The Letter of St. Jerome To Antony, Monk

Letter XII. To Antony, Monk.

The subject of this letter is similar to that of the preceding. Of Antony nothing is known except that some mss. describe him as “of Æmona.” The date of the letter is 374 A.D.

While the disciples were disputing concerning precedence our Lord, the teacher of humility, took a little child and said: “Except ye be converted and become as little children ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.”158 And lest He should seem to preach more than he practised, He fulfilled His own precept in His life. For He washed His disciples’ feet,159 he received the traitor with a kiss,160 He conversed with the woman of Samaria,161 He spoke of the kingdom of heaven with Mary at His feet,162 and when He rose again from the dead He showed Himself first to some poor women.163 Pride is opposed to humility, and through it Satan lost his eminence as an archangel. The Jewish people perished in their pride, for while they claimed the chief seats and salutations in the market place,164 they were superseded by the Gentiles, who had before been counted as “a drop of a bucket.”165 Two poor fishermen, Peter and James, were sent to confute the sophists and the wise men of the world. As the Scripture says: “God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble.”166 Think, brother, what a sin it must be which has God for its opponent. In the Gospel the Pharisee is rejected because of his pride, and the publican is accepted because of his humility.167

Now, unless I am mistaken, I have already sent you ten letters, affectionate and earnest, whilst you have not deigned to give me even a single line. The Lord speaks to His servants, but you, my brother servant, refuse to speak to me. Believe me, if reserve did not check my pen, I could show my annoyance in such invective that you would have to reply—even though it might be in anger. But since anger is human, and a Christian must not act injuriously, I fall back once more on entreaty, and beg you to love one who loves you, and to write to him as a servant should to his fellow-servant. Farewell in the Lord.

158 Matt. xviii. 3.

159 Joh. xiii. 5.

160 Luke xxii. 47.

161 Joh. iv. 7.

162 Luke vii. 40 sqq.: the heroine of this story is identified by Jerome with Mary Magdalene.

163 Matt. xxviii. 1, 9.

164 Matt. xxiii. 6, 7.

165 Isa. xl. 15.

166 1 Pet. v. 5.

167 Luke xviii. 9 sqq.

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Eusebius Hieronymus (St. Jerome)
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