John Chrysostom: “And Jesus seeing the multitudes went up into the mountain…” Monday, Aug 3 2015 

John_Chrysostom“And Jesus seeing the multitudes went up into the mountain, and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him. And He opened His mouth, and taught them…” (Matthew 5:1-2; prologue to the Sermon on the Mount)….

See how unambitious He was, and void of boasting, in that He did not lead people about with Him.

When healing was required, He had Himself gone about everywhere, visiting both towns and country places.

Now when the multitude is become very great, He sits in one spot; and that not in the midst of any city or forum, but on a mountain and in a wilderness.

And He instructs us to do nothing for display, and to separate ourselves from the tumults of ordinary life, and this most especially, when we are to study wisdom, and to discourse of things needful to be done.

But when He had gone up into the mount, and “was set down, His disciples came unto Him.”

Do you see their growth in virtue, and how in a moment they became better men?

Since the multitude were but gazers on the miracles, but these from that hour desired also to hear some great and high thing.

And indeed this it was set Him on His teaching, and made Him begin this discourse.

For it was not men’s bodies only that He was healing, but He was also amending their souls; and again from the care of these He would pass to attendance on the other.

Thus He at once varied the succour that He gave, and likewise mingled with the instruction afforded by His words the manifestation of His glory from His works.

And besides, He stopped the shameless mouths of the heretics, signifying by this His care of both parts of our being, that He Himself is the Maker of the whole creation.

Therefore also on each nature He bestowed abundant providence, now amending the one, now the other. And in this way He was then employed. For it is said, that “He opened His mouth, and taught them.”

And wherefore is the clause added, “He opened His mouth”? To inform us  that in His very silence He gave instruction, and not when He spoke only, but at one time by “opening His mouth,” at another uttering His voice by the works which He did.

But when you hear that He taught them, do not think of Him as discoursing with His disciples only, but rather with all through them.

For since the multitude was such as a multitude ever is, and consisted moreover of such as creep on the ground,  He withdraws the choir of His disciples, and makes His discourse unto them.

In His conversation with them He provides that the rest also, who were yet very far from the level of His sayings, might find His lesson of self-denial no longer grievous unto them.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homilies on the Gospel According to St Matthew, 15, 1 (on Matthew 5:1-2); slightly adapted.

John Maximovitch: Seeing the Light of the Risen Christ with the Eyes of the Heart Wednesday, Apr 23 2014 

Saint John Maximovich Tobolsk editedLet us cleanse our senses and see through the gleaming, unapproachable light of Christ’s Resurrection.

Now is everything filled-full with light — the heavens, the earth, and the underworld.

All is presently bathed in light: Christ is risen from the dead.

The heavens make merry, the earth rejoiceth, the underworld exulteth.

The Angels in Heaven hymn Thy Resurrection, O Christ-Saviour. Do Thou make us, on earth, also worthy to glorify Thee with a pure heart.

The Angelic Choir, horrified at seeing Its Creator and Master dead, doth now, in joyous song, glorify Him resurrected.

Today doth Adam exult, and Eve rejoiceth; and with them do the Prophets and Patriarchs sing worthy songs to the Creator of all and to our Deliverer, Who did descend into the underworld for our sake.

The Giver of Life doth lead men out of hell this day, and up-lifteth them to Heaven; He layeth low the powers of the enemy and breaketh down the gates of hell by the Divine power of His authority.

On earth, the Angels announce the gladsome tidings to men and declare Christ’s Resurrection. Attired in gleaming white robes, the Angels ask the Myrrh-bearing Women:

“Why seek ye the Living One amongst the dead? He is risen; He is not here! Come, see the place where the Lord did lie.”

The Myrrh-bearing women rush to the Apostles, bearing to them the joyous news. And through the Apostles and the Gospel is Christ’s Resurrection preached unto all the world today.

Not all the Apostles immediately saw the risen Christ through spiritual eyes. Two disciples travelling to Emmaus did see Jesus walking with them, but did not recognize Him till such time as He had warmed their saddened hearts; and then were their spiritual eyes opened.

Mary Magdalene conversed with Christ in the garden, but neither recognized Him nor was cognizant of the mystery of the Resurrection, until the voice of her beloved Teacher touched her heart and illumined her soul, which had been given to thinking in worldly fashion.

It was the beloved disciple John, whose heart was pure and undimmed by, timidity, who before all others descried the light of the risen Christ through spiritual eyes; and with his bodily eyes did he behold the manifested Lord.

Scattering and dispersing the dark and gloomy tempest of sin, Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, shone forth, gleaming not in the hearts and souls of the Apostles only, but in those of all who draw near to Him with faith, salvation seeking.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed,” Christ sayeth; “blessed are those who have perceived Me not with bodily eyes, but with the eyes of the heart.”

John Maximovitch (John of Shanghai and san Francisco; Orthodox Church; 1896-1966): A Paschal Epistle of Archbishop John to the Western European and East Asian Flock and to All His Spiritual Children, 1956, Paris, Translated into English by G. Spruksts, “Orthodox Rus”, No. 7, 1996, p.5.

John Chrysostom: “You are the Salt of the Earth” Sunday, Feb 9 2014 

John_Chrysostom“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matthew 5:13).

Now then, after giving the disciples due exhortation [i.e. in the Beatitudes], Jesus refreshes them again with praises.

The injunctions being high, and far surpassing those in the Old Testament; lest they should be disturbed and confounded, He does not want them to say, “How shall we be able to achieve these things?”

Hear, then,  what He says: “Ye are the salt of the earth.”

[…] For “not for your own life apart,” says He, “but for the whole world, shall your account be.

“For not to two cities, nor to ten or twenty, nor to a single nation am I sending you, as I sent the prophets; but to earth, and sea, and the whole world; and that in evil case.”

For by saying, “Ye are the salt of the earth,” He signified all human nature to have “lost its savor,”and to be decayed by our sins.

For which cause, you see, He requires of them such virtues, as are most necessary and useful for the superintendence of the common sort.

For first, the meek, and yielding, and merciful, and righteous, shuts not up his good deeds unto himself only, but also provides that these good fountains should run over for the benefit of others.

And he again who is pure in heart, and a peacemaker, and is persecuted for the truth’s sake; he again orders his way of life for the common good.

“Think not then,” He says, “that ye are drawn on to ordinary conflicts, or that for some small matters you are to give account.”

“Ye are the salt of the earth.” What then? Did they restore the decayed? By no means; for neither is it possible to do any good to that which is already spoilt, by sprinkling it with salt.

This therefore they did not. But rather, what things had been before restored, and committed to their charge, and freed from that ill savor, these they then salted, maintaining and preserving them in that freshness,which they had received of the Lord.

For that men should be set free from the rottenness of their sins was the good work of Christ; but their not returning to it again any more was the object of these men’s diligence and travail.

[…]  “But if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

[…] He tells them, “unless ye are prepared to combat with all this, ye have been chosen in vain.” For it is not evil report that ye should fear, but lest ye should prove partners in dissimulation. For then, “Ye will lose your savor, and be trodden under foot.”

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homilies on the Gospel According to St Matthew, 15, 10.