Thought of the day
Sunday, December 13, 2015

Third Sunday of Advent - Year C

« His winnowing fan is in his hand »

Commentary of the day 
Origen (c.185-253), priest and theologian 
Homilies on Saint Luke’s Gospel, 26, 3-5; SC 87 (©Friends of Henry Ashworth alt.)
« His winnowing fan is in his hand »

The baptism that Jesus gives is a baptism “in the Holy Spirit and in fire” If you are holy, you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit; if you are a sinner, you will be immersed in fire. The same baptism will become condemnation and fire to unworthy sinners, but the saints, those who convert to the Lord with wholehearted faith, will receive the grace of the Holy Spirit and salvation. 

He who is portrayed as baptizing in the Holy Spirit and in fire holds a winnowing fan in his hand, which he will use to clear his threshing floor. The wheat he will gather into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with fire that can never be quenched. I should like to discover our Lord's reason for holding a winnowing fan and to inquire into the nature of the wind that scatters the light chaff here and there, leaving the heavier grain lying in a heap—for you must have a wind it you want to separate wheat and chaff. 

I suggest that the faithful are like a heap of unsifted grain, and that the wind represents the temptations which assail them and show up the wheat and the chaff among them. When your soul is overcome by some temptation, it is not the temptation that turns you into chaff. No, you were chaff already, that is to say fickle and faithless; the temptation simply discloses the stuff you are made of. On the other hand, when you endure temptations bravely it is not the temptation that makes you faithful and patient; temptation merely brings to light the hidden virtues of patience and fortitude that have been present in you all along. “I humbled you and made you feel the pangs of hunger in order to find out what was in your heart” (Dt 8,2).