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HOMILY 40 "God said to Abraham, 'Sarah your wife will not be called Sarah; instead, Sarrah will be her name.' "I OME [368] NOW, let us spread before you the leftovers from yesterday's table and let us desire the goal of today's sermon-or, rather, the blessing and promise that the God of all made to the patriarch. But when you hear "table leftovers," don't form an impression of anything material ; you see, the leftovers from food are not the same as spiritual [369] leftovers: while the former don't provide eaters with the same enjoyment once they have gone stale, but if left a day or two become completely useless, these other leftovers, on the contrary, provide equal benefit even if left not for a day or two, but for all time, without losing their taste. They are from God, after all, and spiritual, and far from risking any damage from the passage of time they show fresh attractiveness as each day passes and fill with great relish those wishing to enjoy them. So, since this is the efficacy of these leftovers, come now, be enthusiastic about satisfying your enjoyment of them, and let us have confidence in their efficacy as we set them before you, dearly beloved. (2) In order, however, that the sermon may be clearer to you, we need to recall the close of yesterday's remarks so that by picking up the thread in this way we may link the instruction together. We brought to your attention the command about circumcision and God's words to the patriarch, "'Every male among you shall be circumcised, and it will act as a sign of the covenant between me and you. Your child of eight days shall be circumcised; whoever is not circumcised, that person 1. Cen 17.15., 389 390 ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM shall be rooted out for breaking my covenant.'''2 At this point we terminated our teaching on the matter of circumcision and, not to overwhelm your brain with a plethora of words we couldn't bring ourselves to proceed further. You see, it is not our sole concern to speak at great length and then take our leave; rather, we want to gauge the instruction in the sermon by your ability so that you may reap some benefit from what is said and then all go off home.3 (3) So, come now, let us add the remainder to what has been said, and see what the loving God proceeded to address to the patriarch after the command about circumcision. "God said to Abraham," the text goes on, "'Sarah your wife will not be called Sarah; instead, Sarrah will be her name.''' As in your case, he is saying, I indicated by adding a syllable that you would be father of many nations, so likewise also I am adding a letter to Sarah, for you to learn that now the time has come for the promises made of old by me to come into effect.4 "'Sarrah will be her name,'" the text says, remember. "'Now, I shall bless her, and I shall give you a child by her; he will become a nation, and kings of nations will spring from him.'''5 My reason for previously making the addition of a syllable was for you to learn that my words would be completely realized. Instead of being despondent by having in mind the limitations of nature, have regard for the greatness of my power and trust in what has been said by me. "'I shall bless her, and I shall give you a child by her; he will become 2. A precis of Gen 17.11-14, approximating more closely this time in one detail to the LXX text. 3. As we have noted frequently before (see Introduction (II) and (12) in FOTC 74), Chrysostom was often in danger of testing the patience of his congregation, to judge from his own admissions and the increasing length of the homilies. He preferred to have his congregation going home to discuss and ruminate on the day's theme. 4. Once again Chrysostom's exegetical instincts lead him to see great significance in this morphological item-and again without sound linguistic support. De Montfaucon notes that the change in the Hebrew feminine ending from Sarai to Sarah is represented by the Greek translators by a double consonant in Sarrah-nothing more. 5. Gen 17.16. The Greek translators have applied the second...


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