The Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity
Grant, we beseech thee merciful Lord, to thy faithful people indulgence and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve thee with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Source: Sacramentary of Bishop Gelasius of Rome [494AD]. Cranmer in 1549 translated the Latin "indulgence" as the English "pardon". The call for "peace" in this collect has been ascribed to the fact that at the time, Rome was under heavy assault that threatened to break Pax Romana. This collect is used in the place of an absolution when the office is conducted by a layman. Dr. Peter Toon translated the original Latin as follows: "Be reconciled, we beseech thee, Lord, to thy faithful ones, and grant them bountifully indulgence and peace, that they may be cleansed from all offences, and at the same time do unto thee devoted service without distraction of mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Isaiah lix. 15b, Psalms: 120, 121, 122 | 133, 134, 135, Ephesians vi. 10 & St. John iv. 46
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God
Isaiah lix. 15b
The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence. So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.
Psalm 120, 121, 122 | 133, 134, 135
Ephesians vi. 10
MY brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
St. John iv. 46
THERE was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house. This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.
Other Homilies Chrysostom Ephesians vi. 14 only | Ephesians vi. 14-24
Augustine on Psalm 120, 133, 134
Homily XXII on Ephesians 6
beginning with the x verse.
Verse 10... “be strong in the Lord.”
Whenever the discourse is about to conclude, he always employs this turn. Said I not well from the first, that every man’s house is a camp in itself? For look, having disposed of the several offices, he proceeds to arm them, and to lead them out to war. If no one usurps the other’s office, but every one remains at his post, all will be well ordered.
“Be strong,” saith he, “in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.”
That is, in the hope which we have in Him, by means of His aid. For as he had enjoined many duties, which were necessary to be done, fear not, he seems to say, cast your hope upon the Lord, and He will make all easy.
Ver. 11. “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
He saith not, against the fightings, nor against the hostilities, but against the “wiles.” For this enemy is at war with us, not simply, nor openly, but by “wiles.” What is meant by wiles? To use “wiles,” is to deceive and to take by artifice or contrivance; a thing which takes place both in the case of the arts, and by words, and actions, and stratagems, in the case of those who seduce us. I mean something like this. The Devil never proposes to us sins in their proper colors; he does not speak of idolatry, but he sets it off in another dress, using “wiles,” that is, making his discourse plausible, employing disguises. Now therefore the Apostle is by this means both rousing the soldiers, and making them vigilant, by persuading and instructing them, that our conflict is with one skilled in the arts of war, and with one who wars not simply, nor directly, but with much wiliness. And first then he arouses the disciples from the consideration of the Devil’s skill; but in the second place, from his nature, and the number of his forces. It is not from any desire to dispirit the soldiers that stand under him, but to arouse, and to awaken them, that he mentions these stratagems, and prepares them to be vigilant; for had he merely detailed their power, and there stopped his discourse, he must have dispirited them. But now, whereas both before and after this, he shows that it is possible to overcome such an enemy, he rather raises their courage; for the more clearly the strength of our adversaries is stated on our part to our own people, so much the more earnest will it render our soldiers.
Ver. 12. “For our wrestling is not,” saith he, “against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness, in the heavenly places.”
Having stimulated them by the character of the conflict, he next goes on to arouse them also by the prizes set before them. For what is his argument? Having said that the enemies are fierce, he adds further, that they despoil us of vast blessings. What are these? The conflict lies “in the heavenlies”; the struggle is not about riches, not about glory, but about our being enslaved. And thus is the enmity irreconcilable. The strife and the conflict are fiercer when for vast interests at stake; for the expression “in the heavenlies” is equivalent to, “for the heavenly things.” It is not that they may gain anything by the conquest, but that they may despoil us. As if one were to say, “In what does the contract lie?” In gold. The word “in,” means, “in behalf of”; the word “in,” also means, “on account of.” Observe how the power of the enemy startles us; how it makes us all circumspection, to know that the hazard is on behalf of vast interests, and the victory for the sake of great rewards. For he is doing his best to cast us out of Heaven.
He speaks of certain “principalities, and powers, and world-rulers of this darkness.” What darkness? Is it that of night? No, but of wickedness. “For ye were,” saith he, “once darkness” (Eph. v. 8.); so naming that wickedness which is in this present life; for beyond it, it will have no place, not in Heaven, nor in the world to come.
“World-rulers” he calls them, not as having the mastery over the world, but the Scripture is wont to call wicked practices “the world,” as, for example, where Christ saith, “They are not of this world, even as I am not of the world.” (John xvii. 16.) What then, were they not of the world? Were they not clothed with flesh? Were they not of those who are in the world? And again; “The world hateth Me, but you it cannot hate.” (John vii. 7.) Where again He calls wicked practices by this name. Thus the Apostle here by the world means wicked men, and the evil spirits have more especial power over them. “Against the spiritual hosts of wickedness,” saith he, “in the heavenly places.” “Principalities, and powers,” he speaks of; just as in the heavenly places there are “thrones and dominions, principalities and powers.” (Col. i. 16.)
Ver. 13. “Wherefore,” saith he, “take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand.”
