Friday, July 8, 2016

Patristic Wisdom: Looking to Sunday

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia.  But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.  (1 Thess 4:9-12)

The blessed Apostle, like a true and spiritual physician, either seeing this disease, which springs from the spirit of lethargy, already creeping in, or foreseeing, through the revelation of the Holy Spirit that it would arise…, is quick to anticipate it by the healing medicines of his directions.  For in writing to the Thessalonians, like a skillful and excellent physician he at first applies the soothing and gentle remedy of his words to the infirmity of his patients.  He begins with charity … that this deadly wound, having been treated with a milder remedy, might lose its angry festering and more easily bear severer treatment.  He writes: “But concerning brotherly charity you have no need that I write to you: for you yourselves are taught of God to love one another.  For this you do toward all the brethren in the whole of Macedonia.”  He first began with the soothing application of praise, and made their ears submissive and ready for the remedy of the healing words.… At last with difficulty he breaks out into that at which he was driving before.  He gave the first aim: “and that you take pains to be quiet.”  Then he adds a second: “and to do your own business,” and a third as well: “and work with your own hands, as we commanded you.” … He who does not care to sufficiently secure his daily food by the dutiful and peaceful labor of his hands is sure to look with envious eyes on another’s gifts and blessings.  You see what conditions, serious and shameful, may spring solely from the malady of leisure.

John Cassian, Institutes 10.7

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