193 CAPUT V.











Chapter X.

St. Ambrose returns again to the subject of Christ, speaking of His goodness in all misery. The various ways in which the good Physician treats our diseases, and the quickness of the healing if only we do not neglect to call upon Him. He touches upon the moral meaning of the will, which he shows was manifested in Peter’s mother-in-law, and lastly points out what a minister of Christ and specially a bishop ought to be, and says that they specially must rise through grace.

60. But let us return to the point, and not, while we are grieving over the wounds of our sins, leave the physician, and whilst ministering to the sores of others, let our own go on increasing. The Physician is then here asked for. Do not fear, because the Lord is great, that perhaps He will not condescend to come to one who is sick, for He often comes to us from heaven; and is wont to visit not only the rich but also the poor and the servants of the poor.65    S. Luke iv. 18. And so now He comes, when called upon, to Peter’s mother-in-law. “And He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.”66    S. Luke iv. 38. As He is worthy of being remembered, so, too, is He worthy of being longed for, worthy, too, of love, for His condescension to every single matter which affects men, and His marvellous acts. He disdains not to visit widows, and to enter the narrow rooms of a poor cottage. As God He commands, as man He visits.

61. Thanks be to the Gospel, by means of which we also, who saw not Christ when He came into this world, seem to be with Him when we read His deeds, that as they, to whom He drew near, borrowed faith from Him, so may He, when we believe His deeds, draw near to us.

62. Do you see what kinds of healing are with Him? He commands the fever, He commands the unclean spirits, at another place He lays hands on them. He was wont then to heal the sick, not only by word but also by touch. And do you then, who burn with many desires, taken either by the beauty or by the fortune of some one, implore Christ, call in the Physician, stretch forth your right hand to Him, let the hand of God touch your inmost being, and the grace of the heavenly Word enter the veins of your inward desires, let God’s right hand strike the secrets of your heart. He spreads clay on the eyes of some that they may see,67    S. John ix. 6. and the Creator of all teaches us that we ought to be mindful of our own nature, and to discern the vileness of our body; for no one can see divine things except one who through knowledge of his vileness cannot be puffed up. Another is bidden to show himself to the priest, that he may for ever be free from the scales of leprosy.68    S. Luke v. 14. For he alone can preserve his purity, both of body and soul, who knows how to show himself to that priest, Whom we have received as an Advocate for our sins, and to Whom is plainly said: “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedech.”69    Ps. cx. [cix.] 4.

63. And be not afraid that there will be any delay in healing. He who is healed by Christ has no hindrances. You must use the remedy which you have received; and as soon as He has given the command, the blind man sees, the paralytic walks, the dumb speaks, the deaf hears, she that has a fever ministers, the lunatic is delivered. And do you, then, who ever after an unseemly fashion languish for desire of anything, entreat the Lord, show Him your faith, and fear no delay. Where there is prayer, the Word is present, desire is put to flight, lust departs. And be not afraid of offending by confession, take it rather as a right, for you who were before afflicted by an intense disease of the body will begin to minister to Christ.

64. And in this place can be seen the disposition of the will of Peter’s mother-in-law, from which she received for herself, as it were, the seed corn of what was to come, for to each his will is the cause of that which is to come. For from the will springs wisdom, which the wise man takes in marriage to himself, saying: “I desire to make her my spouse.”70    Wisd. viii. 2. This will, then, which at first was weak and languid under the fever of various desires, afterwards by the office of the apostles rose up strong to minister unto Christ.

65. At the same time it is also shown what he ought to be who ministers to Christ, for first he must be free from the enticements of various pleasures, he must be free from inward languor of body and soul, that he may minister the Body and Blood of Christ. For no one who is sick with his own sins, and far from being whole, can minister the remedies of the healing of immortality. See what thou doest, O priest, and touch not the Body of Christ with a fevered hand. First be healed that thou mayest be able to minister. If Christ bids those who are now cleansed, but were once leprous, to show themselves to the priests,71    S. Luke xvii. 14. how much more is it fitting for the priest himself to be pure. That widow, then, cannot take it ill that I have not spared her, since I spare not myself.

66. Peter’s mother-in-law, it is written, rose up and ministered to them. Well is it said, rose up, for the grace of the apostleship was already furnishing a type of the sacrament. It is proper to the ministers of Christ to rise, according to that which is written: “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead.”72    Eph. v. 14.


Ad Christum redit cujus summam in adeundis miseris quibuslibet benignitatem laudans, eam oculis nostris Evangelii beneficio subjectam dicit. Sub haec varias, quibus in curando idem medicus noster usus noscitur, rationes narrat: deinde curationis praedicat celeritatem, dummodo invocare medicum non negligamus: istis subnectit moralem de voluntate quam in socru Petri expressam docet, acceptionem: postremo ubi exposuit qualem Christi ministrum, maxime vero episcopum esse deceat, ipsorum ait esse 0252C proprium per gratiam surgere.

