You are the salt
of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be
salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be
trodden on by men. You are the light of the world. A city seated on a
mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under
a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in
the house. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your
good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
And he said to
them: Doth a candle come in to be put under a bushel, or under a bed?
and not to be set on a candlestick? For there is nothing hid, which
shall not be made manifest: neither was it made secret, but that it may
come abroad. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
Now no man
lighting a candle covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed;
but setteth it upon a candlestick, that they who come in may see the
light. For there is not any thing secret that shall not be made
manifest, nor hidden, that shall not be known and come abroad...
...No man lighteth a candle, and putteth it in a hidden place, nor
under a bushel; but upon a candlestick, that they that come in, may see
the light. The light of thy body is thy eye. If thy eye be single, thy
whole body will be lightsome: but if it be evil, thy body also will be
darksome. Take heed therefore, that the light which is in thee, be not
darkness. If then thy whole body be lightsome, having no part of
darkness; the whole shall be lightsome; and as a bright lamp, shall
By St. John Chryostom
"But if the
salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is
thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden
under foot of men."
For other men, though they fall never so often, may possibly obtain
indulgence: but the teacher, should this happen to him, is deprived of
all excuse, and will suffer the most extreme vengeance. Thus, lest at
the words, "When they shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all
manner of evil against you," they should be too timid to go forth: He
tells them, "unless ye are prepared to combat with all this, ye have
been chosen in vain." For it is not evil report that ye should fear,
but lest ye should prove partners in dissimulation.For then, "Ye will
lose your savor, and be trodden under foot:" but if ye continue sharply
to brace them up, and then are evil spoken of, rejoice; for this is the
very use of salt, to sting the corrupt,and make them smart. And so
their censure follows of course, in no way harming you, but rather
testifying your firmness. But if through fear of it you give up the
earnestness that becomes you, ye will have to suffer much more
grievously, being both evil spoken of, and despised by all. For this is
the meaning of "trodden under foot."
11. After this He leads on to another, a higher image.
"Ye are the light of the world."
"Of the world" again; not of one nation, nor of twenty states,but of
the whole inhabited earth. And "a light" to the mind, far better than
this sunbeam: like as they were also a spiritual salt. And before they
are salt, and now light: to reach thee how great is the gain of these
strictprecepts, and the profit of that grave discipline: how it binds,
and permits not to become dissolute; and causes clear sight, leading
men on to virtue.
"A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid, neither do men light a
candle, and put it under the bushel."
Again, by these words He trains them to strictness of life, teaching
them to be earnest in their endeavors, as set before the eyes of all
men, and contending in the midst of the amphitheatre of the world. For,
"look not to this," He saith, "that we are now sitting here, that we
are in a small portion of one corner. For ye shall be as conspicuous to
all as a city set on the ridge of a hill, as a candle in a house on the
candlestick, giving light."
Where now are they who persevere in disbelieving the power of Christ?
Let them hear these things, and let them adore His might, amazed at the
power of the prophecy. For consider how great things he promised to
them, who were not known even in their own country: that earth and sea
should know them, and that they should by their fame reach to the
limits of the inhabited world; or rather, not by their fame, but by the
working of the good they wrought. For it was not fame that bearing them
everywhere made them conspicuous, but also the actual demonstration by
their works. Since, as though they had wings, more vehemently than the
sunbeam did they overrun the whole earth, sowing the light of
But here He seems to me to be also training them to boldness of speech.
For to say, "A city set on a hill cannot be hid," is to speak as
declaring His own powers. For as that city can by no means be hidden,
so it was impossible that what they preached should sink into silence
and obscurity. Thus, since He had spoken of persecutions and calumnies,
of plots and wars, for fear they might think that these would have
power to stop their mouths; to encourage them, He saith, that so far
from being hid, it should over-shine the whole world; and that on this
very account they should be illustrious and renowned.
By this then He declares His own power. In what follows, He requires
that boldness of speech which was due on their part; thus saying,
"Neither do men light a candle and put it under the bushel, but on the
candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let
your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and
glorify your Father which is in Heaven."
"For I," saith He, "it is true, have kindled the light, but its
continuing to burn, let that come of your diligence: not for your own
sakes alone, but also for their sake, who are to profit by these rays,
and to be guided unto the truth. Since the calumnies surely shall not
be able to obscure your brightness, if you be still living a strict
life, and as becomes those who are to convert the whole world. Show
forth therefore a life worthy of His grace; that even as it is
everywhere preached, so this light may everywhere accompany the same.
