LENTEN REFLECTION – The Fifth Week – Monday 3 April 2017
Excerpt from a Homily of St John Chrysostum Doctor and Father of the Church (347-407
Nay, if you desire to honour the sacrifice, offer your soul, for which also it was slain; cause that to become golden; but if that remain worse than lead or potter’s clay, while the vessel is of gold, what is the profit?
Let not this therefore be our aim, to offer golden vessels only but to do so from honest earnings likewise. For these are of the sort that is more precious even than gold, these that are without injuriousness. For the church is not a gold foundry nor a workshop for silver but an assembly of angels. Wherefore it is souls which we require, since in fact God accepts these for the souls’ sake.
That table at that time was not of silver nor that cup of gold, out of which Christ gave His disciples His own blood; but precious was everything there….
Would you do honour to Christ’s body? Neglect Him not when naked; do not while here you honour Him with silken garments, neglect Him perishing without of cold and nakedness. For He that said, This is my body, and by His word confirmed the fact, This same said, You saw me an hungered, and fed me not; and, Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me. Matthew 25:42, 45 For this indeed needs not coverings, but a pure soul; but that requires much attention.
Let us learn therefore to be strict in life and to honour Christ as He Himself desires. For to Him who is honoured that honour is most pleasing, which it is His own will to have, not that which we account best. Since Peter too thought to honour Him by forbidding Him to wash his feet but his doing so was not an honour, but the contrary.
Even so do thou honour Him with this honour, 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 what is the profit, when His table indeed is full of golden cups but He perishes with hunger? First fill Him, being an hungered 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 you 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, thou were doing it to His honour, would He not say that thou 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 thou, neglecting to receive Him, deckest out a pavement, and walls, and capitals of columns and hangest up silver chains by means of lamps but Himself bound in prison you will not even look upon.