Two quotes of St. Chrysostom that enemies of Mary’s sinlessness incorrectly use against her

May 21, 2023 • 3 min

From St. John Henry Newman’s Letter to Dr. Pusey in reply to his Eirenicon, page 132
By St. John Henry Newman

2. St. Chrysostom, in Matth. Hom. iv.:—

“‘Wherefore,’ a man may say, ‘did not the angel do in the case of the Virgin, [what he did to Joseph?’” viz. appear to her after, not before, the Incarnation,] “‘why did he not bring her the good tidings after her conception?’ lest she should be in great disturbance and trouble. For the probability was, that, had she not known the clear fact, she would have resolved something strange (ᾶτοπον) about herself, and had recourse to rope or sword, not bearing the disgrace. For the Virgin was admirable, and Luke shows her virtue, when he says that, when she heard the salutation, she did not at once become extravagant, nor appropriated the words, but was troubled, searching what was the nature of the salutation. One then of so accurately formed a mind (διηκριβωμένη) would be made beside herself with despondency, considering the disgrace, and not expecting, whatever she may say, to persuade any one who hears her, that adultery had not been the fact. Lest then these things occur, the Angel came before the conception; for it beseemed that that womb should be without disorder, which the Creator of all entered, and that that soul should be rid of all perturbation, which was counted worthy to become the minister of such mysteries.”

In Matth. Hom. xliv. (vid. also in Joann. Hom. xxi.):—

“To-day we learn something else even further, viz., that not even to bear Christ in the womb, and to have that wonderful childbirth, has any gain, without virtue. And this is especially true from this passage, ‘As He was yet speaking to the multitude, behold His Mother and His brethren stood without, seeking to speak to Him,’ &c. This he said, not as ashamed of His Mother, nor as denying her who bore Him; for, had He been ashamed, He had not passed through that womb; but as showing that there was no profit to her thence, unless she did all that was necessary. For what she attempted, came of over-much love of honour; for she wished to show to the people that she had power and authority over her Son, in nothing ever as yet having been greatly ostentatious (θανταζομένη) about Him. Therefore she came thus unseasonably. Observe then her and their recklessness (ὰπόνοιαν). … Had He wished to deny His Mother, then He would have denied, when the Jews taunted Him with her. But no; He shows such care of her as to commit her as a legacy on the Cross itself to the disciple whom He loved best of all, and to take anxious oversight of her. But does He not do the same now, by caring for her and His brethren? … And consider, not only the words which convey the considerate rebuke, but also … who He is who utters it, … and what He aims at in uttering it, not, that is, as wishing to cast her into perplexity, but to release her from a most tyrannical affection, and to bring her gradually to the fitting thought concerning Him, and to persuade her that He is not only her Son, but also her Master.”

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