Friday, September 12, 2008
long for this life
"Let us learn therefore, beloved, to ask of God things which are worthy of being asked for. For such things, I mean the things of this life, in whatever way they touch us, will bring us no harm. For if we are rich, it is only here we enjoy the pleasures of riches; and if fall into poverty, we shall suffer nothing dreadful. For the bright things of this life or the dark have little power to give us either pleasure or pain. Both are of little account, and swiftly pass away. And so they are rightly called a way; for they pass by, and do not long endure. But the things to come endure without end; punishment and Kingdom alike. For these let us have great concern: that we escape the one, and gain the other. What profit is there in present delight; here today, tomorrow fled? Today a shining flower; tomorrow scattered dust. Today a bright fire; tomorrow dead ashes.
"But it is not so with spiritual things. They remain ever shining, ever flowering, each day a greater joy. These riches are never lost, never given up, never come to an end, never cause anxiety nor envy nor blame. They neither destroy the body nor corrupt the soul, nor awaken jealousy, nor provoke malice; as with earthly riches. This glory does not lead a man to senseless folly; does not inflame him, does not come to an end, does not fade. The rest and the delight of heaven remains, it goes on, ever unchanging and immortal. For it has no limit; it has no end.
"Let us, I beseech you, long for this life. For if we long for this life, we shall place no value on the things of the present time; rather we shall despise them all and laugh at them. And even should we be invited as a guest of the king, and than this nothing seems more desirable, yet, having this hope within us, we should think nothing of it: for those held fast in the desire of heavenly things, must hold this of no importance. For whatever has an end, must not be too much sought after. All that ceases, and is but today, and tomorrow is not, even something very great, let it be to you as something very small and of little value.
"Let us therefore not cling to things that even now are fleeing from us, but to the things that remain and endure, so that we may be blessed with them for ever, by the grace and loving kindness of Jesus Christ our Lord, through Whom and with Whom be there glory to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and throughout all ages and ages. Amen."
- St. John Chrysostom (Homily XLIV; cited in Toal, Vol. IV, 110)