FULGENTIUS OF RUSPE:
We defeat the adversary only if we fight with tears and with prayers, in continual humility of heart. It is written, in fact, that “the prayer of the humble penetrates the clouds and is not withdrawn from God until it is answered.” The weeping of the humble is therefore a great antidote against carnal concupiscence. Tears that spring from compunction of heart defeat the enemy and gain for us the gift of a victorious happiness. In fact, those who “go out weeping, scattering their seeds, will return rejoicing, carrying their sheaves.” How wisely the holy prophet teaches that the seeds of good works must be watered with rivers of tears! Indeed, no seed germinates without being watered. Nor does a seed bear fruit if it has been without the benefit of water. We also, therefore, if we wish to harvest the fruits of our seeds, should not cease watering them with tears, which should spring from the heart more than from the body. This is why we are told through the prophet to rend our hearts, not our garments.1
Does it not strike you when the Lord says in the Gospel, “When the Son of man comes, do you think he will find faith on earth?” Knowing that some would arrogantly attribute this faith to themselves, he immediately said, “To some who seemed to themselves to be just and despised others, he spoke this parable. Two men went up into the temple to pray: the one a Pharisee and the other a publican, etc.”2
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA:
No one who is in good health ridicules one who is sick for being laid up and bedridden. He is rather afraid, for perhaps he may become the victim of similar sufferings. A person in battle, because another has fallen, does not praise himself for having escaped from misfortune. The weakness of others is not a suitable subject for praise for those who are in health.3
The Pharisee was not rejoicing so much in his own clean bill of health as in comparing it with the diseases of others. He came to the doctor. It would have been more worthwhile to inform him by confession of the things that were wrong with himself instead of keeping his wounds secret and having the nerve to crow over the scars of others. It is not surprising that the tax collector went away cured, since he had not been ashamed of showing where he felt pain.4
BASIL THE GREAT:
Never place yourself above anyone, not even great sinners. Humility often saves a sinner who has committed many terrible transgressions.5
- LETTERS 4.9.5. Voicu, S. J. (Ed.). (2010). Apocrypha (p. 349). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- LETTER 89. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 279). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 120. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 279). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- SERMON 351.1. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 279). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- ON HUMILITY. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 280). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.