If ignorant, how could they be sorrowful? Because they were not altogether ignorant. They knew that he was soon to die, for they had continually been told about it. But just what this death might mean, they did not grasp clearly, nor that there would be a speedy recognition of it, from which innumerable blessings would flow. They did not see that there would be a resurrection. This is why they grieved.1
Observe a tree, how it first tends downwards, that it may then shoot forth upwards. It fastens its root low in the ground, that it may send forth its top towards heaven. Is it not from humility that it endeavors to rise? But without humility it will not attain to higher things. You are wanting to grow up into the air without a root. Such is not growth, but a collapse.2
GREGORY OF NYSSA:
Let vanity be unknown among you. Let simplicity and harmony and a guileless attitude weld the community together. Let each remind himself that he is not only subordinate to the brother at his side, but to all. If he knows this, he will truly be a disciple of Christ.3
If you are in love with precedence and the highest honor, pursue the things in last place, pursue being the least valued of all, pursue being the lowliest of all, pursue being the smallest of all, pursue placing yourselves behind others.4
DOROTHEUS OF GAZA:
A monk who truly sets out to serve God, according to Wisdom, must prepare his soul against temptation lest he might at any time become separated from God or be overwhelmed by what happens to him. He must also believe that nothing happens without the providence of God. And since, in the providence of God, everything that happens is surely good and for the advantage of the soul, everything that happens is for our good and happens because God loves us and protects us. And we should, as the apostle says, “give thanks in all things for his goodness to us” and not drag ourselves down or lose heart about what happens to us but accept the events convinced, as I have said, that all those things that God does to us, he always does out of goodness because he loves us. And what he does is always right. Indeed, it would be impossible for things to go well otherwise except for this mercy of God.5
God often holds some kind of threat over our heads—not so that he may inflict it on us but so that he can draw us to himself. When we return to him, the fear quickly dissipates. Certainly, if we were the same person in temptations that we are when at ease, there would be no need for temptations.
Being conscious of all these things, according to the wise saying, let us “not be hasty in time of calamity.” Rather, let us teach ourselves only one thing: how to bear all nobly and not to be curious or inquisitive about any of the things that are happening. For to know when our tribulations will be over and done with belongs to God who permits them to happen to us. But to bear what is brought on us, with all thankfulness, is all the work of a good disposition on our part. And if this is the case, then all our blessings will follow.6
GAUDENTIUS OF BRESCIA:
With even greater clarity another passage of the Scriptures that sounds quite similar says, “Gold and silver are refined in the fire, the just, however, in the furnace of humiliation.” This is because, after the just have felt the heat of temptation and been weighed down by the burden of tribulations, there will be not even the slightest rise in them of pride over the merits of the justice they have received for their past actions, knowing that they will soon be rewarded with the very price of immortality. Indeed, the just become even more commendable in Christ when in good will they persevere in humility as those who are rich in sacred virtue and humble in heart.7
- THE GOSPEL OF ST. MATTHEW, HOMILY 58. Oden, T. C., & Hall, C. A. (Eds.). (1998). Mark (Revised) (p. 119). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, SERMON 38. Oden, T. C., & Hall, C. A. (Eds.). (1998). Mark (Revised) (p. 120). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- ON THE CHRISTIAN MODE OF LIFE 8.1. Oden, T. C., & Hall, C. A. (Eds.). (1998). Mark (Revised) (p. 120). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- THE GOSPEL OF ST. MATTHEW, HOMILY 58. Oden, T. C., & Hall, C. A. (Eds.). (1998). Mark (Revised) (p. 120). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- SPIRITUAL INSTRUCTIONS 13.138. Voicu, S. J. (Ed.). (2010). Apocrypha (p. 186). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- HOMILIES ON THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 10.8. Voicu, S. J. (Ed.). (2010). Apocrypha (p. 187). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- TO BENIVOLUS 51–53. Voicu, S. J. (Ed.). (2010). Apocrypha (p. 188). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.