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mercredi 18 mai 2016

From the Commentary on Ecclesiastes by Saint Jerome, priest (PL 23, 1057-1059) Seek the things that are above



Every man to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot, and to take pleasure in his labor—that man has received a gift from God. For he will not notice the days of his life as they pass because God has filled his heart with joy.Compare him with the man who is anxious about his wealth and is full of vexation as he hoards up possessions that perish. Our text says that it is better to take delight in what you have. The first man at least has some pleasure in what he has, while the second suffers from excessive anxiety. And the reason is that the ability to enjoy riches is a gift from God; he does not count the days of his life, for God allows him to enjoy life; without sadness or anxiety, he is filled with delight of the moment. However, it is better to understand the text with the Apostle as referring to God’s gift of spiritual food and drink; man is to contemplate goodness in his works, for it takes great work and study for us to contemplate true good. And this is our lot: to rejoice in study and work. This is a good goal, but not completely good until Christ is revealed in our lives.

All the work of a man is to satisfy his mouth, yet his spirit will be hungry. For what has a wise man more than a fool, except the knowledge of how to live? All that men work for in this world is consumed by their mouths, chewed up by their teeth, and passed into the stomach for digestion. And even when something delights the taste, the pleasure lasts only as long as he can taste it.

But after all this, the mind of the eater gets no satisfaction, for he will want to eat again, and neither wise man nor fool can live without food, and even a poor man seeks nothing more than to keep his body alive and not die of starvation. Or again, it may be because the spirit gains nothing useful from feeding the body. Food is common to the wise and the foolish alike, and for the poor man food is wealth.

However, it is better to understand the text as referring to the man in Ecclesiastes, who is learned in the sacred Scripture, and knows that neither mouth nor spirit is satisfied so long as he still desires learning. In this the wise man has advantage over the fool. For if he knows himself to be poor (and the poor are called blessed in the Gospel), he strives to understand the important things in life, and he walks the straight and narrow way which leads to life. He is poor in wickedness, and he knows where Christ, who is our life, is to be found.