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HOMILY 41 "Now, God appeared to Abraham at the Oak oj Mambre as he was sitting at the door oj his tent at midday."1 aDAy [374] I SHRINK BACK in distaste from unfolding the teaching. I mean, I have in mind the fact that day in day out we are dinning in the message, exhorting you, laying before you this spiritual meal, while many of those who attend here and share in this spiritual teaching and awesome [375] repast waste their time at the races2 and have profited nothing from our zeal. Instead, as though slaves to habit, at a mere nod from the devil they rush off in a trance to those illicit spectacles and fall willingly into the evil demon's snares, neither our urging nor the experience itself proving of any avail to instruct them. So what kind of enthusiasm can we now bring to the task of instructing men bent on gaining nothing from what we say? Don't be surprised at that: when a farmer likewise sees the soil unproductive despite great effort and hardship and yielding a reward not worth the effort, he becomes more reluctant about sowing and does not continue his farming with the same eagerness. A physician, too, when he sees the patient not following his directions and the ailment on the contrary growing worse day by day, frequently allows the patient to continue in the ailment so that the experience itself may prove a lesson for him of what is to his advantage. Likewise those who give lessons to children, when they see them rejecting the elements and discarding the memory of what has already been given them, 1. Gen 18.I. 2. This, of course, is not the first time that Chrysostom departs from his theme to scourge his congregation for attending the races-a practice that involved more than placing bets, it seems. See Homily 6, and my "horses." 400 HOMILY 41 401 frequently abandon the task of correcting their indifference and of leading them to greater zeal. (2) In the case of the farmer, however, it is probable that he frequently becomes less enthusiastic on realizing that he sustains a loss when undergoing effort and expense while being deprived of a harvest. The physician not unreasonably abandons his patient in many cases; it is the body, after all, that is the object of care, and he leaves it alone so that the extremity of pain may cause the patient to arrive at some sense of the ailment and thus accept the cure. The teacher of children on account of their immaturity in many cases chastises the children to good purpose. Surpassing all those, however , we take steps to give evidence of fatherly affection towards the wayward and teach them that if they persist in the same indifference, this itself will prove grounds for heavier condemnation for them. You see, whereas the farmer sows the seed without the same enthusiasm when considering that expense has already been incurred idly and to no purpose, we, on the contrary, are free from this problem. I mean, we sow this spiritual seed, and even if we reap no harvest on account of the indifference of the listeners, our reward will be complete. You see, we have spent money that is borrowed, carrying out the command of the Lord; later an account is due from the listeners with him who will be looking for what has been spent plus interest. Our object, however, is not that we avoid loss and recover our investment; instead, we intend that you too make a great profit from what is invested and so avoid becoming liable to that awful punishment suffered by the man who buried the talent and, far from multiplying his master's money, even hid it in the ground.3 This is what people are like who receive the word of our teaching (this, after all, being the meaning of the talent and money), without betraying a concern for showing any result or making a great profit. But perhaps someone may say this parable concerns the teachers. I agree. But if we approach it precisely, you will realize that whereas the teachers [376] are in fact responsible 402 ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM only for the expense, you on the contrary are responsible not only for what has been spent on you but also for the profit. (3) To learn this, we must bring the parable to your attention . "A certain householder going abroad...


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