Wishing to lead his disciples to perfect faith, the Lord said in the Gospel: "Whoever is unbelieving in a small matter will be unbelieving also when it comes to something important; and whoever believes in a small matter will believe also when it comes to something important." What are the small matters, and what the important ones?
The small matters are things offered by this world, which the Lord has promised to provide for those who believe in him—things such as food, clothing, and whatever else is necessary for the body's well-being, health, and the like. About these he commanded us not to have the slightest anxiety but confidently to trust him, for he will supply all the needs of those who make him their refuge.
On the other hand, the important matters are the gifts pertaining to the eternal and incorruptible world, which he has promised to provide for those who believe in him, and who are ceaselessly concerned about these things and ask him for them as he commanded.
The Lord said: "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be yours as well." Thus each person is to be tested by these trivial and transitory things to see whether he or she believes that God will supply them. We are to have no anxiety about such things, but are to be concerned solely with the eternal blessings to come.
It will then be obvious that one believes in the incorruptible things and really does seek the eternal blessings, if one preserves a strong faith concerning the things we have spoken of.
All who submit to the word of truth should test and examine themselves, or else be tested and examined by spiritual counselors, as to the way they live out their belief, and surrender themselves to God. Are they really living by God's word, or only by an imaginary belief based on a false notion of righteousness and faith?
It is regarding his faith in small matters, that is to say, in temporal matters, that each person is examined and tested. Hear how this is done.Do you say you believe that you have been deemed worthy of the kingdom of heaven, that you have been born from above as a child of God, that you are a co-heir with Christ, and that you will reign with him for ever, rejoicing like God in light brilliant beyond description throughout the untold ages of eternity?
No doubt you will answer, "Yes, that is the very reason why I left the world and gave myself to the Lord."
Examine yourself, then, to see whether worldly cares may still have a hold on you; whether you are very preoccupied with feeding and clothing your body, and with your other pursuits and your recreation, as though your own power kept you alive, and you were obliged to make provision for yourself, when you have been commanded to have no anxiety whatever concerning yourself.
If you believe that you will receive everlasting, eternal, abiding, and bounteous blessings, how much more should you not believe that God will provide you with these transitory, earthly benefits, which he has given even to impious people and to beasts and birds?
You who have become a stranger to the world ought to possess a faith, an outlook, and a manner of life which has about it something unusual, something different from that of all worldly people. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
(Homily 48,1-6: PG 34,807-811)
Macarius, Pseudo (4th-5th century), formerly confused with Macarius of Egypt, probably came to the south of Asia Minor from Mesopotamia. Abbot of a community of cenobites, he must have been a monk of great spiritual stature and authority, for his influence on later monastic spirituality was profound. Accusations of Messalianism made him a highly controversial figure, but in many points his teaching is in fact anti-Messalian. He stresses the importance of continual prayer as did the Messalians, but not at the expense of work and service to others. The best known of his works are the Fifty Spiritual Homilies, but the complete corpus of his writings is now being edited.