CHRYSOSTOM RUNS AWAY FROM
ORDINATION OUT OF HUMILITY
St. Basil: To love
Christ, indeed, is my deepest concern. But I have not even attained half of
it. And you know this well.
St. Chrysostom: I
will expose you because you disparage yourself rather than speak the truth.
Just recently, when one of our friends was in danger, you plunged yourself
into the midst of danger without anyone asking you to. And when a few
objected to your deed, what was your answer? "I do not know otherwise
how to love than by giving up my life when it is necessary to save my
friend," thus, observing perfect love: "Greater love
hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friend." You
have attained the limits of love. This is why I contrived the plot of
influencing you to be shepherd of Christ's flock. Not out of malice or
desire to expose you to danger, but because of your competency to tend
St. Basil: Is love
sufficient for the correction of one's fellowmen?
Love is a big help. But practical wisdom is needed. And you have this.
St. Basil: You are
accused of insulting the electors by your refusal to be ordained.
St. Chrysostom: I
will not honor man as long as it displeases God. Besides, they should not be
insulted since I was even protecting them from harm. They accused me of
rejecting the offer out of arrogance and vainglory but this was far from my
mind. These electors have by-passed men who have undergone innumerable toils
in the service of the Church and then chose me who have never labored for
the Church, I who have spent my life in secular activities. Some have
accused me of bribing the electors; but how can I when I precisely refused
the honor? With my rejection of the offer, the electors stand innocent of
being bribed or influenced. Besides, no one will blame them for selecting a
thoughtless youth to defile the flock of Christ. But in your case, Basil, it
is different. By your words and actions you have shown them that
understanding is not to be estimated by age and that grey hair is not the
test of elderliness. That only novices should be excluded from the ministry
but not the young. . . and the difference between the two is great.
St. John Chrysostom: Treatise
Concerning the Christian Priesthood