St. Chrysostum, Homilies on Genesis
On the sequel to creation: "This is the book about the origins of heaven and earth when they were created, on the day God made heaven and earth." [ Gen 2:4b ] COME NOW, TODAY let us fulfil our promise and move on to the accustomed instruction, connecting what we are about to say with the thread of the sermons given so far. (98c) You remember, of course, that when we were all set on one or two occasions and quite intent on following that course, concern for our brethren changed the direction of our speech towards encouragement of them. You see, sometimes those of the brethren who are ailing, who habitually absent themselves from this spiritual gathering, and who spoil the joy coming to them from this holy festival, we persuade by much encouragement and advice not to cut themselves off for long from Christ's flock nor be misled beyond this spiritual fold by, on the one hand, associating with us in word and name while, on the other hand, following in fact the Jews, those seated in darkness and attracted to a lantern despite the illumination of the sun of justice. (98d) At other times we have urged the uninitiated members of this congregation to respond to their spiritual calling by shaking off all drowsiness and all sloth, calling on a lively desire and heightened enthusi-
SO, now that we have displayed the care that becomes us in regard to those who are mistaken about the feast of Easter, and who bring great harm to themselves by the little attention they think it deserves, and now that we have applied an appropriate remedy to their wound and have delivered the due admonition to the uninitiated, it would be in order at long last to spread before all of you alike, today, the spiritual banquet, since we have taken issue with the most urgent of the ailments and have dealt adequately with them. You can appreciate the comparison: if before (99a) attending to our brethren we had continued on from where we left off, forsaking the task of encouraging them and overlooking their difficulties, in all likelihood someone would have reproached us for passing up an opportunity; so, as things are now, since nothing has been omitted that lay within our power but on the contrary we have delivered words of instruction, we have gone to some expense, we have sown the seed in this spiritual soil, it is in order once again to open up for your consideration the reading from blessed Moses so that you may reap some benefit from it and thus make your way home. So, to find out what it is, let us listen carefully.
The text says: "This is the book about the origins of heaven and earth when they were created, on the day God made heaven and earth, before any grass of the field appeared on the earth or any crop of the field sprouted. (99b) God, you see, had not sent rain on the earth, and there was no human being to till the soil; a spring used to flow out of the ground and water the whole face of the earth." , [ Gen 2:4 ] Notice again, I ask you, the insight of this remarkable author, or rather the teaching of the Holy Spirit. I mean, after narrating to us detail by detail all the items of creation and going through the
So that you may learn this is the case, I will make it clear from the very verses just now read. What I refer to is this: notice Sacred Scripture taught us in detail in the preceding verses the creation of everything, but now, instead of mentioning them all, it says: "This is the book about the origins of heaven and earth when they were created, on the day God made heaven and earth," and so on. Do you see how it con fines the whole account to heaven and earth, leaving us to get from them a sweeping view of all the other things? (99d) I mean, when it said heaven and earth, it included everything together in those words, both things on earth and things in heaven. So, just as in its account of created things it doesn't mention them all one by one but gives a summary of related items and makes no further attempt to describe them to us, so too it called the whole book the book about the origins of heaven and earth, even though it contains many other things, evidently leaving us to work out from the reference to these two that all visible things are of necessity contained in this book, both those in heaven and those on earth.
"On the day God made heaven and earth," the text goes on, "before any grass of the field appeared on the earth or any crop of the field sprouted, since God, you see, had not
What in fact does he say? "On the day God made heaven and earth before any grass of the field appeared on the earth or any crop of the field sprouted. God, you see, had not sent rain on the earth, and there was no human being to till the soil; a spring used to flow out of the ground and water the whole face of the earth." He intends to convey the fact that by his word and direction things not existing previously were brought into existence, and what had not been, came into
What is really remarkable and surprising is that the one who now by his own word awakens the earth to germination of so many plants and demonstrates his own power surpassing human reasoning, this same earth, heavy as it is (100d) and supporting such a huge universe on its back, he rested on the waters as foundation, as the inspired author says, "He who rests the earth on the waters as foundation." [ Ps 136:6 ] What human reasoning could arrive at this design? I mean, when people build their houses and have in mind to sink foundations, they first dig a hole: if on reaching some depth they see a trace of dampness, they take every step to remove it all and only then sink the foundations. By comparison with this the Creator of all creates everything in a way contrary to humankind so that you may learn even from this his ineffable power and the fact that, when he wishes, the very elements can be seen to per form in a way contrary to their own abilities in compliance with the Creator's wishes.
To make this subject clearer to you (101a) let us make you familiar with the preceding point and then pass on to the
Do you see how, whenever the Lord wishes, (101c) each of the elements changes its properties into the very opposite? The Lord, you see, is also Creator, and he governs everything according to his own will. Do you want to see this very thing happening also in the case of the waters? Well, just as in the present case the fire refrained from harming the people right inside it, on the one hand, neglecting to exercise its own
Let us hear an account of the number of times we have betrayed our own salvation through being hot-tempered, and angry, and a prey to the other passions through our indifference, and let us imitate the great obedience of these elements, irrational though they are, while we are endowed with the gift of reason. After all, if fire, which has such capacity to burn, which is so fierce, left untouched in that fashion delicate and perishable bodies, what allowance can be made for human beings not prepared to check their own rage despite the Lord's command and eliminate resentment against their neighbor? What is even worse is the fact that fire, while having this property mean, to burn did not demonstrate this capacity, whereas the human being, a creature gentle, and rational, and mild, behaves in a manner contrary to its nature and through indifference (102a) casts itself in the mold of the wild beasts. Hence even Sacred Scripture, with these sorts of disturbing passions in mind, in many places applies the names of brutes and of wild beasts to those gifted with reason: some times it calls them dogs on account of their shameful and headstrong behavior "Dumb dogs are they," it says, remember, "unable even to bark" [ Isa 56:10 ] at other times horses on account of their unbridled appetites "They turned into rutting horses, each neighing after his neighbor's wife" [ Jer 5:8 ] at
But I don't know how I strayed from the thread of the sermon on to these matters. Come now, let us return at this late stage to the preceding point, and let us see what else this blessed author wants to teach us today. You see, after saying, "This is the book about the origins of heaven and earth," he presses on and describes further for us with great detail the creation of the human being. Since he had briefly said above, "God made the human being; in God's image he made them," [ Gen 1:26 ] he now says, "God shaped the human being from the dust of the earth, (102c) and breathed into him a breath of life; the human being became alive." [ Gen 2:7 ] A mighty saying, giving rise to great wonderment, and beyond the limits of human under standing: "God shaped the human being," it says, "taking dust from the earth." Just as in the case of all the visible creatures I kept saying that the Creator of all performs everything in a manner contrary to human nature so as to demonstrate his ineffable power through this as well, so too in the case of the formation of the human being we will find this taking place. I mean, notice how he rested the earth on the waters, some-
What is that you say? Taking dust from the earth he shaped the human being? Yes, it says; it did not simply say 'earth' but 'dust,' something more lowly and substantial even than earth, so to say. You think the saying amazing and incredible; but if you recall who is the creator in this case, you will no longer withhold faith in the event but marvel at the Creator's power and bow your knee to it. If, on the other hand, you chanced to put your mind to these matters in light of the limitations of your powers of reason, you would likely get this strange idea into your head, namely, that a body could never be made from earth a brick or a pot, yes, but never could such a body be made. Do you see that unless we take into account the Creator's power and suppress our own reasoning which betrays such limitations, we will be unable to accept the sublimity of the message? After all, the words require the eyes of faith, spoken as they are (103a) with such great considerateness and with our limitations in mind. You see, that very remark, "God shaped the human being, and breathed," is properly inapplicable to God; yet because of us and our limitations Sacred Scripture expresses it in that way, showing considerateness to us, so that, having been thought worthy of the considerateness, we might be enabled to arrive at that sublime level of thought.'5
"God shaped the human being," it says, "taking dust from the earth." Finally, from these words spring no little instruction in humility, as long as we are prepared to be alert to
Hence, when Scripture comes back to the point it teaches us also the manner of our composition and the beginning of our creation, and whence the first human being was produced and how it was produced. After all, into what depths of madness would we not have tumbled if, despite this teaching and despite the knowledge that the human being takes the beginning of its composition from the earth as do the plants and the irrational beings (though its formation and the bodiless being of the soul has given it a marked superiority, thanks to God's loving kindness, (103c) this constituting after all the basis of its rationality and its endowment with control over all creation), if then with this knowledge this creature shaped from the earth had conjured up the notion of its equality with God owing to the serpent's deceit, and if the blessed author had been content with his first account and had not repeated himself in teaching us everything with precision,16 into what depths of madness would we not have tumbled?
The result is that we gain the greatest possible degree of instruction in philosophy from learning whence we derive the composition of our being from the very outset. "God shaped the human being," the text says, "taking dust from the earth, and breathed into him a breath of life." Since it was ex-
But I have no idea how we upset that arrangement, and how such an onset of evil occurred as to oblige it to follow the bidding of the flesh, (104a) so that what should in the manner of a queen have presided and exercised rule we have unseated from her throne and forced to obey the pleasures of the flesh, ignorant as we are of its nobility and the degree of pre eminence it has the good fortune to be accorded. I mean, think of the order of its formation, I ask you, and consider what this shaped thing was before the Lord's breathing which meant a breath of life for it and resulted in its becoming alive. Simply a lifeless shell, without vital force, and useful for nothing, so that its total makeup and its succession to such great esteem all stems from that action of breathing made upon it by God. Lest you think this happened from things al ready created at that time instead of from something that happens each day at the present time, consider, I ask you, how after the departure of the soul this body appears odious and unpleasant? (104b) How repulsive, how much reeking with stench, how marked by complete deformity this creature
So, with this in mind, and realizing the nobility of our soul, let us be guilty of no behavior unworthy of it nor defile it with unfitting actions, subjecting it to the thrall of the flesh and showing so little appreciation and regard for what is so noble and endowed with such preeminence. After all, because of the soul's being, we who are intertwined with a body can, if we wish (104c) and under the influence of God's grace, strive against disembodied powers, can walk on earth as though coursing across heaven, and pass our lives in this manner, suffering no inferiority. How that can be, I will tell you. You see, when people prove, despite entanglement with a mortal body, to live the same life as those supernal powers, how will they not be deemed worthy of grace from God for keeping untarnished the soul's nobility, though subject to the body's necessities.
Who could possibly prove, someone says, to be of such character? Quite likely this thing is thought unlikely by us be cause of the extreme paucity of our virtue. But if you are pre pared to learn that this is not out of the question, consider, I ask you, those who have been pleasing to the Lord from the beginning up to the present time (104d) the mighty John, son of infertility, citizen of the desert; Paul, the world's teacher; and the whole series of saints, who happened to have the same nature as ourselves, subject to the same necessities of the body and no longer consider the thing to be impossible, nor be apathetic where virtue is concerned, but accept such opportunities as the Lord leaves for laying hold of virtue with ease. Our loving Lord, you see, knowing the weakness of our purpose and our tendency to fall, has left us great remedies in the reading of the Scriptures so that we might constantly apply them to ourselves and recall the lives of those great and wonderful men. Thus we may be led to imitation and not neglect virtue, but (105a) rather avoid evil and do everything so
"The Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and placed in it the human creature he had formed."
[ Gen 2:8 ]
I SEE YOUR INSATIABLE interest, your great enthusiasm and eager attention, and the way you are all coming to spiritual teaching expectant and impatient. On the other hand, I am conscious of my own great inadequacy. (105b) Still, I am anxious to lay before you this mean and pal try table frequently, and in fact daily, trusting that you will readily receive what is said, stimulated as you are with your own enthusiasm. One can see this happening in the case of material nourishment: whenever guests come to dinner with a keen appetite, they eat with great relish whatever is placed before them, no matter if the meal happens to be paltry and the? host ungenerous whereas when the diners have indifferent appetite, no matter if the meal is sumptuous and the menu varied, it is wasted on them since they can't do justice to the good things provided. Here today, however, your enthusiasm has in fact been enlivened through God's grace and the repast is a spiritual one; so we, too, are enthusiastic in speaking to you, knowing that we bring these divine teachings to attentive listeners.
The farmer (105c) is like this, too: he gives the soil all the attention he is capable of digging the furrows, hauling the plough, rooting out thorns so when he finds the pasture rich and fertile, he sows the seed lavishly; buoyed up already with high hopes he counts the days to the sprouting of the crop, recalling the productivity of the land and expecting a harvest far in excess of the sowing. That is the way we behave,
(105d) So come now, if you please, let us recall the few things said yesterday, and move on in turn to today's reading. We need to say what it was we were discussing yesterday, how far we got, and where we stopped. "God formed the human being, taking dust from the earth, and he breathed into him a breath of life; the human being became alive." [ Gen 2:7 ] What I was saying before I will say now, and will not cease saying continually, that great and unspeakable is the kindness of the Lord of all creatures towards us men. He displayed great considerateness for the sake of our welfare, and bestowed great honor on this creature namely, the human person and made plain in words and deeds that he exhibits greater care of human beings than of other visible things. (106a) There is no reason why I should not presume on your goodness to explore the same theme today, too. For, just as with grains of incense, the more they are moved about with your fingers, the greater fragrance they give out, so it is with the Scriptures in our experience: the more you devote yourself to studying them, the more you are able to discover the treasure hidden in them, and thereby gain great and unspeakable wealth.3
"God." it says, "formed the human being, taking dust from the earth." Do you notice straightway the difference in the way the sentence opens? In the case of all the other creatures blessed Moses taught us the manner of creation, saying, "God said, Let there be light, and there was light;" [ Gen 1:3 ] "Let the firmament be made;" [ Gen 1:6 ] "Let the water be gathered together; [ Gen 1:9 ] "Let the stars be made;" [ Gen 1:14 ] (106b) "Let the earth put forth a crop
You see, if he had simply ordered that the human per son spring out of the earth, then the object of the order would merely have been produced, would it not? Instead, for the purpose of communicating to us lasting teaching through the manner of creation (106c) to avoid an impression false to reality, everything is explained precisely in this way, and the text reads, "God formed the human being, taking dust from the earth."
Even in this detail notice the regard for us. I mean, he does not simply take some soil, but dust, the finest grains of soil, so to say, and this very dust of the earth by his own design he changed into the human kind of body. You see, just as he brought into being the very substance of the soil when it did not exist, so now, at will, he changed the dust from soil into body. At this it is good to exclaim what was said by blessed David, "Who will speak of the wonders of the Lord, and bring to our ears all his praises?" [ Ps 106:2 ] namely, that from dust he produced such a creature and elevated it to such eminence, and that he displays such marks of regard for it right from the outset, revealing in all this his own loving kindness. (106d)
In this regard some senseless people, moved by their own reasoning, and having no regard for what is proper to God nor any appreciation of the considerateness revealed in the words, try to say that the soul comes from the substance of God. Such madness, such stupidity! What false paths has the devil prepared for those bent on following him! To realize it, consider how these paths lead in quite different directions. Some seize on a reading of the text, "He breathed," to say that souls come from the substance of God, whereas others on the contrary say they change into the substance of the worst of brute beasts. What could be worse than such folly? Since their reasoning is dulled, and (107a) they miss the true meaning of Scripture, they are like men blinded in the eyes of their mind, stumbling in various directions down cliffs: some accord the soul excessive esteem, others depress it unduly. Because if they wanted to assign a mouth to God on the score of Scripture's saying, "He breathed into him," they would have to equip him with hands too, since it says, "He formed the human being."
