CHARACTER OF A STUPID SOUL
Affliction is the school
mistress of divine Wisdom, if suffered as Christ did.
What happened to the three
thousand and the five thousand in the miracle of the multiplication?
They went, inflamed, to Christ; they drew near Christ with much piety.
And, like us, they looked to the future and eternal life. What
happened that they stopped following Christ? They rejected the perils
and afflictions that go with the following of Christ.
But we are worse. Not only
do we run away from affliction, we seek after comfort. The saints ask,
"What are the things that we must do?" We worldlings ask,
"What do I want to do?" The saints condemn themselves and
work as if salvation is nearly impossible. Sinners work as if they are
already saved and have a right to salvation.
Like an athlete, a saint is he
who, after hearing the call to holiness, takes off his coat, enters the
place for training and, later on, enters the place of combat. On the
other hand, the sinner is like a clown; he does not remove his coat and when
the fight begins, the enemy has little trouble because the sinner gets
entangled in his own attachments.
The saint and the sinner are
like two fighters; the former enters the arena with wisdom, strong muscles,
stripped to the waist and shining with sweat and oil. The latter
enters the arena with perfume, long silken garments, fancy shoes, and
trinkets around neck and ears. . .the garb of worldly attachments. The
latter will stumble even before the fight begins.
The moment of spiritual combat
is near, and most Christians dress themselves up for a procession.
Concern with the things of the world will hamper your soul like a chord and
you will not be able to raise your hand against the adversary of your soul.
Parting from the concerns of the
world is not enough. . .going home and selling your things and giving the
proceeds to the poor does not suffice for salvation. You must
"Follow Christ," you must suffer for doing good.
After casting away the long
robes of worldly attachments, you must still learn the ART of spiritual
combat AND still win your battles. If you retain these worldly
concerns, you shall fail to achieve great things, you will be a laughing
stock, and you will need no devil to stumble. . .you will have more than
enough attachments to fall.
Let us suppose there is a man
flinging filth outside a window; and it is falling on a man below the
window. The man below can easily escape the filth by simply taking a
step forward or backward or sideward; but he does not. Would you not
consider this man below more stupid and deserving of wrath because of his
stupidity, rather than become angry with the man above? So, likewise,
with the man encumbered with the concerns of this world: he can escape all
the useless burdens of this life, but he stubbornly clings to them, thus
unable to escape all the sins that come with being worldly. His
stupidity fills us with disgust and we withhold our help when we see him
being hit by the filth.
The soul with much worldly
concern is like a clown; he has too many unnecessary attachments. Like
the clown, his shoes are unnecessarily large, his fingers, clothing and hair
are unnecessarily long. We know he has put this on intentionally, just
as every worldly soul intentionally desires and seeks and works for his
attachments. When a clown falls, we don't pray for him, we don't raise
him up. . .we just laugh at him. This is the picture of a man working
so hard for worldly goals, worrying over satisfying his attachments or over
keeping and protecting his wealth. . .when he complains, how much we want to
say, "Go home, sell all your things. . ." then we stop because we
know he won't; because we know he is attached to them.
This the picture of a foolish
soul; he is like a clown going through life stumbling all over because of
his worldly attachments, looking miserable, but winning no one's
St. John Chrysostom, On I Corinthians