May 9, 2020

Homily 1 on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (St. John Chrysostom)

Homilies on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah

By St. John Chrysostom

Chapter 1: The Vision of Isaiah

1. He calls his vision prophecy either because he had before him many future events, and so Micah saw the scattering of the people, Ezekiel the captivity and prevarication of those who worshiped the sun and Thamuze; or because the things that the prophets heard coming from God, they were no less sure than the vision itself and produced an equal certainty, which could not take place outside the divine intervention. They heard otherwise than the rest of men, for Isaiah said, "He has added an ear to me to hear. (Isaiah, L, 4.) By calling his prophecy "vision," he makes his story more credible, he excites the listener's attention, and makes him think of the author of the vision. All those who bring us oracles from God are above all careful to establish this point, that they say nothing that comes from their own funds, but that their words are only divine revelations, that writings come down from the sky. So David said, "My tongue is the pen of a writer who writes quickly. So do not think that the letters come from the pen, but from the hand that holds it, that is to say, not from the language of David, but from the grace that move it. Another prophet who wanted to show the same thing said, "I was a goatherd, snatching sycamores. (Amos, VII, 14.) So that we must not judge these words according to the rules of human wisdom. And this very word was not enough for him, he added: "The Spirit of the Lord filled me with strength, judgment, and power. For grace has made them not only wise, but strong not according to the body, but according to the soul. As they had to address a daring and impudent people, altered from the blood of the prophets, delighted in massacring the saints, they certainly needed a lot of strength not to fear his anger. Therefore the Lord said to Jeremiah, "I have placed you as naked iron cotton sea and as a wall of brass; And to Ezekiel "You live in the midst of scorpions, do not fear in front of them and do not fear them. And when Moses was sent, it is not only in my opinion because he feared Pharaoh that he wanted to refuse his mission, but because he feared the Jewish people. This is why, in talking with God, without even thinking of the king, he inquires with great care what he will have to say to those who will not recognize him as God's envoy, and it was for the to convince that he received the power of miracles; and it was with reason. For if only one of them who had even been saved by him frightened him to the point of flight, what should he not have felt in thinking of all this turbulent people? So besides the Spirit of wisdom, he also received the Spirit of strength, as another prophet said of himself. "The Spirit of the Lord filled me with strength, judgment, and power (Micah III, 8); And another "The word of God was heard by Jeremiah son of Chelcias (Jeremiah 1:1); And yet another: "Inspiration against Nineveh: book of Nahum's vision of Elcesai. (Nahum.) The latter, while using another term, utters the same thing as the first: he calls inspired those whose Spirit has seized. It is because in speaking thus they were dominated by the Holy Spirit that he called the operation of grace. It is for the same reason that St. Paul places at the head of all his epistles his title of an apostle; what the prophets did by using the words vision, speech, inspiration, speech; he does so by using the word apostle. If he who says vision, word of God, announces nothing that comes from him, he who is called an apostle, that is, sent, neither teaches a doctrine of his own, but the doctrine of the One who sent him. The function of an apostle consists precisely in giving nothing that comes from oneself. This is why Christ says, "Call no one your master on the earth, only one is your Master, and he is in heaven (Matt XXIII, 10); He shows us that what we teach has its beginning and root in our heavenly Master, although the ministers of the word are men. What does Isaiah experience? How do the prophets perceive what they see, it is not for us to say: our speech is powerless to explain the mode of their vision; he alone knows him who has experienced it. If our nature, whether it acts, or remains passive, has secrets that no one can account for, how could we explain how to operate the Holy Spirit? If, however, it is necessary, by obscure images, to try to show it not in a clear light, but as in enigmas, it seems to me that the prophets are experiencing something analogous to what is done in pure water that comes to illuminate the rays. of the sun that their souls purified first by their own virtues, and also made apt to reflect the divine light, then receive the grace of the Holy Spirit, and with it the knowledge of the future.

"Son of Amos." Why does he mention his father? It is to prevent misunderstandings that would result from homonyms, or to teach us that the baseness of the father does not offend the merit of the son: for the nobility is not to be born of illustrious parents, but to make oneself illustrious. Although of an obscure birth, Isaiah did not fail to become more illustrious among all, thanks to the singular brilliancy of his own merit.

