In the Very Glory of the Father

From “Homily 56Homilies on St. Matthew (ca. 388)

Nothing then is more blessed than the apostles, and especially the three, who even in the cloud were counted worthy to be under the same roof with the Lord.

But if we will, we also shall behold Christ, not as they then on the mount, but in far greater brightness… Whereas then, to spare his disciples, he revealed only as much of his brightness as they were able to bear; hereafter he shall come in the very glory of the Father, not with Moses and Elias only, but with the infinite host of the angels, with the archangels, with the cherubim, with those infinite tribes, not having a cloud over his head, but even heaven itself being folded up.

For as it is with the judges; when they judge publicly, the attendants drawing back the curtains show them to all; even so then likewise all people shall see him sitting, and all the human race shall stand by, and he will answer them by himself; and to some he will say, “Come, you blessed of my Father; for I was an hungered, and you gave me meat (Matt. 25:34-35); to others, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things (Matt. 25:23).

And passing the opposite sentence, to some he will answer, “Depart into the everlasting fire, that is prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41); and to others, “O thou wicked and slothful servants (Matt. 25:26). And some he will cut asunder and deliver to the tormentors; but others he will command to be bound hand and foot, and cast into outer darkness (Matt. 22:13)…

Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun (Matt. 13:43); or rather more than the sun. But this kind of brightness is described, not because their light is to be this much and no more, but since we know no other star brighter than this, he chose by the known example to set forth the future brightness of the saints.

Since on the mount too, when it says, “He did shine as the sun,” … the comparison is not strictly accurate. The apostles showed this by falling down. For had the brightness not been unalloyed, but comparable to the sun; they would not have fallen, but would easily have borne it.

The righteous therefore will shine as the sun, and more than the sun in that time; but the sinners shall suffer all extremities. Then will there be no need of records, proofs, witnesses. For he who judges is himself all, both witness, and proof, and judge. For he knows all things exactly; “For all things are naked and opened unto His eyes” (Heb. 4:13).

No man will there appear rich or poor, mighty or weak, wise or unwise, bond or free; but these masks will be dashed in pieces, and the inquiry will be into their works only. For if in our courts, when any one is tried for usurpation, or murder, whatever kinds of honors he may have, if he is a governor, or consul, or what you will, all these honors are cast away, and he that is convicted suffers the utmost penalty; much more will it be so there.

Therefore that this may not be so for us, let us lay aside our filthy garments. Let us put on the armor of light, and the glory of God will wrap us around

St. John Chrysostom (ca. 347-407) was Archbishop of Constantinople, and one of the greatest preachers of his era. He is traditionally counted among the Four Great Doctors of the Eastern Church.  The Homilies on St. Matthew date from his ministry in his native Antioch, and were preached in the late 380s and 390s. His feast day is September 13.


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