On the Paradoxical Freedom of Poverty as Taught by St. John Chrysostom


There’s a saying that you just can not steal from a person who has nothing, and you can’t threaten a person who has nothing to lose. Of Jesus, the Son of Man who had no the place to put his head (Matt 8:20), this was absolutely true. The world had no declare on him, nothing to hook him or declare his loyalty. Even his life couldn’t be taken from him for he had already laid it down freely (cf Jn 10:18).

St. John Chrysostom spoke of it boldly in a sermon that paints nicely the paradoxical freedom of poverty and the enslavement of riches and possessions.  Extra on that in a second…

However first, contemplate that the center of the slavery most of us expertise comes from our attachments to this world. So simply do we promote our souls to its allurements; so simply does the world ensnare us with its empty guarantees and trinkets that so rapidly change into duties, distractions, and necessities. In our coronary heart, we all know how the issues of the world weigh us down. However even figuring out this, our habit to issues attracts us additional into the infinite cycle of ever-deepening needs and the growing incapacity to dwell with out many burdensome issues.

And it isn’t simply issues. The world hooks us with the mesmerizing promise of recognition, promotion, even fame. And in our determined habit to being fashionable, we come too simply to the purpose that we’ll do nearly something and make nearly any compromise for recognition and development.

Jesus says, Nobody can serve two masters. Both he’ll hate the one and love the opposite, or he can be dedicated to the one and despise the opposite. You can’t serve each God and Cash (Matt 6:24).

Scripture elsewhere says,

Don’t love the world or something on the planet. If anybody loves the world, the love of the Father will not be in him (1 John 2:15).

Adulterers! Do you not know that the love of this world is hatred towards God? Subsequently whoever chooses to be a buddy of this world is an enemy of God (James 4:4).

However ultimately, most of our slavery and nervousness is rooted in our love for this world and our concern of dropping its pleasures, and its guarantees of energy and recognition. It’s, doubtless, the best of human struggles to get free from this world’s hooks and shackles and to change into completely free—free to observe the Lord unreservedly and with no concern of what the world would possibly do in retaliation.

In considered one of his sermons, St. John Chrysostom describes nicely the human being who’s completely free. It’s a magnificent portrait and one he was largely in a position to exhibit not merely by his phrases however by his very life.

Born in 344 at Antioch, he grew to become a younger man very a lot admired for his brilliance and oratorical abilities. In 374 he fled to the mountains to dwell quietly and to interrupt the maintain that the world had on him. After six years of “holy silence,” he labored quietly as a priest. However in 398, he was summoned to be bishop of Constantinople. He was beloved for his highly effective capability to evangelise and obtained the title “Chrysostom” (Golden mouth). But not all appreciated the liberty with which he preached, a freedom that led him to denounce vice brazenly, irrespective of who was doing it. He was exiled twice (in 403 and 407) by highly effective enemies. And although his enemies tried to interrupt his spirit and rob him of his pleasure, they may not prevail. Though he died on his approach to his remaining exile (throughout a depressing journey in horrible climate), he died with pleasure, saying, “Glory be to God for all issues. Amen.”

The world couldn’t prevail over him; he didn’t concern it, for he owned nothing of it, and owed nothing to it. It had no maintain on him.

And thus talking not solely from Scripture however from expertise as he was being led into exile, St. John Chrysostom stated,

The waters have risen and extreme storms are upon us, however we don’t concern drowning, for we stand firmly upon a rock. Let the ocean rage, it can not break the rock. Let the waves rise, they can not sink the boat of Jesus. What are we to concern? Loss of life? Life to me means Christ, and dying is achieve. Exile? The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord. The confiscation of products? We introduced nothing into this world, and we will absolutely take nothing from it. I’ve solely contempt for the world’s threats, I discover its blessings laughable. I’ve no concern of poverty, no need for wealth. I’m not afraid of dying nor do I lengthy to dwell, besides to your good. I focus due to this fact on the current state of affairs, and I urge you, my mates, to believe …

Let the world be in upheaval. I maintain to his promise and browse his message; that’s my defending wall and garrison. What message? Know that I’m with you at all times, till the tip of the world!

If Christ is with me, whom shall I concern? Although the waves and the ocean and the anger of princes are roused in opposition to me, they’re much less to me than a spider’s net … For I at all times say: Lord, your can be achieved; not what this fellow or that may have me do, however what you need me to do. That’s my robust tower, my immovable rock, my employees that by no means provides manner. If God desires one thing, let it’s achieved! If he desires me to remain right here, I’m grateful. However wherever he desires me to be, I’m no much less grateful …

For although my physique die, my soul will dwell and be conscious of my individuals (Ante exsilium, nn. 1-3).

Right here is freedom. You can’t steal from a person who owns nothing, and you can’t threaten a person who has nothing to lose; you can’t deprive a person who has Jesus Christ.

Pray for this freedom.

Picture credit score:  In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Chrysostom

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