Anyhow, in case by wanting to make a display of these people's stupidity we, too, find ourselves induced to utter unseemly remarks, let's have done with their folly and turn aside from such idiocy; let us follow the direction of Sacred Scripture in the interpretation it gives of itself, provided we don't get completely absorbed in the concreteness of the words, but realize that our limitations are the reason for the concreteness of the language. (107b) Human senses, you see, would never be able to grasp what is said if they had not the benefit of such great considerateness.
So recognizing our limitations, and the fact that what is said refers to God, let us accept the words as equivalent to speaking about God; let us not reduce the divine to the shape of bodies and the structure of limbs, but understand the whole narrative in a manner appropriate to God. For the deity is simple, free of parts and shape; should we form an impression from ourselves and want to ascribe an arrangement of limbs to God, we would be in danger of falling into the irreverence pagans are guilty of. So when you hear Scripture saying, "God formed the human being," think of the same power as was responsible for "Let it be made;" likewise when you hear the sentence, "He breathed into him a breath of life," reason this way too, that just as he created the incorporeal beings, (107c) So he decided this body made from the dust should have a rational soul and be able to use a body's limbs. You see, this body created in the Lord's design was like an instrument needing someone to activate it, rather like a lyre that needs someone who can by his own skill and artistry raise a fitting hymn to the Lord through his own limbs, as though by the strings of the Lyre. The text says: "He breathed into him a breath of life, and the human being became alive." What is the sense of that, "He breathed a breath of life"? The body made this way, it is saying, he wanted to have a living force and he so directed; this became for the creature a living soul in other words, full of movement, with the ability to display its own skill through the movement of its limbs.
"Let the waters produce reptiles with living souls." and at once the living beings emerged from the waters; likewise in the case of the earth in the same terms: "Let the earth produce a living being." Not so, however, in the case of the human person: first its body is created from the dust, and afterwards the power of life is given to it, and this is the being of the soul. Accordingly Moses said about the beasts. "Its blood is its life." [ Lev 17:11 ] But in the
Perhaps, however, someone may say: Why is it that, if the soul is more important than the body, the lesser is created first, and then the greater afterwards? Don't you see, dearly beloved, that even in the process of creation this very sequence is followed? (108a) That is to say, just as heaven and earth, the sun and moon, and everything else is created, including the brute beasts, and after all these the human per son, the one destined to enjoy control of all of them, in the very same way in the actual creation of the human person the body is produced first and then the soul, greater though its importance is. The procedure is the same with the brute beasts: though they are destined to be useful in the service of human beings, they are created before them so that the ones intended to enjoy the use of these beasts will find them ready for service. So, too, the body is created before the soul, so that when the soul is produced according to God's ineffable wisdom, it will be able to display its own vital forces through the movement of its body.
The text goes on: "The Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and placed in it the human being he had formed." When the Lord of all had demonstrated his characteristic loving kindness (108b) in creating the one for whom everything had been provided, and setting him in its midst, immediately he began to bestow on this human person deeds of kindness. "God," it says, "planted a garden in Eden in the east." Notice here, dearly beloved, that unless we take the words in a manner appropriate to God, we will inevitably be trapped in a deep pitfall. I mean, what would be likely to be said about this sentence, too, by those rash enough to interpret in human fashion everything said about God? "God planted a garden," it says. What does that mean, pray? did he have need of tools, and gardening, and every other skill to beautify the garden? Not at all. Rather, in this case too, we need to understand the word "planted" in this sense namely, that he commanded a garden to be created on the earth so
The reason blessed Moses inserted the name of the place in the text was that it would not be possible for those inclined to take things lightly to deceive the ears of the simple and say the garden was not on earth but in heaven, and dream up wild theories of that kind. You see, despite the use of such precision by Sacred Scripture, some people have not questioned the glib words of arrogant commentators and far fetched philosophy, even to the extent of denying Holy Writ and saying the garden was not on earth, giving contrary views on many other passages, taking a direction opposed to a literal understanding of the text, and thinking that what is said on the question of things on earth has to do with things in heaven. And, if blessed Moses had not used such simplicity of expression and such considerateness, the Holy Spirit (108d) directing his tongue, where would we not have come to grief? Sacred Scripture, though, whenever it wants to teach us some thing like this, gives its own interpretation, and doesn't let the listener go astray. On the other hand, since the majority of listeners apply their ears to the narrative, not for the sake of gaining some profit but for enjoyment, they are at pains to take note of things able to bring enjoyment rather than those that bring profit. So, I beg you, block your ears against all distractions of that kind, and let us follow the norm of Sacred Scripture. And when, dearly beloved, you hear that "God planted a garden in Eden in the east," take the word "planted" in a sense appropriate to God, namely, that he commanded this happen; and, about the next phrase, believe that a garden came into being, and in that place that Scripture indicated. Not to believe in the contents (109a) of Sacred Scripture, and introduce instead other views from one's own reasoning, is in
"He placed in it, " the text says, "the human being he had formed." Notice at once the regard he shows towards him. Having created him outside the garden, he immediately brought him in so as to provide him with an experience of his kindness through the things in the garden; he was introduced into the garden so that he might know the regard God had for him through the actions done there. "He placed in it the human being he had formed." The word "placed" let us interpret this way: he ordered him to live there in order that what he saw and his way of life should give him much pleasure, and should awaken him to an expression of thanks in consideration of all the kindness he had received without ever doing anything to deserve it. (109b) So don't let the reading "placed" disturb you; it is, after all, the unfailing custom of Scripture to employ human ways of speaking for our sake and for our benefit. To be convinced of this, notice how previously, in the case of creation of the stars, it used the same term in saying "He placed them in the firmament of heaven." [ Gen 1:17 ] not that we should think of them fixed in heaven (for each of them pursues its own path moving from place to place), but to teach us that he commanded them to be in heaven just as he commanded the human being to live in the garden. "God also produced from the earth every tree beautiful to behold and good to eat, the tree of life in the middle of the garden, and the tree for knowing good and evil." [ Gen 2:9 ] Behold still another form of kindness out of regard for this creature. (109c) You see, since he wanted him to live in the garden, he ordered various trees to come forth from the earth, that could both delight him with their appearance and be pleasing to the taste. "Every tree." it says, "beautiful to behold" that is, in appearance "and good to eat;" in short, they had the ability to please him through their appearance and to provide much pleasure through their taste, and by their great abundance offered considerable good cheer to the one in a position to en-
"The tree of life in the middle of the garden," the text goes on to say, "and the tree for knowing good and evil." After teaching us that, according to the Lord's command, the earth produced every tree, lovely to behold and good to taste, it says next: "The tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree for knowing good and evil." The good Lord, you see, knowing as creator the harm that would in due time be likely to arise from this condition of great freedom, brought forth the tree of life in the middle of the garden, and the tree for knowing good and evil, since before long he would be imposing on him abstinence from the tree so that man might realize that he owed enjoyment of them to divine love and goodness, and that God was Lord (110a) and creator of his nature as of all visible things. Beforehand, therefore, he made mention of the tree, and next he tells us the names of the rivers and their division, so to say, and that from that source, which irrigated the garden, others led off in four directions and thus marked out the regions of the earth. Perhaps, however, those people who like to talk from their own wisdom do not concede again that these rivers are rivers, or these waters really waters, but propound some different interpretation to people ready to lend them their ears.
Let us, however, I beg you, not be convinced by them, but block our ears against them; let us instead place our cre-
Such persons, (110c) in fact, even without uttering a word, or else without being seen, can teach others, in the one case by the silent witness of their appearance and in the other through the sense of hearing; they will enjoy God's goodwill in great measure, promoting as they do the glory of their Lord, not only through their own efforts but also through those who notice them. Such persons raise thanks and praise to the God of all on a thousand tongues and in many mouths; for it is not only those who know them, the witnesses of their life, that will admire them and their Lord, but strangers who hear about it from others, people living far away and distant foreigners, not only friends but foes as well, who will respect the eminence of their virtue. Such is its efficacy, you see, that it stops the mouths of adversaries and bridles their tongue. And just as people with poor sight (110d) flinch from looking at the sun's rays, likewise evil will never be able to confront virtue, but will yield ground, turn away, and admit defeat.
Convinced then of this, let us hold fast to virtue, and pass our lives safely, taking care to avoid the slightest appear-
"The Lord God took the human being that he had formed and placed him in the garden of delights to till it and watch over it."
[ Gen 2:15 ]
TODAY AGAIN, IF you don't mind, we will continue in the direction of yesterday's sermon, and apply ourselves to the task of drawing out from there the thread of spiritual teaching for your benefit. There is, you see, great force concealed in the words read just now; we need to go into them at great depth and study them all with precision so as to reap the benefit they offer. To make a comparison with people trying to discover gems in the sea: they submit to such toil and trouble and expose themselves to the buffeting of the waves in order to light upon the object of their search. Consequently, we should apply our minds much more diligently to the task of discovering what lies concealed below the surface of the words, and thus lay hold of these valuable gems.
Don't be concerned, dearly beloved, (111b) to hear reference to depths. In this case, you see, there is no unruly surge of waves; instead, there is the grace of the Spirit shining upon our minds, making possible for us an effortless discovery of what we seek and rendering every difficulty light. So whereas, on the one hand, the discovery of those other gems brings to one who chances upon them a benefit that is not extraordinary, on the other hand, it often results in injury and proves to be the cause of countless shipwrecks: the searcher does not gain joy from the discovery to the same extent as he is afflicted by unpleasantness in his discovery on account of the glances
Listen to David's words on the subject: "Your sayings are more to be desired than gold and much precious metal." [ Ps 19:10 ] Do you see how he made open reference to those materials considered more valuable than others yet was not only dissatisfied with this comparison but added the word "much" and thence he clarified for us at that point the superiority involved: "More than gold," the text says, "and much precious metal." The reason that he made reference to these substances was not for the reason that the divine sayings are to be desired to that extent alone but because he recognized that only these substances enjoy the utmost preeminence in human estimation hence by referring to them (111d) he demonstrated the superiority intended and the ardor of the desire felt for the sayings of the Spirit. So that you may learn that it is the unfailing practice of Sacred Scripture to compare the benefit that comes from it with perceptible realities and thus demonstrate the superiority of the former, listen also to what follows. He went on, at any rate, to add: "And sweeter than honey and a honeycomb." In this case, too, the reference is not for the reason that they are sweeter only to that extent, or can provide only that kind of sweetness, but because he had nothing else among material things to compare to the sweetness of the divine sayings hence by referring to them he showed again
You will find Christ, too, applying the same norm in the Gospels. When he was speaking to the disciples, remember, they were anxious to learn the meaning of the parable of the man (112a) sowing good seed in the field and his enemy throwing weeds in among the grain, so he explained to them the whole parable in detail, asking who was the man sowing the good seed, what was the field, what were the weeds and who scattered them, who were the harvesters and what was the harvest. When he had clarified all that for them, he then said, "Good people will be as brilliant as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" [ Matt 13:43 ] not for the reason that good people will have only that kind of brilliance, but to show that they will have much greater brilliance; he mentioned that kind because it is impossible to find a stronger image than that from among visible things. So when we hear something like that, let us not stop short at the literal level; instead, let us reason from the perceptible and visible realities to the superiority of spiritual realities in particular. Accordingly, if it is possible to discover the keener desire (112b) and the more heightened sweetness in this case (these sayings being, after all, divine and spiritual, and thus capable of prompting in the soul great spiritual joy), let us with great yearning and strong desire apply our ears to the words so that we may gain from them for ourselves true wealth and welcome many seeds that will germinate into right thinking about God, and thus make our way home.
Let us, therefore, listen to what has been read today. Keep your mind ever attentive, however, I ask you, shake off all sloth and concerns for things of this life, and thus heed the words spoken l hey are, after all, divine laws brought down from heaven for our salvation. To make a comparison: when letters are read out from our emperor, there is complete silence, all din and tumult hushed, everyone standing with eager attention and desire to hear (112c) what it is the imperial letters convey; anyone making the slightest noise or inter-
Accordingly, let us see what blessed Moses teaches us to day also, telling us this as he does, not only by his own tongue but under the inspiration of the grace of the Spirit. He says: "The Lord God took the human being that he had formed." Right from the outset he has nicely put the two terms together: he didn't just say, "The Lord," and stop there, but added, "God," teaching us something that had escaped our notice and lain concealed in the text, (112d) so that we might realized that whether we hear "Lord" or "God" there is no difference in the names. This point, however, I am not making without reason: my purpose is that when you hear Paul saying, "There is one God the Father, from whom all things come, and one lord Jesus Christ, for whom all things exist," [ I Cor 8:6 ] you won't think there is a difference in the expressions, one referring to a greater and the other to a lesser. Hence Scripture employs these names interchangeably so that people inclined to controversy may have no encouragement to assail orthodoxy with a figment of their own imagination. That you may learn that Sacred Scripture says none of these things with distinction and discrimination in mind, notice precisely what emerges from this very sentence under consideration. "The Lord God took," it says. To whom does the heretic want this to refer? The Father alone. Very well, then. Listen to Paul's words: (113a) "There is one God the Father, from whom all things come, and one Lord Jesus Christ, for whom all things
"The Lord God took the human being that he had formed," the text says, "and placed him in the garden of delights to till it and watch over it." See the extent of the providence he employs in regard to the human being he has created. I mean, after blessed Moses taught us yesterday that, to quote him, (113b) "God planted the garden and placed in it the human creature" in other words, he wanted him to have his dwelling place there and pass his days in enjoyment of the garden today he goes on to show us God's unspeakable love manifested in his regard. Taking up this theme he says: "The Lord God took the human being he had formed and placed him in the garden of delights." He did not simply say, "In the garden," but added, "of delights," so as to reveal to us the exceeding pleasure he enjoyed from living there. And after saying, "He placed him in the garden of delights," he said, "to till it and watch over it." A mark, this, of great solicitude.
I mean, since life there was filled with every delight, was a pleasure to behold (113c) and a thrill to enjoy, he arranged accordingly that the human being should till the garden and watch over it lest he be unsettled by the exceeding indulgence ( "Idleness," Scripture says, remember, "has been the teacher of every evil" [ Sir 33:28 ] ). Well, why, do you ask, did the garden require attention by him? I'm not telling you that, but in fact God wanted him for a while to take some slight care that was appropriate in both watching and tilling. If, after all, he had
That phrase, "to watch over it," is not added idly: it is an instance of considerateness in expression to the effect that he might be fully aware that he was subject to a master who had regaled him with such enjoyment, and along with that enjoyment entrusted him with its protection. (113d) God, you see, creates everything and arranges it for our salvation, and as well as that presents us with enjoyment and relaxation. If on account of his exceeding love he prepared those ineffable goods before creating us as he himself says, "Come, you blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world" [ Matt 25:34 ] much more will he provide us with everything in this world in generous measure.
