For That Reason Admire Him

From Homily 20, Homilies on First Corinthians (ca. 390)

For he who loves… even though he has some defects, will be blessed with knowledge because of his love…. But he that has knowledge but has not love, not only shall gain nothing more, but shall also be cast out of that which he has, in many cases falling into arrogance.

It seems then that knowledge is not productive of love, but on the contrary knowledge can bar one from love, puffing him up and elating him. Arrogance can cause divisions, but love draws together and leads to knowledge…

Now why, says he, are you puffed up about knowledge? For if you have not love, you shall even be injured thereby. For what is worse than boasting?… For although you may know something more than your neighbor, if you love him you will not set yourself up but lead him also to the same. Wherefore also having said, Knowledge puffs up, he added, but love edifies…

Now these things might be seasonably spoken not to them only, but also to us, apt as we are to think so little of the salvation of our neighbors and to utter those satanical words, “What do I care if one like that stumbles or another one perish?” … When we strike, and bluster, and shout, and misuse our freedom, is not this enough to offend?

Do not tell that such a man is only a shoemaker, and another just a dyer of clothes… but rather bear in mind that he is a believer and a brother. The disciples themselves were fishermen and tentmakers.  And they followed one was brought up in the house of a carpenter… the same one who, when he was born, was laid in a manger, and who later had nowhere to lay His head… whose journeys were so long and tiring… Count the tent-maker as your brother, the same as you would him who has innumerable servants and struts in the market-place.. Do not despise the one who comes nearer to the apostolic pattern…

Whenever then you see one driving nails, smiting with a hammer, covered with soot, do not therefore hold him cheap, but rather for that reason admire him. Since even Peter girded himself, and handled the dragnet, and went fishing after the resurrection of the Lord… Wherefore God commanded us to call the lame, the maimed, and those who cannot repay us to our feasts.

St. John Chrysostom (ca. 347-407) was Archbishop of Constantinople, and one of the greatest preachers of his era. He is traditionally counted among the Four Great Doctors of the Eastern Church.  The Homilies on I Corinthians date from his ministry in his native Antioch and were preached in the 380s and 390s. His feast day is September 13. The text has been adapted for contemporary readers


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