Orthodox Daily Devotional for September 30 – October 6
31 And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. 32 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
Commentary of St John Chrysostom…
The Lord had said that we must love our enemies, but that you might not think this an exaggerated expression, regarding it solely as spoken to alarm them, he adds the reason, saying, For if you love them which love you, what thank have ye? There are indeed several causes which produce love; but spiritual love exceeds them all. For nothing earthly engenders it, neither gain, nor kindness, nor nature, nor time, but it descends from heaven. But why wonder that it needs not kindness to excite it, when it is not even overcome of malice? A father indeed suffering wrong bursts the bands of love. A wife after a quarrel leaves her husband. A son, if he sees his father come to a great age, is troubled. But Paul went to those who stoned him to do them good. (Acts 14:17) Moses is stoned by the Jews, and prays for them. (Exod. 17:4) Let us then reverence spiritual love, for it is indissoluble. Reproving therefore those who were inclined to wax cold, he adds, For sinners even love those which love them. As if he said, Because I wish you to possess more than these, I do not advise you only to love your friends, but also your enemies. It is common to all to do good to those who do good to them. But he shews that he seeks something more than is the custom of sinners, who do good to their friends.
**St Theophylact commentary on Mark continued
45–52. And straightway He constrained His disciples to get into the boat, and to go to the other side towards Bethsaida, while He sent away the multitude. And when He had sent them away, He departed onto a mountain to pray. And when the evening was come, the boat was in the. midst of the sea; and He alone on the land. And He saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night He cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. But when they saw Him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been an apparition, and cried out: for they all saw Him, and were troubled. And immediately. He talked with them, and saith unto them, Take courage: it is I; be not afraid. And He went up unto them into the boat; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marvelled. For they had not understood the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened. “He constrained the disciples”’ for they did not want to be taken away from Him, and could be separated only by compulsion. This, because of their love for Him, and because they were at a loss to know how He would come to them, because He had no boat. He sent away the multitude and went up to pray alone, for prayer requires stillness and no disturbance. He permits : 1 the disciples to be tested, so that they would learn to endure. This is. why ; • He does not go to them at once; but allows them to be tossed by the storm throughout the night, teaching them to persevere and not to hope for rest at the very beginning of their troubles. Observe this as well: at the very moment when He is about to bring an end to their troubles, He ; casts them into even greater fear. For when they saw Him, they cried out and. were troubled, thinking He was some apparition/ And immediately o -Heheals them with His voice, saying; .“Be not afraid.” Then when He enters the boat, He obtains for them a more perfect calm: for “the wind J..ceased.” To walk on water is a great miracle, and truly of God, and the storm and the contrary wind only add to the miracle. The apostles had not understood the miracle of the loaves, but through the miracle of the sea •: they understood. Hence it appears that Christ permitted them to be tested ^ for this reason too, that since they had not recognized Who He was by the miracle of the loaves, they might do so by the miracle on the sea, and . thus receive benefit.
And when they had passed over, they came unto the land of / Gennesaret, and drew to the shore. And when they were come down out of the boat, straightway the people recognized Him, and ran v through that whole region round about, and began to carry on beds those that were sick, to where they heard that He was. And whithersoever He entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought Him that they might touch even if 1 it were but the hem of His garment: and as many as touched Him were made whole. On another occasion, it would seem, the Lord had / visited that place. Therefore the evangelist says, “The people recognized ; Him” and brought to Him their sick. They ho longer asked Him to come : to their homes, but they themselves brought their sick to Him, beseeching )Him “that they might touch even if it were but the hem of His garment.” ;For they had all heard of the miracle of the healing of the woman with an issue of blood, and it had given them greater faith.
Mark 7:1 Then came together unto Him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, who came from Jerusalem. And when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashed, hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands up to the elbow, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, such as the washing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and dining couches. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, Why walk not Thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands? The Lord’s disciples had been taught to apply themselves to virtue alone, and not to busy themselves with; anything else. Therefore they simply ate, without the business of hand ablutions. The Pharisees wanted to find something to ridicule, and they seize on this. Not able to accuse the disciples of transgressing the law, the Pharisees fault them with transgressing the tradition of the elders. For it is not written in the law to wash one’s hands up to the elbow; this is but a tradition passed down to them from the elders.
v6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Isaiah prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth Me ‘ with their lips but their heart is far from Me, and in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Leaving the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men’, such • as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye ;; do.? And He said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of the Lord ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him surely die: but ye say, If a man shall say to his father or his mother, That which thou mightest have gained from me, is Corban, that is, a gift, he shall be absolved; and ye suffer him no more to do aught for. his father or his mother; making the word of God of none effect through your tradition which ye have handed down: and many such like things do ye. The Lord gives the Jews a. sharp rebuke, also bringing forward the prophet as their accuser. For while they had accused His disciples of transgressing the tradition of the elders, He in turn lays against them a far more serious charge, that of transgressing the law of Moses. For the law says, He tells them, Honour thy father and thy mother.2 But you are teaching sons to say to their parents, “The money that you ask from me is Corban, that is, a gift dedicated to God.’5 For the Pharisees sought to devour the means of the simple, and thus were teaching the sons that if they had something, such as a sum of money, which their parents were asking of them, to say, “I have already consecrated this to God, so do not ask for something dedicated to the Lord.” Thus the Pharisees were deceiving the sons, persuading them to dedicate, ostensibly to God, what they possessed, while the Pharisees devoured what was dedicated, and the sons ignored their parents. The . Lord, then, lays this charge against them, that for the sake of profiteering they transgress the law of God.