So he conferred such favors on this creature, first bringing him from nonbeing to being, then deeming it proper to shape his body from dust, and after that as the supreme gesture bestowing on him his incorporeal soul through the action of breathing, then bidding the garden be created and directing him to spend his life there, later, like a (114a) loving father who prevents his young child from being unsettled by great relaxation and freedom from care by devising some slight responsibility appropriate to the situation, the Lord God in like manner ordered the task of tilling and guarding for Adam so that along with all those delights, relaxation and freedom from care he might have, by way of a stabilizing influence, those two tasks to prevent him from overstepping the limit. So these things had already happened to the newly created being, whereas what happened in addition makes clear to us again the great and unsurpassed love for him, as well as the considerateness he displays on account of his own good-
In this case also notice him once more following the same habit so that we might receive a precise statement of the teaching through the repetition of the terms, and no longer tolerate those people presuming to make distinctions in as signing the names ascribing one to the Father and the other to the Son. In fact, since (114b) both have the one essence, logically Sacred Scripture can be found applying the same name interchangeably to the Father in one place and to the Son in another. The text says, "The Lord God instructed Adam in these words." At this we very properly are astonished at God's loving kindness beyond all telling, which he reveals to us through this brief sentence. "He instructed," it says. Notice from the outset how much esteem he evidences for the human being. I mean, it didn't say, He commanded, or He ordered, but "He instructed." Just as one friend is said to instruct another about some pressing needs, God, too, in like manner conducts his relationship with Adam, just as if he wants to win him over through this attitude of esteem to obedience to his instructions. "The Lord God instructed Adam in these words: 'From all the trees in the garden you are to eat your fill, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil do not eat. ( 114c) On the day that you eat from it you will truly die.'" [ Gen 2:16, Gen 2:17 ]
No great difficulty in this instruction. Yet, dearly be loved, sloth is a terrible fault: just as it makes easy things seem hard to us, so enthusiasm and alertness render even hard things easy for us. I mean, what, I ask you, could be simpler than this instruction? What could be greater than the esteem shown here? Provision had been made for his spend-
"The Lord God instructed Adam in these words: 'From every tree in the garden you are to eat your fill; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil do not eat. On the day you eat from it you will truly die" as if to say to him, Surely it's not something harsh and burdensome I'm demanding of you ? While entrusting you with enjoyment of everything, (115a) only this one thing I'm instructing you not to touch; but I also decree a severe penalty so that fear of it may help you keep your balance and you may observe the direction given you by me. He did this in the manner of a kindly master entrusting his huge residence to someone and prescribing some humble coin to be given by him as a pledge for keeping the ownership intact for himself. Well, in quite the same way our loving I also lavished on the human being the enjoyment of everything in the garden, and bade him abstain from one
Who could adequately admire the generosity of the common Lord of all? With what great kindness he regales the creature who has not yet anything to show for himself? I mean, he did not (115b) confine to half the garden the enjoyment he permitted, nor bid him abstain from most things and retain the enjoyment of the remainder. Instead, he wanted him to partake of everything in the garden and ordered him to abstain from the one tree only, showing through these things he had no other purpose in his actions than that he should be able to recognize the one responsible for such acts of kindness. Notice in this case as well as others God's goodness, how much regard he demonstrates also for the woman due to be formed from man. I mean, though she is yet to be created he gives instruction as though to two people in the words, "'Do not eat from it,'" and, "'On the day ye eat from it you will truly die,'" showing right from the outset that man and woman are one, as Paul also says, "The man is head of the woman." [ Eph 5:23 ] So he speaks as though to two people for this reason, (115c) that when later he has formed the woman from man, he may provide the latter with an excuse for acquainting her with God's instructions.
I am aware that this question about the tree is commonly debated, and that many people inclined to speak in cautiously endeavor to shift the blame from human beings to God, presuming to ask, Why on earth did he give him the instruction in the knowledge that he would infringe it? and again, Why did he order the tree to be in the garden? and many other such queries. In case, however, at this stage be fore the right time for discussion of the Fall we should seem to be rushing into exegesis about such matters, we ought wait for blessed Moses' account so as to reach that passage by this means at the appropriate stage and raise with you in that regard whatever matters God's grace has communicated, and
The moment has arrived at long last, however, it would seem, for us to proceed with the theme of the reading. "The Lord God said," the text goes on, "'It is not good for the human being to be alone.'" [ Gen 2:18 ] See how once again it said in the same way as previously, "The Lord God," so that we should rivet the words on our minds and not think the fruit of our human reasoning to be superior to Sacred Scripture. "The Lord God said," it says, "'It is not good for the human being to be alone.'" Notice how the good God does not stop short, but adds kindness to kindness, and, in an abundance of riches, wants to clothe this rational being in every degree of esteem, and along with this esteem to regale him with a life of ease. The text says, remember, "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for (116a) the human being to be alone. Let us make him a helpmate like himself.'" Notice here again the expression, "'Let us make.'" In other words, just as he said at the beginning in the case of the formation of the human being, "'Let us make a human being in our image and likeness,'" so now, too, on the point of forming woman he employs the same expression, saying, "'Let us make.'" To whom does he address it? Not to any created power, but to the one begotten of him, Wonderful Counsellor, Figure of Authority, Prince of Peace, his only begotten Son. [ Isa 9:6 ] So that Adam may learn that the being in process of being formed is meant to enjoy equality of esteem with him, accordingly just as he said in the man's case, "'Let us make,'" so he now says also, "'Let us make him a helpmate like himself.'" Both expressions, helpmate and like himself have much significance. (116b)
I do not want him to be alone, Scripture is saying, but to have some support from company, and not this only but a helpmate suited to him should be produced, hinting at
It is not idly and to no (116c) purpose that this happens, but on account of what was due to take place shortly afterwards. In his foreknowledge of it, God shows us the great intelligence with which he endowed the being created by him, so that when the event occurs of the transgression of the instruction given by God, you won't think the human being sinned through ignorance but will be in a position to know that it was a sin of sloth. I mean, the fact of his being lavishly endowed with intelligence, learn from what happens now. The text says: "He led them to Adam to see what he would call them." He does this out of a desire to provide us with a demonstration of Adam's great intelligence. And further, "The name Adam gave," the text says, "was its name."
This happens, not that we may merely learn of his intelligence but that a symbol of his dominion may be provided through the imposition of the names. You see, (116d) with human beings also this normally constitutes a symbol of dominion when they buy slaves, to change their names. Hence God provides that Adam, too, as their master should give names to the brute beasts. I mean, dearly beloved, don't pass the expression idly by; consider, instead, I ask you, the extent of his intelligence demonstrated by his giving names to such species of winged creatures, reptiles, wild beasts, beasts of burden and the other brute beasts, the tame and the wild, those that inhabit the deeps, those that spring from the earth--
So let no one call in question what is created by the Lord nor sharpen the tongue against the Creator, rather against his own head -- and say those stupid words, Why were the wild beasts produced? I mean, the imposition of names shows us precisely that all animals, tame included, acknowledged their servitude and the human dominion; after all, those names that he imposed on them remain up to the present time. In this way God determined that we might retain a constant reminder of the esteem which the human being from the outset received from the Lord of all and might at tribute responsibility for its removal to the person who (117b) by sin put an abrupt end to his authority.
"Adam gave names to all the cattle," the text goes on, "all the birds of heaven, and all the beasts of the earth." [ Gen 2:20 ] Notice already in this case, I ask you, dearly beloved, his independence of decision and the eminence of his understanding, and don't say he didn't know right from wrong. I mean, the being that has the ability to put the right names on cattle, and birds, and beasts without getting the sequence mixed up, not giving to wild beasts the names suited to the tame ones nor allotting to the tame animals what belonged to the wild ones, but giving them all their right names how could he not be full of intelligence and understanding? Consider finally from this passage how great the force of that breathing, and the intelligence of that incorporeal soul (117c) which the Lord had
I had in mind to go on to what follows in the text; but in case (117d) we should impair the recollection of what has been said already by an excess of words, it behooves us to conclude the flow of instruction at this point. After all, it is not simply the object of our concern to say a lot of things heedlessly; rather, we speak with this aim in view, that you will keep them constantly riveted in your mind so as not merely to have knowledge yourselves of the contents of the Holy Scriptures, but also become teachers of others, capable of admonishing them. So let each of you, I beseech you, go away from here, in the company of your neighbor reawaken the memory of what has been said, offer him what comes from your own heart and listen to what has been remembered by him. So, recalling everything spoken here, and keeping it in your memory in this way, make your way home, ruminating on these divine teachings; hence you may give all your attention to these matters and occupy your mind with them, and so be able to overcome with ease troublesome passions and escape the devil's wiles. You see, (118a) whenever that evil spirit spies a soul wrapt in the things of God, constantly contemplating them and going over them in mind, he doesn't dare approach;
So, in order that we may gain the fullest benefit our selves, may be able to overcome that creature and win grace from God more abundantly, let us occupy our minds with these matters. In this way, you see, everything in our charge will be simplified for us, difficult things will become easy, what seemed threatening will reach a useful conclusion, and nothing on this earth will be able to distress us. I mean, if we concern ourselves with the things of God, he will concern himself with ours, and in complete safety we will navigate the ocean of this life, (118b) and under the guidance of that mighty pilot, the God of all, put into the harbor of his love, to whom be glory and power, now and forever, for unending ages of ages. Amen.
"For Adam, however, there proved to be no helpmate of his kind. God caused a drowsiness to come upon Adam, and he fell asleep. God took one of Adam's ribs and closed up the flesh in its place. The Lord God fashioned the rib that he had taken from Adam into a woman."
[ Gen 2:20, Gen 2:21, Gen 2:22 ]
I AM VERY GRATIFIED by you for the fact that yesterday you received with great enthusiasm the exhortation we gave and, far from being upset at the length of the discourse, you followed it to the very end (118c) in such a way that your desire for listening reached great heights and continued at that level. Hence the sound hopes communicated to us that you would translate our advice into practice. I mean, the person who listens with such relish would clearly be prepared for practice of good works; and in a particular way your attendance today would provide a proof of your health of soul. You see, just as hunger is a sign of bodily well-being, so love for divine sayings proves to be the surest sign of the soul's health.
So, when the fruit of your zeal shows the outcome of your attention, well then, let us in turn pay to you, dear people, the reward we promised yesterday, I mean the reward of this spiritual teaching, which has the capacity both to increase my own resources while I am paying it and to render you its recipients wealthy. (118d) All spiritual goods are like this, after all something that can't be said for material things. In the latter case, in other words, the one who pays reduces his own substance and makes the recipient better off, whereas in the former case, on the contrary, things are different: the one
So, since we are well disposed for kindness and you are ready to receive this spiritual wealth, keep the recesses of your mind in a state of readiness. Come now, let us fulfill our promise; let us take up again the thread of the reading from blessed Moses, and discharge our debt to you at this point. We need, therefore, to give an open explanation of the words read yesterday with a view to exploring precisely the richness of thought concealed in the words and (109a) proposing it to you, my dear people. In other words, listen now to the words of Sacred Scripture: "For Adam, however, there proved to be no helpmate of his kind." What is the force of this brief phrase, "For Adam, however"? Why did he add the particle? I mean, would it not have been enough to say, For Adam? Let us not be heedless in our anxiety to explore these matters, acting out of great curiosity; instead, let us act so as to interpret everything precisely and instruct you not to pass by even a brief phrase or a single syllable contained in the Holy Scriptures. After all, they are not simply words, but words of the Holy Spirit, and hence the treasure to be found in even a single syllable is great. So attend carefully, I beseech you: let everyone give an alert attention, I ask you, no one sluggish, no one drowsy; (119b) let no one be distracted in thinking of out side concerns, or bring here the worries of daily life and stay wrapt in them. Instead, consider the dignity of this spiritual gathering and the fact that we are listening to God speaking to us through the tongue of the inspired authors. Give your attention in this way and keep your mind alert lest any of the seeds sown by us will fall on rock, or by the roadside, or among thistles; instead, let the whole batch of seeds be sown
Let us see, now at long last, what is the conjunctive force of this particle. "For Adam, however," the text says, "there proved to be no helpmate of his kind." Notice, I remind you, the precision of Sacred Scripture. After saying, "For Adam, however, there proved to be no helpmate," it did not stop there but added, "of his kind," (119c) clarifying for us by the addition the reason why it formed the conjunction with the particle. I would think the sharper ones among you would probably by now be in a position to apply yourselves to predicting what is about to be said. Since, however, we must keep our instruction addressed to you all alike and make our words clear to everybody, come now, let us teach you why he spoke in that way. But wait just a moment: you remember in what was mentioned before that after Sacred. Scripture said, "Let us make him a helpmate like himself," it immediately taught us about the creation of wild beasts, reptiles and all the irrational animals, saying as it did, "Further, God formed from the earth all the wild beasts of the field and all the birds of heaven; he led them to Adam to see what he would call them." Like their master he imposed names on them (119d) and to each species he assigned its own name, wild beasts, birds, and all irrational animals according to the intelligence granted him, so that we at this stage might be in a position to know that all those creatures, despite the ministering role they play and the assistance they give human beings in their labors, are nonetheless irrational and in great measure inferior to them just in case we might think it was about them God said, "Let us make a help mate for him." You see, although they are helpful and make a very useful contribution to the service of human beings, they are nonetheless irrational.
The fact that they are helpful, after all, emerges from experience. I mean, some are suited to bearing loads for us, while others to working the soil: an ox draws the plough, cuts furrows, and provides for us much other assistance in farming; likewise an ass makes itself very useful in bearing loads;
So, now that all the animals were created and had received their names from the first man, the loving Lord made it his concern to create a helpmate for him of his kind; having arranged everything with this creature of his in mind and for his sake brought forth all this visible creation, after all the other beings he creates also woman. Notice how he teaches us precisely the process of her creation too. I mean, after teaching us that he wanted to produce for man a helpmate like him by saying previously, "Let us make him a helpmate like him self," (120c) and then adding, "There proved to be no help mate of his own kind," accordingly he set about the formation of this creature of similar properties to him, and the text says, "God caused drowsiness to come upon Adam, and he slept. God took one of Adam's ribs and closed up the flesh in its place. The Lord God fashioned the rib he had taken from Adam into a woman and brought her to Adam." [ Gen 2:21, Gen 2:22 ] There is
Notice the precision of the teaching. This blessed author has stipulated both things, or rather the Holy Spirit through his tongue, teaching us the sequence of what happened. "God caused drowsiness to come upon Adam," the text says, "and he slept." (l20d) It wasn't simply drowsiness that came upon him nor normal sleep; instead, the wise and skillful creator of our nature was about to remove one of Adam's ribs. Lest the experience cause him pain and afterwards he be badly disposed towards the creature formed him from His rib, and through memory of the pain bear a grudge against this being at its formation, God induced in him this kind of sleep: He caused a drowsiness to come upon him and bid him be weighed down as though by some heavy weight. His purpose was that, far from allowing man to suffer any sense of what was happening, he should, like some excellent craftsman, do away with mere appearances, supply for any deficiencies and in his own loving kindness create what had thus been taken from man. The text says, remember, "God caused drowsiness to come upon Adam, and he slept. God took one of Adam's ribs and closed up the flesh in its place" so that after the release of sleep he could not feel the loss he was suffering. You see, even if (121a) he was unaware at the time of the removal, nevertheless afterwards he would be likely to realize what had happened. So lest he cause him pain in removing it, or the loss of it cause him any distress later, he thus provided for both eventualities by making the removal painless and supplying for the loss without letting him feel anything of what had happened. So, the text says, the lord God took the rib and fashioned it into a woman. A remarkable expression, defying our reasoning with its extraordinary boldness. After all, every thing done by the lord has this character: forming the human being from dust is no less remarkable than this.
