Tuesday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time


There certainly is much truth in a certain saying of a philosopher, “Every rich man is either wicked or the heir of wickedness.” That is why the Lord and Savior says that it is difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Someone may raise the objection, “How did wealthy Zacchaeus enter the kingdom of heaven?” He gave away his wealth and immediately replaced it with the riches of the heavenly kingdom. The Lord and Savior did not say that the rich would not enter the kingdom of heaven but that they will enter with difficulty.1


Come and let us see what was the method of Zacchaeus’s conversion. He desired to see Jesus and therefore climbed into a sycamore tree, and so a seed of salvation sprouted within him. Christ saw this with the eyes of deity. Looking up, he also saw Zacchaeus with the eyes of humanity, and since it was his purpose for all to be saved, he extends his gentleness to him. To encourage him, he says, “Come down quickly.” Zacchaeus searched to see Christ, but the multitude prevented him, not so much that of the people but of his sins. He was short of stature, not merely in a bodily point of view but also spiritually. He could not see him unless he were raised up from the earth and climbed into the sycamore, by which Christ was about to pass. The story contains a puzzle. In no other way can a person see Christ and believe in him except by climbing up into the sycamore, by making foolish his earthly members of fornication, uncleanness, etc.2


Zacchaeus must be praised. His riches were unable to keep him from the royal threshold. He should be greatly praised because his riches brought him to the threshold of the kingdom. From this, we understand that wealth is not a hindrance but a help to attaining the glory of Christ. While we possess it, we should not squander it on wild living but give it away for the sake of salvation. There is no crime in possessions, but there is crime in those who do not know how to use possessions. For the foolish, wealth is a temptation to vice, but for the wise, it is a help to virtue. Some receive an opportunity for salvation, but others acquire an obstacle of condemnation.3


He says that the angel, that is, the bishop, exercises insufficient diligence in the correction of evil people. Nonetheless, he commends him for having some who walk in white garments, and to these the name of “Sardis” corresponds, namely, “precious stone.” … Indeed, you seem to yourself to be alive, but unless you are vigilant in the correction of the wicked, you will be regarded as already among the dead.… Even though he might seem to people to be guiltless, the works of a ruler are not perfect before God if he does not strive to enliven also others.4


“He who conquers” the passions will wear white robes in the age to come, for he has promised in the Gospels that the saints will shine as the sun and the moon. The pure, he says, will be inscribed in the book of the living, for that blessed and eternal life.5


Laodicea is interpreted “tribe beloved of the Lord” or “they were in vomit.” For there were some there to whom he had said, “I will begin to spew you out of my mouth,” and others to whom he said, “Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise.” According to the Greek, [Laodicea] is interpreted “just people.”6


Let us not only beware of serious sins, as I suggested above, but let us also spurn small daily acts of negligence as the poison of the devil. There are some people who are weakened by excessive unconcern after their religious profession, because they seem to have left the world. In such people is fulfilled that sentence of our Lord in which it is said, “How I wish you were one or the other—hot or cold! But because you are lukewarm, I will spew you out of my mouth!” What does it mean that he said, How I wish you were one or the other—hot or cold? This means that it would have been better for you to have remained cold in the world or to be fervent in the monastery. Now because you have withdrawn from the world and still have refused to acquire spiritual warmth because of your carelessness, you have become lukewarm and will be vomited from the Lord’s mouth, scarcely ever to be recovered again. For this reason, dearest brothers, with God’s help carefully listen to the sentence of sacred Scripture, in which it is said, “With closest custody guard your heart.” There should be rejoicing over the monk who has come to the monastery and, in a meek and humble spirit, wills to practice meekness, obedience and patience.7


If you wish to be rich, he says, with a zealous intent and a willing heart obtain from me, who makes rich, gold that has been purified in fire, namely, the word of teaching that is made brilliant in the fire of temptations. And through this you will have in your heart a treasure that is secure, and you will wear the bright stole of virtue, through which the nakedness, which has come to you by sin, will be clothed. The salve is certainly poverty. For, if “gifts make blind the eyes of those who see,” then certainly that which is incorruptible will open them.8


