus, lest they should say, He had seized upon the priests' honor; though He performed the work Himself, yet the approving it He entrusted to them, and made them sit as judges of His own miracles. 'Why, I am so far,' He saith, 'from striving either with Moses or with the priests, that I guide the objects of my favor to submit themselves unto them.'" (Homily 25: 3)

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