"That he saw concerning Judea and Jerusalem." Why does he name both places separately? Because punishments must be distinct and inflicted in different times; God, by regulating things thus, had shown his wisdom; he did not want to destroy them all at once, but slowly and gradually so that the misery of those who would be taken captive would inspire repentance to those who remained. That if they did not profit from the remedy as they should have, the car is to these patients and not to the divine Doctor. God has the same conduct in all circumstances and in all times, and he never punishes at the same time all those who have committed the same crimes; for otherwise it would have been a long time since our whole race had disappeared; but he punishes some here below, and by this he softens to themselves the chastisement of the other life, while he gives to those who witness to their punishment an admirable opportunity of conversion; as for those whom neither their own nature nor the wisdom of this conduct can bring back to good, he reserves them for the inevitable and terrible day of judgment.

"In the reign of Uzziah, and Joathan, and Achar, and Hezekiah, reigning in Judea." He did well to mention time, since he thus calls the attention of the studious reader to the history of past events. The prophecy will be all the more intelligible and clearer: for knowing the state of things and what was wrong with the Jews, we shall judge better of the remedies which the prophets have brought. "Listen, heaven, and you, earth, listen, for it is the Lord who has spoken. This beginning is full of anger; for if he had not been swept away by an indescribable fury, how would he have left men to address the elements? He does so not only to show that he is irritated, but also to shame those who should hear him, by showing them that, honored by reason, they have, however, degraded themselves beneath the insensible elements. This is, moreover, a customary thing for other prophets. Thus the Prophet sent to Jeroboam, instead of addressing him whom he comes to take back, addresses the altar. And Jeremiah dismisses the earth saying, "Earth, earth, earth, write that this man is proscribed. And another says again.

"Listen, abysses, foundations of the earth; I begot sons." He does not speak here of a benefit which he has granted to all men, that of existing, but of a special benefit to the Israelites, that of having made them his children. Everywhere the Lord begins with benefits; when he created man, he filled with honor the one who did not yet exist, saying, "Let us make man in our image and likeness." Under the New Testament he does more: for they are not men who have done nothing, but men who have committed an infinity of sins, whom he regenerates in the waters of baptism; here you see the same thing, since he honors with his adoption men who not only did not do good but who had fallen into evil, and yet if he honors them before they could to deserve is not that he deprives them of reward when they have merited; on the contrary, it grants them greater rewards.

"And I raised them." The benefits bestowed in Egypt, the benefits bestowed in the desert, the benefits bestowed on Palestine, he recalls all in one word; for it is the custom of God, whose benefits are so numerous to refrain from reminding them at length and minutely.

"And they despised me." "They have," he says, "transgressed my law, abandoned my precepts." "The ox knows who he belongs to, and the donkey the stable of his master." Comparisons, especially those made of inferior things, only make the accusation more vivid. This is how Christ says, "The Ninevites will rise to judgment with this generation and they will condemn it," and in another place: "The queen of the south will rise to judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon. (Luke, XI, 31-32.) And Jeremiah said again, "Go to the Isles of Cosim and cast your eyes on Cedar. Send in to know if these nations will ever change their gods; but my people have changed their glory, and that will serve them no good. He shows that the law is not hard, and how little it requires men, that animals deprived of reason and the stupidest animals observe easily. But, you will say, it is the nature that operates in them. What nature does in them, the free will can do it in us. "The ox knows who he belongs to. It is not on the excellence of his gifts but on the excess of their malice that he bases his accusation. In the same way that he addressed himself to their elements for confusion, so it is not to men, but animals and stupid animals that he compares them, and finds them inferior to them.

