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Selected Sermons, Volume 3

Peter Chrysologus

Publication Year: 2010

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press

Series: The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xii

With the publication of this volume all of Chrysologus’s authentic sermons are now available in English in the Fathers of the Church series. This translation is based upon the text edited by Dom Alejandro Olivar in CCL 24A and 24B. If a reading at variance with the CCL text is used, indication is given in a...


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pp. xiii-xiv

Select Bibliography

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pp. xv-xviii

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72a A First on the Lord’s Passion

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pp. 1-5

After the heavenly miracle of the Virgin birth shone throughout the whole world, the joyful festivities marking the Lord’s birth were completed, and the venerable feast of Epiphany also has been celebrated, the Lord foretells the sequence of the events surrounding his...

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72b A Second on the Lord’s Passion

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pp. 6-11

Recently when we heard the many bitter2 indignities comprising the Lord’s Passion, we suddenly came to wonder why God, who has created by his command and has marked off by his decree everything that heaven has, that the earth bears, that the sea contains, and that...

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73 On the Holy Day of Easter

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pp. 12-14

Today’s feast, brothers, does not connect the old with the new, nor does it keep the flesh of the lamb for tomorrow,2 but while it makes the past a partner with the present in solemn devotion, and joins our Passover3 with the Passover that returns, it weans the infants newly regenerated...

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75 A Second on the Lord’s Resurrection

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pp. 15-19

As long a time as I was absent from you, that long has preaching been absent from my life; but pray, brothers, that just as God has brought me back to you, so he may deign to bring back and restore to me the means to preach...

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76 A Third on the Lord’s Resurrection

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pp. 20-24

In the previous sermon we said that Mary and the other Mary prefigured the Church coming from two peoples.1 We desire to confirm this today from what follows, provided that you give us a favorable hearing. The angel, it says, said in response: “Do not be afraid, for I know that you...

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77 A Fourth on the Lord’s Resurrection

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pp. 25-30

It is an unmistakable indication of complete and perfect devotion that at the time of the Passion all creation suffers together with its Creator. When the earth trembled, what flesh did not tremble, what mind did not become paralyzed, what innate talent has not been found...

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78 A Fifth on the Lord’s Resurrection

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pp. 31-34

After that tempest of the Lord’s Passion, which had never before been experienced on earth, which filled the heavens with dread, which was unheard of at any time, and unbearable to the underworld, the Lord came to the sea and found his disciples adrift in the darkness of...

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79 A Sixth on the Lord’s Resurrection

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pp. 35-38

Since we have already quickly made our way through the readings from Matthew and Mark on the Lord’s Resurrection, let us now investigate what the most blessed Luke has proclaimed about it.1 On the first day of the week, he says, women came to the tomb bringing the spices that...

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81 An Eighth on the Lord’s Resurrection

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pp. 39-43

While rebellious judea strives to vanquish its Creator and raise unholy hands for the murder of its Author, it has removed peace from the earth, it has dissolved the harmony of the universe, and it has so ruptured what joined the elements together, that it was drawing the...

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82 A Ninth on the Lord’s Resurrection

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pp. 44-48

Since saint matthew has already pointed out in the interest of our salvation what he knew about the Lord’s Resurrection, today let us also hear what blessed Mark has to say.2 And when the Sabbath had passed, he says, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought...

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84 An Eleventh on the Lord’s Resurrection

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pp. 49-54

In the forty days, during which it is related and believed that the Lord appeared in a different fashion to his disciples after his Resurrection, our words are focused quite fittingly on the readings themselves, on these very mysteries, and are based upon them, so that by the variety...

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85 On the Middle of the Fifty Days

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pp. 55-57

Although some things seem hidden by the depth of their mystery, nevertheless, no solemnity which the Church observes is fruitless. Commemorating a divine feast does not depend on the disposition of our wills, but it must be celebrated in view of its own merits. A true...

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85a [A Second] On the Middle of the Fifty Days

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pp. 58-59

It is fitting that we have made our way to gather at the midpoint of our great solemnity, since Jesus, our God and our Lord, the Consecrator of all feasts, proceeded, at the halfway-point of a festival, to go up to Jerusalem.2 For just as an avid traveler aiming for his...

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85b On the Day of Pentecost

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pp. 60-62

The present feast, brothers, has received its name from the number, than which there is no other number more sacred in God’s sight or more holy in the eyes of the Church, as the Holy Spirit has shown by his arrival. When the days of Pentecost were completed, it says (Acts 2.1). Seven...