Let us strive, then, to bear the injuries that are inflicted by the evil one, that the struggle to maintain our self-control may put to shame the enemy’s efforts. If, however, through imprudence or even of our own free will we draw down upon ourselves some misfortune, we should submit with equal patience to that which we impute to ourselves. But if we believe God strikes some blow of misfortune, to whom would it be better that we manifest patience than to our Lord? In fact, more than this, it befits us to rejoice at being deemed worthy of divine chastisement: “As for me,” he says, “those whom I love I chastise.” Blessed is that servant upon whose correction the Lord insists, at whom he deigns to be angry, whom he does not deceive by omitting his admonition!9


He who consoles the sinner with flattering blandishments furnishes the means for sinning and does not check transgressions but nourishes them. But he who rebukes at the same time that he instructs with firmer counsels urges a brother on to salvation. “Whom I love,” says the Lord, “I rebuke and chastise.” Thus also ought the priest of the Lord not to deceive by pretended submissions but to provide salutary remedies. A physician is unskilled who handles the swelling folds of wounds with a sparing hand and increases the poison inclosed within the deep recesses of the vital organs as he cares for it. The wound must be opened and cut and treated by a sterner remedy by cutting out the corrupting parts. Although the sick man, impatient by reason of his pain, cries out, shrieks and complains, he will give thanks afterwards, when he has experienced good health.10


The kindness of God leads us to penance. He afflicts us with trials, he corrects us with infirmities, teaches us with cares, so that we who have sinned in the health of the body may learn to abstain from sins in infirmity. We who scorned the mercy of God in frivolity, corrected by the lash of sadness should fear his justice. Thus it comes about that we who by abusing health have begotten infirmity for ourselves, through that infirmity may again procure the benefits of health. And we who through frivolity have fallen into trials, through these trials may regain happiness. Holy Scripture bears witness that God’s love for us is shown more by the lash and correction. For it says, “My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproofs, for the Lord reproves the one he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” And the Savior himself says that he loves those he reproves, saying, “Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise.” The teaching of the apostles does not cease to proclaim that “it is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” The Lord himself also says that the road which leads to life is constricted and the gate narrow.11


Now, our Lord and God, who withholds punishment of these [wicked] people in his justice, does not cease to exercise his children with diverse tribulations, as we read: “God scourges every son whom he receives,” and, “those whom I love I rebuke and chastise.” If he scourges every son he receives, then if he does not chastise a person, he does not accept him. If he chastises all whom he loves, he does not love a person if he does not chastise him. The power of God does not effect this, but the wickedness of people merits to suffer it, according to what is written: “He who is filthy, let him be filthy still. He who is just, let him be just still.”  SERMON 5.3.  Weinrich, W. C. (Ed.). (2005). Revelation (p. 54). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.[/note]


“Behold,” he says, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with me.” Here the Lord reveals his own humble and peaceful nature. The devil with axe and hammer smashes the doors of those who do not receive him, as the prophet said, but the Lord even now in the Song of Songs says to the bride, “Open to me, my sister, my bride.” And should someone open to him, he will come in, but if not, he goes away. That supper which is with the Lord signifies the reception of the holy mysteries.12


  1. HOMILY ON PSALM 83 (84).  Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 290). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  2. COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 127.  Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 290). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  3. SERMONS 95–96.  Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 291). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  4. EXPLANATION OF THE APOCALYPSE 3.1–2.  Weinrich, W. C. (Ed.). (2005). Revelation (p. 40). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  5. COMMENTARY ON THE APOCALYPSE 3.1–6.  Weinrich, W. C. (Ed.). (2005). Revelation (p. 41). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  6. EXPLANATION OF THE APOCALYPSE 3.14.  Weinrich, W. C. (Ed.). (2005). Revelation (p. 49). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  7. SERMON 235.4, TO MONKS.  Weinrich, W. C. (Ed.). (2005). Revelation (pp. 51–52). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  8. COMMENTARY ON THE APOCALYPSE 3.18.  Weinrich, W. C. (Ed.). (2005). Revelation (p. 52). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  9. ON PATIENCE 11.3–4.  Weinrich, W. C. (Ed.). (2005). Revelation (p. 53). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  10. THE LAPSED 14.  Weinrich, W. C. (Ed.). (2005). Revelation (p. 53). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  11. LETTER 7.16, TO VENANTIA.  Weinrich, W. C. (Ed.). (2005). Revelation (p. 53). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  12. COMMENTARY ON THE APOCALYPSE 3.14–22.  Weinrich, W. C. (Ed.). (2005). Revelation (p. 55). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
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