From Commentary on Isaiah (ca.397)

One people will no longer draw sword against another people, and they will no longer practice fighting… Isaiah points to the New Testament by another mark, but so brilliant that all the earth has been able to observe it. What is this? Peace and the cessation of wars. When these things happen, he says, the world will be in such tranquility that war money will be used to forge instruments of agriculture…

The Books of Kings contains only stories of wars; this is what the prophets attest to us, either when they tell the story of the past, or when they predict future events. In a word, from that day when they shook the yoke of the Egyptians, their entire history was but a war… Read the book of Joshua and Judges, and you will see that wars Palestine had to support in a short time. Even worse, the law ordered everyone to take up arms and no one was exempt from this duty.

And it was not only among the Jews that this custom existed, but all over the world; the rhetors themselves and the philosophers who possessed only their cloaks, covered themselves, when the war called them, with the shield, and marched in the ranks of the army, and this philosopher of Athens, so peaceful and so wise, Socrates, the son of Sophronicus, appeared twice on the field of battle. And the most illustrious of their orators, Demosthenes, often came down from the tribune to go and fight. But if the law exempted neither the speakers nor the philosophers, there were few who enjoy this exemption…

“And now, house of Jacob, come and walk in the light of the Lord”… Thus suddenly interrupting his prophecy, and without transition, as if he continued the same subject, Isaiah comes to give warnings to the Jews: “Now, house of Jacob, come and walk in the light of the Lord,” that is to say, in his commandments, in his law: for “the precept of the law is a lamp, a light, life, a rebuke, and a discipline” (Prov. 6:23). David also says, in the Psalms, “The precept of the Lord is filled with light, he gives light to the eyes.” Everywhere you will see the same name given to the law. Thus St. Paul says: “You flatter yourself to be the guide of the blind, the light of those who are in darkness, the doctor of the ignorant,” (Rom. 2:19-20). The sun does not illuminate the eyes of our body as the precepts of the law illuminate the eyes of our souls.

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 Isaiah date from the end of his ministry in his native Antioch. His feast day is September 13.


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