3. So does Jeremiah, when he calls the turtledove and the swallow (Jeremiah 8:7), and Solomon when he sends the lazy sometimes to the ant, sometimes to the bee. (Prov.VI, 6.) "Israel did not know me. The crime is aggravated when they are intimate friends, filled with favors, who, all together, rush into evil. He does not say Jacob, but "Israel," so that this name which recalls the virtue of the patriarch inspires his descendants with more confusion. To this one his virtue was worth the blessing expressed by his name, and these by their malice reject it. "And my people did not understand me," he said, more brilliant than the sun." Misfortune! sinful nation. This is still the habit of the prophets, of crying over men suffering from incurable evils. So does Jeremiah in many places; so Christ when he says, "Woe to you, Corozin! woe to you, Bethsaida! This is another way of teaching: for he whom reason has not been able to bring back, often tears bring him back. "People filled with iniquities. This makes the accusation more serious; they sinned all and even the last excesses. "Nasty race. It is not that he blames them for their origin, but he shows that since their first age they are sinners. When John says "Serpents, a race of vipers (Matt 3:7)," he does not accuse their nature: for he would not have said to them, "Make worthy fruits of penance," if they had been wicked. by nature of birth. Likewise, by saying here "wicked race," the Prophet does not reproach them for their birth. "Son without law; He does not say "transgressors," but "without law," which are no better than if they had never received the law. He thus notes the corruption of the will. "You have abandoned the Lord and you have angered him. He speaks thus emphatically, for the name alone of God sufficed to justify the accusation. Jeremiah makes the same reproach in these terms: "Because they have moved away from him and have become attached to the" demons. (Bar IV, 7, 8.)

"The saint of Israel." Here again, which aggravates the accusation, is that they knew him well as the Master of all things. "They turned back. Why do you still hit, you who constantly add to your prevarications? What a sad state when the same punishments do not make it better! Certainly, it is one of the forms of benefit that punishment. They will not be able to say that he has granted them only honors and goods, and that when they have sinned, he has abandoned them; but by the honors he has attracted them, by the fear of punishments he has desired to bring them to penance, and in either case they have proved themselves incorrigible. He used all the treatments, he cut, he burned, and the disease did not disappear; what shows that the disease is incurable is that it is rebellious to remedies. "Every head is sick and heart filled with sadness. From the feet to the head there is nothing healthy in him, no wound, no tumor, no inflamed wound. He then recalls the punishments and punishments; for this is not a small mark of his love and honor. I hit them all, he said, I overwhelmed them with pain. If all heads are sick, how is there no injury or tumor? The wound appears only when the rest of the body is healthy; but if he is covered with wounds, one will not be able to distinguish one in particular. That means that the whole body is covered with ulcers, that there is not a healthy place next to another patient, but that everything is inflamed, that everything is a tumor. "You can not apply anything softening. Here is more serious. It is far less unfortunate to be ill than to be able to undergo treatment, especially when the doctor is so tall. "No oil, no tapes. It is to speak by emphasis that he continues the metaphor; this is the merit of this figure. "Your land is deserted. These events, he does not tell them as past, he announces them as future, although he uses the time of the past. The prophets use it to frighten the listener and to show how much what they predict is certain. Just as past things can not have not existed, so the things that the prophets have announced must exist, can not fail, unless by chance those who are to be punished do not repent. "Your cities are burned. He did not destroy them entirely, he allowed ruins escaped from the flames of the barbarians to remain upright, because they would touch more those who would see them. "Foreigners devour your country before your eyes, and it is deserted because it has been ravaged by foreign peoples. This is the height of misfortune for men to be spectators of evils which reach them, instead of learning them by fame alone. "The daughter of Zion remained abandoned like a tent in a vineyard and like a hut in a field of cucumbers."

4. The images do much, especially those of the Holy Scripture, to make more striking what one says. The Prophet calls Jerusalem daughter of Zion because she is placed at the foot of this mountain. "Like a tent in a vineyard and like a hut in a field of cucumbers. The fruit once removed, and the winemakers taken away, what are the buildings of the city for? "Like a city besieged. This figurative expression marks their weakness and their abandonment. For, having no one to come to their aid, they were obliged to remain shut up in the enclosure of their ramparts, which now made all their security. "And if the Lord of hosts had not left some of our race, we would have been like Sodom, and we would have become like Gomorrah." It is a constant habit of the prophets to say not only what sinners will suffer from evils, but also what they deserve to suffer so that in the very time of their chastisement they render to God frequent thanksgiving. what he laughs inflicts on them a punishment far inferior to their crimes. This is what Isaiah says here, that their sins would have deserved not the evils he has just recalled, but the complete extinction of the whole race, as it had happened to Sodom. But the mercy of God did not permit it, it only sent a punishment much lower than the faults. And since there is much connection between the Old and New Testaments, St. Paul used the same means, and with more reason than the prophet. For just as at that time, without the mercy of God, all would have perished, so in the time of Christ, without charity, all men perished in a still more frightful manner. "He has left us some of our race." He speaks of those who were saved from captivity. "Hear the word of the Lord, princes of Sodom; pay attention to the law of our God, people of Gomorrah. After saying that they were worthy of Sodom's punishment, he shows that their crimes were no less daring than those of Sodom, which is why he understands them with one and the same apostrophe. This is what the Prophet means, otherwise his word would be irrelevant. By this name of princes of Sodom it is not the inhabitants of this last city, but the Jews whom he wishes to designate; what follows clearly indicates this. He speaks of sacrifices, of oblations, of all this legal worship, of which there was no trace among the Sodomites. These words, the law of our God, prove that this is the meaning.

