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From No Uncertain Sound, Sermons that Shaped the Pulpit Tradition, Edited, with an Introduction, by Ray C. Petry, Professor of Church History, Duke University, Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1948; pp. 168-171.

(d. c. 1156)


GUARRIC, greatly overshadowed by better-known contemporaries, is placed here to show his unexpectedly sensitive and flexible Biblical responsiveness and to serve as a needed reminder that good preaching of a character equal or superior to that of more sensational sermonizers was not infrequently to be encountered from relatively obscure quarters. Little is known of him beyond his friendship for Bernard of Clairvaux, and his abbatial preferment. MPL 185:127-30. The translation of Ne.Mpp. 147-51 is from Bib.Max. 29:210.



(Sermon I. On Palm Sunday)

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Phil. 2:5). Hear this, thou wicked and fugitive servant! I mean thee, O man, who, when thou wast in a servile nature and condition, and under the necessity of serving, didst refuse obedience, and endeavour to snatch at liberty, and at an equality with thy Lord. Christ, when He was in the form of God, equal, not by robbery, but by nature, as being Co-omnipotent, Co-eternal, and Consubstantial, emptying Himself of His glory, not only took the form of a servant, and was found in the likeness of man but accomplished the ministry of a servant, humbling Himself, and becoming obedient to death, even the death of the Cross (Phil. 2:7-8). But it may seem little that, Son and Co-equal though He were, He obeyed the Father as a Servant: for He obeyed His own servant as if He Himself were more than a slave. Man was made for this purpose, — that he might serve his Creator. And what more just than thou shouldst serve Him by Whom thou wast created — without Whom thou couldst not even exist? And what more blessed or more sublime than to serve Him, Whom to serve is to reign?

“I will not serve the Creator,” says man. “Then I,” saith the Creator, “will serve thee, O man. Do thou sit down at the banquet; I will minister to thee, and I will wash thy feet. Do thou rest; I will bear thy sicknesses — I will carry thine infirmities. . . . If thou art wearied or heavy laden, I will carry thee and thy burden, that I may be the first to fulfil My own law: bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). If thou art an hungered or athirst, and hast nothing at hand . . . behold, I myself am ready to be sacrificed, that thou mayest eat My Flesh and drink My Blood. And fear not that, from the death of thy servant, thou wilt suffer the loss of his service: after thou hast fed upon Me, I shall remain whole and alive, and I will serve thee as I did before. If thou art led into captivity, or sold, sell Me, and ransom thyself by My price, or rather, by Myself, as thy Price. . . . If I am bought by the avaricious Priests of the Jews, I am at least valued at thirty pieces of silver; by this My price a field may be bought to bury strangers in; by Me, as their Price, those that are buried shall have life. If thou art sick, and 170 fearest to die, I will die for thee, that from My Blood thou mayest compose the medicines of life.”

Well done, Thou good and faithful Servant (Matt. 25:21)! Thou hast truly served. Thou hast served in all faith and truth. Thou hast served in all patience and long-suffering. Not after a lukewarm sort, Who didst rejoice as a giant to run the course of obedience; not in a feigned manner, Who, after so many and so great labours didst expend thy life over and above all; not murmuringly, Who when Thou wast scourged, though innocent, didst not even open Thy Mouth. For it is written — and it is just — that servant who knew his Lord’s will, and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes (Luke 12:47). But this Servant, I pray you, what did He not that was wanting? What ought He to have done, that He did not. They who were witnesses of His deeds, said, He hath done all things well; He maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak (Mark 7:37). He did all things worthy: and how, then, did He suffer all things that were unworthy? He gave his back to the smiters (Isa. 50:6), and suffered neither few nor light stripes: let the proof be, the rivers of blood which flow forth from so many parts of His Body. He was interrogated with contumely and torment, as a slave or a thief subjected to the torture, that they might bring forth a confession of His crime.

O the detestable pride of man, who scorns to serve! which could be humbled by no other example save the slavery — and such slavery — of his Lord! And would that even so it could be humbled; would that even now it could feel and express thankfulness to such humility and goodness! But, as it seems to me, I still hear the same Lord complaining, in Isaiah, of the ingratitude of the wicked servant, when He saith, I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, nor wearied thee with incense; but thou hast made Me to serve with thy sins; thou has wearied Me with thine iniquities (Isa. 43:23, 24). And what weariness! Even to exhaustion, hunger, and thirst; yes, and even to sweat, and that a sweat of blood, running down upon the ground; yes, and even to death, and that the death of the Cross! — not to set forth everything, — how He was struck with the palm of the hand; defiled with spitting; crowned with thorns; fastened with nails; pierced with the lance; given to drink of vinegar and gall.

This wine-press, saith He, I have trodden alone; and of the people there was none with Me (Isa. 63:3). Ye, therefore, who stand 171 all the day idle, behold and see if there be any labour like My labour (cf. Matt. 20:6). Truly, Thou hast laboured, O my Lord, in serving me: it were only just and right that at least from henceforth Thou shouldest rest, and that Thy servant — were it only because it is his turn — should serve Thee. At how great a price, O my Lord, hast Thou redeemed to thyself my useless service, Who standest not even in need of the ministries of the angels! By how sweet and kind an act of love hast Thou recovered to Thyself and subdued Thy contumacious servant, — conquering the evil by good; confounding the proud by humility; overwhelming the ungrateful by benefits!

So it is — so it is that Wisdom conquers Malice. So Thou hast heaped coals of fire upon the head of obstinate man, that by them he might be inflamed to penitence. Thou hast conquered, therefore, O Lord, Thou hast conquered the rebel! Lo! I yield myself to Thy fetters, and I put my neck under Thy yoke. Deign only that I may serve Thee; suffer that I labour for Thee. Receive me as Thy servant for ever, albeit a useless servant, unless now also thy Grace be with me and labour with me, always preventing and following. It prevents us, showing first examples of humility and patience: let it follow us and help us, that we may imitate what it has shown!

Happy we, my brethren, if concerning this we hear the counsel of the Apostle, Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. That is, that none be lifted up above himself, but rather be humbled below himself. He that is greatest, let him serve others; if a man be injured, let him be the first to give satisfaction; let every one in common be obedient even unto death. By these steps, brethren, let us follow Christ in the form of a servant, and we shall attain to the beholding Him in the form of God: in which He liveth and reigneth, through all ages of ages. Amen.


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