Next He sets before them another sort of gain, besides the salvation of
mankind, enough to make them strive earnestly, and to lead them unto
all diligence. As thus, "Ye shall not only," saith He, "amend the
world, if ye live aright, but ye will also give occasion that God shall
be glorified; even as if ye do the contrary, ye will both destroy men,
and make God's name to be blasphemed."
And how, it may be asked, shall God be glorified through us, if at
least men are to speak evil of us? Nay, not all men, and even they
themselves who in envy do this, will in their conscience admire and
approve you; even as the outward flatterers of such as live in
wickedness do in mind accuse them.
What then? Dost thou command us to live for display and vain glory? Far
from it; I say not this; for I did not say, "Give ye diligence to bring
forward your own good deeds," neither did I say, "Show them;" but "Let
your light shine." That is, "Let your virtue be great, and the fire
abundant, and the light unspeakable." For when virtue is so great, it
cannot lie hid, though its pursuer shade it over ten thousand fold.
Present unto them an irreprehensible life, and let them have no true
occasion of evil speaking; and then, though there be thousands of
evil-speakers, no man shall be able to cast any shade upon you. And
well did He say, "your light," for nothing makes a man so illustrious,
how manifold soever his will to be concealed, as the manifestation of
virtue. For as if he were clad with the very sunbeam, so he shines, yet
brighter than it; not spending his rays on earth, but surmounting also
Heaven itself. Hence also He comforts them more abundantly. For, "What
though the slander pain you," saith He; "yet shall ye have many to
honor God on your account. And in both ways your recompence is
gathering, as well because God is glorified through you, as because ye
are defamed for God's sake. Thus, lest we should on purpose seek to be
reproached, on hearing that there is a reward for it: first, He hath
not expressed that sentiment simply, but with two limitations, namely,
when what is said is false, and when it is for God's sake: and next He
signifies how not that only, but also good report, hath its great
profit, the glory of it passing on to God. And He holds out to them
those gracious hopes. "For," saith He, "the calumny of the wicked
avails not so much as to put all others in the dark, in respect of
seeing your light. For then only when you have "lost your savor" shall
they tread you under foot; but not when you are falsely accused, doing
right. Yea, rather then shall there be many admiring, not you only, but
for your sake your Father also." And He said not "God," but "your
Father;" already sowing beforehand the seeds of that noble birth, which
was about to be bestowed upon them. Moreover, indicating His parity in
honor, as He said above. "Grieve not when ye are evil spoken of, for it
is enough for you that for my sake you are thus spoken of;" so here He
mentions the Father: every where manifesting His equality.
12. Since then we know the gain that arises from this earnestness, and
the danger of indolence (for if our Lord be blasphemed because of us,
that were far worse than our perdition), let us "give none offense,
neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God."And
while the life which we present before them is brighter than the sun,
yet if any one will speak evil of us, let us not grieve at being
defamed, but only if we be defamed with justice.
For, on the one hand, if we live in wickedness, though there be none to
speak ill of us, we shall be the most wretched of all men: on the other
hand, if we apply ourselves to virtue, though the whole world speak
evil of us, at that very time we shall be more enviable than any. And
we shall draw on to follow us all who choose to be saved, for not the
calumny of the wicked, but our good life, will draw their attention.
For indeed no trumpet is so clear as the proof that is given by our
actions: neither is the light itself so transparent as a pure life,
though our calumniators be beyond number.
I say, if all the above-mentioned qualities be ours; if we be meek and
lowly and merciful; if we be pure, and peacemakers; if hearing
reproach, we revile not again, but rather rejoice; then shall we
attract all that observe us no less than the miracles do. And all will
be kindly disposed towards us, though one be a wild beast, a demon, or
what you will.
Or if there should even be some who speak evil of thee, be not thou at
all troubled thereat, nor because they revile thee in public, regard
it; but search into their conscience, and thou shalt see them
applauding and admiring thee, and numbering up ten thousand praises.
See, for instance, how Nebuchadnezzar praises the children in the
furnace; yet surely he was an adversary and an enemy. But upon seeing
them stand nobly, he proclaims their triumph, and crowns them: and that
for nought else, but because they disobeyed him, and hearkened unto the
law of God. For the devil, when he sees himself effecting nothing, from
that time departs, fearing lest he should be the cause of our winning
more crowns. And when he is gone, even one who is abominable and
depraved will recognize virtue, that mist being withdrawn. Or if men
still argue perversely, thou shalt have from God the greater praise and
Grieve not now, I pray thee, neither despond; since the very apostles
were to some a "savor of death;"to others, a "savor of life." And if
there be nothing to lay hold of in thyself, thou art rid of all their
charges; or rather, thou art become the more blessed. Shine out
therefore in thy life, and take no account of them who speak evil of
thee. For it cannot, it cannot be, that one careful of virtue, should
not have many enemies. However, this is nothing to the virtuous man.
