Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hugging Our Chain

Today's reading from the Coptic lectionary is the Good Shepherd passage (John 10:1-16).

St. John Chrysostom writes:

It is Safe Beneath the Shepherd.
I beg you, let us remain pasturing beneath this Shepherd; and we will remain, if we obey Him, if we hear His voice, if we follow not a stranger. And what is His voice? “Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are the merciful.” ( Matt. v. 3, 8, 7.) If we do this, we will remain beneath the Shepherd, and the wolf will not be able to come in; or if he comes against us, he will do so to his own hurt. For we have a Shepherd who so loves us, that He gave even His life for us. When therefore He is both powerful and loves us, what is there to hinder us from being saved? Nothing, unless we ourselves revolt from Him.

How Can we Revolt Against Him?
And how can we revolt? Hear Him saying, “Ye cannot serve two masters, God and mammon.” ( Matt. vi. 24.) If then we serve God, we shall not submit to the tyranny of mammon. And truly a bitterer thing than any tyranny is the desire of riches; for it brings no pleasure, but cares, and envyings, and plottings, and hatred, and false accusations, and ten thousand impediments to virtue: indolence, wantonness, greediness, drunkenness, which make even freemen slaves, nay, worse than slaves bought with money, slaves not to men, but even to the most grievous of the passions, and maladies of the soul. Such a one dares many things displeasing to God and men, dreading lest any should remove from him this dominion.

Were You Born to Be a Slave?
O bitter slavery, and devlish tyranny! For this is the most grievous thing of all, that when entangled in such evils we are pleased and hug our chain, and dwelling in a prison house full of darkness, refuse to come forth to the light, but fasten evil upon ourselves, and rejoice in our illness. So that we cannot be freed, but are in a worse state than those that work the mines, enduring labors and affliction, but not enjoying the fruit. And what is in truth worse than all, if any one desire to free us from this bitter captivity, we do not suffer it, but are even vexed and
displeased, being in this respect in no better case than madmen, or rather in a much more miserable state than any such, since as we are not even willing to be delivered from our madness.

What? Was it for this, O human, that you were brought into the world? Was it for this that you were made a human being, that you might work in these mines, and gather gold?

It was not for this that God created you in His Image, but that you might please Him, that you might obtain the things to come, that you might join the choir of Angels!

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