That heavenly fire of the Godhead which Christians receive interiorly in their
hearts now in this life, that same fire which now interiorly directs their
hearts, bursts forth upon the dissolution of the body. It again pulls together
the members of the body and brings about a resurrection of the dismembered body.
For just as the fire which ministered on the altar of Jerusalem in the time of
the captivity was buried in a hole, and that same fire, when peace came and the
captives returned to their homeland, was, as it were, renewed and again
functioned as it did before, so too the heavenly fire refashions and renews this
familiar body, which after its dissolution turns to dust and raises up the
decayed bodies. For that interior fire, inhabiting our hearts, emerges then and
brings about the resurrection of the bodies.
In the time of Nabuchodonosor the fire that powerfully burned in the furnace was
not divine but was a creature. But those three youths, because of their
righteousness, while they were in the visible fire, had in their hearts the
divine and heavenly fire which ministered within their thoughts and worked
powerfully in the youths. That same fire appeared outside them. For it stood in
their midst and prevented the visible fire from burning or injuring any part of
the three just ones. Similarly also in the times of the Israelites when their
minds and thoughts were bent on turning away from the living God and were turned
toward idolatry, Aaron was forced to tell them to bring together their golden
and ornamented vessels. After a while the gold and the vessels which they cast
into the fire were transformed into an idol. The fire, as it were, fashioned an
image of their intention.
is worthy of our serious attention. According to their secret intention and in
their thoughts, they wanted to practice idolatry, so the fire in a similar way
converted the vessels that had been cast upon it into an idol. And then they
openly worshiped the idols. But just as the three young men, bent on doing
righteous deeds, received within themselves the fire of God and adored the Lord
in truth, so also now faithful souls receive in an interior way that divine and
heavenly fire in this present life, and that fire fashions a heavenly image upon
their human nature.
As the fire fashioned the golden vessels and they were made into an idol, so too
the Lord, who fashions the intentions of faithful and good persons and even now
forms an image in the soul which will be manifested exteriorly in the
resurrection, glorifies their bodies interiorly and exteriorly. Indeed, just as
the bodies of certain persons at that time of death decay, so also their
thoughts are corrupted by Satan and are dead to any life. They are buried in
earthly mud. For their soul has perished. For just as the Israelites threw the
golden vessels into the fire and they became an idol, so now such a person has
surrendered his pure and good thoughts to evil and they have become buried in
the mud of sin and have become an idol.
how can anyone discover them, discern and lead them out of one’s own fire?
Here the soul has need of a divine lamp, namely, the Holy Spirit, who puts in
order and beautifies the darkened house. The soul needs the shining Sun of
justice which illumines and shines upon the heart. It also has need of weapons
by which it can conquer in war.
For in that place where the widow had lost the drachma (Luke 15:8), she first
lit a lamp, then swept the house. And thus, she found the drachma, once the
house was swept and the lamp lit. It was found covered with dirt and impurity
and earth. Truly the soul is incapable by itself of studying its own thoughts
and discerning them. But with the divine lamp lit, the light dispels the
darkness from the house. Then a person sees his own thoughts, how they have been
covered by impurity and the mud of sin. The sun rises and then the soul sees its
loss and begins to call out the thoughts that had been so mixed with dirt and
squalor. For the soul had lost its image when it had transgressed the
Take the example of a king who has goods and servants under him ministering to
him. However, it happens that he is taken captive by enemies. When he is
captured and led out of his country, his servants and ministers must want to
follow after him. So also Adam was created pure by God for his service. All
these creatures were given to him to serve him. He was destined to be the lord
and king of all creatures. But when the evil word came to him and conversed with
him, he first received it through an external hearing. Then it penetrated into
his heart and took charge of his whole being. When he was thus captured,
creation, which ministered and served him, was captured with him. Through him
death gained power over every soul and completely destroyed the image of Adam
because of his disobedience so that as a result men were sidetracked and fell to
the fruits of the earth, created good by God, are now offered to the demons.
Bread, wine, and oil are offered on their altars along with animals. But not
only these things, but they sacrifice even their sons and daughters to the
demons (Psalm 136–37).
Then, at this time, he who fashioned the body and soul comes and undoes all the
cunning of the wicked devil and all that he has wrought in the thoughts of men.
He renews and forms a heavenly image and recreates the soul anew so that Adam
again may be king over death and lord over all creatures. In the shadow of the
law Moses was called the savior of Israel, for he led the Israelites out of
Egypt. So also now the true Redeemer, Christ, enters into the depths of the soul
and leads it out of dark Egypt with its burdensome yoke and bitter slavery. He
commands us to leave the world and take on poverty and to give up all tangible
possessions. We are to have no earthly care, but night and day we are to stand
at the door waiting for the time when the Lord will open the closed hearts and
pour into us the gift of the Holy Spirit.