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86 Sermon on Zechariah, After the Most Blessed Bishop Peter of Ravenna Was Silent

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pp. 63-67

Worldly speech, since it issues forth from human intelligence, serves and complies with what is instinctively human; but divine speech is in the power of the One who gives it, not the one who utters it. You have heard how Zechariah, that shining light of the high priesthood, while he...

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87 A Second [on Zechariah]

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pp. 68-72

If the light has been kept dim by excessive pain and a long illness, unless it is allowed back in gradually, the light becomes an enemy, when of course sunlight was created for the benefit of the eyes and to be pleasing to the eyes, and it is by means of them, as we are well aware...

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89 A Fourth [on Zechariah]

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pp. 73-78

All things that have been created by God are good for us, very good indeed, as Scripture says: “And God saw all the things that he made, and they were very good.”2 Therefore, all things that have been created by God are good, very good indeed. But between the vices and the...

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90 A Fifth [on Zechariah]

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pp. 79-84

That we are lifted up when the saints fall down, and that we are made firm when the saints tremble, the hesitation of the priest Zechariah has shown us today. When he does not trust in the promises of God but debates about them,2 and does not accept the divine works on faith, but...

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91 A Sixth [on Zechariah]

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pp. 85-90

Those who know how to dig gold out of the earth, when they discover a rich vein, devote to it whatever skill and effort they have. And because we have seen that a heavenly treasure lies buried in holy Zechariah, let us direct toward him my entire homily and your entire attention...

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92 A Seventh [on Zechariah]

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pp. 91-94

Gradually do the words of the Gospel elevate us to what is more lofty and raise us to the heights. And it is no wonder, brothers, if the celestial chariot carried Elijah up to heaven,2 when daily3 the fourfold transport4 of the Gospels takes the human race aboard and conveys it to the...

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94 A Second [on the Meal of the Pharisee]

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pp. 95-99

Since in the last sermon we made our way through the first sections of today’s reading, and we were equally amazed with what fervor, with what faith, with what daring, and with what great yet unusual homage the sinful woman touched the feet of the Savior himself, now...

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97 A Second on the Tares

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pp. 100-104

Since the haste of our previous sermon2 was unable to penetrate the whole mystery of the last parable in deference to the fatigue we all felt,3 let us now explain what remains as far as the Lord reveals it.4 He proposed to them, it says, a parable in these words: “The kingdom of heaven...

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99 A Fourth on the Same [or on the Parable about the Yeast]

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pp. 105-109

It is fitting that the sequence of the reading has reached the point today where the woman in the Gospel, the holy Mother, our Mother,3 received yeast from the Lord, so as to lift and raise this temple4 up for us today into so great a mass of holiness. Thus the Lord began...

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99a Against the Pharisees; On the Gospel Text: A Certain Pharisee Asked Jesus to Dine with Him, and Jesus Cured the Man with Dropsy

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pp. 110-113

The authority of today’s reading makes it very clear that today we speak against the Pharisees not with enthusiasm, but with grief, and not out of the prejudice that stems from hatred, but because we are spurred on by the truth. And it happened, it says, that when the Lord...

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100 On the Syrophoenician Woman

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pp. 114-116

Today when blessed mark commends the prudence of the Syrophoenician woman, when he tells of her faith, and when he extols the ardor of her belief, he creates no small question for those who listen attentively when he says: And Jesus set off from there and went away to the...

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102 On the Centurion’s Servant

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pp. 117-122

The fact that, while dwelling in our body, Christ did not raise all the dead nor heal all the sick, let us attribute to a lack not of power but of time. If at that time he had shone upon the whole world with the full brightness of his power, he would have both done away with the time...

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103 When He Raised the Widow’s Son from the Dead

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pp. 123-127

Today by telling us about the widowed mother’s only son, fully bound with the burial wrappings and placed on the doleful bier, with multitudes in attendance while already on his way to the prison of the grave, and by announcing that he was restored to life by...

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104 On the Rich Man Whose Field Yielded a Fruitful Harvest

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pp. 128-131

As often as this rich man comes into our midst, against whom through so many ages, throughout all the world, and all the time the voice of God cries out in accusation, on all these occasions the deceptive allurement of riches is put to flight, the raging fire of greed...

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105 On the Infirmity the Woman Had for Eighteen Years

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pp. 132-136

Today the cure worked by Christ has given a marvelous display of divine power, has laid bare how cunning the devil is in his trickery, and has freed a woman who was afflicted by a long-lasting and mysterious malady, as the evangelist says: Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath...

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106 On the Fig Tree to Be Chopped Down

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pp. 137-141

Just as a skillful teacher strikes at the intellects of students who are inexperienced in listening and slow to understand by employing various teaching techniques, and arouses and enkindles their talents, so does the Lord with a variety of parables and diverse metaphors call...

