Monday, September 13, 2004

Are we certain he was fourth century?

Yes, I know, the historians can prove that St. John Chrysostom lived in the fourth century, whupping the Patriarchate of Constantinople into shape. But he sure does sound like day-before-yesterday! This, from one of his homilies on the Gospel of Matthew (number 50, to be exact....):

Christ of the Breadline, by Fritz Eichenberg

Would you do honor to Christ's body? Neglect Him not when naked; do not while here you honor Him with silken garments, neglect Him perishing without of cold and nakedness. For He who said, "This is my body," and by His word confirmed the fact, He also said, "You saw me hungry, and fed me not;" and, "Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me." For that which we do in the Church indeed needs not special garments, but a pure soul; but that which we do outside requires much attention.

Let us learn therefore to be strict in life, and to honor Christ as He Himself desires. For to Him who is honored that honor is most pleasing, which it is His own will to have, not that which we account best. Since Peter too thought to honor Him by forbidding Him to wash his feet, but his doing so was not an honor, but the contrary.

Even so, honor Him with this honor, which He ordained, spending your wealth on poor people. Since God has no need at all of golden vessels, but of golden souls.
And these things I say, not forbidding such offerings to be provided; but requiring you, together with them, and before them, to give alms. For He accepts indeed the former, but much more the latter. For in the one the offerer alone is profited, but in the other the receiver also. Here the act seems to be a ground even of ostentation; but there all is mercifulness, and love to man.

For what is the profit, when His table indeed is full of golden cups, but He perishes with hunger? First fill Him, being hungry, and then abundantly deck out His table also. Do you make Him a cup of gold, while you give Him not a cup of cold water? And what is the profit? Do you furnish His table with cloths bespangled with gold, while to Himself you afford not even the necessary covering? And what good comes of it? For tell me, should you see one at a loss for necessary food, and omit appeasing his hunger, while you first overlaid his table with silver; would he indeed thank thee, and not rather be indignant? What, again, if seeing one wrapped in rags, and stiff with cold, you should neglect giving him a garment, and build golden columns, saying, "you were doing it to his honor," would he not say that you were mocking, and account it an insult, and that the most extreme?

Let this then be your thought with regard to Christ also, when He is going about a wanderer, and a stranger, needing a roof to cover Him; and you, neglecting to receive Him, decks out a pavement, and walls, and capitals of columns, and hangs up the lamps with silver chains, but Himself bound in prison you will not even look upon.

And these things I say, not forbidding munificence in these matters, but admonishing you to do those other works together with these, or rather even before these. Because for not having done these no one was ever blamed, but for those, hell is threatened, and unquenchable fire, and the punishment with evil spirits. Do not therefore while adorning His house overlook thy brother in distress, for he is more properly a temple than the other.


Last Supper, by Eichenberg
.

No comments: