a homily on the Acts of the Apostles by Saint John Chrysostom,
The light of a Christian cannot
is nothing colder than a Christian who does not seek to save
You cannot plead poverty here;
the widow putting in her two small coins will be your accuser. Peter said,
Silver and gold I have not. Paul was so poor that he was often hungry
and went without necessary food.
cannot plead humble birth, for they were humbly born, of humble stock. You cannot
offer the excuse of lack of education, for they were uneducated. You cannot plead
ill-health, for Timothy also had poor health, with frequent illnesses.
Each one can help his neighbor,
if only he is willing to do what is in his power. Look at the trees that
do not bear fruit: have you not noticed how strong and fine they are, upstanding,
smooth, and tall? If we had a garden, we would much prefer trees with
fruitpomegranates and olivesto trees that are for pleasure, not
for utility, and any utility these have is small.
Such are those men who think
only of their own concerns. In fact, they are even worse: the trees are at
least useful for building or for protection, whereas the selfish are fit
only for punishment. Such were those foolish virgins who were chaste, comely,
and self-controlled, but did nothing for anyone. So they are consumed in
the fire. Such are those men who refuse to give Christ food.
Notice that none of them is accused
of personal sins. They are not accused of committing fornication or perjury
or any such sin at all: only of not helping anybody else. The man who buried
the talent was like this. His life was blameless, but he was of no service
How can such a person be a Christian?
Tell me, if yeast did not make the whole mass like itself, is it really yeast?
Again, if perfume failed to pervade all around it with its fragrance, would
we call it perfume?
Do not say, It is impossible
for me to influence others. If you are a Christian, it is impossible
for this not to happen. Things found in nature cannot be denied; so
it is here, for it is a question of the nature of a Christian.
Do not insult God. If you say
that the sun cannot shine, you have insulted Him. If you say that a Christian
cannot help others, you have insulted God and called Him a liar. It is easier
for the sun not to give warmth or shine than for the Christian not to shed
his light. It is easier for light to be darkness than for this to
Do not say then that it is
impossible. The opposite is impossible. Do not insult God. If we have put
our affairs in order, these things will certainly come to be and will follow
as a natural consequence. The light of a Christian cannot escape notice.
So bright a lamp cannot be hidden.
Saint John Chrysostom,
Office of Readings, Common of Holy Men