Notice the considerateness of Sacred Scripture in the
Now consider how here again he follows the same practice as in the case of Adam. I mean, just as in that case he said once, a second time and in fact frequently, "The Lord God took the human being that he had formed" and again, "The Lord God instructed Adam," and further, "The Lord God said, "let us make him a helpmate like himself," so here too it says, "The Lord God fashioned the rib he had taken from Adam into a woman," and previously, "The Lord God caused drowsiness to come upon Adam." (121c) So that your might know that there is no difference between Father and Son in these expressions; instead, on account of both of them having the one essence, Sacred Scripture applies the names indiscriminately. See at any rate how, in the case of the formation of woman as well, it followed the same practice, saying, "The Lord God fashioned the rib he had taken from Adam into a woman."
What would be said in this case by those heretics who are always intent on calling everything into question and who hold the opinion that the origin of the Creator of all has been comprehended? What words can express the full sense of this? What kind of mind can grasp it? He took one rib, the text says and how from this single rib did he fashion the collect being yet why do I say, how from this single thing did he fashion the being? Tell me, how did the removal happen? How was it he felt nothing of the removal? You can tell me none of these things; (121d) only the one who did the creating knows. So if we don't comprehend these things we are familiar with and what has to do with the formation of the
"The Lord God," the text says, "fashioned the rib he had taken from Adam into a woman." See the precision of Scripture. I mean, it no longer said, He formed, but "He fashioned," since he took part of what was already formed and, so to say, made up for what was lacking. Hence it says, "He fashioned:" he didn't perform further shaping, (122a) but took some small part of the shaping already done, fashioned this part and made a complete being. How great the power of God, the master craftsman, making a likeness of those limbs from that tiny part, creating such wonderful senses, and preparing a creature complete, entire and perfect, capable both of speaking and of providing much comfort to man by a sharing of her being. For it was for the consolation of this man that this woman was created. Hence Paul also said, "Man was not created for woman, but woman for man." [ I Cor 11:9 ] Do you see how everything is made for him? I mean, after the act of creation, after the brute beasts were brought forth, some suited for eating and some capable of assisting with man's service (l22b) the human being that had been formed stood in need of someone to talk to and able to offer him much comfort by a sharing of her being. So, from man's rib God creates this rational being, and in his inventive wisdom he makes it complete and perfect, like man in every detail rational, capable of rendering him what would be of assistance in times of need and the pressing necessities of life. It was God, you see, who was arranging everything in his wisdom and creative power. After all, we for our part, even though unable with the limitations of our reasoning to comprehend the way things happen, nevertheless believe that everything yields to his will and that whatever he directs is in fact brought forth. "The Lord God."
"He led her to Adam," the text says, remember. "Now there is someone, bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh." [ Gen 2:23 ] Notice here, I ask you, dearly beloved, how along with this ineffable intelligence bestowed on him by God, which he demonstrated to us by the imposition of names he gave to all those species of brute beasts, he was endowed also with the prophetic grace. I mean, the reason why this blessed author taught us in the preceding passages that Adam was overcome by drowsiness and sleep (l22d) so as to have no sense at all of what happened was that when you come to know that on seeing the woman he describes her creation precisely, you may have no doubt that he is saying this under the influence of the prophetic grace and the inspiration of instruction by the Holy Spirit. You see, when God led her to him, he said, without knowledge of anything that had happened, "Now there is someone bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh."
Yet some other translator renders it "This once" instead of "Now", to indicate that this happened only on this occasion, and there will be no repetition of the formation of woman. Now, it is saying, woman has been made from man whereas later it will not be like this; instead, man will come from woman or rather, not from woman but from the cooperation of the two, as Paul also says, "Man is not from woman, but woman from man; and man was not created (123a) for woman, but woman for man." [ I Cor 11:8, I Cor 11:9 ] True, he is saying, but
Then, in order that you may come to realize the precision of his prophecy, and how what he had said has been conspicuous for its brilliance up to the present time and to its fulfillment, listen also to what follows: "She shall be called woman," it says, "because she was taken from her husband. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother, (l23b) and will cling to his wife and the two will come to be one flesh." [ Gen 2:23, Gen 2:24 ] Do you see how he opened everything up to us, clarifying each detail precisely for us through his own prophecy: "She shall be called woman," ' it says, "because she was taken from her husband." Again he hints to us of the removal of his rib; then, to indicate what was about to happen, the text says, "For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother, and will cling to his wife and the two will come to be one flesh." Where, tell me, did these things come from for him to utter? From what source did he gain knowledge of future events and the fact that the race of human beings should grow into a vast number? Whence, after all, did he come to know that there would be intercourse between man and woman? I mean, the consummation of that intercourse occurred after the Fall; up till that time (123c) they were living like angels in paradise and so they were not burning with desire, not as-
These matters, however, I am bringing to your attention not without purpose; my intention instead is that even in this early instance you may grasp God's surpassing love (l23d) displayed in regard to human kind in granting them from the outset an angelic way of life, bestowing countless benefits on them and regaling them with prophetic grace along with all other goods. Then, when by contrast you see mankind's lack of response despite such works of kindness, you may no longer lay responsibility at God's door but recognize it completely as man's. It is He, after all, who became responsible for all the troubles that befell him, to such an extent that in future you may learn both about the loss of such advantages and the condemnation he incurred for his disobedience. You see, when ever I consider the way of life God had granted him, showing him to such a degree generous marks of kindness firstly, the fact that before his formation he had produced the whole of the created universe for him, and then at that stage created him so that he might come into existence and enjoy (124a) all visible things; next he ordered the garden be created and in tended man should pass his life there, marking him off from all the brute beasts and giving him authority over them, and he bade him give them all names in the manner of a master with his slaves; then, when he was alone and needed some helpmate to share with him the same being, far from over looking this, God brought forth the woman and committed her to the man in the manner he wanted, and after all these
In case, however, we prolong our sermon to a great length, we will, if you like, keep for later the account of the evil spirit's plotting and bring the sermon to a close at this point, urging you in your goodness to remember with precision what has been said and meditate on it all so as to have it firmly lodged in your mind. You see, if you constantly have in mind God's kindnesses which he has conferred on our race, we will ourselves be grateful and as well this habit will prove the greatest encouragement to us along the way of virtue. After all, the person who is mindful of God's kindnesses will clearly make the effort not to appear unworthy of them but to demonstrate such zeal and (124c) gratitude as to be deemed worthy even of further marks of kindness. Our Lord, you see, is prodigal with his favors, and when he sees us behaving gratefully for what has already come to us from him, he lavishes abundant grace on us and deems us worthy of even fur their gifts, provided we make our salvation a matter of concern and do not let the time slip away idly nor watch half of the holy season of Lent slipping away before our eyes; instead, our concern should be to see to some good conduct in all this season and to correction of the passions that assail us. You see, if it proved to be the case that we remained exactly as we were despite the daily advantage we enjoy of spiritual instruction, and did not devote ourselves to virtue, nor eliminate from our soul the various forms of wickedness, not only would we have gained no advantage but we would have incurred greater harm. I mean, whenever anyone who has the
Accordingly, (l24d) I beseech you to make proper use of the time remaining in Lent and bring yourselves under close scrutiny each week, or rather each day; rid your soul of deficiencies and lay secure hold on practices of virtue, as the inspired author recommended, [ Ps 37:27 ] desisting from evil and adopting virtue in its place such, after all, is true fasting. Let the irascible person rid the soul of this passion that inhibits pious thinking, and turn instead to mildness and reasonableness. Let the slothful and unmortified person, whose fancy is titillated by bodily graces, discipline his thinking and engrave on the texture of his mind the law of the Lord which says, "The man who gazes on a woman so as to lust after her has already committed sin with her in his heart;" [ Matt 5:28 ] let him banish the passion of incontinence and practice sobriety. (125a) Likewise, let the person who is rash in speech and an idle commentator on events imitate the blessed author and say, "Place a guard on my mouth, Lord, and a heavy door about my lips;" [ Ps 141:13 ] it let him never give vent to words idly and by chance, but listen instead to Paul's warning: "Let all shouting, rage, blasphemy, foul language and ribald jesting be far from you, along with all other forms of wickedness," [ Eph 4:31 ] and in another place, "May there be some good speech for edification and profit, so as to bring grace on the listeners." [ Eph 4:29 ] 13 By all means avoid oaths, in response to Christ's condemnation in the words, "It was said to people of old, Do not perjure yourself; but I tell you, take no oaths at all." [ Matt 5:33 ] So don't tell me, I take no oath in a just cause: there is no call for swearing in just cause or unjust. (125b) Accordingly, keep your mouth clean of any oath, and ward off all such from your tongue, your lips, and your mind so that no evil thoughts arise within you or pass beyond your lips. Close your ears securely so as to admit no idle report, as blessed Moses
Do you see, dearly beloved, how much vigilance we need, how much effort on our way to virtue? how even some slight neglect brings on us the risk of complete disaster? Hence in another place as well blessed David shouts aloud his accusation against the person guilty of this: "You sit down and slander your brother, (125c) against your mother's son you spread scandal." [ Ps 50:20 ] If we protect all parts of our body in this way, we will he able both to be spoiled on to works of virtue and to occupy our tongue in glory and praise of the God of all our hearing in listening to the divine sayings and learning them, our minds in comprehension of spiritual teachings, our hands in almsgiving and the practice of good deeds rather than in theft and greed, and our feet in entering the church, houses of prayer and the shrines of the holy martyrs rather than theaters, race courses and harmful spectacles, so that we may benefit from the holy discourse in the former and snatch ourselves unharmed (125d) from the devil's wiles. If this is the way we devote our care and attention to our own salvation, we will be able to reap benefit from fasting, escape the snares of the Evil one, and win abundant favor from above. May it be the good fortune of us all to enjoy this, thanks to the grace and love of our lord Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory, power and honor, now and for ever, for ages of ages. Amen.
"They were both naked, Adam and his wife, without feeling shame." Consider, I ask you, the transcendence of their blessed condition, how they were superior to all bodily concerns, how they lived on earth as if they were in heaven, and though in fact possessing a body they did not feel the limitations of their bodies. After all, they had no need of shelter or habitation, clothing or anything of that kind. It was not idly
We must, however, listen to the words that have been read. Blessed Moses, remember, told us that they were naked without feeling shame (for they did not know, after all, that they were naked, clad as they were in ineffable glory, which adorned them better than any clothing), and added: "But the serpent was the wiliest of all the beasts upon the earth made by the Lord. The serpent said to the woman: 'Why is it that God said, Do not eat of any tree of the garden?'" [ Gen 3:1 ] See the evil spirit's envy and devious scheming. I mean, he saw that the human being, creature though he was, had the good fortune to enjoy the highest esteem and was scarcely inferior in any respect to the angels, as blessed David also says, "You have placed him on a level scarcely lower than (126d) the angels," [ Ps 8:5 ] and even this "scarcely lower" was the result of disobedience, the inspired author, after all, uttering this after the disobedience. The author of evil, accordingly, seeing an angel who happened to live on earth, was consumed by envy, since he himself had once enjoyed a place among the powers above but had been cast down from that pinnacle on account of his depravity of will and excess of wickedness. So he employed considerable skill so as to pluck the human being from God's favor, render him ungrateful and divest him of all those goods provided for him through God's loving kindness. What did he do? He discovered this wild animal, namely, the serpent, over coming the other animals by his cunning, as blessed Moses also testified in the words, "The serpent was the wiliest of all the beasts on the earth (127a) made by the Lord God." He made use of this creature like some instrument and through it inveigled that naive and weaker vessel, namely, woman, into
Consider from this, dearly beloved, how in the beginning none of the wild beasts then existing caused fear either to the man or to the woman; on the contrary, they recognized human direction and dominion, and as with tame animals these days, so then even the wild and savage ones proved to be subdued. But perhaps in this case some may raise a difficulty and seek to find out if the wild animals also shared the power of speech. Not so perish the thought; rather, people, following Scripture, need to consider the fact that the words came from the devil, who was spurred on to this deception by his own ill will, while this wild animal he employed like some convenient instrument (127b) so as to be able to set the bait for his own deception and thus upset the woman first of all, being ever more readily susceptible of deception, l and then, through her, man the firstformed. So he employs this irrational animal for laying his plan, and by means of it he speaks to the woman in these words: "'Why is it that God said, Do not eat of any tree of the garden?'" Notice in this case the extreme subtlety of his malice: in the unfolding of his planning and inquiry he introduces words not spoken by God and acts as though motivated by care for them. This, in fact, is what emerges from his words, "'Why is it that God said, Do not eat of any tree in the garden?'" As if the evil demon were saying, Why did he deprive you of such enjoyment? Why does he not allow you to share in the good things in the garden instead of granting you the pleasure of looking at them while not permitting you to possess them and (127c) thus gain the greater enjoyment? "'Why is it that God said?'" What, he is saying, is the reason for this? What is the advantage of life in the gar-
Do you see how he uses the words like a bait to inject his poison? The woman should have been able from his very approach to recognize the extremity of his frenzy and the fact that he deliberately said what was not the case and made a pretense of care for them as part of his plan so as to be in a position to find out the instructions they had been given by God, and thus lead them to their downfall. So he did not want her to be able to recognize his trickery immediately and thus abandon converse with him as being idle speech and so avoid being dragged down to a low level. After all, there was no need for her (127d) to get involved in conversation with him in the first place; she should rather have conversed with the person for whose sake she came into being, with whom she shared everything on equal terms, and whose helpmate she had been made.
But acting impetuously how, I know not she got involved in conversation with the serpent and through him as through an instrument she took in the devil's deadly words; so it ensued that she learnt from the devil's speech the very opposite to the words' real sense, and that whereas the Creator gave one set of directions, the devil said the opposite to the Creator about avoiding him, quitting further conversation with him and having only abhorrence for the creature presuming to sharpen his tongue against the direction given to them. In fact, through her grave negligence she not only failed to turn away but revealed the whole secret of the Lord's direction, thus casting pearls before swine and (128a) fulfilling what was said by Christ: "Don't cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot, turn on you and tear you to pieces," [ Matt 7:6 ] as in fact happened in this case. I mean, she exposed to swine, to that evil beast, that is, to the demon acting through it, the divine pearls; he not only trampled on
Christ, after all, is not talking about real swine in that verse, but referring to people who behave like swine and, in the manner of animals, roll in the mire of sin; (128b) he thus teaches us to recognize differences in people and look to the propriety of their life style whenever it is necessary to keep secret any of the divine sayings, lest we bring harm on them and ourselves. Such people, after all, not only reap no benefit from what is said, but of the times even drag down into the same depths of ruin as themselves those who incautiously offer them these beautiful pearls. Hence we must guard them scrupulously lest we suffer the same fate as those who are deceived in this regard. You see, if in the present instance also the woman had decided not to offer pearls to swine, she would not have fallen into the abyss herself nor dragged her husband down with her.
