Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lent XIII

Do you see that a failure in almsgiving is enough to cast a man into hell fire? For where will he avail who does not give alms? Do you fast every day? So also did those virgins, but it availed them nothing. Do you pray? What of that? prayer without almsgiving is unfruitful, without that all things are unclean and unprofitable. The better part of virtue is destroyed. "He that loves not his brother," it is said, "knows not God." And how do you love him, when you do not even impart to him of these poor worthless things? Tell me, therefore, do you observe chastity? On what account? From fear of punishment? By no means. It is of a natural endowment that you observe it, since if you were chaste from fear of punishment, and did violence to nature in submitting to so severe a rule, much more ought thou to do alms. For to govern the desire of wealth, and of bodily pleasures, is not the same thing. The latter is much more difficult to restrain. And wherefore? Because the pleasure is natural, and the desire of it is innate and of natural growth in the body. It is not so with riches. Herein we are able to resemble God, in showing mercy and pity. When therefore we have not this quality, we are devoid of all good. He has not said, "you shall be like your Father, if you fast," nor "if you be virgins," nor "if you pray," has He said, "you shall be like your Father," for none of these things can be applied to God, nor are they His acts. But what? "Be merciful, as your Father in Heaven is merciful."

St. John Chrysostom, Homily 6 on Second Timothy

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