Saint Macarius Homily 14
Those who give their thoughts and their mind to God do so in the hope that the eyes of their heart may be enlightened, and God vouchsafes to them mysteries in the greatest sanctity and purity, and imparts to them of His grace. What we who desire to attain the good things of heaven ought to do. Then the apostles and the prophets are compared to the sun’s rays coming in at a window. The Homily also teaches what is Satan’s “Earth” and what that of the angels, and that both are intangible and invisible.
All works visibly done in the world are done in hope, with a view to partaking of the results of the labour. If it were not for the assurance of enjoyment from the toil, no advantage would be gained. The husbandman sows in hope of fruits, and is supported under his labours by the expectation. He that plougheth, the apostle says, plougheth in hope.1 He that takes a wife, does it in hope of having heirs. The merchant commits himself to the sea and the risk of death for the sake of gain. So also in the Kingdom of Heaven a man gives himself up in hope that the eyes of his heart may be enlightened,2 withdrawing from the affairs of this life, and keeping himself free for prayers and supplications, looking for the Lord, when He shall come and manifest Himself to him, and shall cleanse him from the sin that dwells in him.
He puts no confidence,3 however, in his labours and manner of life, until he obtains the things hoped for, until the Lord comes and dwells in him in the full experience and energy of the Spirit. And when he tastes the goodness of the Lord, and delights in the fruits of the Spirit, and the veil of darkness is taken away, and the light of Christ shines upon him and works in him in joy unspeakable, then is he fully satisfied, having the Lord with him in great affection, as the merchant in the illustration rejoices when he has gained. But he still has conflict and fear from the robber spirits of wickedness, lest he should grow slack and lose his labour, before he is accepted in the kingdom of heaven, in the Jerusalem which is above.
Let us then beseech God that He would put off from us the old man, and put on us the heavenly Christ, here and now, so that being in gladness, and thus being led by Him, we shall be in great tranquillity. The Lord, who desires to fill us with the taste of the kingdom, says, Without Me ye can do nothing.4
And yet He knew how to enlighten many by means of the apostles. They were but creatures, but they nourished their fellow servants. Thoughts that were dead and corrupted they quickened and restored to life by their good conversation and instruction. It is possible for one creature to nourish and quicken another. The clouds, the rain and the sun, when so commanded, quicken the seeds of wheat or barley, though they are only creatures. Like light which comes in through a window, while the sun sends out his beams upon all the world, so the prophets were the lights of their own house of Israel, and no more; but the apostles were suns, shooting out their beams into all the quarters of the world.
Well, there is an “earth,” on which the beasts dwell; and there is an “earth” in the air, in which the birds walk and live. If the birds wish to stand or walk on land, there are fowlers to catch them. The fishes too have an “earth,” which is the water of the sea. Wherever anything is born, on land or in the air, there it has its existence, its sustenance, and its pleasure. In the same way there is a Satanic “earth” and home, where the powers of darkness and the spirits of wickedness live and walk and take their pleasure; and there is a luminous “earth” of the Godhead, where the camps of angels and of holy spirits walk and take pleasure. That darksome earth cannot be seen with the eyes of this body, nor be felt; neither is the luminous earth of the Godhead felt, or seen by the fleshly eyes. But to those who are spiritual both are discernible to the heart’s eye, that Satanic earth of darkness and the luminous earth of the Godhead.
The fable of those without says that there are mountains, which are fiery, because there is fire in them, and there are there animals like sheep. Those who hunt them make iron wheels, and cast hooks and throw them into the fire, because those animals have fire for their meat, and fire for their drink, their pleasure, their increase, and their life. Fire is everything to them. If you bring them out into another air, they die. When their coats are dirtied, they are not washed in water, but in the fire, and they get cleaner and whiter. Christians in like manner have that heavenly fire for their meat. That is their pleasure. That cleanses, and washes, and sanctifies their heart. That brings them to increase. That is their air and their life. If they go out of it, they are destroyed by the evil spirit, as the animals in the fable die when they leave the fire, as the fish when they leave the waters. As fourfooted beasts cast into the sea are drowned, as birds walking on the ground are taken by the fowlers, so the soul which will not stay in that “earth” is stifled and perishes. If it has not that divine fire for meat and drink and raiment, and cleansing of heart and sanctification of soul, it is taken by the evil spirits and demolished. But as for us, let us enquire in earnest whether we have been sown in that unseen “earth,” and engrafted in the heavenly vine. Glory be to His mercies.