Let us, however, listen to what she says to him in reply. That is, when he said, "'Why is it that God said, Do not eat of any tree of the garden?'" (128c) the woman replied to the serpent, "'We do eat of every tree of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, Do not eat or even touch it in case you die.'" [ Gen 3:2, Gen 3:3 ] Do you see his malice? He said what was not the case so as to entice her into conversation with him and thus learn what was the case. The woman, you see, is evidently encouraged as though he were kindly disposed to her, and she reveals the whole of the instruction, tells him all in detail, and by her reply deprives herself of any excuse. I mean, what could you say in your defense, woman? "God said, Do not eat of any tree in the garden." You ought to have turned away from the speaker and said to him, Be off, you are a cheat, you do not know the force of the direction given us,
Instead, however, she revealed the secret of the instruction and told him what God had said to them, and thus received from him a different kind of advice, bringing ruin and death. That is to say, when the woman said, "We do eat of every tree of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, Do not eat or even touch it," that evil creature, enemy of our (129a) salvation, in his turn offered advice at odds with that of the Lord. You see, whereas the loving God had forbidden their tasting that fruit on account of his great care for them lest they be subject to death for their disobedience, that evil creature said to the woman "'You will not truly die.'" [ Gen 3:4 ] What kind of excuse could anyone find appropriate to the woman for being prepared to give her complete attention to the creature that spoke with such temerity? I mean, after God said, "Do not touch it lest you die," he said, "You will not truly die." Then, not being satisfied with contradicting the words of God, he goes on to misrepresent the Creator as jealous so as to be in a position to introduce deceit by this means, get the better of the woman and carry out his own purpose. "You will not truly die," he said. "God, you see, knows that on the day that you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil." [ Gen 3:5 ] (129b) See all the bait he offered: he filled the cup with a harmful drug and gave it to the woman, who did not want to recognize its deadly character. She could have known this from the outset, had she wanted; instead, she lis-
Such, after all, are the stratagems of the enemy: when ever he lures someone to a great height through deceit, at that very point he casts them down into a deep abyss. The woman, you see, had dreams of equality with God and hastened to taste the fruit; she had evidently set her mind and her thinking on that goal, and she thought of nothing else than how to drink the cup prepared for her by the wicked demon. That is to say, listen to the account Scripture gives so as to learn that she was bent on this course after receiving that deadly poison through the serpent's advice. (129c) "The woman saw that the tree was good for eating, pleasing for the eyes to behold, and attractive to contemplate. She took some of its fruit and ate it." [ Gen 3:6 ] True it is that "evil converse corrupts good behavior." [ I Cor 15:33 ] Why was it, after all, that before that wicked demon's advice she entertained no such idea, had no eyes for the tree, nor noticed its attractiveness? Because she feared God's direction and the punishment likely to follow from tasting the fruit; now, how ever, when she was deceived by this evil creature into thinking that not only would they not come to any harm from this but would even be equal to God, then evidently hope of gaining the promised reward drove her to taste it. Not content to remain within her own proper limits, but considering the enemy and foe of her salvation (129d) to be more trustworthy than God's words, she learned shortly afterwards through her own experience the lethal effect of such advice and the disaster brought on them from tasting the fruit. The text says, remember, "She saw the tree was good for eating, pleasing for the eyes to behold and attractive to contemplate," and she reasoned with herself, probably from the devil's deceit which he
Do you see how the devil led her captive, handicapped her reasoning, and caused her to set her thoughts on goals beyond her real capabilities, in order that she might be puffed up with empty hopes (130a) and lose her hold on the advantages already accorded her? "She took some of its fruit," the text says, "and ate it; she gave it to her husband also, and they both ate it. Their eyes were opened, and they realized they were naked." [ Gen 3:6, Gen 3:7 ] O woman, what have you done? You have not only followed that deadly counsel literally and trampled on the law imposed on you by God, spurning his instruction and treating it with such displeasure as to be discontented with such great enjoyment, but you have also presumed to take fruit from the one tree which the Lord bade you not to lay hold of, you put faith in the words of the serpent, you regarded its advice worthy of greater heed than the instruction given you by the Creator, and have been ensnared in such awful deception as to be incapable of any claim to excuse. Surely you're not, after all, of the same nature as the one who offered you the advice? He happened in fact to be one of those under your control, (l30b) one of the servants placed by providence under your authority. Such being the case, why did you disgrace yourself, departing from the one for whom you were created, as whose helpmate you were made, in whose dignity you had equal share, one with him in being and one in language why then did you agree to enter into converse with the serpent, and by means of this creature accept the advice of the devil, which was plainly at variance with the Creator's injunction, without being turned aside from such evil intent, but rather presuming to taste the fruit through hope of what had been promised?
Well and good, then: so you cast yourself into such an abyss and robbed yourself of your preeminent dignity. Why did you make your husband a partner in this grievous disaster, why prove to be the temptress of the person whose help mate you were intended to be, and why for a tiny morsel alienate him along with yourself from the favor of God? What excess of folly (130c) led you to such heights of presumption? Wasn't it sufficient for you to pass your life without care or concern, clad in a body yet free of any bodily needs? to enjoy everything in the garden except for one tree? to have all visible things under your own authority and to exercise control over them all? Did you instead, deceived as you were by vain hopes set your heart on reaching the very pinnacle of power? On that account you will discover through experience itself that not only will you fail to achieve that goal but you will rob your self and your husband of everything already given you, you will fall into such depths of remorse that you will regret your failed intentions while that wicked demon, responsible for concocting that deadly plan, will mock and insult you for falling victim to him and incurring the same fate as he. I mean just as he had ideas above his station, (l30d) was carried away to a degree beyond what was granted him, and so fell from heaven to earth, in just the same way did you have in mind to proceed, and by your transgression of the command were brought to the punishment of death, giving free rein to your own envy, as some sage has said: "By the devil's envy death entered the world." [ Wis 2:24 ]
Our text says, "She gave it to her husband also, and they both ate it. Their eyes were opened." Great was the man's indifference, too: even though like him she was human and his wife as well, still he should have kept God's law intact and given it preference before her improper greed, and not joined her as a partner in her fall nor deprived himself of such benefits on account of a brief pleasure, offending his benefactor who had also shown him so much loving kindness and had (13la) regaled him with a life so free of pain and relieved of
"She gave it to her husband also, and they both ate it. Their eyes were opened, and they realized they were naked." At this point an important question arises, which I promised you, my dear people, yesterday to deal with. What I mean is (13lb) that someone could ask what particular quality was it which that tree had that resulted in the opening of their eyes from eating it, and why is it called the knowledge of good and evil. Wait a while, if you don't mind: I want to discuss this, too, with you for a moment and teach you, dear people, that, if we wanted to welcome the contents of Sacred Scripture with grateful hearts, nothing of what is said there would seem difficult. What I mean is that it wasn't the eating from the tree that opened their eyes: they could see even before eating. Instead, the eating from this tree was the symptom of their disobedience and the breaking of the command given by God; and through their guilt they consequently divested themselves of the glory surrounding them, rendering themselves unworthy of such wonderful esteem. Hence Scripture takes up the point in its customary way with the words, (131c) "They both ate. Their eyes were opened, and they realized they were naked;" because of the Fall, they were stripped of grace from above, and they felt the sense of their obvious nakedness so that through the shame that overcame them they might know precisely what peril they had been led into by breaking the Lord's command. You see, before this they had enjoyed such
"They stitched together fig leaves," the text goes on, "and made themselves skirts." [ Gen 3:7 ] Consider, I ask you dearly beloved, what height they had fallen from and how the devil's advice had cast them into a deep abyss. Whereas, you see, they had been clothed in such glory, now they stitch together fig leaves and make themselves skirts. This is the advantage to be gained from the devil's deceit, this is the scope of his advice not merely to fail to provide greater benefits but to render us naked and devoid of those we have. Since therefore such a pretext of eating led to disobedience, Scripture accordingly says, "They ate, and their eyes were opened," referring not to the eyes of the senses but to their mental awareness. You see once they disobeyed (l32a) what had been commanded, they were now made to become aware of things that previously they had no awareness of on account of the benevolence of the Lord shown to them. So when you hear that "Their eyes were opened," understand it in the sense that he saw to it that they would now experience their nakedness and the loss of the glory they enjoyed before eating. To be sure that this is the way with Scripture, listen to what it says elsewhere as well: when Sarah's maid ran away from service and got lost, she flung her child down next to a log and from a distance she thought about his approaching demise in these words, "God opened the eyes" [ Gen 21:19 ] of Hagar, not because she could not see before then but because he awakened her mind. Do you see
We would (l32b) make the same point in regard to the other question that arises at this stage. That is, they ask, Why was it called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? There are, you see, many people bent on controversy who endeavor to maintain that after eating from the tree Adam had knowledge to discriminate between good and evil an opinion of the utmost absurdity. I mean, in view of this and fore seeing it earlier, we dealt with many aspects of the intelligence granted the human being by God, demonstrating it from the imposition of names which he gave to all the animals, the birds and the brute beasts, and the fact that he was endowed with prophetic grace along with this ineffable intelligence lest anyone come up with such an opinion. This person, there fore, who both imposed names and gave vent to that so remarkable prophecy about the woman, as we have already mentioned how could he have been ignorant of what is good (132c) and what is evil? I mean, if we admitted that (God forbid), once again would blasphemous references be directed to the Creator. How, after all, could an ignorant per son be commanded that transgression is wrong? This, how ever, is not the case perish the thought; on the contrary, he knew quite well. It was, after all, on that account that God from the outset equipped this creature with independence: if this had not been the case, he ought not have been punished when he broke the command nor considered worthy of praise for keeping it. You see, the fact that he fell under death's sway on account of the fall is clear both from the command itself and from what happened later. Listen, in fact, to the woman in person speaking to the serpent: "From fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden." God said, "You are not to eat, lest you die." It follows that before eating they were in fact not subject to death; if this were not the case, he would not have imposed death on them by way of a penalty after the eating.
Who therefore (l32d) could bear with those people who insist on saying that the human being had knowledge of good and evil after eating from the tree, that creature who be
The loving Lord, you see, instructing the human being in the beginning and from the very outset, and wanting to teach him that he has a creator and craftsman who produces all visible realities and shapes him as well, wished to reveal to him his own dominion through this slight command. To make a comparison with a generous master who provides a great home full of wonders for someone's enjoyment: (133b) he is prepared to take not the due price but some small part so as in his own interests to protect his title of dominion and to en sure that the person may have precise understanding that he is not owner of the property but enjoys its use out of his grace and beneficence. In just the same way does our Lord entrust everything to the human being, providing him with a way of life in the garden and enjoyment of everything in it; lest he be gradually perverted in his thinking and come to regard visible things as self-sufficient and get inflated ideas of his own im-
Have you discovered why it said, "Their eyes were opened, and they realized they were naked"? Do you know why (133d) the tree is called the knowledge of good and evil? Consider, after all, how much shame they were eventually seized with after eating it and thus breaking the Lord's command: "They stitched fig leaves together, and made themselves skirts." See the depths of indignity into which they fell from a condition of such great glory. Those who previously passed their life like angels on earth contrive covering for themselves out of fig leaves. Such is the evil that sin is: not only does it deprive us of grace from above, but it also casts us into deep shame and abjection, strips us of goods already be longing to us, and deprives us of all confidence.
But in case we make this sermon completely melancholy by going on and on about this sin that consisted of eating of the tree and of the disobedience overwhelming the human being, come now, if you don't mind, (134a) let us change the topic from the tree to that other one, from this tree to the tree of the Cross, and let us see what harm the former caused and what good the latter introduced. Rather, it was not the tree that caused the harm, but slothful will and contempt dis-
"They heard the sound of the Lord God as he strolled in the garden in the evening."
[ Gen 3:8 ]
WE HAVE SAID ENOUGH, I would think, as far as our abilities lie, in giving our explanation lately of the tree, to teach you, dearly beloved, what was the reason why Sacred Scripture called it the knowledge of good and evil. So today I want to proceed to what follows, so that you may learn God's unspeakable love and the degree of considerateness he employs in his care for our race. Everything, you see, he made and arranged so that this rational being created by him had the good fortune to be of the greatest importance, and far from being in any way inferior to the life of the angels, enjoyed in the body their immunity from suffering.
When, however, he saw them both through negligence transgress the commands he had given them, despite the warnings he had conveyed by threatening them (134d) and putting them more on the alert, he did not stop loving them at that point. Instead, faithful to his own goodness, he is like a loving father who sees his own son through negligence committing things unworthy of his upbringing and being reduced from his eminent position to the utmost depravity: he is stirred to the depths of his being as a father, yet, far from ceasing to care for him, he displays further concern for him in his desire to extricate him gradually from his abasement and return him to his previous position of dignity. Well, in just the same way does the good God, too, have pity on man for the plot to which he fell victim with his wife after being deceived and accepting the devil's advice through the serpent. Like a
In order, however, that you may learn (135a) God's ineffable considerateness, from the words themselves you must listen to the reading. "They heard the sound of the Lord God," the text says, "as he strolled in the garden in the evening; both Adam and his wife hid from the Lord's presence amongst the trees of the garden." [ Gen 3:8 ] Let us not, dearly beloved, pass heedlessly by the words from Sacred Scripture, nor re main at the level of their expression, but consider that the ordinariness of their expression occurs with our limitations in mind and that everything is done in a manner befitting God for the sake of our salvation. I mean, tell me this: were we prepared to follow the drift of the words without taking what is said in a sense befitting God, how could many absurdities be avoided? See now, let us consider this from the very beginning of the reading: "They heard the sound (135b) of the Lord God," the text says, "as he strolled in the garden in the evening, and they hid." What are you saying God strolls? Are we assigning feet to him? Have we no exalted conception of him? No, God doesn't stroll perish the thought: how could he, present as he is everywhere and filling everything with his presence? Can he, for whom heaven is his throne and earth his footstool, be confined to the garden? What right-minded person could say this?
So what is the meaning of this statement, "They heard the sound of the Lord God as he strolled in the garden in the evening "? He wanted to provide them with such an experience as would induce in them a state of anguish, which in fact happened: they had so striking an experience that they tried to hide from the presence of God. Sin, you see, appeared and
Even if someone were able to escape the notice of all human beings in committing sin and perpetrating improper conduct, he could not escape that accuser; he would go his wicked way with this accuser ever present within him to trouble him, tear at him and flay him, never resting, be it in public, in company, at table, sleeping or rising, demanding justice for felonies committed, bringing into focus the impropriety of sin (135d) and the punishment due to it. Like a skillful physician it does not cease from applying its remedies; and should it find itself rebuffed, it does not take no for an answer but continues its ministrations unremittingly. This, after all, is its role, to make memory proof against dissuasion and not permit us to lay our sins to rest but keep them in focus so that even by this means it may make us reluctant to fall into the same ones again. You see, if we find an ally in conscience and get assistance from it as the forthright accuser innate within us, our scourge, tearing at our vitals, bringing more weight to bear on us than a public executioner, and yet in many cases we still fall victims to our indifference, to what extremes would we not be taken if we were deprived of such assistance?