"What have I to do with the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord. I have enough burnt offerings from your rams; the fat of the lambs, the blood of bulls and goats, I do not want it any more. The whole psalm XLIX resembles these passages; the terms differ, but the thoughts are the same. For this verse of the psalm, "He will call heaven from on high and the earth to judge his people," looks like this: "Listen, heaven, and you, earth, lend ear, because the Lord talked; And the rest is not the same. If David said, "I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices, for your burnt offerings are always before me." Isaiah said the same, "What am I to do with the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord. David said again, "I will not receive with pleasure from your house the calves, nor from your flocks the goats." And Isaiah: "The burnt offerings of the rams, the fat of the lambs, the blood of the bulls and goats, I do not want any more. As they were continually reproached with want of virtue, and answered for every justification that they continually offered sacrifices, these two prophets, or rather all the prophets, took away their defense. Whence it is evident that these sacrifices were instituted not for themselves, but to lead men to other works of virtue. But because they neglected the things necessary to stop at these observances, God declares that he will no longer accept them. "Not even when you come in my presence. When you come to the temple, he means. "For who has claimed these things out of your hands? And yet all Leviticus rolls on it and rules what regards the sacrifices. And in Deuteronomy, as in many other books, there are here and there a great deal of laws on this subject. How, then, can he say, "What did these things claim from your hands? This is to teach you that God had not made this legislation for what it was worth by itself, but to condescend to the weakness of the Jews. Just as he did not want the woman, once united to man, to be divorced, and yet allow it to avoid greater evils, to prevent men from slaughtering their wives, if, while hating them, they were obliged to keep them at home; so that, to prevent the Israelites from sacrificing to the demons, he would receive what he did not like, so that what pleased him was done. This is what the prophet Amos shows us with these words: "Have you offered me sacrifices and victims during the forty years of the desert? Jeremiah also says, "This is not what I commanded your fathers. "

