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For the Third Sunday after Epiphany: a reading from John Chrysostom

January 27, 2019

For the Third Sunday after Epiphany, here is another reading from the book “Faith and Life: Readings Compiled from Ancient Writers” by William Bright.  This reading is from none other than John Chrysostom.


“LORD, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.” Great is the intelligence and faith of the applicant. For he did not break in upon the discourse, nor interrupt the audience, but awaited the fitting time, and approached Jesus when He had come down. And he supplicates Him, not carelessly, but even with great fervour, and kneeling before Him, as another Evangelist says, and with genuine faith and a right opinion about Jesus. For he said not, ” If Thou wilt ask it of God,” or, “If Thou wilt pray,” but, “If Thou wilt.” Nor did he say, ” Lord, cleanse me;” but commits to Him the whole matter, and makes Him the disposer of his cure, and bears witness to the plenitude of His authority. If the opinion of the leper had been erroneous, Jesus ought to have confuted it, and reproved him, and set him right. Did He then do so? Not at all; quite the contrary. He even confirms and ratifies what was said: therefore He said not, ” Be thou cleansed,” but, “I will, be thou cleansed.” Not so the Apostles; when the whole people were amazed, they said, “Why do ye fix your attention on us, as though by our own power or authority we had made him to walk ?But the Master, although He often spoke, with great modesty, what fell short of His own glory, in order to confirm His dogmas, here, when men were astonished at His authority, says, “I will, be thou cleansed.” Further, He extended His hand and touched him; to indicate, as I think, that He was above the law, and not beneath it, and that, thenceforward, to the pure nothing was impure. For His hand was not made unclean by the leprosy, but the leprous body became pure from the touch of His holy hand.

St. Chrysostom, Hom. xxv. on St. Matthew.

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