On Abandoning One’s Selfishness- By: St. John Chrysostom

Lazarus & the Rich man

Let us make use of the lessons of true wisdom and say that we do not forbid the seeking of riches as such, but of ill-gotten riches. For it is lawful to be rich, but without covetousness, without rapine, without violence, and without a bad reputation before all men. Let us first by means of arguments of true wisdom soothe those who seek riches, and for the moment not to talk to them about hell, since the sick man cannot bear as yet such discourse. Let us go to this world for all our arguments upon these matters and say: “Why do you choose to be rich through covetousness? To hoard up gold and silver for others and innumerable curses and accusations for yourself? The poor can whom you have defrauded in suffering anguish because of the lack of the necessities of life, and is lamenting, and drawing down upon you the curses of thousands. He may go about the market place at fall of evening and not knowing where he is going to spend the night. How can the unhappy fellow sleep, with pangs in the belly, tortured by hunger, while it is freezing and the rain coming down on him? And while you are coming home from the bath, clean and dandy, dressed in soft clothes, full of contentment and happiness, and hastening to sit down to splendidly prepared dinners, he is driven everywhere about the market place by cold and hunger, with his head hung low and his hands outstretched. The poor well fed and so well rested, and often has to withdraw covered with insults.

When therefore, you have returned home, when you lie down on your couch, when the lights around your house shine bright, when your table is well prepared and plentiful, at the time remember that poor miserable man wandering about like dogs in the alleys, in darkness and in mire, and from these alleys he goes back, not to his house, his wife, or his bed, but to a pile of straw, but a drop of water falling from the ceiling, you would throw the whole house in confusion, calling for the slaves and disturbing everything, while he, laid in rags, and straws, and dirt, has to bear the bitter cold.

Exceprt taken from the book: Daily Readings from the Writings of St. John Chrysostom.

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