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110 A Third [on the Apostle]

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pp. 142-145

To lead the first and the last, both the Jews and the Greeks, to salvation, the blessed Apostle always holds up high the one and only standard of faith; whoever does not deserve to have and to hold it will not be able to possess the glory of being triumphant in heaven. This...

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113 A Sixth [on the Apostle]

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pp. 146-149

When the blessed apostle asks about what is well known, and inquires about what is evident, he is of course rebuking and scolding those who corrupt the words of God by the interpretation they give, and they think up a justification for their offenses from the very place where...

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118 An Eleventh [on the Apostle]

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pp. 150-154

Since the whole hope of the Christian faith has its foundation in the resurrection of the dead, and so that no one may dare to have doubts about it, today we have had a very lengthy reading proclaimed to you from blessed Paul as he affirms this with his authority, with facts...

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121 On Lazarus and the Rich Man

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pp. 155-160

You have heard today, brothers, the end-result of poverty, and you have learned what is the outcome of wealth from the Lord’s words. There was a certain rich man, and he was dressed in purple and linen, and he used to feast sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar named...

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123 A Third on the Same

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pp. 161-168

It is a characteristic of a shameless debtor either to postpone what is due or to deny what he has promised; an honorable one, by contrast, makes good on both pledges without delay and readily.2 We have promised to address everything that remains about that rich man...

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124 A Fourth on the Same

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pp. 169-174

Each time the rich man in his purple is set before us by God, and each time the poor man, wounds and all, is presented to us, on every such occasion the arena of mercy is opened before us, and the racecourse of pity is revealed to us,2 so that from a heavenly perspective...

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125 On the Unjust Steward

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pp. 175-180

Salt2 indeed is a healthy seasoning for all food, if it is used in limited amounts; otherwise, used immoderately, both the salt itself is ruined, and it destroys what it seasons. For an excessive amount makes bitter what a moderate amount could have made tasty. So too the reasoning...

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126 A Second on the Same

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pp. 181-186

How beneficial and advantageous it is to untie the knots of debts and unlock the shackles of bonds, the example of this present steward teaches and informs us; while reducing the amount owed by a merciful arrangement, he not only avoided the very tight straits...

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127 On the Birth of St. John the Baptist

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pp. 187-191

Today while the virtue of John and the ferocity of Herod are related to us, our innards were shaken, our hearts trembled,3 our sight grew dim, our mind became dull, our hearing deserted us. For is there anything within human sensation that remains undisturbed when...

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128 On the Birth of St. Apollinaris

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pp. 192-194

Blessed apollinaris,3 the first in the priesthood, alone adorned this church with the exceptional honor of having one of her own martyred. It is fitting that his name was Apollinaris, since according to the injunction of his God he lost4 his life in order to acquire it for life...

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130 On the Birth of a Bishop

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pp. 195-197

Just as a lengthy anticipation of some great thing that was promised enkindles the spirit and wearies the mind, the awaited fulfillment of the promise stirs up all the senses and everything inside a person. This is why today, as Isaiah has said, Holy Mother Church2 has appeared...

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130a On the Ordination of a Bishop

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pp. 198-199

Let no one be surprised if the holy Church, the virgin and mother,2 propagates numerous offspring with heavenly fruitfulness, generates her shepherds on her own, and gives birth on her own to her rulers, since a bee,3 which does not know intercourse, is unacquainted with...

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131 On the Gospel Where It Says: “If anyone keeps my word, he will not see death forever”

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pp. 200-205

We have frequently said that God is not seen with bodily eyes, that divinity is not contained in a carnal mind, that human reasoning does not grasp the Creator of the universe, but faith alone hears God,2 a complete act of trust is needed to perceive him, and human observation...

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136 In Praise of the Holy Bishop Adelphius

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pp. 206-208

The holy spirit of Bishop2 Adelphius and his reputation for great kindness have this noteworthy quality, that although rich, he enters the dwelling of the poor, and seats himself at the poor person’s table, and makes himself at home with the humble, while his wealth, power, and...

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137 When John Flees to the Desert

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pp. 209-215

After the fertility of the Jewish soil was depleted by being tilled continually by the plowshare of the Law,2 blessed John flees to a desert in a gentile region, setting the brambles of sin ablaze with the fire of his spirit,3 cutting down trees that bore no fruit with the ax of...

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139 On the Gospel Where It Says: “If my brother sins against me”

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pp. 216-220

Just as gold lies concealed in the earth, so does the divine meaning lie hidden in human language.2 And therefore as often as the Lord’s words are revealed to us, the mind should be alert, the spirit attentive, so that the intellect may be able to enter the inner sanctum...