By “evil day” he means the present life, and calls it too “this present evil world” (Gal. i. 4.), from the evils which are done in it. It is as much as to say, Always be armed. And again, “having done all,” saith he; that is, both passions, and vile lusts, and all things else that trouble us. He speaks not merely of doing the deed, but of completing it, so as not only to slay, but to stand also after we have slain. For many who have gained this victory, have fallen again. “Having done,” saith he, “all”; not having done one, but not the other. For even after the victory, we must stand. An enemy may be struck, but things that are struck revive again if we do not stand. But if after having fallen they rise up again, so long as we stand, they are fallen. So long as we waver not, the adversary rises not again.
“Let us put on the whole armor of God.” Seest thou how he banishes all fear? For if it be possible “to do all, and to stand,” his describing in detail the power of the enemy does not create cowardice and fear, but it shakes off indolence. “That ye may be able,” he saith, “to withstand in the evil day.” And he further gives them encouragement too from the time; the time, he seems to say, is short; so that ye must needs stand; faint not when the slaughter is achieved.
... If then it is a warfare, if such are the forces arrayed against us, if “the principalities” are incorporeal, if they are “rulers of the world,” if they are “the spiritual hosts of wickedness,” how, tell me, canst thou live in self-indulgence? How canst thou be dissolute? How if we are unarmed, shall we be able to overcome? These words let every one repeat to himself every day, whenever he is under the influence of anger, or of lust, whenever he is aiming, and all to no profit, after this languid life. Let him hearken to the blessed Paul, saying to him, “Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers.” A harder warfare this than that which is matter of sense, a fiercer conflict. Think how long time this enemy is wrestling, for what it is that he is fighting, and be more guarded than ever. “Nay,” a man will say, “but as he is the devil, he ought to have been removed out of the way, and then all had been saved.” These are the pretenses to which some of your indolent ones in self-defense give utterance. When thou oughtest to be thankful, O man, that, if thou hast a mind, thou hast the victory over such a foe, thou art on the contrary even discontented, and givest utterance to the words of some sluggish and sleepy soldier. Thou knowest the points of attack, if thou choosest. Reconnoiter on all sides, fortify thyself. Not against the devil alone is the conflict, but also against his powers. How then, you may say, are we to wrestle with the darkness? By becoming light. How with the “spiritual hosts of wickedness”? By becoming good. For wickedness is contrary to good, and light drives away darkness. But if we ourselves too be darkness, we shall inevitably be taken captive. How then shall we overcome them? If, what they are by nature, that we become by choice, free from flesh and blood, thus shall we vanquish them. For once it was probable that the disciples would have many persecutors, “imagine not,” he would say, “that it is they who war with you. They that really war with you, are the spirits that work in them. Against them is our conflict.” Two things he provides for by these considerations; he renders them in themselves more courageous and he lets loose their wrath against those who war against them. And wherefore is our conflict against these? Since we have also an invincible ally, the grace of the Spirit. We have been taught an art, such as shall enable us to wrestle not against men, but against spirits. Nay, if we have a mind, neither shall we wrestle at all; for it is because we choose it, that there is a struggle, since so great is the power of Him that dwelleth in us, as that He said, “Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy.” (Luke x. 19.) All power hath He given us, both of wrestling and of not wrestling. It is because we are slothful, that we have to wrestle with them; for that Paul wrestled not, hear what he saith himself, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Rom. viii. 35.) And again hear his words, “God shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” (Rom. xvi. 20.) For he had him under his subjection; whence also he said, “I charge thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” (Acts xvi. 18.) And this is not the language of one wrestling; for he that wrestles has not yet conquered, and he that has conquered no longer wrestles; he has subdued, has taken his captive. And so Peter again wrestled not with the devil, but he did that which was better than wrestling. In the case of the faithful, the obedient, the catechumens, they prevailed over him to vast advantage and over his powers. Hence too was it that the blessed Paul said, “For we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Cor. ii. 11.), which was the way moreover in which he especially overcame him; and again hear his words, “And no marvel—if his ministers also fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness.” (2 Cor. xi. 14, 15.) So well knew he every part of the conflict, and nothing escaped him. Again, “For the mystery of lawlessness,” saith he, “doth already work.” (2 Thess. ii. 7.)