For by such means his brightness will increase the more abundantly.
Let us then, bearing these things in mind, look to one object only; how
to order our own life with strictness. For thus we shall also guide to
the life that is there, such as are now sitting in darkness. For such
is the virtue of that light, as not only to shine here, but also to
conduct its followers thither. For when men see us despising all things
present, and preparing ourselves for that which is to come, our actions
will persuade them sooner than any discourse. For who is there so
senseless, that at sight of one, who within a day or two was living in
luxury and wealth, now stripping himself of all, and putting on wings,
and arrayed to meet both hunger and poverty, and all hardship, and
dangers, and blood, and slaughter, and everything that is counted
dreadful; will not from this sight derive a clear demonstration of the
things which are to come?
But if we entangle ourselves in things present, and plunge ourselves in
them more and more, how will it be possible for them to be persuaded
that we are hastening to another sojourn?
And what excuse after this shall we have, if the fear of God avail not
so much with us, I as human glory availed with the Greek philosophers?
For some of them did really both lay aside wealth, and despised death,
that they might make a show before men; wherefore also their hopes
became vain. What plea then shall deliver us, when with so great things
set before us, and with so high a rule of self-denial laid open to us,
we are not able even to do as they did, but ruin both ourselves and
others besides? For neither is the harm so great when a heathen commits
transgression, as when a Christian doeth the same. Of course not; for
their character is already lost, but ours, by reason of the grace of
God, is even among the ungodly venerable and glorious. Therefore when
they would most revile us, and aggravate their evil speech, they add
some such taunt as, "Thou Christian:" a taunt which they would not
utter, did they not secretly entertain a great opinion of our doctrine.
Hast thou not heard how many, and how great precepts Christ enjoined?
Now when wilt thou be able to fulfill one of those commandments, while
thou leavest all, and goest about gathering interest, tacking together
usuries, setting on foot transactions of business, buying herds of
slaves, procuring silver vessels, purchasing houses, fields, goods
without end? And I would this were all. But when to these unseasonable
pursuits, thou addest even injustice, removing landmarks,taking away
houses by violence, aggravating poverty, increasing hunger, when wilt
thou be able to set thy foot on these thresholds?
13. But sometimes thou showest mercy to the poor. I know it as well as
thou. But even in this again great is the mischief. For thou doest this
either in pride or in vainglory, so as not to profit even by thy good
deeds. What can be more wretched than this, to be making thy shipwreck
in the very harbor? To prevent this, when thou hast done any good
action, seek not thanks from me, that thou mayest have God thy debtor.
For, "Lend," saith He, "unto them from whom ye do not expect to
Thou hast thy Debtor; why leave Him, and require it of me, a poor and
wretched mortal? What? is that Debtor displeased, when the debt is
required of Him? What? is He poor? Is He unwilling to pay? Seest thou
not His unspeakable treasures? Seest thou not His indescribable
munificence? Lay hold then on Him, and make thy demand; for He is
pleased when one thus demands the debt of Him. Because, if He see
another required to pay for what He Himself owes, He will feel as
though He were insulted, and repay thee no more; nay, He justly finds
fault, saying, "Why, of what ingratitude hast thou convicted me? what
poverty dost thou know to be in me, that thou hastenest by me, and
resortest unto others? Hast thou lent to One, and dost thou demand the
debt of another?"
For although man received it, it was God that commanded thee to bestow;
and His will is to be Himself, and in the original sense, debtor, and
surety, affording thee ten thousand occasion to demand the debt of Him
from every quarter. Do not thou then let go so great facility and
abundance, and seek to receive of me who have nothing. Why, to what end
dost thou display to me thy mercy shown to the poor. What! was it I
that said to thee, Give? was it from me that thou didst hear this; that
thou shouldest demand it back of me? He Himself hath said, "He that
hath pity upon the poor lendeth to God."Thou hast lent to God:put it to
"But He doth not repay the whole now." Well, this too He doth for thy
good. For such a debtor is He: not as many, who are anxious simply to
repay that which is lent; whereas He manages and doeth all things, with
a view of investing likewise in security that which hath been given
unto Him. Therefore some, you see, He repays here: some He assignsin
the other place.
