Homilies on Genesis and Exodus

By Origen; Ronald E. Heine | Go to book overview

HOMILY I

I THINK EACH WORD OF DIVINE SCRIPTURE is like a seed whose nature is to multiply diffusely, reborn into an ear of corn or whatever its species be, when it has been cast into the earth. Its increase is proportionate to the diligent labor of the skillful farmer or the fertility of the earth.1 So, therefore, it is brought to pass that, by diligent cultivation, a little "mustard seed," for example, "which is least of all, may be made greater than all herbs and become a tree so that the birds of heaven come and dwell in its branches."2 So it is also with this word which now has been read to us from the divine books. Although when first approached it seems small and insignificant, if it find a skillful and diligent farmer, as it begins to be cultivated and handled with spiritual skill, it grows into a tree and puts forth branches and foliage. "The debaters and orators of this world" can come to it.3 Like "birds of heaven" on light wings pursuing lofty and difficult thoughts with a pompous array of words alone, and captives to arguments, they wish "to dwell in those branches"4 in which there is no eloquent language but a rule for living.

What then shall we do about these things which have been read to us? If the Lord deign to grant me the discipline of spiritual agriculture, if he grant the skill of cultivating a field, one word from these which have been read could be scattered far and wide to such an extent that--if your capacity to listen would permit--scarcely would a day suffice for us to treat it. We shall attempt, nevertheless, as we are able, to discuss some things even if it is not possible for us to treat everything nor for

____________________
1
Cf. Origen Phil. 10.2 ( Hom. Jer.39); Clement Paed. 1.11.
2
Mt 13.31-32.
3
1 Cor 1.20; Cf. Dio Chrysostom 12.1-5.
4
Mt 13.32.

-227-

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