This, then, is the reason why (136a) in the present case the firstformed human being immediately hides on receiving this impression and realizing the presence of the Lord. Why so, tell me? Because he saw that stern accuser conscience, I mean taking his position against him. He had no one else as prosecutor and witness of his felonies with the sole exception of the one that he carried around within him. They were, however, taught through their nakedness the magnitude of
Nothing is worse than sin, dearly beloved: once it appears (136b) it not merely fills us with shame but also robs of their senses people previously sensible and full of great intelligence. I mean, consider, I ask you, the depth of folly now displayed by this person previously endowed with intelligence, who had demonstrated the intelligence granted him in the actions he performed, and who had given vent to such inspired utterances. "Hearing the sound of the Lord God," the text says, "as he strolled in the garden in the evening, he and his wife hid from the Lord's presence amongst the trees of the garden." What depths of folly does this not reveal for this man to endeavor to hide from the God who is present every where, the Creator who brings all things from nonbeing into being, who knows things that lie hidden, who alone fashions people's hearts and understands all their works, [ Ps 33:15 ] who tests hearts and minds, [ Ps 7:9 ] who understands the movements of our heart? [ Ps 43:22 ] (136c) But do not wonder, dearly beloved. For that is the nature of sinners. Even if they are not able to hide, they try earnestly to hide. That you may know that they did this because they had been denuded of their glory, unable to endure the shame which enveloped them after their sin, consider where they hid themselves: In the midst of paradise. Just like heedless slaves and ones due for a whipping, when they are unable to hide from their master, try to run hither and thither into the corners of the house when their minds are shaking with fear, likewise these two ran around in that abode, that is in Paradise, but without finding any escape.
It is not without purpose, however, that the time is speci-
"The Lord God called Adam and said to him, 'Adam, where are you?" [ Gen 3:9 ] From the very enquiry it behooves us to marvel at God's surpassing love, not so much that he called him, but that he personally called him something human beings would never stoop to in the case of their fellows who share the same nature with themselves. I mean, you know that when they take their seat on the lofty tribunal and do justice to those guilty of felonies, they don't consider the accused worthy of having a reply made in their own person; consequently, they let them see how much disrepute they have incurred through committing these crimes. While the judge makes his response somebody else stands up and relays the words of the judge to the accused, and in turn reports his words to the judge. (137c) Such you would see to be the practice of judges the world over. With God, however, this is not the case. Instead? He calls personally: "The Lord God called Adam," the text says, "and said to him, 'Adam, where are you?'"
See how much force lies concealed in this brief expression. You see, the very act of calling is a mark of great love beyond all telling, as it is a mark of great goodness to give an opportunity of reply to the accused in his shame, who dares not open his mouth or loosen his tongue. Yet, along with this loving kindness, the question, "'Where are you?'" is also very telling. In other words, it is as if he hinted to him in these words, What has happened? I left you in one condition, whereas now I find you in another; I left you clad in glory, whereas now I find you in nakedness.
"'Where are you?'" How did this happen to you? Who has brought you to this changed condition? (137d) What kind of robber and brigand has robbed you like this in an instant of all the substance of your wealth and cast you into such indigence? Whence has come the nakedness you are experiencing? Who is responsible for depriving you of that wonderful
See the Lord's loving kindness and the surpassing degree of his longsuffering. I mean, though being in a position to begrudge such a great sinner the right of reply and rather than to consign him at once to the punishment he had deter mined on in anticipation of his transgressing, he shows patience and withholds action: he asks a question, receives a reply, and questions him further as if inviting him to excuse himself so that he might seize the opportunity to display his characteristic love in regard to the sinner even despite his fall. He thus teaches us through this instance as well when we judge the guilty not to berate them harshly or display the savagery of wild beasts in their regard, but rather employ much longsuffering and mercy inasmuch as we are dispensing justice to our Own members, and out of a sense of kinship we should temper justice with love. (138b) After all, it is not with out purpose that Sacred Scripture employs such great considerateness; instead, through the concreteness of the expressions it both teaches us God's loving kindness and promotes our emotions so that we may imitate as far as human capacity allows the goodness of the Lord. "He said to him, 'Who told you that you are naked unless you have eaten from that one
Notice, dearly beloved, the excess of God's goodness, how, in this manner of one friend communing with another and remonstrating with him over transgression of his instructions, he enters into dialog with Adam. "'Who told you that you are naked unless you have eaten from that one tree I told you not to eat from?'" (138c) Even the phrase, "that one tree," bears a slight nuance: Surely I didn't inhibit your enjoyment? it is saying. Did I not relieve you of every need, give you authority over everything in the garden, and only instruct you to keep away from that one thing so that you might be in a position to know that you are subject to direction and required to show some obedience? So what kind of terrible in difference is this that, despite your having such great enjoyment, you could not bear to keep away from that one thing but rather hastened in that manner to violate the command given you by me and envelop yourself in so many excesses?
What good was that to you? Hadn't I warned you of that in advance? Wasn't it my intention to check you be forehand with fear of punishment and so make you more cautious? Didn't I tell you what would be likely to happen? Didn't I for that reason forbid your eating that fruit so that you wouldn't fall victim to those faults? Who could consider you deserving of excuse now that you've proved to be so unresponsive despite so many directions? (138d) didn't I thus instruct you in every detail, like a father to his own dear son, and teach you to keep away from this tree while being free to taste all the others lest it wreak havoc with all your endowments?
Perhaps, however, you have thought advice from an other quarter acceptable and to be preferred to my command, and followed it in the expectation of gaining greater
"Adam said," the text goes on, "The woman you gave me as my companion gave me fruit from the tree and I ate it." [ Gen 3:12 ] Pitiable words and full of much pity, and capable of moving the Lord to clemency, He who is so gentle, overcoming our sins by his goodness. For when he had shaken his disposition by a great display of tolerance and had shown him the magnitude of his sin, Adam all but preparing his own defense, said to Him, "the woman you gave me as my companion." (139b) In other words, how could I have ever expected that I would have been so covered in confusion through the one you created with the very purpose of bringing me consolation from her person? You gave her to me, you led her to meet me. She I know not under what impulse in her turn gave me fruit from the tree and I ate it.
While this explanation seems to offer some excuse, it is in fact devoid of all defense. I mean, what defense can you lay claim to, he says, for forgetting my commands and judging the bauble given by your wife more important than words spoken by me? After all, even if your wife did give it to you, still my command and the fear of punishment were sufficient to dispose you to avoid tasting. I mean, surely you were not ignorant? Surely you weren't unaware? With this in mind, out
But, all the same, even if all these things have befallen you, put the blame on no one else but yourself and your own neglect; after all, if you had not been willing, your wife would have been unable to bring you to this disastrous state. I mean, surely she didn't urge you? Surely she didn't inveigle you? Surely she didn't deceive you? She merely gave (139d) you the fruit, and in an instant with such ease you were prevailed upon to taste it, without a thought to my command; instead, you thought you had been taken in by me and had not been permitted this food for this reason, lest you happen upon greater blessings. What grounds would you have for thinking you were deceived by me, the donor of such acts of kindness to you? What great kindness did this indicate, to take early precautions and clearly outline what you must abstain from so as not to fall into the excesses in which you have now immersed yourself? All these warnings, however, you gave no heed to, and so, behold, you have found out for yourself by
Accordingly, when he had addressed himself at sufficient length to Adam, and the latter made excuses for his sins by transferring, as he thought, the guilt to his wife, behold (140a) the good Lord, how much considerateness he employs again and deems her also worthy of a response from him: "God said to the woman." the text goes on "What is this you have done?" [ Gen 3:13 ] You heard your husband, he says, transferring the responsibility to you and putting all the blame on you, given to him though you were as his template and created for the purpose of providing him with comfort from your person inasmuch as you have the same being as he and share in the same nature. So why did you do this, O woman? For what reason did you become the cause of such dreadful shame to your self and your husband? What advantage did you gain from such intemperance? What benefit came to you from the deception which you willingly embraced and made your husband sharer in? So what did the woman reply? "the serpent deceived me, and I ate." See her overcome by great fear and making excuses for her sins: (140b) just as her husband seemed to transfer the blame to his wife in the words, "My wife brought it and gave it to me and I ate it," so she too, finding no way out admits what happened and says, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." That evil creature, she says, brought that disaster upon us, his baleful advice led us to that shame, he deceived me and I ate.
Don't pass these words by heedlessly, dearly beloved; instead, let us study them precisely and gain much benefit from them. I mean, a tribunal is a fearful thing, capable of arousing terror, and we must listen carefully to everything and lay up in our minds the great treasure to be gained from what is said. that is to say, notice the man also saying, "The woman you gave me as my companion gave it to me, and I ate it." No evidence of force, no evidence of pressure only
"the serpent deceived me, and I ate." Notice, moreover, the good Lord is satisfied with their words and doesn't oblige them to say any more. You see, since he was not unaware of the truth when he asked them, but rather knew, and knew very well, (l40d) he shows considerateness for their limitations so as to demonstrate his own loving kindness, and he invites them to make admission of their faults. Hence he asks them nothing further. After all, of course, it was necessary to unmask the kind of deception; but to show us that his questioning did not arise from ignorance, he is satisfied with their words. The woman, remember, in saying, "The serpent deceived me and I ate," hinted at that deadly advice which she had accepted from the devil, namely, You will be like gods after eating it. Did you notice how precisely Adam was questioned? With how much longsuffering the woman also was brought before the tribunal? How each of them made their excuse? Now, then, consider in this passage the surpassing degree of the Judge's ineffable love: when the woman said, "The serpent deceived me and I ate," he doesn't then grant the serpent a reply, nor (14la) give it opportunity for excuse, nor question it as he did the man and woman; instead, he accepts the excuses from them and turns on that creature as the guilty party in all the evils. Since, from his being God, and
Notice in this passage, I ask you, the order and sequence illustrating God's loving kindness. I mean, he began directing his enquiries to the man, and then turned his attention to the woman. When she mentioned who was the cause of her fall, he turned to the serpent: not deeming him worth a reply, he sentenced him to his punishment and extended it for all time; in the person of the serpent a lasting instruction was provided for everyone in future never again to accept that deadly (141c) advice nor be deceived by stratagems devised by him.
Perhaps, however, someone may say: if the devil worked
To be more accurate, however, we have already been instructed in this (141d) by Christ when he spoke through the holy Gospels to those standing at his left hand: "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels." [ Matt 25:41 ] In other words, this fate has been prepared for him from ages past, and that unquenchable fire awaits him. So what could be more pitiful than the fate of those people who on account of neglect of their own salvation make themselves liable to that punishment prepared for that demon? You see, for proof that the kingdom has been prepared for us if we are willing to give evidence of virtue and follow the laws laid down by Christ, listen further to his words: "Come, blessed of my Father: inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." [ Matt 25:34 ] Do you see the unquenchable fire prepared for the demon, on the one hand, and for us, on the other hand, the kingdom, provided our resolve does not fail?
Accordingly, let us keep these things in mind and give heed to our way of living, (142a) avoiding evil and never falling victim to the devil's wiles. On the contrary, with good will and no slackening of effort let us keep before our eyes the punishment inflicted on the serpent so that we may hasten to wards the goal of our judgment and see the greatness of God's
So what does the text say? "The Lord God said to the serpent, 'Because you have done this, accursed are you beyond all the beasts and all the wild animals of the earth. Upon your belly shall you grovel and slide, and eat dirt all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He shall watch for your head, and you shall watch for his heel.'" His anger is pro found and intense, since profound also was the excess of the deception which the evil demon brought into play through that creature. "The Lord God said to the serpent, (142c) 'Because you have done this.'" Because you were the means of such villainy, he is saying, and put the deception into effect in this way by adducing the deadly advice and mixing the lethal potion; because you did this and intended to expel from my favor those creatures of mine, ministering to the purpose of that evil demon who had been cast down from heaven to earth for his envy and overweening arrogance hence, because he used you as his instrument in these exploits, I inflict unremitting punishment on you, so that from what has befallen you he, too, may be in a position to know the extent of the punishment awaiting him, and that human beings to come may be instructed never to fall victim to his counsels nor give rein to his deceit lest they incur the same penalties. On this account
Since, however, the curse was not perceptible to the senses nor visible to the naked eye, he accordingly inflicts on him a visible punishment so that we may have continually be fore our eyes reminders of his punishment to contemplate. "Upon your belly shall you grovel and slide, and eat dirt all the days of your life," because you took advantage of your physical form improperly, he is saying, even presuming to enter into conversation with the being I had created as rational. So just as the devil who worked through you, employing you as his instrument, had been cast down from heaven for setting his ambitions above his station, well, (143a) in just the same way I direct that you too assume a different physical shape, slide upon the earth and have that diet, so that in future you won't be able to look upwards; instead, it will be your lot ever to be in this lowly position, and unlike all the other animals eat dirt. And not only this, but "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed." I'm not even content with this, that you slide on the earth: I will make the woman your implacable enemy, and not simply her, but her seed as well I will cause to be perpetually at odds with your seed. "He will watch for your head, and you will watch for his heel." That is to say, I will supply him with such force that he will constantly threaten your head, whereas you will be trodden under his feet.
See, dearly beloved, (143b) by means of the punishment against this creature, the extent of the care he reveals to us that he has for the human race. So much is evident even in regard to the serpent perceptible to our senses; yet it is also possible to anyone interested to study the sequel to this in
Let us turn again, if you don't mind, to the woman. You see, since (143c) it was the serpent that was the cause of the deception, accordingly he was the first to incur punishment; and since he deceived her first, and she then dragged her husband down with her, she is punished first, receiving that punishment which carries with it lengthy admonition: "He said to the woman: 'I will greatly aggravate the pain of your labor, in pain you will bear children; your yearning will be for your husband, and he will be your master.'" [ Gen 3:16 ] See the Lord's goodness, how much mildness he employs despite such a terrible fall. "I will greatly aggravate the pain of your labor." My intention had been, he is saying, for you to have a life free of trouble and distress, rid of all pain and grief, filled with every pleasure and with no sense of bodily needs despite your bodily condition. But since you misused such indulgence, (143d) and the abundance of good things led you into such ingratitude, accordingly I impose this curb on you to prevent your further running riot, and I sentence you to painful labor. "I will greatly aggravate the pain of your labor, in pain you will bear children."
I will ensure, he is saying, that the generation of children, a reason for great satisfaction, for you will begin with pain so that each time without fail you will personally have a reminder, through the distress and the pain of each birth, of the magnitude of this sin of disobedience, and may not in the
Nevertheless, however, the loving God offered comfort with the pain, so that the satisfaction of bearing the child equally matched those pangs that tortured the womb all those months. I mean, women who are subjected to such distress, are so tormented by the bouts of pain, and, so to say, even despair of life itself, enjoy after the birth satisfaction even in their distress: as though forgetting all that has happened, they give themselves again to the bearing of children, according to the loving God's providence for the maintenance of human beings' welfare. You see, the expectation of future benefits (144b) makes us always bear the distress of the present time with ease.
You would see this trial affecting travellers as well, as they cross the mighty oceans and put up with shipwreck and pirates; despite those many dangers and the disappointment of their hopes they in no way give up, but rather press on to wards the same goal. The same thing can be said also of farmers: when they dig deep furrows, till the earth with great care and sow the seed liberally, there frequently occurs drought or flooding, or at the conclusion of the harvesting rust descends on the crop and they lose hope; yet they still don't give up at this point, but when better times come they resume their farming. (144c) And you would find this happening in the case of every occupation.
