June 21 Epistle Reading

Romans 12:4-5; 15-21

[4] For as we have many members in one body, and all members have
not the same office:[5] So we, being many, are one body in
Christ, and every one members one of another.[15] Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that
weep.[16] Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not
high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your
own conceits.[17] Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide
things honest in the sight of all men.[18] If it be
possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.[19]
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto
wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the
Lord.[20] Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he
thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on
his head.[21] Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil
with good.

Chrysostom's Homily 21 is great regarding the first part of this passage…

"Again he uses the same ensample as he does to the
Corinthians, and that to allay the same passion.
For great is the power of the medicine, and the force of this
illustration for the correcting of this disease of haughtiness.
Why (he means) do you think highly of yourself? Or why again does
another utterly despise himself? Are we not all one
body, both great and small? When then we are in the total number but
one, and members one of another, why do you by your haughtiness
separate yourself? Why do you put your brother to shame? For as he is a
member of you, so are you also of him. And it is on this score that
your claims to honor are so equal. For he has stated two things that might take down their haughty spirit:
one that we are members one of another, not the small of the great
only, but also the great of the small; and another, that we are all one
body. Or rather there are three points, since he shows that the gift
was one of grace.

And later in Homily 12 he speaks of v15…

Since it is possible to bless and not to curse,
and yet not to do this out of love, he wishes us
to be penetrated with the warmth of friendship throughout. And this is
why he goes on in these words, that we are not only to bless,
but even feel compassion for their pains and sufferings, whenever we
happen to see them fallen into trouble. Yes, it will be said, but to
join in the sorrows of mourners one can see why he ordered them, but why
ever did he command them the other thing, when it is no such great matter?
Aye, but that requires more of a high Christian temper,
to rejoice with
them that do rejoice,
than to weep with them that weep. For this nature
itself fulfils perfectly: and there is none so hard-hearted as not to
weep over him that is in calamity: but the other requires a very noble soul, so as not
only to keep from envying, but even to feel pleasure
with the person who is in esteem. And this is why
he placed it first. For there is nothing that ties love so firmly as
sharing both joy and pain one with another. Do not then, because you are far from
difficulties yourself, remain aloof from sympathizing too. For when your
neighbor is ill-treated, you ought to make the calamity your own. Take
share then in his tears, that you may lighten his low spirits.
Take share in his joy,
that you may make the joy strike deep
root, and fix the love firmly, and be of service to yourself rather than to him in so doing,
by your weeping rendering yourself merciful, and by your feeling his
pleasure, purging yourself of envy and grudging.
And let me draw your attention to Paul's considerateness.
For he does not say, Put an end to the calamity, lest you should say in
many cases (or perchance πολλάκις) that it
is impossible: but he has enjoined the easier task, and that which you
have in your power. For even if you are not able to remove the evil, yet
contribute tears, and you will take the worst half away. And if you be
not able to increase a man's prosperity, contribute joy, and you will
have made a great addition to it. Therefore it is not abstaining
from envy
only, but what is a much greater thing that he exhorts us to, namely,
joining in the pleasure. For this is a much greater thing than not envying.

On v17 "Recompense to no man evil for evil…" Chrysostom reminds us…

"For if you find fault with another who plots against you, why do you make yourself liable to this accusation? If he did amiss how do you come not to shun imitating him? And observe how he puts no difference here but lays down one law for all. For he does not say, 'recompense not evil' to the believer, but to 'no man' be he heathen, be he contaminated, or what not. 'Provide things honest in the sight of all men.'"

There's so much of this homily that I'd love to copy in here, but no time tonight…

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