From Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Christian Classics Ethereal Library), commenting on Hebrews 11:13-16. All emphasis is mine.
What then? Did they mean that they were “strangers” from the land that is in Palestine? By no means: but in respect of the whole world: and with reason; for they saw therein none of the things which they wished for, but everything foreign and strange. They indeed wished to practice virtue: but here there was much wickedness, and things were quite foreign to them. They had no friend, no familiar acquaintance, save only some few.
But how were they “strangers”? They had no care for things here. And this they showed not by words, but by their deeds. In what way?
He said to Abraham, “Leave that which seems thy country and come to one that is foreign”: And he did not cleave to his kindred, but gave it up as unconcernedly as if he were about to leave a foreign land. He said to him, “Offer up thy son,” and he offered him up as if he had no son; as if he had divested himself of his nature, so he offered him up. The wealth which he had acquired was common to all passers-by, and this he accounted as nothing. He yielded the first places to others: he threw himself into dangers; he suffered troubles innumerable. He built no splendid houses, he enjoyed no luxuries, he had no care about dress, which all are things of this world; but lived in all respects as belonging to the City yonder; he showed hospitality, brotherly love, mercifulness, forbearance, contempt for wealth and for present glory, and for all else.
And his son too was such as himself: when he was driven away, when war was made on him, he yielded and gave way, as being in a foreign land. For foreigners, whatever they suffer, endure it, as not being in their own country. Even when his wife was taken from him, he endured this also as being in a strange land: and lived in all respects as one whose home was above, showing sobermindedness and a well-ordered life. For after he had begotten a son, he had no more commerce with his wife, and it was when the flower of his youth had passed that he married her, showing that he did it not from passion, but in subservience to the promise of God.
And what did Jacob? Did he not seek bread only and raiment, which are asked for by those who are truly strangers; by those that have come to great poverty? When he was driven out, did he not as a stranger give place? Did he not serve for hire? Did he not suffer afflictions innumerable, everywhere, as a stranger?
[5.] And these things (he says) they said, “seeking” their “own country.” Ah! how great is the difference! They indeed were in travail-pains each day, wishing to be released from this world, and to return to their country. But we, on the contrary, if a fever attack us, neglecting everything, weeping like little children, are frightened at death.
Not without reason we are thus affected. For since we do not live here like strangers, nor as if hastening to our country, but are like persons that are going away to punishment, therefore we grieve, because we have not used circumstances as we ought, but have turned order upside down. Hence we grieve when we ought to rejoice: hence we shudder, like murderers or robber chiefs, when they are going to be brought before the judgment-seat, and are thinking over all the things they have done, and therefore are fearful and trembling.
They, however, were not such, but pressed on. And Paul even groaned; “And we” (he says) “that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened.” ( 2 Cor. v. 4.) Such were they who were with Abraham; “strangers,” he says, they were in respect of the whole world, and “they sought a country.”
What sort of “country” was this? Was it that which they had left? By no means. For what hindered them if they wished, from returning again, and becoming citizens? but they sought that which is in Heaven? Thus they desired their departure hence, and so they pleased God; for “God was not ashamed to be called their God.”