Well, in just the same way, woman too, in her turn, despite all those months, despite the unspeakable pains, despite the sleepless nights, despite the twitching of limbs, or through some slight accident she gives birth prematurely to the child
Hence he said, "I will greatly aggravate the pain of your labor, in pain you will bear children." This is what Christ also talked about with his disciples, showing them the intensity of the pain and the great degree of satisfaction, when he said, "A woman in labor suffers for the reason that her time has come;" (144d) then, wanting to bring home to us how the element of suffering is suddenly removed whereas its place is taken by joy and happiness, he said, "But when she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the distress for joy that a human being has been born into the world." [ John 16:21 ] Do you see the exceeding care? Do you see punishment accompanied by admonition? "In pain you will bear children;" then, "Your yearning will be for your husband, and he will be your master."
As if to explain his reasons to the woman, the loving God said this, meaning, In the beginning I created you equal in esteem to your husband, and my intention was that in everything you would share with him as an equal, and as I entrusted control of everything to your husband, so did I to you; but you abused your equality of status. Hence I subject you to your husband: "Your yearning will be for your husband, and he will be your master." Because you abandoned your equal, who was sharer with you in the same nature (l45a) and for whom you were created, and you chose to enter into conversa-
l know that you are wearied by (145b) the excess of words, but stir yourselves a little, I beseech you, lest we leave the sentence incomplete and depart while the judge is still sitting. We are in fact close to the end now. So let us see what he says to the man after the woman, and what kind of punishment he inflicts on him. "Whereas to Adam he said: 'Because you listened to your wife's words and ate from this one tree I told you not to eat from, accursed shall be the soil as you till it. In pain may you eat from it all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles let it yield you, and you are to eat the grass of the field. In the sweat of your brow may you eat your bread until you return to the soil whence you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you are to return." [ Gen 3:17, Gen 3:18, Gen 3:19 ] Great is the (145c) Lord's care and beyond all telling displayed here for the human being but let us listen precisely to each word spoken. "Whereas to Adam he said: 'Because you listened to your wife's words and ate from this one tree I told you not to eat from." Since you listened to your wife, he is saying, and ate from the tree, and put the advice from her ahead of my command and weren't prepared to keep away from this one single tree which I told you not to eat from (surely, after all, I didn't bid you keep away from many? one only and yet you couldn't
Let men give good heed, let women give good heed the former, that they may have nothing to do with those people advising evil actions, and the latter, that they may ad vise nothing of the sort. (145d) I mean, if Adam shifted the blame on to his wife and was still considered incapable of any excuse, what kind of defense could anyone offer in the claim, "It was on account of my wife that I sinned in this way and that, and committed this sin and that "? After all, the reason that she came under your dominion and you were declared her master was that she should follow your lead, not for the head to follow the feet. Frequently, however, it is possible to see the opposite occurring, that the one who is supposed to be in the position of head doesn't even keep to the position of the feet, whereas she who is in the position of the feet is installed in the position of head. Hence also blessed Paul, the world's teacher, foresaw all this and cried out, "How, after all, can you be sure, wife, whether you will save your husband? And how can you be sure, husband, whether you will save your wife?" [ I Cor 7:16 ] Still, let a husband be very much on his guard so as to resist his wife's inducement to harmful behavior, and let a wife (146a) keep fresh in mind the punishment Eve received for plying her husband with harmful advice, and not presume to offer such advice nor imitate Eve, but rather bring him to his senses by her example and encourage him to that kind of behavior that will discharge herself and her husband of any punishment or penalty.
But let us return to the text before us. "Whereas to Adam he said: 'Because you listened to your wife's words and ate from this one tree I told you not to eat from.'" Because, he is saying, you displayed such indifference about keeping the command given by me, and neither fear nor my intervening to decree the punishment liable to happen to you for eating the fruit was of any benefit, but in fact you ran headlong into
"accursed" means, he added, "'In pain may you eat from it all the days of your life.'" See how each punishment is extended for a lifetime, so that not only may they personally be the better off for it, but that those destined to follow in future may learn from these very events whence the source of this punishment (146c) derived in their case: "'In pain,'" he says, "'may you eat from it all the days of your life.'" Then, to teach us more precisely the kind of curse and the cause of the pain, he added, "Thorns and thistles let it yield you." [ Gen 3:18 ] Behold the reminders of the curse: thorns it will bring forth, he says, and thistles so as to give rise to great labor and discomfort, and I will ensure you pass the whole time with pain so that this experience may prove a brake on your getting ideas above your station and you may instead have a thought to your own makeup and never again bear to be deceived in these matters.
"You are to eat of the grass of the field. In the sweat of your brow may you eat your bread." See how after his disobedience everything is imposed on him in an opposite way to his former life style: My intention in bringing you into the world, he is saying, was that you should live your life without pain or toil, difficulty or sweat, (146d) and that you should be in a state of enjoyment and prosperity, and not be subject to the needs of the body but be free from all such and have the good.
At this point, however, a further question arises for us, which, if you don't mind, we'll dispose of immediately at this stage and bring the sermon to a close. God said, the text tells us, "On the day you eat from it you will truly die;" (147b) yet they are shown living for a great number of years after the disobedience and tasting the food. This seems to pose a problem for those who read the subject matter superficially; if however you give your attention to it in the proper spirit, the verse is clear and offers no problem to the student. You see, even if they lived a long time, nevertheless from the time they heard the words, "Dust you are, and to dust you are to return," and received the sentence of death, they became liable to death and you would say front that moment they were dead. So this is what Scripture is also implying when it says
I know that our words have been numerous and the thread of our teaching has been drawn out to great length. Hence, since by the grace of God and to the extent of our ability we have proposed everything to you and brought to a Conclusion the subject matter we read about, let us at this point close the sermon. It would, in fact, have been possible for us to propose other matters, illustrating further that the imposition of that very punishment and their being made liable to death was a mark of great depths of loving kindness. But in case we smother your thinking with a great surfeit of words, come now, let us encourage you as you leave here (147d) not to give your time to brainless gatherings or to improper gossiping; instead, reflect privately and rehearse with one an other what has been said, reminding yourselves of what the judge said in reply, what defense the guilty made, how the man shifted the blame on to the woman and she shifted it to the serpent, how God punished that creature and the fact that he inflicted on it the punishment that would be constant and lasting for all time, that in its regard he delivered a severe denunciation and thus demonstrated his care for those deceived. You see, from the fact that he punished their deceiver it is clear that he had practiced his deception on people very dear to God. Next recall from this text the sentence on the woman and the punishment inflicted on her, or rather the admonition and thus recall the words addressed to Adam, (148a) remembering the sentence, "Dust you are, and to dust you are to return;" find cause for wonder in this at God's ineffable love, that we, though coming from dust and decomposing into it, are deemed worthy, should we wish to embrace vir-
Consequently, we ought to pay the Lord abundant thanks for his so generous favors and never consign them to oblivion; instead, through good works and careful avoidance of foul deeds let us win his approval and render him well disposed to us. I mean, how could we avoid the appearance of ingratitude if, while he who is God and immortal does not decline to take on himself our mortal nature and earthly character, (l41b) free us from the ancient curse of death, lead us to highest heaven, honor us with his ancestral home and deem us worthy of being honored by all the heavenly host, whereas we are not ashamed to requite him in just the opposite way, glueing our immortal soul (so to say) on to our body and thus ensuring that it becomes earthly, perishable and impotent? Let us not, I beseech you, be so ungrateful to such a constant benefactor of ours; let us rather keep his laws and perform what he has decided and is well pleasing to him, so that he may declare us worthy also of eternal goods. May we all be judged deserving of such goods, thanks to the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory, power and honor, now and forever for ages of ages. Amen.
"Adam gave his wife the name Zoe, because she was the mother of all the living. The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clad them in them. God said, 'Lo, Adam has become like one of us.' "
[ Gen 3:20, Gen 3:21, Gen 3:22 ]
Did  you see yesterday the loving kindness of the Judge? Did you see the examination conducted in a spirit of great goodness? Did you see the difference in the kinds of punishment–how the one who caused their downfall by means of deceit was punished, on the one hand, and how, on the other hand, the punishment inflicted on the fallen demonstrates God's great love? Did you see of how much benefit this proved to be the occasion for us, to be present in court and see how the examination proceeded? After all, they realized, Adam and Eve both, the degree and significance of the good things they had deprived themselves of through transgression of the command given them, stripped as they were of that ineffable glory and of the life that was scarcely inferior to the angels'. We saw the Lord's longsuffering, we learnt the gravity of indifference and how it renders us bereft of goods already in our possession and leaves us desolate, covering us in deep confusion.
Hence, I beseech you, let us remain alert: may their lapses become an antidote for us, and their indifference prove to be a motive for caution on our part, especially as the punishment for those erring in the same way in the future will be the greater, the more they have been reluctant to profit from their example. You see, people who after these events sin in the same respect will not have the same sentence meted out to them, something we can briefly learn from the world's wise teacher--I mean  blessed Paul-- when he says, "As many as sinned without the Law will perish without the Law, whereas as many as sinned with the Law in force will be judged by the Law." [ Rom 2:12 ] What he means is this: those prior to the Law will not receive the same sentence as those after the Law; instead, those sinning after the giving of the Law will undergo heavier penalties. "As many as sinned without the Law will perish without the Law," that is to say, the fact of has g no instruction or assistance from the Law makes the penalty milder for them. "Whereas as many as sinned with the Law in force will be judged by the Law." ; these on the other hand, he is saying, having the Law as teacher and being so much the wiser yet sinning in the same way as the others, will receive the heavier penalty.
But let us listen to what was read today also. "Adam called his wife Eve, which means life, because she was the mother of all the living." [ Gen3:20 ] See the precision of Sacred Scripture, how it didn't pass over even this detail, but taught us that Adam named his wife as well. "He called his wife Eve, which means life," the text says, you see, "because she was the mother- of all the living" –that is to say, she is the source of all those who will come from her, the root and foundation of the future race. Then, after teaching us the naming of the woman, it further shows us God's goodness, how he does not overlook them in their depth of shame and nakedness after being created by him. "The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife," the text says, "and clad them in them." [ Gen 3:21 ] In other words, take the case of a kindly father with a son of his own who was brought up with every care, who enjoyed every indulgence, had the run of a fine house, was clad in a silken tunic, and had free access to his father's substance and wealth; later, when he saw him tumble headlong from this great indulgence into an abyss of wickedness, he stripped him of all those assets, subjected him to his own authority and, divesting him of his clothes, clad him in a lowly garment usually worn by slaves lest he be completely naked and indecent. Well, in just the same way the loving God, when they rendered themselves unworthy of that gleaming and resplendent vesture in which they were adorned and which ensured they were prepared against bodily needs, stripped them of all that glory and the enjoyment they were partakers of before suffering that terrible fall. He showed them great pity and had mercy on their fall: seeing them covered in confusion and ignorant of what to do to avoid being naked and feeling ashamed, he makes garments of skin for them and clothes them in them.
What I mean is that the machinations of the devil are quite different: when he finds people ready to do his will, he proves their undoing through some slight enjoyment, then drags them down to the very depths of wickedness and covers them in utter shame and degradation, leaving them prostrate, a piteous spectacle for all to see–whereas the Guardian of our souls, seeing them in utter helplessness, doesn't allow himself to ignore their condition but devises a covering for them, while indicating to them through the frugality of the garment the sort of garments they have caused themselves to deserve.  "The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clad them in them." See the extent of the considerateness of Sacred Scripture. Still, what I've often said I say again now: let us understand everything in a sense befitting God. Let us understand "made" in the sense of "gave directions for" : he ordered that they be clad in garments of skin as a constant reminder of their disobedience.
Let the affluent pay heed, those who pamper themselves with cloth from the silkworm and are clad in silk, and let them learn how at the beginning from the outset the loving Lord instructed the human race: when the firstformed man became liable to the punishment of death through the Fall and the Lord had to clothe him in a garment to hide his shame, he made them garments of skin, to teach us to shun
Let us, however, move to what follows. "God said, 'Lo, Adam has become like one of us in knowing good and ill. Now there is a risk that at some time he may put out his hand and pick fruit from the tree of life, eat it and live forever.' The Lord God sent him out of the garden of delight to till the soil from which he was taken." [ Gen 3:22, Gen 3:23 ] See again God's consid-
"'Now there is a risk that at some time he may put out his hand and pick fruit from the tree of life, eat it and live forever.'" /quote See here, I ask you, the l.ord's loving kindness. I mean, we must study the saying precisely so that nothing concealed under the surface can escape us. When God gave Adam the command, he bade him abstain from nothing, with the single exception of that tree, and when he presumed to taste it he received the sentence of death; he made this clear to him in giving him the command in case he should break it, though he had given him no express instructions about the
If, however, someone of a meddling nature should enquire why it was called the tree of life, let him learn that it was not possible for human beings to discern all God's works precisely by following their own reasoning. The Lord, you see, decided that the human being created by him should have some practice in disobedience and obedience while living in the garden, and decided to provide examples there of these two trees, one of life, the other of death (so to say) in the sense that tasting it and breaking the command brought death on him. So when by partaking of this tree he became liable to death and subject in the future to the needs of the body, and the entry of sin had its beginnings as the result of which death also was fittingly provided for by the Lord, no longer did he allow Adam in the garden but bade him leave there, showing us that his sole motive in doing this was his love for him.
To learn this precisely, we must read again the words of Sacred Scripture. "'Now there is a risk that at some time he may put out his hand and pick fruit from the tree, eat it and live forever.'" In other words, since he had given signs of considerable intemperance through the command already given him (he is saying) and had become subject to death, lest he presume further to lay hold of this tree which offers endless life and go on sinning forever, it would be better for him to be driven from here. And so the expulsion from the garden was a mark of care rather than necessity. Our Lord, you see, is like this: he reveals his care for us in punishing no less than in blessing, and even his punishment is inflicted for the sake of admonition. Because if in fact he knew that we would not get worse by sinning and escaping, he would not have punished us; but to check our decline into greater evil and to stem the tide of wickedness, he applies punishment out of fidelity to his own loving kindness  which is exactly
Then, so that we may learn how great was the distance he moved him from the garden, Sacred Scripture teaches us this further fact in the words, "The Lord God drove Adam out and situated him opposite the garden of delight." [ Gen 3:24 ] Notice how each of the events proved an occasion of loving kindness on the part of the common Lord of all, and each example of punishment abounds with goodness. I mean, the expulsion was not the sole mark of love and goodness: there was also his location opposite the garden so that he might have unending anguish in recollecting from what heights he had fallen and cast himself into such depths. Yet even if the sight of it was the cause of unbearable pain, it was nevertheless an occasion of no little benefit: the constant sight proved to be an encouragement for this grieving man to carefulness in the future lest he fall into the same sin again. Such, after all, is the habit of human nature by and large: since, while we are in a position to enjoy good things, we don't know how to use them as we ought, we come to our senses with the loss of these things by learning through experience and gaining a sense of our own indifference. In this way we are taught by the change of fortunes from what heights we have fallen and with what troubles we have tortured ourselves. And so the instruction that the one who had lost his place there should dwell nearby and opposite the garden was a sign of deep concern in order that he might have the constant reminder from the sight of it and feel a sense of loss from it and never presume to eat from the tree through lusting after life while finding himself outside. Thus, you see, Sacred Scripture describes everything to us in a manner that shows considerateness for our limitations.
