Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Golden Mouth

Since it's the Feast of John Chrysostom, it seems fitting to post something. This is from his Homilies on Titus:

Knowing therefore that it is better to want glory, than to possess it, let us not seek for honors, but evade them when they are offered, let us cast them from us, let us extinguish that rulers of the church, and to those under their rule. For a soul desirous of honor, and of being glorified, shall not see the kingdom of heaven. This is not my own saying. I speak not my own words, but those of the Spirit of God. He shall not see it, though he practice virtue. For he saith, "They have their reward." (Matt. vi. 5.) He then, who has no reward to receive, how shall he see the kingdom of heaven? I forbid thee not to desire glory, but I would wish it to be the true glory, that which proceeds from God. "Whose praise," it is said, "is not of men, but of God." (Rom. ii. 29.) Let us be pious in secret, not cumbered with parade, and show, and hypocrisy. Let us cast away the sheep's clothing, and rather let us become sheep. Noting is more worthless than the glory of men. Should thou see a company of little children, mere sucklings, wouldest thou desire glory from them? Be thus affected towards all men with respect to glory.

It is for this reason called vainglory. Dost thou see the masks worn by stage-players? how beautiful and splendid they are, fashioned to the extreme height of elegance. Canst thou show me any such real countenance? By no means. What then? didst thou ever fall in love with them? No. Wherefore? Because they are empty, imitating beauty, but not being really beautiful. Thus human glory is empty, and an imitation of glory: it is not true glory. That beauty only which is natural, which is within, is lasting: that which is put on externally often conceals deformity, conceals it from men until the evening. But when the theater breaks-up, and the masks are taken off, each appears what he really is.

Let us therefore pursue truth, and not be as if we were on the stage and acting a part. For of what advantage is it, tell me, to be gazed at by a multitude? It is vainglory, and nothing else. For return to thy house, and solitude, and immediately all is gone. Thou hast gone to the market-place, thou hast turned upon thee the eyes of all present. What hast thou gained? Nothing. It vanished, and passed away like dissolving smoke. Do we then love things thus unsubstantial? How unreasonable is this! what madness! To one thing only let us look, to the never seek the praise of men; but if it falls to us, we shall despise, deride, and reject it. We shall be affected as those who desire gold, but receive clay. Let not any one praise thee, for it profits nothing; and if he blame thee, it harms thee not. But with God praise and blame are attended with real gain and loss, whilst all is vain that proceeds from men. And herein we are made like unto God, that He needs not glory from men. "I receive not" said Christ, "honor from men." (John v. 41.) Is this then a light thing, tell me? When thou art unwilling to despise glory, say, "By despising it, I shall resemble God," and immediately thou wilt despise it. But it is impossible that the slave of glory should not be a slave to all, more servile than slaves in reality. For we do not impose upon our slaves such tasks, as glory exacts from her captives. Base and shameful are the things she makes them say, and do, and suffer, and when she sees them obedient, she is the more urgent in her commands.


You can read up on Chrysostom's life at The Way of the Fathers.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please understand that this weblog runs on a third-party comment system, not on Blogger's comment system. If you have come by way of a mobile device and can see this message, you may have landed on the Blogger comment page, or the third party commenting system has not yet completely loaded; your comments will only be shown on this page and not on the page most people will see, and it is much more likely that your comment will be missed.