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St. Basil:   Why do you refuse to be ordained? Don't you love Christ?

St. Chrysostom:    Yes, I love Christ and will never cease to love Him. But I fear provoking Him Whom I love by being an incompetent pastor.

St. Basil:   You speak obscurely. You love Christ and Christ said: "Feed My sheep." Yet you say it is because you love Christ that you refuse to tend His sheep?

St. Chrysostom:   If I am well qualified to tend Christ's sheep and I shun it, then rebuke me. But my infirmities and defects render me useless. And so, I fear that taking the flock in good condition and well nourished, I should destroy it through  my lack of skill. By this, I shall provoke God Who so loved the flock.

St. Basil:   If you are unworthy of the task, I am even more unworthy. Yet, when I sought your advice on the matter, you encouraged me to embrace the office. How can you expose me to the dangers you fear. . .that of provoking the Christ we both love?

St. Chrysostom:    I know you more than your parents know you; you are worthy to tend Christ's flock.

St. Basil:   You yourself know the feebleness of my character. You have taunted me for my pusillanimity because I get easily discouraged.

St. Chrysostom:   I was just jesting when I taunted you. I did it in sport and not in serious truth. But I have your words and deeds to demonstrate the truth of your worthiness.  You know the power of love: "Hereby shall men know that you are my disciples if you love one another." Paul calls love the fulfillment of the law. This good, the distinguishing mark of Christ's disciple, this gift which is higher than all other gifts, I know is deeply implanted in your soul and teeming with much fruits.

St. John Chrysostom: Treatise Concerning the Christian Priesthood







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