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“John Chrysostom - Homily 9 on Repentance”

On Repentance, and those who have forsaken the Assemblies, and about the Sacred Table and Judgment

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Click here to read at earlychurchtexts.com in the original Greek (with dictionary lookup links). The English translation below is by the webmaster, the Revd Andrew Maguire. This should be acknowledged if the translation is used or cited in any publication or any other website.

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Relevant books
available at Amazon

Many Chrysostom translations
and studies
with links to Amazon

See also below

STUDIES

J.N.D. Kelly

The Story of John Chrysostom

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Hagit Amirav

Rhetoric and Tradition: John Chrysostom on Noah and the Flood (Traditio Exegetica Graeca, 12)

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Chrysostomus Baur

John Chrysostom and His Time: Volume 1: Antioch

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Chrysostomus Baur

John Chrysostom and His Time, Vol. 2: Constantinople

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Duane A. Garrett

An Analysis of the Hermeneutics of John Chrysostom's Commentary on Isaiah 1-8 With an English Translation (Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity)

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Blake Goodall

Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Letters of St.Paul to Titus and Philemon (University of California publications : Classical studies ; v. 20)

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Peter Gorday

Principles of Patristic Exegesis: Romans 9-11 in Origen, John Chrysostom, and Augustine (Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity)

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Aideen M. Hartney

John Chrysostom and the Transformation of the City

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Robert Allen Krupp

Shepherding the Flock of God: The Pastoral Theology of John Chrysostom (American University Studies. Series VII. Theology and Religion)

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Mel Lawrenz

The Christology of John Chrysostom

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Blake Leyerle

Theatrical Shows and Ascetic Lives: John Chrysostom's Attack on Spiritual Marriage

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Jaclyn LaRae Maxwell

Christianization and Communication in Late Antiquity: John Chrysostom and his Congregation in Antioch

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Margaret Mary Mitchell

Heavenly Trumpet: John Chrysostom and the Art of Pauline Interpretation

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Robert Louis Wilken

John Chrysostom and the Jews: Rhetoric and Reality in the Late 4th Century

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TRANSLATIONS

Gus George Christo

On Repentance and Almsgiving (The Fathers of the Church)

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Thomas Aquinas Goggin

Commentary on Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist: Homilies 48-88 (The Fathers of the Church, 41)

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Robert C. Hill

Eight Sermons on the Book of Genesis

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David G. Hunter

A Comparison Between a King and a Monk/Against the Opponents of the Monastic Life (Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity, Vol 13)

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M.C.W. Laistner

Christianity and pagan culture in the later Roman Empire: Together with an English translation of Johan Chrysostom's Address on vainglory and the right ... bring up their children (Cornell paperbacks)

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Wendy Mayer

John Chrysostom (The Early Church Fathers)

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Mayer and Bronwen

The Cult of the Saints (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press Popular Patristics)

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Graham Neville

Six Books on the Priesthood (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press Popular Patristics Series)

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? Catherine P. Roth

On Wealth and Poverty

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? David Anderson

On Marriage and Family Life

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Margaret A Schatkin

John Chrysostom as apologist: With special reference to De incomprehensibili, Quod nemo laeditur, Ad eos qui scandalizati sunt, and Adversus oppugnatores vitae monasticae (Analecta VlatadoÌ?n)

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Sally Shore

On Virginity Against Remarriage (Studies in Women and Religion, V. 9)

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When people sow seeds it is pointless casting them by the side of the road. In the same way it is pointless for us to be called Christians unless the name is matched by our actions. If you wish I can quote our brother in God James as a trustworthy witness, when he says: “Faith apart from works is dead” (James 2.17). So there is definitely a need for us to do good works. Without this being called a Christian does not benefit us. Do not express any surprise at this. Tell me – what gain is there in the work of a soldier if he is not worthy of his duty and does not fight for the emperor who feeds him? If there is anything worrying you in what I am saying, it would be better for him not to engage in fighting, rather than to fight without any regard for the honour of the emperor. How will he escape punishment if he is fed by the emperor but does not fight for him? Why am I speaking up for the emperor? We should also be thinking about our own souls. How, you might say, can I be saved when I am in the world and in the thick of all its business? What are you saying, my friend? Do you want me briefly to show that it is not your location which saves you, but your lifestyle and your choice? Adam in paradise, as though in a harbour, suffered a shipwreck (Genesis 3). Lot in Sodom, as though at sea, was saved (Genesis 19). Job was found righteous on the dung heap (Job 2). Saul in the treasury, fell both from the present and future kingdom (1 Kings 18). It is no defence to say: “I cannot be saved while I am in the world and in the thick of all its business”. But what lies behind all this? It is because you are not regularly at prayers and at the sacred meetings. Do you not see that those who wish to win honour with an earthly ruler need to be at his side and to encourage others to intercede on his behalf? Otherwise they might forfeit what they are seeking. I am saying these things to those who absent themselves from the sacred meetings and to those who busy themselves with everyday matters and idle gossip at the time of the awesome mysteries of the Lord’s Table. What do you think you are doing my friend? Did you not make a promise to the priest who said: “Let us lift up our mind and our hearts”, when you responded: “We lift them to the Lord”? Do you not fear, do you not blush when you are shown up to be a liar at this sacred, awesome hour? Is it not a wonderful and amazing thing? The sacred table is ready, the lamb of God is being slain for you, the priest is giving his all for you, the spiritual fire is blazing forth from the holy table, the Cherubim are standing by, the Seraphim are hovering, the six winged spirits have their faces covered, all the spiritual powers are praying for you along with the priest, the spiritual fire is descending, the blood in the chalice is being poured from Christ’s immaculate side for your cleansing. Do you not fear, do you not blush when you are shown up to be a liar at this sacred, awesome hour? There are one hundred and sixty-eight hours in the week and God has set aside just one for himself. Do you waste this in worldly business, in ridiculous things and everyday affairs? And then with what boldness do you draw near to the mysteries? What kind of polluted conscience do you have when you do this? If you had foul muck on your hands would you be brazen enough to touch even the hem of an earthly ruler? Never!

