Sunday favorites

St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Corinthians, 21

It is foolishness and a public madness to fill the cupboards with clothing and allow people who are created in God’s image and likeness to stand naked and trembling with cold, so that they can hardly hold themselves upright. Yes, you say, he is cheating and he is only pretending to be weak and trembling.

What! Do you not fear that lightning from Heaven will fall on you for this word? Indeed, forgive me, but I almost burst from anger. Only see, you are large and fat, you hold drinking parties until late at night, and sleep in a warm soft bed. And do you not think of how you must give an account of your misuse of the gifts of God? …

On the other hand, you question very closely the poor and the miserable, who are scarcely better off in this respect than the dead: and you do not fear the dreadful and the terrible judgement seat of Christ. If the beggar lies, he lies from necessity, because your hardheartedness and merciless inhumanity force him to such cheating. For who would otherwise be so wretched and pitiable that he would needlessly, for the sake of a little bread, so demean himself as to let himself be struck and mishandled? If we would give our alms gladly and willingly, the poor would never have fallen to such depths. …

But for him, who prays and calls on God, who beseeches you humbly and modestly, to him you will vouchsafe neither an answer nor a glance, but at the most, you will give him a reproach and say: “Why does such a one have to live and breathe and see the light of the sun?” and while God says to you “Give alms and I will give thee the kingdom of Heaven,” you hear it not. … And you ask why there is a hell? Ask rather why there is only one!

Indeed, for your charioteers in the circus, you are ready to sacrifice your own children, and for your actors you would deliver up your own soul, but for the hungering Christ, the smallest piece of money is too large for you to give. And if you do sacrifice a penny for once, it is as if you were giving away your whole property. Truly, I am ashamed when I see rich people riding about on horses decorated with gold and with servants clad in gold coming along behind them. They have silver beds and multitudes of other luxuries. But, if they have to give something to a poor man, suddenly they themselves are the poorest of the poor! So you should know what Christ will say to you: “You saw me hungry and gave me nothing to eat, you saw me naked and did not clothe me.”

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