14. Knowing therefore as we do these things, let us make our
mercifulness abundant, let us give proof of much love to man, both by
the use of our money, and by our actions. And if we see any one
ill-treated and beaten in the market-place, whether we can pay down
money, let us do it: or whether by words we may separate them, let us
not be backward. For even a word has its reward, and still more have
sighs. And this the blessed Job said; "But I wept for every helpless
one, and I sighed when I saw a man in distress."But if there be a
reward for tears and sighs; when words also, and an anxious endeavor,
and many things besides are added, consider how great the recompence
becomes. Yea, for we too were enemies to God, and the Only-begotten
reconciled us, casting himself between, and for us receiving stripes,
and for us enduring death.
Let us then likewise do our diligence to deliver from countless evils
such as are incurring them; and not as we now do, when we see any
beating and tearing one another: we are apt to stand by, finding
pleasure in the disgrace of others, and forming a devilish amphitheatre
around: than which what can be more cruel? Thou seest men reviled,
tearing each other to pieces, rending their clothes, smiting each
other's faces, and dost thou endure to stand by quietly?
What! is it a bear that is fighting? a wild beast? a serpent? It is a
man, one who hath in every respect fellowship with thee: a brother, a
member.Look not on, but separate them. Take no pleasure, but amend the
evil. Stir not up others to the shameful sight, but rather drive off
and separate those who are assembled. It is for shameless persons, and
born slaves,to take pleasure in' such calamities; for those that are
mere refuse, for asses without reason.
Thou seest a man behaving himself unseemly, and dost thou not account
the unseemliness thine own? Dost thou not interpose, and scatter the
devil's troop, and put an end to men's miseries?
"That I may receive blows myself," saith one; "is this also thy
bidding?" Thou wilt not have to suffer even this; but if thou
shouldest, the thing would be to thee a sort of martyrdom; for thou
didst suffer on God's behalf. And if thou art slow to receive blows,
consider that thy Lord was not slow to endure the cross for thee.
Since they for their part are drunken in darkness; wrath being their
tyrant and commander; and they need some one who is sound to help them,
both the wrong-doer, and he who is injured; the one that he may be
delivered from suffering evil, the other that he may cease to do it.
Draw nigh, therefore, and stretch forth the hand, thou that art sober
to him that is drunken. For there is a drunkenness of wrath too, and
that more grievous than the drunkenness of wine.
Seest thou not the seamen, how, when they see any meeting with
shipwreck, they spread their sails, and set out with all haste, to
rescue those of the same craft out of the waves? Now, if partakers in
an art show so much care one for another, how much more ought they who
are partakers of the same nature to do all these things! Because in
truth here too is a shipwreck, a more grievous one than that; for
either a man under provocation blasphemes, and so throws all away: or
he forswears himself under the sway of his wrath, and that way falls
into hell: or he strikes a blow and commits murder, and thus again
suffers the very same shipwreck. Go thou then, and put a stop to the
evil; pull out them that are drowning, though thou descend into the
very depth of the surge; and having broken up the theatre of the devil,
take each one of them apart, and admonish him to quell the flame, and
to lull the waves.
But if the burning pile wax greater, and the furnace more grievous, be
not thou terrified; for thou hast many to help thee, and stretch forth
the hand, if thou furnish but a beginning; and above all thou surely
hast with thee the God of peace. And if thou wilt first turn aside the
flames, many others also will follow, and of what they do well, thou
wilt thyself receive the reward.
Hear what precept Christ gave to the Jews, creeping as they did upon
the earth: "If thou see," saith He, "thine enemy's beast of burden
falling down, do not hasten by, but raise it."And thou must see that to
separate and reconcile men that are fighting is a much lighter thing
than to lift up the fallen beast. And if we ought to help in raising
our enemies' ass, much more our friends' souls: and most when the fall
is more grievous; for not into mire do these fall, but into the fire of
hell, not bearing the burden of their wrath. And thou, when thou seest
thy brother lying under the load, and the devil standing by, and
kindling the pile, thou runnest by, cruelly and unmercifully; a kind of
thing not safe to do, even where brutes are concerned.
And whereas the Samaritan, seeing a wounded man, unknown, and not at
all appertaining to him, both staid, and set him on a beast, and
brought him home to the inn, and hired a physician, and gave some
money, and promised more: thou, seeing one fallen not among thieves,
but amongst a band of demons, and beset by anger; and this not in a
wilderness, but in the midst of the forum; not having to lay out money,
nor to hire a beast, nor to bring him on a long way, but only to say
some words:--art thou slow to do it? and boldest back, and hurriest by
cruelly and unmercifully? And how thinkest thou, calling upon God, ever
to find Him propitious?
15. But let me speak also to you, who publicly disgrace yourselves: to
him who is acting despitefully, and doing wrong. Art thou inflicting
blows? tell me; and kicking, and biting? art thou become a wild boar,
and a wild ass? and art thou not ashamed? dost thou not blush at thus
being changed into a wild beast, and betraying thine own nobleness? For
though thou be poor, thou art free; though thou be a working man, thou
art a Christian.