Do not look on what is before you simply as bread, and do not consider it merely as wine. It does not pass through you and end up in the drain like other foods. You have got to think differently. Wax mingled with a flame does not lose its essence: nothing eventually remains of it. In a similar way consider that the holy mysteries are taken up into the very essence of the body. So when you draw near, don’t think that you are receiving the holy body from a man. No - consider that you are receiving the divine body as though from the Seraphim with tongs of fire, such as Isaiah saw; let us consider too that we are touching God's immaculate side with our lips as we share in the saving blood. So, brothers, let us not be absent from our churches and let us not continue to busy ourselves with the affairs of daily life. Let us stand in fear and trembling, with our eyes lowered, and our soul raised up. With hushed sighs let us cry aloud in our heart. People standing before a visible, mortal and temporary earthly ruler are motionless, silent, not shifting to and fro, not moving their eyes now one way and now the other. Isn't that what you see? They look solemn, awestruck with eyes lowered. Stand accused by them. So I appeal to you to stand before God in that attitude, as though you were coming into the presence of an earthly ruler. All the more of course you should stand before the heavenly king in fear. I will not stop speaking regularly to you like this, until I see you change your ways. When we come into church let us come in a way fitting for God, not bearing grudges in our heart, lest praying we pray against ourselves when we say: “Forgive us, as we forgive those who are in debt to us”. It is a fearful utterance; one might say that people are crying out to God when they say: “I have forgiven, master, forgive me; I have released someone, release me; I have been merciful, be merciful to me; if I have been overbearing with somebody, then be overbearing with me. If I have not forgiven my neighbours their sins, then don't forgive mine. Whatever measure I have given to others, let it be given to me.”

Keep all that in mind; think about that fearful day and that fire; and the fearful places of torment. So let us in future turn our backs on the errors of our ways. For the time will come when the stage of this world will be destroyed. After that the struggle of life will be over. When we have departed from the stage of this life there will be no more business. There will be no more worldly crowns of honour. Now is the time for repentance; then will be the time for judgment. This is the time for contests; then the time for crowns. This is the time for labour; then for rest. This is the time for weary toil; then for reward. Wake up, I implore you, wake up! Let us listen eagerly to what is being said. We have lived in the flesh; let us now live in the spirit. We have lived for pleasure; let us now live for virtue. We have lived without due care; let us now have a change of heart. Where is the pride in earth and ash? Why are you full of conceit, my friend? Why do you boast about yourself? What can you hope for from the glory and wealth of the world? I suggest we go out to the tombs and see the mysteries there. Let us see nature torn apart, bones eaten away, bodies decomposing. If you are wise, take a moment to think about it, and if you are prudent tell me: Who there is a ruler and who a common person? Who is well-born and who a slave? Who is wise and who is foolish? Where there is the beauty of youth? Where is the attractive appearance? Where are the sparkling eyes? Where is the perfectly shaped nose? Where the lips that will set you on fire? Where are the beautiful cheeks? Where is the glowing forehead? Is not everything dust? Has not everything been reduced to ashes? Is not everything worms and the foul smell of decay? Think on these things, my friends, and the final day of our earthly life. While we have time let us turn from the error of our ways. We have been bought with precious blood. For this very purpose God was made manifest on earth. It was for you, my friend, that God was made manifest on earth, with nowhere to rest his head. Can you believe it? The judge comes to judgment for the sake of the condemned. Life tastes death. The creator is flogged by his creation. The one who cannot be looked upon even by Seraphim is spat upon by a slave. He tastes the vinegar and the gall. He is pierced by a spear. He is laid in the tomb. Tell me - is it nothing to you, my friend? Do you sleep and take it all lightly? Do you not realise that, even if you were to pour out your own blood for him you would come nowhere close to what is needed. His blood is royal, yours is that of a slave. Anticipate through repentance and conversion the exit of your soul from this earthly life lest when death comes the medicine of repentance is utterly to no avail. Repentance has effect in our earthly life: in Hades alone is it powerless. Let us seek the Lord while we have time. Let us do the good thing so that we can be delivered from the unending place of torment which is to come and be found worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven - through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.


 



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Homilies on Repentance
Fear and Awe in Worship
Emotion in Worship
John Chrysostom in Greek with English Translation
Migne Greek Text
Patrologiae Graecae Cursus Completus
Patrologia Graeca

 

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