He commanded us, therefore, to give up gold, silver, and relatives. We are to
sell all our goods and distribute them to the poor (Matthew 19:20). Our treasure
is to be sought in Heaven: “For where your treasure is, there also is your
heart” (Matthew 6:21). For the Lord knew that in this matter Satan gains the
upper hand over thoughts in order to turn them toward anxieties about material,
this reason God, in his concern for your soul, ordered you to renounce all
things so that, even if you would be unwilling, you would still seek after
heavenly riches and center your heart on God. For even if you should wish to go
back to creatures, you would not find any tangible possessions around you.
Whether you wish it or not, you are forced to raise your mind to Heaven where
you have put your whole treasure: “For where your treasure is, there also is
In the law God commanded Moses to fashion a bronze serpent and to lift it up
high and place it on the top of a pole (Numbers 21:8). Whoever would be bitten
by serpents, they would be healed. This was done as a part of God’s salvific
economy whereby all those who were bound to Satan by earthly cares and idolatry
and passions and all sorts of ungodliness might in this way at least look up to
some degree to the things above. They might breathe, freed from the things
below, and attend to more transcendent things from above. They might pass from
these things to what is the highest and so, advancing little by little to the
more sublime and superior type, they might come to know that there is the One,
Most High, supreme over all creatures.
also God ordered you to become poor and to sell all to give to the poor so that
thereafter, even if you would wish again to crawl on the earth, you could not.
Searching, therefore, in your heart, begin to dialogue with your thoughts:
“Since we possess nothing on earth, let us pass over to Heaven where we have
our treasure and where we do all our business.” Your mind begins to rise above
to sublime things and to seek the higher things and in doing so you make
But what is the meaning of that dead serpent that was fixed on top of the pole
and healed those that had been bitten? The dead serpent conquered over the
living serpents, as a type of the body of the Lord. The body which he took from
Mary he raised it up on the cross. He hung it and fastened it to the tree. And
so the dead body conquered and slew the serpent, living and creeping in the
hearts of men. Here is an amazing miracle! How the dead serpent slew the living
serpent! But just as Moses made a new thing when he fashioned a likeness of a
living serpent, so also the Lord created a new thing from Mary and put this on.
He did not, however, assume a body brought from Heaven. The heavenly Spirit
touched humanity and brought it to divinity. He took up human flesh and
fashioned it in the womb. As, therefore, there never was a bronze serpent
commanded by God to be fashioned in the world until the time of Moses, so a new
and sinless body never appeared in the world until the time of the Lord. For
ever since the first Adam transgressed the commandment of God, death reigned
over all of his children. Thus a dead body overcame the live serpent.
And this marvelous event is to the Jews, indeed, a stumbling block and to Greeks
foolishness. For what does the Apostle say? “But we preach Jesus Christ
crucified; to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but, to
us who are saved, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1
Corinthians 1:24). In the dead body there is life. Here is redemption, here is
light. Here the Lord comes to death and argues with death. He orders that death
release, from hell and death, the souls and give them back to him.
death is shaken by these words and approaches his servants and gathers together
into a group all his powers and princes of evil. And the prince of evil bears
forth the signed documents of indentured slaves and declares: “Look, these
people have obeyed my word! See how they, mortal men, have bowed down in
adoration to us!” But God, who is a just judge, shows then his justice and
says to him: “Adam obeyed you and you did then through him capture all hearts.
Humanity obeyed you. But my body, what is it doing here? It is sinless. That
body of the first Adam was in bondage to you and you legally held the writ of
indenture. But all bear witness to me that I have not sinned. I owe you nothing.
And that I am the Son of God all universally bear witness. “For from above out
of the heavens there came upon earth a voice bearing testimony: ‘This is my
beloved Son; hear him’ (Matthew 3:17). John gives witness: ‘Behold, the Lamb
of God, that takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29).
again Scripture says: ‘He who sinned not, nor was there any guile found in
him’ (1 Peter 2:22). And again: ‘The prince of this world comes and in me
finds nothing’ (John 14:30). And, moreover, you yourself, Satan, witness to me
in saying: ‘I know you, that you are the Son of God’ (Mark 1:24). And again:
‘What do we have to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come here to
torment us before the time?’ (Matthew 8:29). There are, therefore, three who
bear witness to me: he that sends down from the heavens a voice; and those who
are on earth; and you yourself. I, therefore, bought back the body that was sold
to you by the first Adam. I tore up the contract that enslaved mankind to you.
Indeed, I satisfied Adam’s debts when I was crucified and I descended into
hell. And I command you, O Hell, O Darkness, O Death, release the imprisoned
souls of the children of Adam.” And so, at last, the wicked powers, struck
with fear, restore the imprisoned children of Adam.
