Saturday, 14 November 2009
Chrysostom on How the Thief on the Cross Was Justified by Grace Alone through Faith Alone
I just added this quote to the category 'Justification' over at Lutheran Catholicity (link available under 'My Other Blogs' in the column to the right), but I thought it worthwhile posting here as well. It is from John Chrysostom (c.347-407), or John the 'Goldenmouthed' as he was known because of his eloquence as a preacher, on how the thief on the cross was justified by grace through faith without the deeds of the law.
"Let us see, however, whether the brigand gave evidence of effort and upright deeds and a good yield. Far from his being able to claim even this, he made his way into paradise before the apostles with a mere word, on the basis of faith alone, the intention being for you to learn that it was not so much a case of his sound values prevailing as the Lord's lovingkindness being completely responsible.
What, in fact, did the brigand say? What did he do? Did he fast? Did he weep? Did he tear his garments? Did he display repentance in good time? Not at all: on the cross itself after his utterance he won salvation. Note the rapidity: from cross to heaven, from condemnation to salvation. What were those wonderful words, then? What great power did they have that they brought him such marvelous good things? "Remember me in your kingdom." What sort of word is that? He asked to receive good things, he showed no concern for them in action; but the one who knew his heart paid attention not to the words but to the attitude of mind."
John Chrysostom, Sermon 7 on Genesis, in St. John Chrysostom, Eight Sermons on the Book of Genesis, pp. 123-24 (2004), Robert C. Hill translator (for the record, Hill is an honorary fellow and adjunct professor at the Australian Catholic University, and the book is published by an Orthodox publishing house, so let us have no "this is a Protestant mistranslation" complaints!)