60. Sed ad propositum revertamur, neque nostrorum dolentes vulnera peccatorum, medicum relinquamus: et dum alienis medemur ulceribus, ulcera nostra cumulemus. Rogatur ergo hic medicus. Ne timeas, quia magnus est Dominus, et fortasse ad aegram dedignetur venire; venit enim ad nos saepe de coelo: nec solum divites, sed etiam pauperes solet et servulos pauperum visitare. Venit et nunc rogatus ad Petri socrum, et stans super illam, 202 imperavit febri, et remisit illam: et continuo surgens ministrabat illis (Luc. IV, 39). Sicut dignus memoria, ita dignus desiderio, dignus etiam charitate Dominicae in singulos, dignationis affectus, et facta 0252D miranda. Visitare viduas non dedignatur, et tugurii vilis penetralia angusta succedere. Quasi Deus imperat, quasi homo visitat.

61. Gratias Evangelio per quod etiam nos qui oculis nostris venientem in hunc mundum non vidimus 0253A Christum, videmur ei, dum facta ejus legimus, interesse; ut sicut illi quibus appropinquabat, fidem mutuabantur ex eo; ita nobis, dum gestis ejus credimus, appropinquet.

62. Vides qualia habet genera sanitatum? Imperat febri, imperat spiritibus immundis, alibi ipse manus imponit. Non solum igitur verbo, sed etiam tactu aegros curare consuevit. Et tu igitur quae variis mundi aestuas cupiditatibus, vel forma viri alicujus capta, vel pecunia, roga Christum, adhibe medicum, porrige ei dexteram tuam, tangat interiora tua Dei manus, Verbique coelestis gratia interiorum venas scrutetur animorum, pulset Dei dextera secreta cordis. Aliis oculos luto illinit (Joan. IX, 6, 7), ut videre possint, Creatorque omnium docet 0253B nos nostrae memores debere esse naturae, et corporis cernere vilitatem; nemo enim magis potest videre divina, nisi qui humilitatis conscientia suae nescit attolli. Alius sacerdoti se offerre praecipitur, ut carere in perpetuum leprae possit exuviis (Luc. V, 14). Solus enim mentis et animi potest servare munditiam, qui ei sacerdoti se novit offerre, quem pro peccatis nostris accepimus advocatum, illum utique cui dicitur: Tu es sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech (Psal. CIX, 4).

63. Nec vereare moram aliquam sanitatis. Nescit impedimentum qui sanatur a Christo. Opus est ut remedium adhibeas, quod acceperis; simul enim ut praeceptum dederit, caecus videt, paralyticus ambulat, mutus loquitur, surdus audit, febriens ministrat, 0253C lunaticus liberatur. Et tu igitur quaecumque indecore alicujus rei cupiditate languescis, obsecra Dominum, fidem defer, nec ullam timeas moram. Ubi adest oratio, adest Verbum, fugatur cupiditas, libido discedit. Nec confessionis verearis offensam; immo magis praesume praerogativam: incontinenti enim quae corporis morbo antea laborabas, Christo incipies ministrare.

64. Potest etiam hoc loco videri Petri socrus affectio voluntatis, ex qua sibi velut semen futurae posteritatis assumpserat; quod unicuique voluntas sua posteritatis est auctor. Ex voluntate enim sapientia nascitur, quam sapiens in matrimonium adsciscit sibi, dicens: Proposui ego hanc adducere mihi in conjugium (Sap. VIII, 2). Ergo voluntas illa quae 0253D primo variarum cupiditatum aestibus madefacta languebat, postea per apostolatus officium in ministerium Christi jam robusta surrexit.

0254A 203 65. Simul qualis esse debeat qui Christo ministrat, ostenditur; oportet enim primo carere variarum illecebris voluptatum, vitare internum corporis animique languorem, ut corpus et sanguinem Christi ministret. Neque enim potest quisquam peccatis suis aeger, minimeque sanus, immortalium sanitatum remedia ministrare. Vide quid agas, sacerdos, nec febrienti manu corpus Christi attingas. Prius curare, ut ministrare possis. Si mundos eos qui ante fuerant leprosi, Christus jubet occurrere sacerdotibus (Luc. XVII, 14), quanto magis mundum ipsum convenit esse sacerdotem! Non habet igitur quod moleste ferat illa vidua quod sibi non pepercerim, quando nec mihi parco.

66. Surrexit itaque Petri, inquit, socrus, et ministrabat 0254B illis (Luc. IV, 39). Et bene surrexit; sacramenti enim typum apostolica jam gratia ministrabat. Proprium est autem surgere Christi ministros, juxta quod scriptum est: Surge, qui dormis, et exsurge a mortuis (Ephes. V, 14).