And when He had called all the people unto Him, He said unto them, Hearken unto Me every one of you, and understand: there is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. And when He was entered into the house from the people, His disciples asked Him ^ Concerning the parable. And He saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the drain, purging everything eaten. And He said, That which cometh out of the man, th^t defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, mindlessness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man. The Lord here is teaching the people that we ought not to understand in a bodily manner the ordinances of the law concerning food, and here He begins to unveil to some degree the intent of the law. He says that it is not what enters a man that defiles, that is, taints, him, but rather what comes forth from his heartland He lists those things. He mentions the “evil eye”, which can mean either envy or lechery. For evil is the eye of both the jealous man, whose malicious glance casts a curse on the object of his envy, and of the lecher, whose leer brings evil. “Blasphemy” means wanton insolence towards God, as for example when one says, “There is no Divine Providence”—this is blasphemy. And thus pride follows blasphemy in the list, for a proud man, as it were, overlooks and even looks down on God, as when he does something good and ascribes this, not to God, but to his own strength. “Mindlessness” means wanton insolence towards others. All these passions, then, taint the soul as they well tip out of it and come forth. To the multitude the Lord spoke less clearly, which is why He said, “He who hath ears to hear, let him hear,” meaning “He who understands, let him understand.” But the disciples sensed that the Lord had spoken something more profound, and so they approached and asked about the parable, that is, about the Lord’s enigmatic speech, (for a parable is a statement with a hidden meaning). To them the Lord first gave a rebuke, saying, “Are ye so without understanding also?” and then He resolved their perplexity.
v61And from thence He arose, and went into the region of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but He could not be hid. For a certain woman, whose; young , daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of Him, and came and fell at His feet: the woman was a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by nation; and she besought Him that He would cast forth the demon out of her daughter. But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. And she answered and said unto Him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. And He said unto her, On account of this saying, go thy way; the demon is gone out of thy daughter. And when she was come to her house, she found the demon gone but, and her daughter laid upon the bed. When the Lord had spoken about food and seen that the Jews had not believed, He travelled to the region of the Gentiles. Since the Jews-had not believed, salvation was about to come to the Gentiles. But He tried at first to remain unnoticed, so that the Jews might not be able later to accuse Him of having run to the unclean Gentiles. But He could not escape their notice, for it was not possible for Him to escape attention and to remain unrecognized. When the woman, therefore, heard of Him, she showed fervent faith. This is why the Lord does not at once fulfill her request, but withholds the gift, in order to show the steadfast faith of the woman, and how she persevered despite her rebuff. He does this so that we also . might learn not to spin away on our heels when we do not immediately obtain what we have asked for in prayer. Instead we should persevere in prayer until we have received an answer. The Lord calls the Gentiles “dogs” because the Jews considered the Gentiles to be unclean. For the ‘“children”, that is, the Jews, God had allotted “bread”, that is, His beneficence, His gift of good things. For God had showered His beneficence upon the Jews. The Lord is saying, therefore, that the Gentiles ought not to have a share in those good things allotted for the Jews. But when the woman answered wisely, and with faith, she obtained her desire. The Jews, she says, have the whole loaf, that is, they have Thee whole and entire, O Thou Who hast descended from heaven, together with all Thy beneficence. But I am asking only for crumbs, that is, for a small portion of Thy good things. See how the Lord did not say, “My power hath saved thee.” But what does He say?; “On account of this Thy; saying,” that is, on account of thy faith,“go thy way,” thy daughter hath been cleansed. Therefore, you, O reader, learn from this a useful lesson.-For when we sin, each one of us is like this “woman”, that is, we have a weak and effeminate soul. And then we are also “Phoenician”, that is, stained with blood-red, soul-murdering sin, [for Phoenicia takes its name from the red dye which it produced] ,s And our sinful soul has a demon-possessed daughter, our evil deeds.; For evil deeds are. of the demons; Since we are sinners, we are dogs, full of uncleanness. Because of this, we are not worthy, to receive, the Bread of God, nor to commune of the immaculate Mysteries. But if, through humility, we recognize ourselves for what we are, and acknowledge that we. arenas dogs, and ,confess our sins, then our daughter, that is, our demonic deeds, will be healed.