Our Christian life must progressively become a constant reaching out in faith to Jesus for healing. There is a constant temptation to imagine we have been healed and no longer need a Healer or Savior. Our condition on this earth and in this present life is that of a beggar. The beatitude of the poor in spirit draws us into the attitude of faith that gains us a hearing with the one whose love despises not the helpless and broken. Our issue of blood is our sin. Nothing we have done, nor any recommendations given by the physicians of this age have brought us peace or healing. The blood that leaks out of our heart is our life, our hopes, and our ideals progressively draining away. Surely we will die without a physician who actually understands our problem! The operation is not complicated, it is as simple as grasping a dangling thread. Our act of faith moves us completely beyond the dead-end of our earthly existence and fruitless striving for happiness. Healer of the hidden corner of darkness in our souls, gently deliver us from the heaviness we cling to! I surrender to your tender, loving, and healing embrace.
What do you suppose the woman did with the years that remained after her healing? What did she spend her time doing? What did she expend her energy on? If the life that was leaking away from you in sin is dried up, what would you do? Certainly you would praise God for His mercy and healing. You would be ready to tell the world about the hidden power of faith.
He created human beings to be incorruptible, making them in his image. But they, straying from their natural duty, have become subject to death and are corrupted, because they were made from the earth. But, through trials, God compels them to penance, so that the evil that had appeared—wickedness—would be burned up, consumed and eliminated through penance, and the place in the soul that was dominated by the unrighteousness that had arisen would be opened to receive virtue and grace.1
Therefore death does not come from God. In fact, “God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living.” In fact, the supreme essence makes all that is to exist, and consequently he is called essence. Death forces what dies into non-being, to the degree that it dies. If in fact something that dies were to die completely, it would certainly arrive at nonexistence. But it dies only to the extent that it does not participate in the essence. In short, the less it exists, the more it dies. The body is less than any kind of life, because to the extent that it remains in its species, it does so thanks to life, whether this regards an animated being or the entire nature of the world. For this reason the body is more subject to death and closer to nonexistence. Thus the life that neglects God, delighting in the fruits of the body, tends toward nonexistence. And this is wickedness.2
FULGENTIUS OF RUSPE:
Every human being is so corrupted by the voluntary sin of the first man that only God, if he wills, can heal a person’s will by his good will. In fact, it is written, “He created all things that they might exist, and the creative forces of the world he made wholesome.” Still, lest human beings would ever think the beginning of their healing derived from themselves, the divine word immediately adds, “And there is no purging medicine in them.” Therefore, though the devil had deprived the first man of faith, he nevertheless did not deprive God of the power to give again what he had first given. Nor could the devil corrupt human nature to such a degree that it could not receive once again what it had lost, thanks to the generosity of God. In fact, the Almighty, who was capable of forming human nature, can also reform and preserve it, healing its fragility through grace.3
If, because of the sorrows the soul has conceived by its love of the world, we are not yet able to taste how sweet the Lord is, let us at least believe what the divine authority wanted said in the holy Scriptures regarding his Son, “born,” as the apostle says, “of the seed of David according to the flesh.” In fact, as it is written in the Gospel, “Everything was made through him, and without him nothing was made.” He is the one who had compassion on our weakness, a weakness that we merited, not by his work but by our will. “Indeed, God created human beings for immortality” and gave them free will. A person would not be excellent if he were to observe God’s commandments out of necessity and not through his own will.4
Human beings would not have died at the hands of the devil, had it been a matter of being compelled by force. The devil did not have the power to force them, only the shrewdness to seduce them. Without your consent the devil would have remained impotent. It was your consent, O man, that led you to death. Born mortal from a mortal, we became mortal from the immortals that we were. By their origin in Adam all human beings are mortal. But Jesus, the Son of God, the Word of God through whom all things were made, the only-begotten Son, equal to the Father, became mortal. “The Word became flesh and dwelled among us.”5
Indeed, “death entered the world through the devil’s envy, and those who belong to him experience it.” Just as he who was first corrupted by the plague of that same evil was unable to accept the remedy of penitence and the provision for the cure, so also those who offer themselves to be struck by the same poisonous bites preclude any help from the divine enchanter.6
Death is the sword of the devil. “Death entered the world through the devil’s envy.” This is the sword with which he killed the first man, and then the human race, until it was redeemed by Christ. When we sin, we fall under this sword. Christ, however, did not have this sword, because “he committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” He was not subject to original sin, because he was not born of sexual intercourse involving a man—a man who necessarily could not be without sin.7
FULGENTIUS OF RUSPE:
Believe with the firmest faith, not doubting in any way, that Christ, the Son of God, will come to judge the living and the dead. With his coming he will raise, glorify and, according to his promise, make equal to the holy angels those who in this life are freely justified by faith through the gift of his grace. To these same justified ones he gives perseverance until the end in the faith and love of holy mother church. He will lead them to the state in which they are perfectly good, in the measure in which God grants to each. After this they will no longer be able to lose that perfection in which the glory of the saints will differ, but the eternal life of all will be the same.8
