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Detail from Jan Mostaert, Christ, Man of Sorrows

Christ the Physician

Augustine of Hippo

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On the words of the Gospel, Matthew 20:30, about the two blind men sitting by the wayside crying out, “Lord, have mercy on us, thou Son of David.”

You know that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the physician of our eternal health, and that to this end he took the weakness of our nature, that our weakness might not last forever. For he assumed a mortal body, wherein to kill death. And though he was crucified through weakness, as the apostle says, yet he lives by the power of God. They are the words too of the same apostle: “He dies no more, and death shall have no more dominion over him.”

These things, I say, are well known to your faith. And there is also this which follows from it: that we should know that all the miracles which he did on the body avail to our instruction, that we may from them perceive that which is not to pass away, nor to have any end. He restored to the blind those eyes which death was sure sometime to close; he raised Lazarus to life who was to die again. And whatever he did for the health of bodies, he did it not that they should be forever; whereas at the last he will give eternal health even to the body itself. But because those things which were not seen, were not believed; by means of these temporal things which were seen, he built up faith in those things which were not seen.

These things, then, the Lord did to invite us to the faith. This faith reigns now in the church, which is spread throughout the whole world. And now he works greater cures, on account of which he did not disdain to exhibit those lesser ones.

The physician gave us precepts when we were whole, that we might not need a physician. They that are whole, he says, need not a physician, but they that are sick. When whole we despised these precepts, and by experience have felt how to our own destruction we despised his precepts. Now we are sick, we are in distress, we are on the bed of weakness, yet let us not despair. For because we could not come to the physician, he has vouchsafed to come to us himself.

Come. His house is not too narrow for you; the kingdom of God is possessed equally by all and wholly by each one; it is not diminished by the increasing number of those who possess it, because it is not divided. And that which is possessed by many with one heart is whole and entire for each one.


Source: Augustine of Hippo, “Sermon 38 on the New Testament,” Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 6, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. R. G. MacMullen (T & T Clark, 1980).

Image from Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

Jan Mostaert, Christ, Man of Sorrows

Jan Mostaert, Christ, Man of Sorrows View Full Painting

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