5. As it is in this way that the demons were honored, it is to remove from the weak every subject of scandal that he thus speaks by all the prophets. The demons were angry with those who did not offer them these sacrifices, and always we are represented to them asking for fat and smoke and saying: "It is the honor which is attributed to us. God, on the contrary, did not ask in principle these sacrifices, and when he commanded them, he showed that it was not for himself that he allowed them, and yet another proof is that he He soon put an end to it, and when it was offered to him, he did not accept it; in a word, he showed us by every possible means that this mode of adoration was unworthy of the grandeur of his worship. So he wants us to say now: I tolerated these things because of you, but I did not need them. "You will not come to tread my courts. He either predicts captivity or forbids them to enter his courts because they do not do so with a right heart. "If you offer me flour, it's useless. For among the commandments, some have reason to be in themselves, others in other things; for example, to know God, not to kill, not to commit adultery, etc., all these commandments are ordained for themselves and for the utility they contain; On the contrary, to offer sacrifices, to bring incense, to keep the Sabbath, and all such things, all these commandments were not given simply and absolutely for the things they prescribed, but for their observation to drive the Israelites away from the worship of God. demons. But since they kept these last precepts without reaping the fruits of them, and were none the less attached to demons, it is with reason that God rejects these observances; for it is with good reason that a tree is cut down, which bears leaves and branches, but bears no fruit. Because if the farmer cares for a tree, it is not for the bark and the wood, but for the fruit he expects. "Your incense is an abomination to me. Do you see him? He is less pleased with the nature of what is brought to him than with the dispositions of those who offer. So he calls the smoke and odor that rose from the sacrifice of Noah a pleasant fragrance, and here he gives incense the name of abomination. For as I said, he looks less at the nature of gifts than at the dispositions of those who give. "Your Neomenies and Sabbaths". Notice that he does not reject anything that is necessary, but only those rites that Christ descended among us to make disappear. Thus St. Paul, who spoke vehemently when he fought against the Jews, recalls not only these things, but others, and says that those who have no virtue in themselves, needlessly keep these observances. "If you bear the name of a Jew, and rest on the law, and boast in God, and know his will; and that, instructed by the law, you know how to discern what is useful. (Romans II, 17, 18). And again: "In truth, circumcision is useful if you keep the law; but, if you violate it, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. (Ibid, 25.) And he says that if the law has been entrusted to them, their unbelief will not be punished for it; it is also what David says in these terms: "God says to the sinner, Why do you speak my righteousness? (Ps. Xlix, 16.) Seeing them proud to hear the law read, they who were empty of all good work, St. Paul breaks down their pride by saying: "You who teach others, you do not instruct So not yourself! You who cry to others not to steal, you steal! Like David when he says, "If you saw a thief, you ran with him and made a covenant with the adulterers." (Ps. Xlix, 18.) "I abominate your great days," Pentecost, it means, the Feast of Tabernacles. Passover and other holidays. "Your fasts, your rest, your feasts, my soul hates them. He talks to them like a man would do. "You have become dependent," an object of disgust, of hate. See his unspeakable forbearance, to have borne them in spite of their many sins, and to have avenged himself only when these sinners provoked him by the excess of their iniquities. "I will not forgive your sins anymore. I will not suffer them anymore. David says the same thing: "You did these things and I killed myself. (Ps. XLIX, 21.) "When you extend your hands to me, I will turn my eyes away from you, and when you multiply your prayers, I will not listen to you. From which it is evident that prayer is useless, however long it may be, if the one who prays remains in his sins. Nothing is equal to the virtue and the testimony of the covers. "Your hands are full of blood," that is, murderous; but instead of loopholes, he said full of blood, to show that they make iniquity their occupation and always with ardor.

6. This is yet another proof of his gentleness, to see him give the reason for these menaces; for he says for what causes he regrets the prayer. "Wash yourselves, be pure. How, after saying, "I will not forgive your sins," does he give this advice and how, after showing them that they are incorrigible, does he ask them to correct themselves? God, when he threatens, makes despair of salvation, in order to increase fear, and, far from remaining silent, then, he tries to restore hope so as to lead to repentance. Everywhere we can see the same behavior. With regard to the Ninevites, he did the same thing not by words, but by effects. In his words he had promised nothing good; on the contrary, he had only allowed the punishment to be seen after the threat; and when these barbarians had given what they could, his anger soon calmed. This is what David says in Psalm XLIX; for I said above that this psalm is entirely like this beginning of Isaiah; and as Isaiah says after calling back the Lord's threats. "Wash, be clean," so David, after saying, "I will rebuke you, I will put your iniquities before you," says: "The sacrifice of praise will honor me, and this is the way in which I will show the salvation of God (Ps. xlix, 21, 23), "calling to praise the glory given to him by the covers and the knowledge of divine things.

And so that by this words, "Wash you, be clean," they do not hear their usual purifications, he adds: "Take away from your eyes the corruption of your souls, and correct you from your sins. By this he shows that virtue is easy and that the will is free, since it was in their power to convert. "Learn to do good. So their malice was so great that they did not even know virtue anymore. This is how David says, "Come, children; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. (Ps. XXXIII, 12.) Of all the sciences it is the most sublime and the one that demands the most application, because it has to overcome many obstacles, the resistances of nature, the torpor of will, pitfalls of the devil and the tumult of business. Baruch also says, "This is our God; no one is comparable to him; he has found all the ways of science. "Seek justice (Baruch, III, 36, 37); That is, to avenge those who experience injustice, which requires a lot of care and a watchful soul. That's why he says, "Look. There are many things that obscure the law, for example, gifts, ignorance, power, shame, fear, acceptance of persons: so much vigilance is needed, "Deliver the oppressed." . This bids on the above; he asks not only that one proposes oneself, but that one executes what is right. "Judge the fatherless, and do justice to the widow. God takes care that no one is mistreated, especially among those who, besides these mistreatments, have to bear another misfortune. The widow and the orphan are very unfortunate; but when they are mistreated by others, it is like a double shipwreck: "Come and enter together in discussion; says the Lord. It is remarkable that everywhere in the prophets, God seeks nothing so much as to avenge the oppressed. This is so even more so than in Isaiah, for example, in Micah, when the Jews say, "Shall I sacrifice to him for my ungodliness my firstborn, and for the iniquity of my soul, the fruit of my bosom?" The prophet adds: "I will tell you, O man, what is good, and what the Lord expects of you, nothing but to act according to justice and to love mercy and to be ready to follow. the Lord your God. And the prophet David also says, "I will sing before you mercy and justice, O Lord. "