Listen, now, to something about riches in answer to the next inquiry in your letter. In it you wrote that some are saying a rich man who continues to live rich cannot enter the kingdom of heaven unless he sells all he has and that it cannot do him any good to keep the commandments while he keeps his riches. Their arguments have overlooked our fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who departed long ago from this life. It is a fact that all these had extensive riches, as the Scripture faithfully bears witness, yet he who became poor for our sakes, although he was truly rich, foretold in a truthful promise that many would come from the east and the west and would sit down not above them nor without them but with them in the kingdom of heaven. Yes, the haughty rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and feasted sumptuously every day, died and was tormented in hell. Nevertheless, if he had shown mercy to the poor man covered with sores who lay at his door and was treated with scorn, he himself would have deserved mercy. And if the poor man’s merit had been his poverty, not his goodness, he surely would not have been carried by angels into the bosom of Abraham who had been rich in this life. This is intended to show us that on the one hand it was not poverty in itself that was divinely honored nor that riches were condemned but that the godliness of the one and the ungodliness of the other had their own consequences.9
How great is the multitude of his sweetness which he hides from those who fear him but which he reveals to those that hope in him! For we understand only in part until that which is perfect comes to us.10
Unless we attain to this likeness [of Christ who became poor], it is impossible for us to achieve a way of life in accord with the gospel of Christ. How, indeed, can we gain either contrition of heart or humility of mind or deliverance from anger, pain, anxieties—in a word, from all destructive movements of the soul—if we are entangled in the riches and cares of a worldly life and cling to others by affection and association?11
It is true that giving should not cause hardship to the givers. But at the same time, a person ought not to keep more than he needs for himself.12
This happened in the case of the manna, when those who gathered more and those who gathered less were found to have the same quantity. God did this in order to punish greed, and Paul recalls it both to alarm them by what happened then and to persuade them never to desire more than they already have or to be anxious because they have less.13
Provide remedies suitable to every patient’s case. Cure them, heal them by all means possible. Restore them soundly to the church. Feed the flock, “not with insolence and contempt, as lording it over them,” but as a gentle shepherd, “gathering the lambs into your bosom, and gently leading those which are with young.”14
So let us draw near then, my beloved, to faith, since its powers are so many. For faith raised up [Enoch] to the heavens and conquered the deluge. Faith causes the barren to sprout forth. It delivers from the sword. It raises up from the pit. It enriches the poor. It releases the captives. It delivers the persecuted. It brings down the fire. It divides the sea. It cleaves the rock, and gives to the thirsty water to drink. It satisfies the hungry. It raises the dead, and brings them up from Sheol. It stills the billows. It heals the sick. It conquers hosts. It overthrows walls. It stops the mouths of lions, and quenches the flame of fire. It humiliates the proud, and brings the humble to honor.15
Someone may wonder or ask: Why are these three apostles always chosen and the others sent away? Even when he was transfigured on the mountain, these three were with him. Yes, these three were chosen: Peter, James and John. But why only three? First there is the mystery of the Trinity embedded in this number, a number sacred in itself. Second, according to Moses, Jacob set three peeled branches in the watering troughs. Finally, it is written: “A three-ply cord is not easily broken.” Peter is chosen as one upon whom the church would be built. James is the first of the apostles to be crowned with martyrdom. John is the beloved disciple whose love prefigures the state of virginity.16
THEODORET OF CYR:
For since eating is appropriate for those living this present life, the Lord necessarily demonstrated this by means of eating and drinking, thus proving the resurrection of the flesh to those who did not think it real. This same course he pursued in the case of Lazarus and of Jairus’ daughter. For when he had raised up the latter he ordered that something should be given her to eat.17
- EXPOSITIONS ON THE PSALMS 1.48. Voicu, S. J. (Ed.). (2010). Apocrypha (p. 44). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- OF TRUE RELIGION 11.22. Voicu, S. J. (Ed.). (2010). Apocrypha (pp. 44–45). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- LETTERS 17.23.45. Voicu, S. J. (Ed.). (2010). Apocrypha (p. 45). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- CHRISTIAN COMBAT 10.11. Voicu, S. J. (Ed.). (2010). Apocrypha (p. 54). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- TRACTATES ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 12.10. Voicu, S. J. (Ed.). (2010). Apocrypha (p. 55). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- CONFERENCES 3.18.16. Voicu, S. J. (Ed.). (2010). Apocrypha (p. 55). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION 6.7. Voicu, S. J. (Ed.). (2010). Apocrypha (p. 56). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- LETTER TO PETER ON THE FAITH 71.28. Voicu, S. J. (Ed.). (2010). Apocrypha (p. 57). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- LETTER 157, TO HILARIUS. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (pp. 272–273). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- FEAST OF THE NATIVITY 194.3. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 273). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- THE LONG RULES 8. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 273). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- COMMENTARY ON PAUL’S EPISTLES. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 274). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians 17.2. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 275). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- CONSTITUTIONS OF THE HOLY APOSTLES 2.3.20. Oden, T. C., & Hall, C. A. (Eds.). (1998). Mark (Revised) (p. 71). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- DEMONSTRATION 4.17-19. Oden, T. C., & Hall, C. A. (Eds.). (1998). Mark (Revised) (p. 72). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- HOMILY 77. Oden, T. C., & Hall, C. A. (Eds.). (1998). Mark (Revised) (p. 72). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- DIALOGUE 2, THE UNCONFOUNDED. Oden, T. C., & Hall, C. A. (Eds.). (1998). Mark (Revised) (p. 73). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.