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140a On the Nativity of the Lord

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pp. 221-224

By examining thoroughly and over a long period of time the mystery of the Virgin’s giving birth2 and Christ’s being born, we have at last become worthy to reach the sacred cradle of his birth; thus is it indicated to us today by the words of the Gospel. It happened...

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140b [A Second] on the Birth of the Lord

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pp. 225-228

Today2 in order for me, brothers, to be able to proclaim the Nativity of the Lord in all its majesty, I need your prayers to obtain from the Lord the means to do this, that he himself put his word in the mouth of his priest, and that he who has today seen fit to enter a...

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142 [A Second] on the Annunciation of the Lord

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pp. 229-235

You have heard today, brothers, an angel having a discussion with a woman concerning the repair of the human being. You have heard that the purpose was for the human being to return to life by the same course by which he had fallen to his death.2 An angel has dealings, yes...

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143 [A Third] on the Annunciation of the Lord

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pp. 236-241

Certainly a sermon on the Nativity is owed to you, but it is more fitting to believe in the ineffable mystery of the Lord’s birth than to speak about it. A virgin gave birth. What nature lacks, what custom does not know, what reason fails to comprehend, what the mind does...

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144 [A Fourth] on the Annunciation of the Lord

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pp. 242-247

Concerning christ’s Nativity, the loftiness of the matter and the magnitude of the mystery cause and compel us to delay our sermon. A virgin has given birth: who will speak of it? “The Word was made flesh”;2 who will tell of it? If the Word of God gives an infant’s cry,3 how will...

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148a [A Fourth on the Nativity of the Lord]

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pp. 248-250

To give adequate expression to what the magnitude of the mystery of salvation and the profound sacredness of the Lord’s Nativity demand, no dutiful acts of homage nor words of praise suffice. Indeed, what will our feeble devotion offer in response to so great a gift and to...

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150 On the Lord’s Flight into Egypt

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pp. 251-256

If human language cannot explain the virginal conception and birth, if the human intellect does not take it in, and if the human mind does not grasp it, who is capable of speaking about God having fled as a Man? An angel of the Lord, it says, appeared in a dream to Joseph, saying: “Take...

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151 A Second on the Same

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pp. 257-260

Today’s reading has troubled our hearts, shaken us in the depths of our being,2 and has made us wonder if we were hearing correctly. An angel of the Lord, it says, appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying: “Get up, take the boy and his mother, and flee to Egypt” (Mt 2.13). When he was born, virginity...

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153 A Second on Herod and the Infants

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pp. 261-263

Brothers, our human understanding cannot explain the mystery of the Virgin birth. What nature does not possess comes from the Creator, not from nature; it is the heavenly Spirit’s work which flesh is unable to understand. Where there is no evidence of human involvement...

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155a [A Second] on January First

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pp. 264-266

Now we must halt our playing of the trumpet of the Gospel,3 now we must not speak about the Apostle’s insights, in order for that prophetic song of lament to be the only sound that is heard, which says: “I became mute and was humbled, I kept silent about good things, and my...

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157 A Second on Epiphany

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pp. 267-271

The feast days of the Lord reveal their content by their names, for just as Christ gave the day of his birth by being born, and gave the day of the Resurrection by rising, so too he produced the day of his Illumination2 by the light of wondrous deeds. The One who earlier when he was...

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158 A Third on Epiphany

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pp. 272-276

We often wonder why Christ enters his world in such a way that he experiences the confines of the womb,2 that he suffers the indignity of being born, that he endures being wrapped up in swaddling clothes, that he tolerates being helpless in a cradle, that he seeks with tears...

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160 A Fourth on Epiphany

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pp. 277-281

Although in the mystery of the Lord’s Incarnation itself there were clear signs of his eternal divinity, nevertheless today’s feast discloses and reveals in manifold ways that God came into a human body, so that mortality, always enveloped in darkness, may not lose through ignorance...

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161 On the Servant Who Came in from the Field

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pp. 282-287

You have heard, brothers, how the Lord uses an example of human servitude to teach the requirements involved in serving God, when he says: Who among you who has a servant plowing or pasturing sheep, says to him as soon as he comes in from the field: “Come and recline at table”; and does not...

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162 Where It Says: “Teacher, tell my brotherto divide the in heritance with me”

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pp. 288-291

You have heard today, brothers, what an heir of worldly goods asked of the Lord. Teacher, he says, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me (Lk 12.13). Greed, rash2 and reckless, believed that the Judge of the world himself was an arbitrator of earthly litigation, and wanted him...