But against us is the struggle; for hearken again to him, saying, “I am persuaded, that neither angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of Christ.” (Rom. viii. 38.) He saith not simply, “from Christ,” but, “from the love of Christ.” For many there are who are united forsooth to Christ, and who yet love Him not. Not only, saith he, shalt thou not persuade me to deny Him, but, not even to love Him less. And if the powers above had not strength to do this, who else should move him? Not, however, that he saith this, as though they were actually attempting it, but upon the supposition; wherefore also he said, “I am persuaded.” So then he did not wrestle, yet nevertheless he fears his artifices; for hear what he saith, “I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is toward Christ.” (2 Cor. xi. 3.) True, you will say, but he uses this word touching himself also, where he saith, “For I fear lest, by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.” How then art thou “persuaded that no one shall separate thee”? Perceivest thou that the expression is that of lowliness and of humility? For he already dwelt in Heaven. And hence also it was that he said, “For I know nothing against myself” (1 Cor. iv. 4.); and again, “I have finished the course.” (2 Tim. iv. 7.) So that it was not with regard to these matters that the devil placed obstacles in his way, but with reference to the interests of the disciples. And why forsooth? Because in these points he was not himself sole master, but also their own will. There the devil prevailed in some cases; nay, neither there was it over him that he prevailed, but over the indolence of persons who took no heed. If indeed, whether from slothfulness, or anything else of the sort, he had failed to fulfill his own duty, then had the devil prevailed over him; but if he himself on his part did all he could, and they obeyed not it was not over him he prevailed, but over their disobedience; and the disease prevailed not over the physician, but over the unruliness of the patient; for, when the physician takes every precaution, and the patient undoes all, the patient is defeated, not the physician. Thus then in no instance did he prevail over Paul. But in our own case, it is matter for contentment that we should be so much as able to wrestle. For the Romans indeed this is not what he asks, but what? “He shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” (Rom. xvi. 20.) And for these Ephesians he invokes, “Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” (Eph. iii. 20.) He that wrestles is still held fast, but it is enough for him that he has not fallen. When we depart hence, then, and not till then, will the glorious victory be achieved. For instance, take the case of some evil lust. The extraordinary thing would be, not even to entertain it, but to stifle it. If, however, this be not possible, then though we may have to wrestle with it, and retain it to the last, yet if we depart still wrestling, we are conquerors. For the case is not the same here as it is with wrestlers; for there if thou throw not thy antagonist, thou hast not conquered; but here if thou be not thrown, thou hast conquered; if thou art not thrown, thou hast thrown him; and with reason, because there both strive for the victory, and when the one is thrown, the other is crowned; here, however, it is not thus, but the devil is striving for our defeat; when then I strip him of that upon which he is bent, I am conqueror. For it is not to overthrow us, but to make us share his overthrow that he is eager. Already then am I conqueror, for he is already cast down, and in a state of ruin; and his victory consists not in being himself crowned, but in effecting my ruin; so that though I overthrow him not, yet if I be not overthrown, I have conquered. What then is a glorious victory? It is, over and above, to trample him underfoot, as Paul did, by regarding the things of this present world as nothing. Let us too imitate him, and strive to become above them, and nowhere to give him a hold upon us. Wealth, possessions, vain-glory, give him a hold. And oftentimes indeed this has roused him, and oftentimes exasperated him. But what need is there of wrestling? What need of engaging with him? He who is engaged in the act of wrestling has the issue in uncertainty, whether he may not be himself defeated and captured. Whereas he that tramples him under foot, has the victory certain.
Oh then, let us trample under foot the power of the devil; let us trample under foot our sins, I mean everything that pertains to this life, wrath, lust, vain-glory, every passion; that when we depart to that world, we may not be convicted of betraying that power which God hath given us; for thus shall we attain also the blessings that are to come. But if in this we are unfaithful, who will entrust us with those things which are greater? If we were not able to trample down one who had fallen, who had been disgraced, who had been despised, who was lying beneath our feet, how shall the Father give us a Father’s rewards? If we subdue not one so placed in subjection to us, what confidence shall we have to enter into our Father’s house? For, tell me, suppose thou hadst a son, and, that he, disregarding the well-disposed part of thy household, should associate with them that have distressed thee, with them that have been expelled his father’s house, with them that spend their time at the gaming table, and that he should go on so doing to the very last; will he not be disinherited? It is plain enough he will. And so too shall we; if, disregarding the Angels who have well pleased our Father and whom He hath set over us, we have our conversation with the devil, inevitably we shall be disinherited, which God forbid; but let us engage in the war we have to wage with him.
If any one hath an enemy, if any one hath been wronged by him, if any one is exasperated, let him collect together all that wrath, all that fierceness, and pour it out upon the head of the devil. Here wrath is a good thing, here anger is profitable, here revenge is praiseworthy, for just as amongst the heathen, revenge is a vice, so truly here is revenge a virtue. So then if thou hast any failings, rid thyself of them here. And if thou art not able thyself to put them away, do it, though with thy members also. Hath any one struck thee? Bear malice against the devil, and never relinquish thy hatred towards him. Or again, hath no one struck thee? Yet bear him malice still, because he insulted, because he offended thy Lord and Master, because he injures and wars against thy brethren. With him be ever at enmity, ever implacable, ever merciless. Thus shall he be humbled, thus despicable, thus shall he be an easy prey. If we are fierce towards him, he shall never be fierce towards us. If we are compliant, then he will be fierce; it is not with him as it is with our brethren. He is the foe and enemy, both of life and salvation, both ours and his own. If he loves not himself, how shall he be able to love us? Let us then put ourselves in array and wound him, having for our mighty confederate the Lord Jesus Christ, who can both render us impregnable to his snares, and worthy of the good things to come; which God grant that we may all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, together with the Holy Ghost, be unto the Father, glory, might, and honor, now and ever, and throughout all ages. Amen.