August 31, 2011 + from Homily LXIII


The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Gospel According to St. Matthew

". . . But when the young man heard it, he went away sorrowful" (Matthew 19:22)

After this the evangelist, as it were to show that he hath not felt anything it was unlikely he should feel, saith, "For he had great possessions." For they that have little are not equally held in subjection, as they that are overflowed with great affluence, for then the love of it becomes more tyrannical. Which thing I cease not always saying, that the increase of acquisitions kindles the flame more, and renders the getters poorer, inasmuch as it puts them in greater desire, and makes them have more feeling of their want.

See, for example, even here what strength did this passion exhibit. Him that had come to Him with joy and forwardness, when Christ commanded him to cast away his riches, it so overwhelmed and weighed down, as not to suffer him so much as to answer touching these things, but silenced and become dejected and sullen to go away.

What then saith Christ? "How hardly shall the rich enter into the kingdom of Heaven!" blaming not riches but them that are held in subjection by them. But if the rich man "hardly," much more the covetous man. For if not to give one's own be an hindrance to entering the kingdom, even to take of other men's goods, think how much fire it heapeth up.

Why can it have been, however, that He said to His disciples, that "hardly shall a rich man enter in," they being poor men, and having no possessions? Instructing them not to be ashamed of their poverty, and, as it were, excusing Himself to them for suffering them to have nothing.

But having said it was hard; as He proceeds, He shows that it is even impossible, and not merely impossible, but even in the highest degree impossible; and this He showed by the comparison concerning the camel and the needle.

"It is easier" saith He, "for a camel to enter in by the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of Heaven." Whence it is shown, that there is no ordinary reward for them that are rich, and are able to practice self command. Wherefore also He affirmed it to be a work of God, that He might show that great grace is needed for him who is to achieve this. At least, when the disciples were troubled, He said, "With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."

And wherefore are the disciples troubled, being poor, yea, exceedingly poor? Wherefore then are they confounded? Being in pain about the salvation of the rest, and having a great affection for all, and having already taken upon themselves the tender bowels of teachers. They were at least in such trembling and fear for the whole world from this declaration, as to need much comfort.

Therefore, having first "beheld them, He said unto them, The things which are impossible with men, are possible with God." For with a mild and meek look, having soothed their shuddering mind, and having put an end to their distress (for this the evangelist signified by saying, "He beheld them"), then by His words also He relieves them, bringing before them God's power, and so making them feel confidence.

But if thou wilt learn the manner of it likewise, and how what is impossible may become possible, hear. Born either for this end did He say, "The things which are impossible with men, are possible with God," that thou shouldest give it up, and abstain, as from things impossible; but that having considered the greatness of the good work, thou shouldest hasten to it readily, and having besought God to assist thee in these noble contests, shouldest attain unto life.

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Holy Prophet Zacharias, Father of the Forerunner - September 5

Troparion of St. Zacharias, Tone 4

Arrayed in priestly vestments, thou didst offer sacrifice according to God's law. Thou wast a light and a seer of mysteries bearing the signs of grace within thee. Thou wast slain in the temple of God, O Zacharias, Prophet of Christ. Together with the Forerunner pray that our souls may be saved.

Kontakion of St. Zacharias, Tone 3

Zacharias, Prophet and Priest and father of the Forerunner, is preparing a feast for the faithful and is mixing a draught of righteousness. Let us praise him, as a holy seer of the grace of God.