Nay, for this very reason, that thou art poor, thou shouldest be quiet.
For fightings belong to the rich, not to the poor; to the rich, who
have many causes to force them to war. But thou, not having the
pleasure of wealth, goest about gathering to thyself the evils of
wealth, enmities, and strifes, and fightings; and takest thy brother by
the throat, and goest about to strangle him, and throwest him down
publicly in the sight of all men: and dost thou not think that thou art
thyself rather disgraced, imitating the violent passions of the brutes;
nay rather, becoming even worse than they? For they have all things in
common; they herd one with another, and go about together: but we have
nothing in common, but all in confusion: fightings, strifes, revilings,
and enmities, and insults. And we neither reverence the heaven, unto
which we are called all of us in common; nor the earth, which He hath
left free to us all in common; nor our very nature; but wrath and the
love of money sweeps all away.
Hast thou not seen him who owed the ten thousand talents, and then,
after he was forgiven that debt, took his fellow-servant by the throat
for an hundred pence, what great evils he underwent, and how he was
delivered over to an endless punishment? Hast thou not trembled at the
example? Hast thou no fear, lest thou too incur the same? For we
likewise owe to our. Lord many and great debts: nevertheless, He
forbears, and suffers long, and neither urges us, as we do our
fellow-servants, nor chokes and takes us by the throat; yet surely had
he been minded to exact of us but the least part thereof, we had long
16. Let us then, beloved, bearing these things in mind, be humbled, and
feel thankful to those who are in debt to us. For they become to us, if
we command ourselves, an occasion of obtaining most abundant pardon;
and giving a little, we shall receive much. Why then exact with
violence, it being meet, though the other were minded to pay, for thee
of thine accord to excuse him, that thou mayest receive the whole of
God? But now thou doest all things, and art violent, and contentious,
to have none of thy debts forgiven thee; and whilst thou art thinking
to do despite unto thy neighbor, thou art thrusting the sword into
thyself, so increasing thy punishment in hell: whereas if thou wilt
show a little self-command here, thou makest thine own accounts easy.
For indeed God therefore wills us to take the lead in that kind of
bounty, that He may take occasion to repay us with increase.
As many therefore as stand indebted to thee, either for money, or for
trespasses, let them all go free, and require of God the recompense of
such thy magnanimity. For so long as they continue indebted to thee,
thou canst not have God thy debtor. But if thou let them go free, thou
wilt be able to detain thy God, and to require of Him the recompense of
so great self-restraint in bountiful measure. For suppose a man had
come up and seeing thee arresting thy debtor, had called upon thee to
let him go free, and transfer to himself thy account with the other: he
would not choose to be unfairafter such remission, seeing he had passed
the whole demand to himself: how then shall God fail to repay us
manifold, yea, ten thousand fold, when for His commandment's sake, if
any be indebted to us, we urge no complaint against them, great or
small, but let them go exempt from all liability? Let us not then think
of the temporary pleasure that springs up in us by exacting of our
debtors, but of the loss, rather, how great! which we shall thereby
sustain hereafter, grievously injuring ourselves in the things which
are eternal. Rising accordingly above all, let us forgive those who
must give account to us, both their debts and their offenses; that we
may make our own accounts prove indulgent, and that what we could not
reach by all virtue besides, this we may obtain by not bearing malice
against our neighbors; and thus enjoy the eternal blessings, by the
grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory
and might now and always, even forever and ever. Amen.
Commentary on Matthew 6:22-23,
which sheds light on Luke 11:33-36
By St. Gregory Thaumaturgus
"The light of
the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body
shall be full of light. But it thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall
be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be
darkness, how great is that darkness!"
The single eye is the love unfeigned; for when the body is enlightened
by it, it sets forth through the medium of the outer members only
things which are perfectly correspondent with the inner thoughts. But
the evil eye is the pretended love, which is also called hypocrisy, by
which the whole body of the man is made darkness. We have to consider
that deeds meet only for darkness may be within the man, while through
the outer members he may produce words that seem to be of the light:
for there are those who are in reality wolves, though they may be
covered with sheep's clothing. Such are they who wash only the outside
of the cup and platter, and do not understand that, unless the inside
of these things is cleansed, the outside itself cannot be made pure.
Wherefore, in manifest confutation of such persons, the Saviour says:
"If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!"
That is to say, if the love which seems to thee to be light is really a
work meet for darkness, by reason of some hypocrisy concealed in thee,
what must be thy patent transgressions!