Thursday, January 02, 2014

The Theater Of Heaven

Retire from the earth, and look to the theater that is in heaven. If men should praise you, then afterwards they will blame you, will envy you, will assail your character; or if they do not, yet their praise will not benefit you. It is not so with God. He delights in praising your virtuous deeds. Have you spoken well and obtained applause? What have you gained? If those who applauded you were benefited, changed their minds, became better men, and had desisted from their evil deeds, then you might indeed rejoice, not at the praises bestowed, but at the wonderful change for the better. But if they continue their praises and loud plaudits, but gain no good by what they applaud, you ought rather to grieve, for these things turn to their judgement and condemnation. 

Does no one honor you? You ought to rejoice at it. For God will not lay to your charge, among other things, that you have enjoyed honor... For he who is not honored in the present life, who is despised, and held in no consideration, but is insulted and scorned, gains this at least, if nothing else, that he does not have to answer for being honored by his fellow-servants. And on many other accounts he gains by it. He is brought down and humbled, nor if he would, can he be high-minded, if he takes the more heed to himself...

Let us not seek for honors, but evade them when they are offered; let us cast them from us, let us extinguish that desire... The human glory is empty, and an imitation of glory: it is not true glory. Only beauty which is natural, which is within, is lasting: that which is put on externally, when the threater breaks up, and the masks are taken off, each appears what he really is...

Let no man praise you, for it profits nothing; and if he blames you, it does not harm you... And herein we are made like God, that He needs no glory from men. (St. John Chrysostom, Homily II on Titus I)

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