" Come. It is only after having provided them with the means to justify himself, that he brings them to court, and that after having taught them how they can divest themselves of their crimes, lest, finding them without excuse, he should be compelled to condemn them. "And enter into discussion; As if he were saying, let's start the judgment. This good judge is a lawyer and a doctor. Then to show that, whatever our good deeds, we still need his charity to be delivered from our sins, he says: "When your sins are like scarlet; I will make you as white as snow; You see it, it takes diametrically opposite qualities, and promises to change one into the other. "And when they are like vermilion, I will make them white like wool. It is therefore very meritorious the protection which is granted to widows, since of a soul so corrupted as to be tainted by iniquity, it makes a soul not only pure, but so brilliant. "If you will listen to me, you will eat the goods of the earth, and if you do not want to listen to me, the sword will devour you: for it is the Lord who uttered it with his mouth. Because these rude men looked upon it as less desirable and less sweet to free themselves from their sins than to enjoy the pretended goods of the present life, with the first thing he promises the second, and makes it depend on that one.

7. Then, to show how easy virtue is, he places it in the will alone. But as the hope of these goods might have softened the spirits, it ends with frightening things to make more striking the power of the one who made these revelations. "How did she become a prostitute, the faithful city of Sion? This question shows the pain of the one who makes it and the insensitivity of the Jews and what is unexpected in this event. St. Paul makes a similar question to the Galatians: "I am astonished that you are changing so quickly," which is like an accusation and an exhortation to bring to virtue. This word doubtless astonishes: but, as it is intermingled with praise, a new accusation strengthens the other. We do not seek so much to correct those who are worthless; who have never led but an abject life, than those who, after having shown themselves at first virtuous, then turned to evil. He calls him a prostitute, not that he wants to speak of the prostitution of the body, but of the ingratitude of the soul, which is much worse than the other prostitution. There it is on the man, here on God that the insult falls. And if Isaiah and the other prophets speak thus, it is because God had deigned to let himself be regarded as the husband of this city to show his ineffable charity for the Jews, and the prophets often speak of the Lord and Jerusalem as a husband and wife, not to lower their speech to human grossness, but to bring the Jews by familiar examples to the knowledge of the love of God; at the same time they wanted, by this shameful appellation of prostitute, to bring them to blush of themselves. "Faithful," that is to say, religious and full of virtue: which further shows that he does not speak of the prostitution of bodies, since otherwise he would have had to say the chaste city; for this word would have been opposed to prostitute; but to show that by prostitution he meant impiety, he uses the opposite word, faith. "Full of iniquity," that is to say, of justice. Here is another great accusation against this people, not only had he rushed into all kinds of iniquities, but he had abandoned all the virtues, that precious treasure of all the goods he held in his hands, he had rejected it to reduce itself to the most frightful miseries. "In which" lived justice. She remained there, said he, she lived there, that is to say, she was planted there, rooted, and the citizens put all their ardor to keep it. By emphasizing the praises of the past, it makes it more clear that change was guilty, and at the same time gives hope, since it shows sinners that it would be easy to regain what they lost. "And now it's the home of the murderers; Homicide, he means. "Your money is impure," that is, false, altered, mixed. "Your merchants mix their wine with water. He has been calling out from the beginning that he has not pointed out their wickedness in each of his species, but that he has told them, in a general way, that they are contempters, a perverse race, ungodly sons, terms which are more like insults than accusations, it indicates here the various kinds of their crimes, and places in the first place what is in the beginning, in the middle and at the end of sins, the love of money, and fraud in contracts. Some who do not understand the ineffable charity of God have taken this term in the apagogic sense. Never, they say, would the great, the sublime Isaiah have spoken of the deceits of the bankers, the tricks of the innkeepers; but he calls money the oracles of God, and wine his doctrine which they mixed of their comments. For me, without rejecting this interpretation, I say that the other is truer. Not only is it not unworthy of a prophet to speak of these things, but it is very worthy of him and of the charity of God. And why extend to this point? When the only-begotten Son of God came to bring us his sublime teachings and to plant the pure life of angels on our earth, he often spoke of measures, and of things that seem still smaller, greetings, of the middle place, of the first rank. Those things that seem small, if neglected, become the source of great sins. But if all these things were to be settled in the New Testament, much more so in the Old, when the hearers were rude, and their whole life was confined to following these laws, since they had been instructed especially in to move away from all injustice, to do no harm to one's neighbor, not to crush the poverty of the poor by fraudulent mixtures.

