"In verbo veritatis" (2 Cor 6:7)

March 10, 2012

Sloughing off the snake skin

Filed under: Lent 2012 — komonchak @ 8:49 am

The Lord exhorts us to imitate the cleverness of the snake: Be as clever as snakes (Mt 10:16). What does that mean: “clever as snakes”? Offer all your members to one striking you, but protect your head: Christ is the head of the man (1 Cor 11:3). The old man is pressed down by the weight of his skin, the snakeskin of the old man. Listen to the Apostle: Stripping yourselves of the old man, and putting on the new (Col 3:9-10). And how, you ask, do I strip off the old man? Imitate the cleverness of the snake. What does a snake do in order to strip off the old skin? It slithers through a narrow hole. And where, you ask, am I to find this narrow hole? Listen: How narrow is the path that leads to life, and few there are that enter through it (Mt 7:14). You dread that path and don’t want to walk it, because there are few there? But that’s where you have to put the old skin, and it can’t be put anywhere else. If you want to be hindered, weighed down, pressed down, don’t take the narrow path. But if you are weighed down by your old sins, your past life, you can’t pass up that path. Because the corruptible body weighs down the soul (Wis 9:15), we shouldn’t let bodily desires press us down but should slough off the desires of the flesh. And how can they be sloughed off unless you go on that narrow path, unless you are as clever as snakes. (Augustine, EnPs 57[58], 10: PL 36, 681-82)


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