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163 Where It Says: “Do not be anxious about your life, about what you are to eat”

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pp. 292-296

Blessed are those who have listened to the Lord’s words today such that his words have penetrated their hearts! Blessed are those whose minds are advanced to faith by so great and so lofty a promise from the Savior! Blessed are those who have been freed from the difficult...

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164 Where It Says: “I have come to light a fire on the earth”

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pp. 297-302

Just as healthy food is always bitter for those who have a fever, so too are the Lord’s words often antagonistic to the inexperienced;2 nevertheless, in both cases what happens is different than expected regarding the infirmity of the body or of the mind. Today the Lord appears to...

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167 A Second on Fasting

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pp. 303-307

It is fitting that in the time of fasting the very blessed John comes to us as a teacher of penance: a teacher in word and in deed. A true instructor demonstrates by example what he asserts verbally. The office of teacher depends upon knowledge, but the authority of that...

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168 Where It Says: “Tax collectors and sinners drew near to the Lord to listen to him”

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pp. 308-311

Just as a clever traveler discovers how to enter the depths of the sea and to traverse routes that are unmarked in a journey along the water,2 so too has the divine Law allowed and taught us to hear something of the words of God and penetrate the mystery of their divine...

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169 On the Woman Who Lost the Silver Coin

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pp. 312-315

That throughout all the Gospel readings mystical meanings lie hidden and the secrets of heavenly understanding abide there, only those who have received the grace of the divine Spirit know.2 Notice that after the Shepherd from on high sought out the sheep that had been...

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171 Where It Is Said by the Pharisees that the Lord’s Disciples Ate with Unwashed Hands

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pp. 316-319

Just as when lightning-bolts smash rocks, mountains, trees, and the very roofs of houses with a terrible crash, they seize the attention of human beings, making them stop and think, so too whenever the Lord thunders against the Pharisees, he seizes and corrects his own...

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172 Where It Says: “Woe to you lawyers, youtake away the key of knowledge, have not gained entrance yourselves, and have hindered others from entering”

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pp. 320-323

You have heard today, brothers, how, while the envious doorkeeper kept others out, he excluded himself as well. Woe to you lawyers, he says, because you have taken away the key of knowledge, have not gained entrance yourselves, and have hindered those who were entering (Lk 11.52). And...

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173 On John the Baptist and Herod

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pp. 324-329

A good shepherd spends sleepless nights and anxious days2 so that no crafty thief nor cunning and ferocious wolves may pose any danger or any harm to his dear flock. “The Good Shepherd,” as the Lord said, “lays down his life for his sheep.”3 But also good sheep listen with...

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174 A Second on the Same

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pp. 330-334

At the bloody courses served at Herod’s dinner, at so deadly a banquet, back then the earth and heaven, and now today you and I, shuddered and trembled when we heard of it.2 Herod, it says, held a dinner on his birthday (Mk 6.21). The term “dinner” was appropriate, since this...

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175 When Marcellinus Was Made Bishop of Voghenza on the First of November

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pp. 335-338

Certainly the beginnings of all things are difficult, but more difficult than everything else is it when one begins to have children. The holy church of Ravenna, in order to give birth to her first child,2 has made a journey, faced struggles, and experienced hardships. And she...

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176 On the Man Born Blind

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pp. 339-343

As often as god cures the desperate sufferings of human bodies, on those very occasions he reveals the power of his divinity; but when in one and the same infirmity he changes the process by which he effects a cure, he causes us to investigate on a deeper level the reasons why he...

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177 On the Anger of Brothers

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pp. 344-348

You have heard today how the severity of the Law has been amplified by the authority of grace, and how the words of the Lord have been fulfilled when he said: I have come not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. You have heard, he says, that it was said to the ones of old: “You shall...

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178 On Loving One’s Enemies

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pp. 349-353

I summon the sky and invoke the earth, so that both the earth be amazed and the sky marvel at the new kind of mercy presented by the Lord. What mind perceives, what ear grasps, what teaching has communicated the lesson to which the evangelist draws his Christian audience...

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179 [On St. John the Baptist]

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pp. 354-358

That blessed john was the messenger to the messengers of Christ, the witness to his witnesses, and the foremost of his promoters, we have frequently mentioned in our preaching.2 Then why is it that the messenger asks a question, the witness is in doubt, and the promoter is...


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pp. 359-381

General Index

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pp. 361-365

Index of Holy Scripture

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pp. 366-372

E-ISBN-13: 9780813216362
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813201108

Page Count: 392
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation

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  • Sermons, Latin -- Translations into English.
  • Sermons, Early Christian.
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