8. The contempt of these laws caused cities to be overthrown, kings thrown from the throne, implacable wars lit, and their observation more than once brought the peace, order, and security necessary for virtue. "Your princes are unruly. This is proof that the disease, the evil is very great, when the doctors even work to increase it. It is up to kings to repress the evil instincts of their people, to direct them towards good, and to make them subject to the laws; but when they themselves are the first to break them, how can they teach others to submit? When they say, "Are unruly," he means, do not obey the law, reject the yoke of precepts; it is also what St. Paul reproaches them by saying: "You who instruct others, do you not instruct yourself? When, then, is the root corrupted, what are the branches waiting for? "They are the accomplices of thieves. Here is what aggravates the fault is that, far from preventing crimes, they favor them; Far from making war on thieves, they are in league with them, and run to a perversity entirely opposed to the virtue of princes. "Love the present. Here again is a new vice engendered by the love of money, vice which, under an honest appearance, under the benevolence of benevolence, hides the most sordid avarice. "Only seek gain. Grudge against their enemies, hasten to render evil for evil, a very grave sin. Also, the New and Old Testament care to repress it. "Let no man," he says, "form in his heart bad designs against his brother. (Zac VII, 10.) For it is necessary that the people, and still more the prince, be pure of all enmity, he who must warn his subjects to submit to justice any private hatred, lest the port should become an enemy. pitfall. "Do not do justice to the orphans. That is to say, do not help them to obtain justice. "And the cause of the widow has no access to them."

Notice that the Prophet points out as an evil not only to do bad deeds, but also to not do good ones, a doctrine that we find in the New Testament. For those who did not feed the hungry poor, though they did not take away the good of others, but only because they did not give their goods to those who were in need, are sent to the fire of hell; likewise the Prophet blamed the princes of Zion not for what they are either avaricious or tyrants, but for not granting their protection to those who need it. "And this is what the Master says, the Lord of hosts, the strong of Israel," that is, of the people. It is not without reason that he uses this term, the Fort, but to remind them of the benefits they have obtained against all hope and the terrible punishments they have endured; as after having often and much sinned, after having experienced the long-suffering of God, they have fallen into sluggishness, he wants to show them that God can avenge himself when he pleases, that he does not need favorable times, opportune circumstances, that everything is under his hand and at his disposal. "Woe to those who command in Israel! my fury against my enemies will have no end. What is more unfortunate than those who have God as an enemy? "No longer will he have an end," he says, not that he wants to throw them into despair, but that a more strongly impressed fear will bring them to repentance. For these words "my fury will have no end," are less terrible than these, "against my enemies. There is nothing that irritates God, like the injustice done to the poor. "Woe to those who command! He said, not to condemn all power, but the power that does evil. The force of which he speaks here is not the force of the body, but the force which circumstances give. "And I will do justice to my adversaries. I will punish my enemies; he calls his enemies the enemies of the poor, those who mistreat them; and he uses this expression to show the greatness of the wrongdoing. "Thou shalt put my hand on you, and I will purify you by fire." Know from there that the wrath and vengeance of God, whatever they may be, is not for evil and punishment, but for the very punishment of those who are punished. "And I will cleanse you," he says, "by fire. So it is not when we are punished, it is when peach holes that we must cry, since in the second case we are defiling ourselves, while in the first we are purifying ourselves. What is the virtue of this purification? To make sure there is no trace of defilement in you; because fire is gold, punishment is for sinners. "Those who disobey, I will lose them, I will remove from among you all the ungodly and I will humble all the beautiful. "The incorrigible," he said, "and those who will not give way to self-punishment, I will lose. What does it do for them to live, since they use their lives only to procure evil and of themselves and others? And those whom the punishment of those hardened can make better will remain. It seems to me that he is referring here to captivity. "And I will restore your judges as they once were, and your counselors as they were in principle."

