Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to John
At that time Jesus said to His disciples: When the Paraclete cometh, Whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, Who proceedeth from the Father, He shall give testimony of Me: and you shall give testimony, because you are with Me from the beginning. These things have I spoken to you, that you may not be scandalized. They will put you out of the synagogues: yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doth a service to God. And these things will they do to you, because they have not known the Father, nor Me. But these things I have told you, that, when the hour shall come, you may remember that I told you.
A Message From St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on John, LXXVII
These things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember them.
“So, judging from these words, deem the rest also trustworthy. For ye will not be able to say, that I flatteringly told you only those things which would please you, nor that the words were words of deceit; for one who intended to deceive, would not have told you beforehand of matters likely to turn you away. I have therefore told you before, that these things might not fall upon you unexpectedly, and trouble you; and for another reason besides, that ye might not say, that I did not foreknow that these things would be. Remember then that I have told you.” And indeed the heathen always covered their persecutions of them by a pretense of their wickedness, driving them out as corrupters; but this did not trouble the disciples who had heard beforehand, and knew for what they suffered. The cause of what took place was sufficient to rouse their courage. Therefore He everywhere handleth this, saying, they have not known Me; and, for My sake they shall do it; and, for My Name’s sake, and for the Father’s sake; and, I suffered first; and, from no just cause they dare these things.
Let us too consider these things in our temptations, when we suffer anything from wicked men, looking to the Beginner and Finisher of our faith (He 12:2), and considering that it is by wicked men, and that it is for virtue’s sake, and for His sake. For if we reflect on these things, all will be most easy and tolerable. Since if one suffering for those he loves is even proud of it, what feeling of things dreadful will he have who suffers for the sake of God? For if He, for our sake, calleth that shameful thing, the Cross, glory (Jn 13:31), much more ought we to be thus disposed. And if we can so despise sufferings, much more shall we be able to despise riches, and covetousness. We ought then, when about to endure anything unpleasant, to think not of the toils but of the crowns; for as merchants take into account not the seas only, but also the profits, so ought we to reckon on heaven and confidence towards God. And if the getting more seem a pleasant thing, think that Christ willeth it not, and straightway it will appear displeasing. And if it be grievous to you to give to the poor, stay not your reckoning at the expense, but straightway transport your thoughts to the harvest which results from the sowing; and when it is hard to despise the love of a strange woman, think of the crown which comes after the struggle, and thou shalt easily bear the struggle. For if fear diverts a man from unseemly things, much more should the love of Christ. Difficult is virtue; but let us cast around her form the greatness of the promise of things to come. Indeed those who are virtuous, even apart from these promises, see her beautiful in herself, and on this account go after her, and work because it seems good to God, not for hire; and they think it a great thing to be sober-minded, not in order that they may not be punished, but because God hath commanded it. But if any one is too weak for this, let him think of the prizes. So let us do in respect of alms-doing, let us pity our fellow men, let us not, I entreat, neglect them when perishing with hunger. How can it be otherwise than an unseemly thing, that we should sit at the table laughing and enjoying ourselves, and when we hear others wailing as they pass through the street, should not even turn at their cries, but be wroth with them, and call them “cheat”? “What meanest thou, man? Doth anyone plan a cheat for a single loaf of bread?” “Yes,” saith someone. Then in this case above all let him be pitied; in this case above all let him be delivered from his need. Or if thou art not minded to give, do not insult either; if thou wilt not save the wreck, do not thrust it into the gulf. For consider, when thou thrustest away the poor man who comes to thee, who thou wilt be when thou callest upon God. With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (Mt 7:2). Consider how he departs, crushed, bowed down, lamenting; besides his poverty having received also the blow from your insolence. For if ye count the begging a curse, think what a tempest it makes, begging to get nothing, but to go away insulted. How long shall we be like wild beasts, and know not nature itself through greediness? Many groan at these words; but I desire them not now, but always, to have this feeling of compassion. Think, I pray you, of that day when we shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ, when we shall beg for mercy, and Christ, bringing them forward, shall say, For the sake of a single loaf, of a single obol, so great a surge did ye raise in these souls! What shall we reply? What defense shall we make? To show that He will bring them forward, hear what He saith; Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of these, ye did it not to Me. (Mt 25:45). They will no more say anything to us, but God on their behalf will upbraid us. Since the rich man saw Lazarus too, and Lazarus said nothing to him, but Abraham spake for him; and thus it will be in the case of the poor who are now despised by us. We shall not see them stretching out their hands in pitiful state, but being in rest; and we shall take the state which was theirs (and would that it were that state only, and not one much more grievous) as a punishment. For neither did the rich man desire to be filled with crumbs there, but was scorched and tormented sharply, and was told, Thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things. (Lc 16:25). Let us not then deem wealth any great thing; it will help us on our way to punishment, if we take not heed, just as, if we take heed, poverty also becomes to us an addition of enjoyment and rest. For we both put off our sins if we bear it with thankfulness, and gain great boldness before God.
Let us then not be ever seeking security here, in order that we may enjoy security there; but let us accept the labors which are in behalf of virtue, and cut off superfluities, and seek nothing more than we need, and spend all our substance on those who want. Since what excuse can we have, when God promiseth heaven to us, and we will not even give Him bread? When He indeed for thee maketh the sun to rise, and supplieth all the ministry of the Creation, but thou dost not even give Him a garment, nor allow Him to share thy roof? But why speak I of sun and moon? He hath set His Body before thee, He hath given thee His Precious Blood; and dost thou not even impart to Him of thy cup? But hast thou done so for once? This is not mercy; as long as, having the means, thou helpest not, thou hast not yet fulfilled the whole duty. Thus the virgins who had the lamps, had oil, but not in abundance. Why, thou oughtest, even didst thou give from thine own, not to be so miserly, but now when thou givest what is thy Lord’s, why countest thou every little? Will ye that I tell you the cause of this inhumanity? When men get together their wealth through greediness, these same are slow to give alms; for one who has learnt so to gain, knows not how to spend. For how can a man prepared for rapine adapt himself to its contrary? He who takes from others, how shall he be able to give up his own to another? A dog accustomed to feed on flesh cannot guard the flock; therefore the shepherds kill such. That this be not our fate, let us refrain from such feasting. For these men too feed on flesh, when they bring on death by hunger. Seest thou not how God hath allowed to us all things in common? If amid riches He hath suffered men to be poor, it is for the consolation of the rich, that they may be able by showing mercy towards them to put off their sins. But thou even in this hast been cruel and inhuman; whence it is evident, that if thou hadst received this same power in greater things, thou wouldest have committed ten thousand murders, and wouldest have debarred men from light, and from life altogether. That this might not take place, necessity hath cut short insatiableness in such matters.
If ye are pained when ye hear these things, much more I when I see them taking place. How long shalt thou be rich, and that man poor? Till evening, but no farther; for so short is life, and all things so near their end, and all things henceforth so stand at the door, that the whole must be deemed but a little hour. What need hast thou of bursting storehouses, of a multitude of domestics and house-keepers? Why hast thou not ten thousand proclaimers of thy alms-doing? The storehouse utters no voice, yet will it bring upon thee many robbers; but the storehouses of the poor will go up to God Himself, and will make thy present life sweet, and put away all thy sins, and thou shalt gain glory from God, and honor from men. Why then grudgest thou thyself such good things? For thou wilt not do so much good to the poor, as to thyself, when thou benefitest them. Thou wilt right their present state; but for thyself thou wilt lay up beforehand the glory and confidence which shall be hereafter. And this may we all obtain, by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be the glory and the might for ever. Amen.