"He set the Cherubim and the flailing sword of fire to guard the approach to the tree of life." ' Their indifference which they had already demonstrated in regard to the command given them, proved the cause of the approach being barred against them with such precautions. Consider, I ask you, that the loving God was not content with their dwelling opposite the garden: he placed these powers, the Cherubim and the flailing sword of fire, to guard the way leading there. It was not without purpose that "flailing" was added: the reason was to teach us that every way was barred to him since  that sword was turning around and blocking every way leading there, sufficient to provide him with a reminder and fill him with constant fear.
"Now, Adam had intercourse with his wife Eve." Consider when this happened. After their disobedience, after their loss of the garden, then it was that the practice of intercourse had its beginning. You see, before their disobedience they followed a life like that of the angels, and there was no mention of intercourse. How could there be, when they were not subject to the needs of the body? So, at the outset and from the beginning the practice of virginity was in force, but when through their indifference disobedience came on the scene and the ways of sin were opened, virginity took its leave for the reason that they had proved unworthy of such a degree of good things, and in its place the practice of intercourse took over for the future. Accordingly, consider, I ask you, dearly beloved, how great the esteem of virginity, how elevated and important a thing it is, surpassing human nature and requiring assistance from on high. I mean, for proof that those who practice virginity with enthusiasm demonstrate in the body the characteristics of incorporeal powers, listen to the words of Christ to the Sadducees: when they were discussing the question of resurrection and wanted to learn his view, they asked, "Master, there were seven brothers of our acquaintance. The eldest married and died without children, leaving his wife to his brother. The second died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother; likewise with the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh. So at the resurrection to which of the seven will the wife belong? After all, she belonged to them all." So what reply did Christ make to them? "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God: at the resurrection, far from marrying or being given in marriage, they will be like angels." Do you see how those who have followed the vocation to virginity for the love of Christ imitate the life of angels through treading the earth and being clad in a body? I mean, the greater and more elevated the task, so much and even greater the laurels, the rewards and the good things promised to those who give evidence of the practice of good works along with this vocation.
"Now, Adam had intercourse with his wife Eve," the text says, "and she conceived and gave birth to Cain." Since sin had come on the scene through the act of disobedience, and the sentence had the effect of making them liable to death, for the future God in his inventiveness arranged for the continuance of the human race according to his wisdom by allowing for the propagation of the race through intercourse.
"She said, 'I have gained a human being, thanks to God.'" See how the imposition of the punishment brought the woman to her senses? She attributes the child she bore not to a natural process but to God, and displays her own gratitude. Do you see how the punishment proved an occasion of admonition to them? The text says, remember, "'I have gained a human being, thanks to God." ' It was not nature, she is saying, that presented me with the child;  instead, grace from above has given him to me.
"She proceeded to give birth to his brother Abel." Since she proved to be grateful for the birth of the first child and acknowledged the former kindness, she enjoyed the good fortune of the second. Our Lord is like this, you see: when we display gratitude for previous good deeds and acknowledge the benefactor, he lavishes his gifts upon us more generously. Accordingly, because she attributed the birth to God, for that reason she receives another child. You see, the generation of children was the greatest consolation from then on, once mortality had come on the scene. For this reason, of course, the loving God at once and from the beginning reduced the severity of their punishment and stripped away the fearsome visage of death by favoring them with the propagation of children, foreshadowing, as it were, in this event an image of resurrection and ensuring that others would rise up in place of the fallen.
"Abel was a shepherd, whereas Cain was a tiller of the soil." Sacred Scripture taught us the occupations of each of the children and the fact that while one preferred tending flocks, the other tilled the soil. "In the course of time Cain brought an offering of the fruits of the earth to the Lord." Consider how the Lord of nature added knowledge to conscience. After all, who brought this to our understanding? It was none other than knowledge associated with conscience. The text says, "He brought an offering of the fruits of the earth to the Lord." He knew and understood that he should offer from his own possessions some produce to God as to his master. not because God needs them, but for the purpose of demonstrating his gratitude as being himself a beneficiary of such kindness. God, you see, is proof against need, and depends on nothing we have to offer; but in his ineffable love he shows considerateness for us, and for the sake of our salvation he allows these things to happen so that knowledge of the Lord may be for the human race a school of virtue.
"Abel also for his part brought an offering of the firstborn of his flock." It was not idly or in vain that in beginning this sermon we taught your good selves that our Lord does not recognize differences in appearance but takes account of intentions and rewards the will. Here, too, to be sure, notice this happening. Accordingly, let us attend with precision, dearly beloved, to the text and see what Scripture says about Cain on the one hand and Abel on the other, and let us not pass it by heedlessly. I mean, Sacred Scripture says nothing idly or by chance; instead, even if it happens to be a syllable or a single jot, it has some treasure concealed in it. Such, after all, is the nature of all things spiritual. So what does the text say? "In the course of time Cain brought an offering of the fruits of the earth to the Lord, and Abel also for his part brought an offering of the firstborn of his flock, and in fact the fattest of them." The meaning of the verse is clear even from the reading to those already capable of following more closely. But since we should exercise our concern in general for everyone (spiritual teaching, after all, recognizes no distinction), come now, let us expose the meaning of the words more clearly and rehearse these same words again. "Cain," the text says, "brought an offering of the fruits of the earth to the Lord"; then, wanting to teach us about Abel as well, Sacred Scripture says that he for his part also brought his offering  from his occupation and his shepherding. "He, for his part, also brought an offering," the text says, remember, "of the firstborn of his flock, and in fact the fattest of them." Notice how it hints to us of the piety of this man's attitude, and the fact that he did not casually offer any one of his sheep, but "one of the firstborn," that is, from the valuable and special ones. In Cain's case, on the contrary, nothing of the kind is suggested; rather, the fact that he brought "an offering of the fruits of the earth," as if to say, whatever came to hand, without any display of zeal or precise care.
I repeat, and I shall not cease to make the point: God accepts our offerings not because he needs what we have to offer but because he wants our gratitude to be demonstrated through them as well. In other words, the person who makes an offering to God and offers him something of his own, and who calls to mind the difference in nature and the fact that a human being has been granted such a great honor, should give as good an account of himself as possible and offer the choicest gifts. But notice in this case, I ask you, dearly beloved: here you have the opportunity to contemplate what behooves you, namely, that the person who through indifference betrayed his own welfare duly pays the penalty. I mean, it wasn't a case of one man having a teacher and the other having a counsellor and adviser: each had instructions from his own conscience, and being moved by the intelligence supplied to the human race from above he proceeded to make his offering, such as it was; but the difference in attitude that emerged and the mediocrity of choice caused one man's offering to be acceptable and the other's to be spurned.
"God took notice of Abel and his conscience. Aftthis case is fulfilled the saying in the gospel that the first will be last and the last first.'-~ I mean, see how the one who enjoyed priority belonging to the firstborn and consequently made his offering first was shown to be inferior to his brother since he made it unworthily: as both presented their offerings, Sacred Scripture says, "God took notice of Abel and his gifts." What does that mean, "He took notice"? He accepted, he approved of the attitude, he rewarded the choice, he was satisfied (so to say) with what was done. You see, we speak about God and presume to open our mouth about that pure nature, yet being human we would have no choice but to understand these things through language. Notice, however, this remarkable feature: "God took notice of Abel and his gifts," the text says; it calls the offering of sheep gifts on account of the importance, the choice quality, the untainted appearance of what was offered. Accordingly, God took notice of him for the reason that he had made the offering with a pure intention, and of his gifts for the reason not only that they were free of imperfection but that they were in every respect clearly precious, both from the viewpoint of the offerer's intention and from the fact of their being the firstborn and in fact specially selected from them, among the fattest of them and the very prize ones.
"God took notice of Abel and his gifts," the text says, "whereas to Cain and his offerings he paid no heed." Since Abel made his offering with a proper attitude and pure intention, "God took notice," the text says–that is, he accepted, he was satisfied, he approved of them; but it called the offerings gifts, by this means dignifying the attitude of the offerer. "And whereas to Cain and his offerings he paid no heed." Notice  the precision of Sacred Scripture: by the phrase "he paid no heed" it shows us the rejection of what was offered, and by calling what was offered from the soil offerings he teaches us something else again. I mean, see how he shows us through the very events and terms that the Lord wants all these things to be done by us so that the kind of intention we have should be made clear through the actions we take, and so that we may be in a position to know that we are subject to a Lord and Creator who brought us from nothing to being. In other words, in naming the sheep gifts and calling the things from the earth offerings, Sacred Scripture teaches us that neither the herding of sheep nor the collection of fruits of the earth is what is looked for by the Lord but simply the disposition of one's attitude. Hence in this case, too, one man proved acceptable with his gift on this score, whereas the other was rejected along with his gift on that account. The verse, "God took notice of Abel and his gifts, whereas to Cain and his offering he paid no heed," let us take in a sense befitting God. I mean, the intention in the words is that he communicated to them the awareness that while he was satisfied with one man's choice, he took umbrage at the other's attitude.
Such, however, is the way God does things; let us now see what follows. "This annoyed Cain very much and his face fell." What is the meaning of the words, "This annoyed Cain very much"? There were two reasons for his annoyance, not just that he alone had been rejected, but also that his brother's gift had been accepted. "This annoyed Cain," the text says, "and his face fell." What was it that annoyed him? Both things annoyed him, the Lord's ignoring his offering and his brother's gift being welcomed. So it was necessary that he recognize his guilt and adjust the error of his ways. After all, our Lord is loving, and when we err he does not turn away from us because of our error as if we continued in the error on the contrary, he keeps no record of it. In order that you may learn this with precision and see the indescribable magnitude of the loving kindness, consider in these present events the exceeding degree of his goodness and the extent of his longsuffering. I mean, when he saw Cain annoyed unreasonably and, so to say, at the point of drowning in the waves of his annoyance, he did not ignore him; instead, that love which he had shown for his father in giving him the opportunity for excuse and opening the way to renewed confidence in the words, "Where are you?" despite that damaging fall–the very same love he now demonstrates towards the man who had proved so ungrateful, and stretches out his hand to this person who was at the point of tumbling down the cliff, as you might say, desirous as he was of offering him the opportunity to adjust the error of his ways. So he says to him, "'For what reason are you so annoyed? For what reason has your face fallen? Is it not true that, even if you make your offering correctly but fail to choose the offering correctly, you commit sin? Be at peace, then: his movement is towards you, and you will be superior to him."
Consider, I ask you, dearly beloved, the ineffable considerateness in his care when he saw Cain under assault, so to speak, from the passion of envy, see how out of fidelity to his own goodness he applied various remedies to him so that he might be quickly plucked from the water and not be drowned. "'For what reason are you annoyed? For what reason has your face fallen?"' Why on earth, he is saying, are you overcome with such resentment as to show the extent of your displeasure on your face? "'For what reason has your face fallen?'" Why has this event so affected you? Why have you not considered what your obligation was?  You weren't making your offering to a human being, capable of being deceived, were you. Did you not realize that I wasn't looking for some offering or other of yours, but for the pure intention of the offerer? "'For what reason are you annoyed? For what reason has your face fallen? Is it not true that, even if you make your offering correctly but fail to choose the offering correctly, you commit sin?" That is to say, while your having the idea of making an offering was commendable, still your not choosing the offering correctly led to the rejection of the offering. I he one who makes an offering to God, you know, must show great care in the choice, and the greater the difference between the recipient and the offerer, the greater the distinction you should lend to your choice. You, however, gave no thought to these matters but simply offered whatever came to hand; hence they in turn could not be judged acceptable. You see, just as your intention in making the offering did not make allowance for the difference in status, and so caused the offering presented by you to be rejected; in like manner, your brother's intention, which happened to be correct and revealed great care in the choice, caused his gifts to be ac- ceptable. Still, I am not demanding a penalty for the error but merely highlighting the sin and offering you advice, provided you want to take it, mend your ways and not involve yourself in worse evils.
So what is the upshot? You have sinned, and sinned grievously, but I am not imposing punishment for the sin; after all, I am loving, and "I do not want the death of the sinner, rather that he be converted and live." Since, then you have sinned, be at peace, lend calm to your thinking and rid yourself of the onset of the waves crashing around your mind, settle the storm lest you add to the previous sin another more grievous one and set your mind on something beyond repair. Don't give yourself into the clutches of the wicked demon. "'You have sinned, be at peace.'" He knew right from the outset that the future attack against his brother would take place, and by these words he checks it beforehand. You see, since he was God and knew the unspoken intentions of Cain's mind, he was aware of the movements of his heart; so with this earnest exhortation and the considerateness of his words he applies the appropriate remedy to him, doing everything in his power in case this man should reject the medication and fall headlong into the abyss of fratricide. "'You have sinned, be at peace." ' Don't think, he says, even if I have turned away from your offering owing to your incorrect attitude and have welcomed your brother's gift because of his sound choice, that I have stripped you of your pride of place and removed you from the distinction of firstborn. "'Be at peace," ' even if he has been deemed worthy of my regard and his gifts have proved acceptable, nevertheless "'his movement is towards you, and you will be superior to him.'" And so even after this sin I permit you to have the privilege of being firstborn, and I bid him be subject to your authority and your control.
See the Lord's loving kindness, how he wishes to defuse the wild frenzy and remove the anger by means of his words. You see, he observed the stages of his thinking and realized the savagery of his deadly intention; so he intends at this early stage to sedate his thinking and bring repose to his mind by placing his brother subject to him and not undermining his authority. But even despite such great concern and such potent remedies,  Cain gained nothing from the experience. Such was the degree of difference in their attitudes and the excess of evil intent.
Lest, however, we prolong the sermon unduly and thus seem to tax the patience of your good selves, and lest our homily bore you to tears and be considered an ordeal to you, let us bring the talking to a halt at this stage. Let us commend this point to your warm attention, to avoid imitating conduct of that kind, bid good riddance to evil, and devote yourself to the Lord's command with great attention and with your whole heart, especially in the wake of such examples and others like them. I mean, in future none of us will be able to take refuge in ignorance. After all, if that man–I mean Cain–was not in a position to find anyone living before his time who did anything of that kind, and still was subjected to that severe and unbearable punishment, as you will later discover, what is it likely that we will suffer– we who have committed those sins and even worse ones despite such a generous measure of grace? Will it not assuredly be everlasting fire, the worm that does not die, gnashing of teeth, exterior darkness, a fiery hell and all those other ineluctable punishments awaiting us? I mean, there will be no grounds for excuse left for us, since we have been so much disposed to sloth and so remiss Surely, after all, we are all aware of what is to be done, and the sorts of things that should not be done? and that those who practice the former will enjoy the choicest of rewards, while those who fall victim to the latter will undergo condemnation to the most extreme of penalties?
Hence I beseech, entreat and implore you not to let our assembling here prove to be of no avail; instead, let attention to our words be followed by deeds, so that having the certainty that comes from a good conscience and being buoyed up already in our present situation with sound hope, we may be able to negotiate with ease this life's sea of prob- lems and put in at the harbor of God's loving kindness, thus attaining to those good things beyond all telling which the Lord has promised to those who love him, thanks to the grace and mercy of his only-begotten Son, to whom with the holy and adorable Spirit be glory, power and honor, now and forever, for all ages of ages. Amen.