9. Here he announces the return. When the incorrigible will have disappeared, and those who are capable of improvement will have become better, he shows (and this is the moment) how he will complete the cure; it will be by giving good leaders and good advisers, so that, all the body having felt the effect of the remedies and good doctors continuing their care, all the members return from all sides to the health. It is not a slight blessing to procure good princes. "And after that you will be called the city of justice and Zion the faithful city. And yet we do not find anywhere that this name has been given to the city of Jerusalem. What shall we say then? May the Prophet give it to him because of the facts that she will witness.

This will not be of much use to us when the Jews ask us for the interpretation of Emmanuel's name. As Isaiah predicted that Christ would be called that and nowhere has he received this name, we will tell them that he calls the event itself, as in the passage we are examining. "By justice and mercy it will be delivered from captivity." "By justice," that is, by the punishment, the punishment, and the persecution that it will suffer his enemies. "By mercy," that is, by charity. He promises them two great favors, which captives will be punished, and that they will then enjoy a great peace, two things of which one alone would be enough to make them very happy, and which together give an unimaginable joy. And to show again in another way that after this long captivity, they should their return not to what they would have by a proportionate punishment, expiated their faults, but to his only goodness, that their salvation would be the work of his goodness and not the result of a compensation and a kind of exchange, he adds: "by mercy. "The wicked and the sinners will be broken at once. Third benefit: there will be no one left to seduce and entice them; the teachers of iniquity will be gone. "And those who have abandoned the Lord will perish entirely. These impious ones, he means.

"For these idols they have searched for will be their confusion. There are some who try to adapt these words to the present time; for me, without stopping to refute them, I continue. This is what he predicts should happen when the enemy raids. And when barbarians roam their lands, besiege their cities, hold them all as if caught in a net, while no one will come to rescue them and put an end to this storm because they will be abandoned by God, then the only experience will shame the servants of idols. "What they sought; For which they showed so much zeal.

"And they will blush these statues," which they did. To accuse, he has only to tell. For it was sufficient even before misfortunes had come to instruct these impious ones, it was enough to confound them to show them that these idols are the work of men. What more shameful indeed than to make a god! "And they will blush gardens where they surrendered so eagerly. Not only did they worship statues, but even trees in the gardens. "They will be like the terebinth that has lost its leaves." These idols or those who live in the city. He borrows his comparison from this tree, because it grows in this country and is not uncommon because it has many flowers and foliage in the favorable season, and is very ugly on the contrary, when he lost his leaves. "And like a garden without water. This second image is clearer than the first and confirms what I said about that one. For there is nothing more pleasant than a verdant garden, and there is nothing more sad than a bare garden: the city of Sion has been in these two conditions. At all times she had been good, brilliant, adorned with a thousand beauties; and she has become more vile, more dishonored than any other, having suddenly lost so many ornaments. "And their strength will be like dry tow. His previous images showed ugliness, this one weakness, all are very energetic, clear and striking. "As the tow is dry," that is to say, weak. "And their works as a spark of fire. Here he shows that their evils come from them, that they themselves have drawn captivity on their heads, that they have themselves lit the fire that devours them. As sparks light a fire where they fall, so their sins, by accumulating, inflamed the wrath of God. "The wicked and sinners will burn together without anyone to extinguish the fire. If he still seems to deprive them of all hope of salvation, it is always for the same reason, not for them to despair, but for them to be struck with a strong fear, to shake their softness. And from there we can take another lesson, that one can not overcome his power, and that when he punishes and punishes, no one can oppose him and put an end to evil.