Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Consider the Forbearance of Christ

Consider the words, the actions; consider that He is Lord, and you servant.  He is suffering for you, you for yourself; He on behalf of those who had been benefited by Him and had crucified Him, you on behalf of yourself.  He on behalf of those who had used Him spitefully, you oftentimes at the hands of those who have been injured.  He in the sight of the whole city, or rather of the whole people of the Jews, both strangers, and those of the country, before whom He spoke those merciful words, but you in the presence of few.  And what was more insulting to Him, that even His disciples forsook Him.  For those, who before paid Him attention, had deserted Him, but His enemies and foes, having gotten Him in the midst of themselves on the cross, insulted, reviled, mocked, derided, scoffed at Him—Jews and soldiers from below, from above thieves on either side.  For indeed the thieves insulted and upbraided Him both of them.  How then does Luke say that one “rebuked?”  Both things were done, for at first both upbraided Him, but afterwards one did so no more.  For that you might not think the thing had been done by any agreement, or that the thief was not a thief, by his insolence he shows you, that up on the cross he was a thief and an enemy, and at once was changed.

And add to this, I pray you, by whom, and wherefore, and when, and who it was.  And (the most grievous matter) while these things were being done, no one found fault, no one blamed what was done, but on the contrary all rather approved, and joined in mocking Him and in jeering at Him; and as a boaster, imposter, and deceiver, and not able to prove in His works the things that He said, so they reviled Him.  But He held His peace to all, preparing for us the most powerful incentives to long-suffering.

But we, though hearing such things, are not patient so much as to servants, but we rush and kick worse than wild asses, with respect to injuries against ourselves, being savage and inhuman; but of those against God not making much account.  And with respect to friends too we have the same disposition; should anyone upset us, we do not bear it; should he insult us, we are savage more than wild beasts, we who are reading these things every day.  A disciple betrayed Him, the rest forsook Him and fled, they that had been benefited by Him spat at Him, the servants of the high priest struck Him with the palm of the hand, the soldiers rained blows on Him.  Those that passed by jeered Him and reviled Him, the thieves accused Him.  And to no man did He utter a word, but by silence overcame all; instructing you by His actions, that the more meekly you shall endure, the more you will prevail over them that do you evil, and will be an object of admiration before all.  For who will not admire the one that endures with forbearance the insults he receives from those who are using him spitefully?

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Matthew, 87.2-3

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