Thursday, August 11, 2005

Through Faith They Still Speak (8/11/05)

"Therefore the prophet says, 'I will remember Thee from the land of Jordan, and from the little hill of Hermon.' (Ps. xlii. 6.) The people which were in Babylon say this: being there, I will remember Thee. Therefore let us also, as being in Babylon, do the same. For although we are not sitting among warlike foes, yet we are among enemies. For some of them indeed were sitting as captives, but others did not even feel their captivity, as Daniel, as the three children (cf. Ps. cxxxvii. 1); who even while they were in captivity became in that very country more glorious even than the king who had carried them captive. And he who had taken them captive does obeisance to the captives. Dost thou see how great virtue is? When they were in actual captivity he waited on them as masters. He therefore was the captive, rather than they. It would not have been so marvelous if when they were in their native country, he had come and done them reverence in their own land, or if they had been rulers there. But the marvelous thing is, that after he had bound them, and taken them captive, and had them in his own country, he was not ashamed to do them reverence in the sight of all, and to 'offer an oblation.' (Dan. ii. 46.) Do you see that the really splendid things are those which relate to God, whereas human things are a shadow? He knew not, it seems, that he was leading away masters for himself, and that he cast into the furnace those whom he was about to worship. But to them, these things were as a dream. Let us fear God, beloved, let us fear Him: even should we be in captivity, we are more glorious than all men. Let the fear of God be present with us, and nothing will be grievous, even though thou speak of poverty, or of disease, or of captivity, or of slavery, or of any other grievous thing: Nay even these very things will themselves work together for us the other way." (John Chrysostom, Homilies on Hebrews, 26:6-7, v. 27)