A sermon for forming the heart of a sinner and on the property of a tile – By St. Anthony of Padua

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. [Gen 1.1]

The Holy Spirit says to Ezekiel, that is, to the preacher: And thou, O son of man, take thee a tile, and draw upon it the plan of the city of Jerusalem. [Ezek 4.11]

A tile represents the heart of a sinner because of four characteristics which it has: it is moulded between two boards, it is flattened out, it is hardened by fire, and it is made red.

The heart of a sinner should be moulded between the two boards of the Old and New Testaments; for as the Psalmist says: Between the midst of the hills the waters shall pass, [Ps 103.101] meaning that the waters of doctrine flow from the two Testaments.

The word ‘moulded’ is appropriate, because the sinner who has become mis-shapen by sin receives a new shape from the preaching of the two Testaments.

Again, the heart is in a certain sense flattened out. The breadth of charity widens the narrow heart of the sinner. We may recall the words: Thy commandment is exceeding broad, [Ps 118.96] and “Charity is wider than the ocean.”

Then again it is made hard by fire, for the fickle and unstable mind is hardened by the fire of tribulation, lest it run away in the love of temporal things. Solomon says that what a furnace does to gold, what a file does to iron, what a flail does to grain: that tribulation does to the just man [cf. Wisd 3.6].

Finally, it is made red; by which is indicated the boldness of holy zeal, of which it is said: The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up, [Ps 68.10] and: With zeal I have been zealous for the house of Israel. [1 Kg 19.10]

The house represents the Church or the faithful soul.

So there are these four things to be learnt from the tile:

  1. the knowledge of each Testament for the instruction of one’s neighbour;
  2. an abundance of charity to love him;
  3. patience in tribulation to suffer insults for Christ;
  4. steadfast zeal to bear every evil.

So, take thee a tile and draw on it the City of Jerusalem.

[Source: THE SERMONS OF SAINT ANTONY OF PADUA , Translated into English by Paul Spilsbury from the Critical Latin Edition of the Centro Studi Antoniani, Padova, Italia (1979)

Copyright: Copyright in this translation belongs to the author, Revd. Dr. S.R.P.Spilsbury, 10 Woodside Grove, Henbury, Bristol, BS10 7RF. (paul.spilsbury@tinyonline.co.uk)]

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