Friday, September 18, 2009

John Chrysostom: God Gives Us More than Adam Cost Us

Do you want me to give you also a third rationale? The first was this, that not only our first parents but also those coming after them have sinned; the second, that the virtuous, even while living in the present life, experience a lighter slavery - or, rather, they are completely exempt from it, as we showed in the case of women, the governed and wild animals. Third after them is this, Christ's coming and promising us greater goods now than the ones of which those in the beginning robbed us by sinning. I mean, tell me, why do you grieve? Because Adam by sinning has driven you from paradise? Live a good life, He says, and practice virtue: not paradise but heaven itself I open to you, and I allow you to suffer no dire consequence of the disobedience of the first-formed. Do you grieve because he lost you government of the wild animals? See, I am subjecting even the demons to you if you pay attention. Scripture says, remember, "Tread on snakes and scorpions and on all the power of the foe" - not "Govern" but "Tread on," hinting at a developed form of government. Hence Paul also said not, "God will put Satan under your feet," but "God will crush Satan under your feet." It is no longer a case of what was said previously, "He shall watch for your head, and you shall watch for your heel;" rather, total the victory, unstained the trophy, complete the enemy's annihilation, his crushing and ruin. Eve subjected you to her husband, whereas I make you equal in status not only to her husband but also the angels, if you want it. He stripped you of the present life, whereas I grant you also the future life, ageless and unending, replete with countless good things. Let no one think themselves undone by our first parents. If we are prepared to reach on all all he is ready to provide, we shall find what is given much more than we lost.

- John Chrysostom (around A.D. 347 to around A.D. 407), Sermon 5 on Genesis, in St. John Chrysostom, Eight Sermons on the Book of Genesis, pp. 88-90 (2004), Robert C. Hill translator.