July 4 Epistle Reading

Romans 12:6-14

[6] Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is
given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the
proportion of faith;[7] Or ministry, let us wait on our
ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;[8] Or he that
exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with
simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with
cheerfulness.[9] Let love be without dissimulation (NIV-sincere, ESV-genuine, NASB-without hypocrisy). Abhor
that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.[10] Be
kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour
preferring one another;[11] Not slothful in business; fervent
in spirit; serving the Lord;[12] Rejoicing in hope; patient
in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;[13]
Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.[14]
Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

St. John Chrysostom in his Homily 21 on Romans said… (deserves to be read IN FULL!!!)

(regarding v.9 'Let love be without dissimulation,') "If you have this, you will not perceive the loss of your money, the labor of your person, the toil of your words, your trouble, and your ministering, but you will bear all courageously, whether it be with person, or money, or word, or any other thing whatsoever, that you are to assist your neighbor…if a man have this, everything else follows…he that shows mercy does so with cheerfulness (for he is giving to himself): and he that aids, aids with diligence; for it is for himself he is aiding: and he that imparts does this with largeness: for he is bestowing it on himself…since there is a love even for ill things…he clears it of all of these, by saying, 'Abhor that which is evil.' And he does not speak of refraining from it, but of hating it, and not merely hating it, but hating it exceedingly…this word is often of intensive force with him…many who do not evil things still have a desire after them, therefore he says, 'Abhor.' For what he wants is to purify the thought, and that we should have a mighty enmity, hatred and war against vice. For do not fancy, he means, because I said, 'Love one another,' that I mean you to go so far as to cooperate even in bad actions with one another; for the law that I am laying down is just the reverse. Since it would have you an alien not from the action only, but even from the inclination towards vice; and not merely an alien from the same inclination, but to have an excessive aversion and hatred of it too…he is not content with only this, but he also brings in the practice of virtue. 'Cleave to that which is good.' He does not speak of doing only, but of being disposed too…

"…then he mentions reasons why we ought to love one another… (v.10) 'Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love.'…not merely loving, but the loving of relatives…not only must one's 'love be without dissimulation,' but intense also, and warm, and glowing…to what purpose would you love without fraud, and not love with warmth?…be friends, and warm ones too…do not wait to be loved by another, but leap at it yourself, and be the first to begin it. For so will you reap the wages of his love also…he tells us also the way in which the affection may grow unchangeable…'In honor preferring one another.'…this is the way that affection is produced, and also when produced abides…there is nothing which makes friends so much, as the earnest endeavor to overcome one's neighbor in honoring him…"

(v.11 'Not backward in zeal.') "And how are we to become 'not backward in zeal?' 'Fervent in spirit.' See how in every instance he aims after higher degrees; for he does not say 'give' only, but 'with largeness;' nor 'rule,' but do it 'with diligence;' nor 'show mercy,' but do it 'with cheerfulness;' nor 'honor,' but 'prefer one another;' nor 'love,' but do it 'without dissimulation;' nor refrain from 'evil' things, but 'hate' them; nor hold to 'what is good,' but 'cleave' to it; nor 'love,' but to do it 'with brotherly affection;' nor be zealous, but be so without backwardness; nor have the 'Spirit,' but have it 'fervent,' that is, that you may be warm and awakened…if This abide with you, It will likewise make you good for those purposes, and all things will be easy from the Spirit and the love, while you are made to glow from both sides."

"For all these things are fuel for that fire…love makes things easy, and the Spirit assists, and hope lightens, and tribulation makes you tried and apt for bearing everything nobly, and you have along with these another very great weapon, to wit, 'prayer' and the aidances that come of prayer, what further grievousness can there be in what he is enjoining? Surely none. You see how in every way he gives the wrestler firm footing and shows that the injunctions are perfectly easy."

Near the end of this homily, Chrysostom brings it back to Christ…

"For you are the servant of Him Who healed those that stoned Him, or rather was crucified for them. And do not tell me that he killed another, for even if he were going to kill you yourself, even then you should not neglect him when starving…you are a disciple of Him Who desired the salvation even of them that crucified Him Who said upon the Cross itself, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' (Lk.23:34) You are the servant of Him Who healed him that smote Him, Who upon the Cross itself crowned the man who had scorned Him…is troubled and confounded at seeing the traitor…He bore with Him to the last hour, and thrust not away the traitor, but even kissed him. Your Master kisses, and with His lips receives him who was on the very point of shedding His precious Blood."

"And do you count the poor not worthy even of a loaf…He shows that we ought not to turn aside, not only from the poor, but not even from those that would lead us away to death…even if he were upon the point of thrusting a sword down into you, and to plunge his hand into your neck itself, kiss this very right hand! since even Christ kissed that mouth which wrought His death!…do not thou either hate, but bewail and pity him that plots against you."

"For we are the servants of Him Who kissed even the traitor, and spoke words unto him more gentle than the kiss. But in what words? 'Judas'…using his own name…recalling him."

Pa 7
(Byzantine painting on Jesus' arrest…)


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