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Lenten Reflection: Day 36
Gospel, John 8:21-30
I am from above. You are of this world: I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that you shall die in your sins. He has explained to us, brethren, what He wished to be understood by you are of this world. He said therefore in fact, You are of this world, because they were sinners, because they were unrighteous, because they were unbelieving, because they savored of the earthly. For what is your opinion as regards the holy apostles? What difference was there between the Jews and the apostles?
As great as between darkness and light, as between faith and unbelief, as between piety and impiety, as between hope and despair, as between love and avarice: surely the difference was great. What then, because there was such a difference, were the apostles not of the world? If your thoughts turn to the manner of their birth, and whence they came, inasmuch as all of them had come from Adam, they were of this world. But what said the Lord Himself to them? I have chosen you out of the world. Those, then, who were of the world, became not of the world, and began to belong to Him by whom the world was made. But these men continued to be of the world, to whom it was said, You shall die in your sins.
For if you believe not that I am [He], you shall die in your sins. I believe, brethren, that among the multitude who listened to the Lord, there were those also who should yet believe. But against all, as it were, had that most severe sentence gone forth, You shall die in your sin; and thereby even from those who should yet believe had hope been withdrawn: the others were roused to fury, they to fear; yea, to more than fear, they were brought now to despair. But He revived their hope; for He added, ‘If you believe not that I am, you shall die in your sins’.
Therefore if you do believe that I am, you shall not die in your sins. Hope was restored to the desponding, the sleeping were aroused, their hearts got a fresh awakening; and thereafter very many believed, as the Gospel itself attests in the sequel. For members of Christ were there, who had not yet become attached to the body of Christ; and among that people by whom He was crucified, by whom He was hanged on a tree, by whom when hanging He was mocked, by whom He was wounded with the spear, by whom gall and vinegar were given Him to drink, were the members of Christ, for whose sake He said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
But look at this which is said by Christ the Lord: If you believe not that I am, you shall die in your sins. What is this, ‘If you believe not that I am?’ I am what? There is nothing added; and because He added nothing, He left much to be inferred. For He was expected to say what He was, and yet He said it not. What was He expected to say? Perhaps, If you believe not that I am Christ; if you believe not that I am the Son of God; if you believe not that I am the Word of the Father; if you believe not that I am the founder of the world; if you believe not that I am the former and re-former, the creator and re-creator, the maker and re-maker of man—if you believe not that I am this, you shall die in your sins.
Translated by John Gibb. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 7. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight.