Sunday, August 16, 2009

John Chrysostom: We are Temples of God

Accordingly, let us not make excuses, claiming a house of prayer is not close by: if we have the right dispositions, the grace of the Spirit made us personally temples of God, and there is ease for us in every respect. Our worship, after all, is not of the kind that formerly prevailed among the Jews, which was long on appearance but short on reality. In that case, you see, the worshiper had to go up to the temple, buy a turtle-dove, get hold of wood and fire, take sword in hand, appear before the altar, and carry out many other requirements. In our case, on the other hand, it is not like that: wherever you are, you have the altar with you, the sword, and the victim, you yourself being priest and altar and victim. In other words, wherever you are, you can set up the altar, giving evidence only of an attentive will, place being no obstacle, time no hindrance; even if you do not go down on your knees, do not strike your breast or raise your hands to heaven, and merely demonstrate an ardent disposition, you have completed the whole of the prayer.

- John Chrysostom (around A.D. 347 to around A.D. 407), Homilies on Hannah, Homily 4, in St. John Chrysostom, Old Testament Homilies, Volume 1, p. 119 (2003), Robert C. Hill translator.