September 1, 2010 + From Homily VIII


The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves." (2 Corinthians 4:7)

For seeing he had spoken many and great things of the unspeakable glory, lest any should say, 'And how enjoying so great a glory remain we in a mortal body?' he saith, that this very thing is indeed the chiefest marvel and a very great example of the power of God, that an earthen vessel hath been enabled to bear so great a brightness and to keep so high a treasure. And therefore as admiring this, he said, "That the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves;" again alluding to those who gloried in themselves. For both the greatness of the things given and the weakness of them that receive show His power; in that He not only gave great things, but also to those who are little. For he used the term "earthen" in allusion to the frailty of our mortal nature, and to declare the weakness of our flesh. For it is nothing better constituted than earthenware; so is it soon damaged, and by death and disease and variations of temperature and ten thousand other things easily dissolved. And he said these things both to take down their inflation, and to show to all that none of the things we hold is human. For then is the power of God chiefly conspicuous, when by vile it worketh mighty things. Wherefore also in another place He said, "For My power is made perfect in weakness."(2 Cor. xii. 9.) And indeed in the Old [Testament] whole hosts of barbarians were turned to flight by gnats and flies, wherefore also He calleth the caterpillar His mighty forces; (Joel ii. 25.) and in the beginning, by only confounding tongues, He put a stop to that great tower in Babylon. And in their wars too, at one time, He routed innumerable hosts by three hundred men; at another He overthrew cities by trumpets; and afterwards by a little and poor stripling, David, He turned to flight the whole army of barbarians. So then here also, sending forth twelve only He overcame the world; twelve, and those, persecuted, warred against.

Let us then be amazed at the Power of God, admire, adore it. Let us ask Jews, let us ask Greeks, who persuaded the whole world to desert from their fathers' usages, and to go over to another way of life? The fisherman, or the tentmaker? The publican, or the unlearned and ignorant? And how can these things stand with reason, except it were Divine Power which achieveth all by their means? And what too did they say to persuade them? 'Be baptized in the Name of The Crucified.' Of what kind of man? One they had not seen nor looked upon. But nevertheless saying and preaching these things, they persuaded them that they who gave them oracles, and whom they had received by tradition from their forefathers, were no Gods: whilst this Christ, He Who was nailed [to the wood,] drew them all unto Himself. And yet that He was indeed crucified and buried, was manifest in a manner to all; but that He was risen again, none save a few saw. But still of this too they persuaded those who had not beheld; and not that He rose again only, but that He ascended also into Heaven, and cometh to judge quick and dead. Whence then the persuasiveness of these sayings, tell me? From nothing else than the Power of God. For, in the first place, innovation itself was offensive to all; but when too one innovates in such things, the matter becomes more grievous: when one tears up the foundations of ancient custom, when one plucks laws from their seat. And besides all this, neither did the heralds seem worthy of credit, but they were both of a nation hated amongst all men, and were timorous and ignorant. Whence then overcame they the world? Whence cast they out you, and those your forefathers who were reputed to be philosophers, along with their very gods? Is it not quite evident that it was from having God with them?

***

St. John the Faster - September 2

Troparion of St. John the Faster, Tone 4

Anointed by the Holy Spirit, thou didst serve God like an earthly angel, O Shepherd and Hierarch John. Thou didst purify thyself  through fasting and grant cleansing to those who eagerly run to thee.

Kontakion of St. John the Faster, Tone 4

Thou didst become like thy namesake the Forerunner, O John, for thou wast radiant with fasting and purity, Christ has made thee a worthy shepherd  of His flock; beseech Him to save those who venerate thee.