Chrysostom on possessions

“Why dost thou admire these trifles? Why long for things of no real worth? How long is one poor? How long a beggar? Raise thine eyes to heaven, think of the riches there, and smile at gold; think of how little use it is; that the enjoyment of it lasts but for the present life, and that compared with eternity, the present life is as a grain of sand, or as a drop of water to the boundless ocean. This wealth is not a possession, it is not property, it is a loan for use. For when thou diest, willingly or unwillingly, all that thou hast goes to others, and they again give it up to others, and they again to others. For we are all sojourners; and the tenant of the house is more truly perchance the owner of it, for the owner dies, and the tenant lives, and still enjoys the house. And if the latter hires it, the other might be said to hire it too: for he built it, and was at pains with it, and fitted it up. Property, in fact, is but a word: we are all owners in fact but of other men’s possessions. Those things only are our own, which we have sent before us to the other world. Our goods here are not our own; we have only a life interest in them; or rather they fail us during our lives. Only the virtues of the soul are properly our own, as alms-giving and charity. Worldly goods, even by those without, were called external things, because they are without us. But let us make them internal. For we cannot take our wealth with us, when we depart hence, but we can take our charities. But let us rather send them before us, that they may prepare for us an abode in the eternal mansions. (Luke xvi. 9.)”

— John Chrysostom, Homily XI, 1 Timothy 3:8-10

Fr Silouan Thompson

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