Really, when you hear that at that time the Lord freed the souls from hell and
the regions of darkness and that he descended into hell and did an amazing work,
do not think that this does not have any personal meaning for you. Man, indeed,
can readily accept the evil one. Death has its grip on the children of Adam and
their thoughts are imprisoned in darkness. And when you hear mention made of
tombs, do not at once think only of visible ones. For your heart is a tomb and a
the prince of evil and his angels have built their nest there and have built
roads and highways on which the powers of Satan walk about inside your mind and
in your thoughts, then, really, are you not a hell and a sepulcher and a tomb
dead to God? For there it was that Satan stamped out counterfeit coins of
silver. In such a soul he sowed bitter seeds. He leavened it with old leaven.
There is where a murky, muddy fountain flows. But the Lord descends into the
souls of those who seek him. He goes into the depths of the hellish heart and
there he commands death, saying: “Release those captive souls that seek after
me, those that you hold by force in bondage.” He breaks through the heavy
stones that cover the soul. He opens the tombs. He truly raises to life the dead
person and leads that captive soul forth out of the dark prison.
Take the example of a man bound with chains, hand and foot, and someone comes to
remove his shackles and to set him free so he may walk unencumbered. In a
similar way the Lord removes the chains of death strangling the soul and he
releases it and sets the mind free so that it may amble without disturbance, but
in tranquility before God. It is similar to a man in the middle of a raging
river, covered by water. He lies lifeless, drowning in the midst of horrible,
dreadful monsters. If a man who does not know how to swim wishes to save the
drowning person, he likewise will perish and be drowned. Certainly, what is
needed is an expert swimmer to dive into the deep water, swim out, and save him
who was drowning with wild monsters all around him. The very water itself, in
the case of an expert swimmer, aids such a one and holds him up on the surface
of the water. In a similar way, man has been plunged into the abyss of darkness
and the depths of death. He is suffocating and has lost God’s life within
himself, surrounded by ferocious beasts. Who is able to penetrate into those
depths of hell and death except that very Workman himself, who fashioned the
human body? He himself penetrates into two parts, namely, the depths of hell and
the deepest region of the human heart where the soul with all its thoughts is
held captive by death. And he leads out of the dark depths the dead Adam. Even
death itself through training is a help to man, like water to the swimmer.
But what is so difficult for God to enter into death and into the depths of the
human heart and there call the dead Adam forth to life? In our present world
around us there are houses and mansions where human beings dwell. There are also
places where wild animals, lions, dragons, and other poisonous beasts dwell. If,
then, the sun, which is a mere creature, can equally enter through windows or
doors into the dens of lions as well as the pits of reptiles and yet it comes
out without being harmed, how much more God, the Lord of all, can enter into
holes and dwelling-places where death is found and can enter also into human
souls and there snatch Adam without receiving any injury. The rain also falls
from the heavens and penetrates all the parts of the earth where it moistens and
renews the dried roots and gives them new life.
A certain person may enter into conflict and war with Satan and endure
affliction. He has a contrite heart. He holds himself in serious concern,
sorrow, and tears. Such a person lives in a double tension. Thus he perseveres
resolutely in such pursuits and the Lord is present to him in battle and keeps
him steady, because he ardently seeks him and knocks at the door until he opens
it for him. If you see him as a brother, strong in battle, it is because grace
sustains him. But a person who lacks such a foundation has no great fear of God.
He lacks a contrite heart, has no fear, and does not discipline himself and his
members against any inordinate spirit. Such a one still possesses a worldly
attitude. He has not yet entered into the battle. Therefore, the first one has
really entered into a war and afflictions, while the second one is still quite
ignorant of what it means to fight as a soldier. Even the seeds cast into the
earth have to undergo afflictions from frost, winter, and cold temperature, but
finally in due season new life springs forth.
It sometimes happens that Satan carries on a dialogue within your heart, such
as: “See what great evils you have committed; see how your soul is full of so
many follies. See how you are weighed down by sins so that you can hardly expect
to be saved.” These things he does to lead you to despair, thinking that your
repentance has not been acceptable. For since evil through transgression entered
into man’s heart, afterward evil argues day and night with the soul, as a man
to a man. But you answer him in this way: “I have the Lord’s testimonies in
Scripture: ‘I do not wish the death of sinners but their repentance so that
the sinner himself may turn from his wicked way and live’” (Ezekiel 33:11).
this reason the Lord descended so that he might save sinners, raise up the dead,
and bring new life to those wounded by death and to enlighten those who lay in
darkness. The Lord truly came and called us to be God’s adopted sons, to enter
into a holy city, ever at peace, to possess a life that will endure forever, to
share an incorruptible glory. Let us singly strive to come to a good end after a
good beginning. Let us persevere in poverty, in our pilgrimage, living in
affliction and petitions to God without any shame as we continuously knock at
near as the body is to the soul in intimate interrelationship, so much nearer is
God who is present to come and open the locked doors of our heart and to fill us
with heavenly riches. He is, indeed, good and he loves mankind. His promises
cannot deceive, provided we only persevere to the end, zealously seeking him.
Glory be to the compassionate mercies of the Father and the Son and the Holy
Spirit forever. Amen.