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For the First Sunday in Lent: a reading from John Chrysostom

February 14, 2016

This is a repost from previous years – from the book Faith and Life: Readings Compiled from Ancient Writers, here is a selection for the First Sunday in Lent, by St. John Chrysostom:

I. THE ACCEPTED TIME.

“BEHOLD, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Let us not then throw away the opportunity, but exhibit such earnestness as is worthy of the grace bestowed. “See that ye receive not the grace in vain.” For lest they should think that reconciliation to God consisted simply in believing in His summons, he adds this requirement of earnestness of life. For if a man has been released from his sins, and made a friend, and then again plunges into his former evils, this is to return to envy, and, as far as conduct goes, to receive the grace in vain. For if we live impurely, we are not much helped by grace in regard to salvation; on the contrary, we are all the more injured, being weighed down by it in the midst of our sins, seeing that after such a recognition and such a bounty we have returned to our former evil deeds. But he does not as yet express this thought, for fear of making his discourse repulsive; he only says, grace, in this case, does us no good. Then he reminds them of prophecy, urging and pressing them on to start up and lay hold on salvation. “For the Scripture says, In a time accepted I heard thee, and in a day of salvation I succoured thee; behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” What is the accepted time?  It is the time of bounty, the time of grace, when we are not called upon to answer for our sins nor to suffer punishment; but, besides being released from it, to enjoy innumerable blessings, righteousness, sanctification, and every thing else. Let us draw near and show forth goodness of life; for this is easy. For he who enters on the contest at such a time as this, in which such exuberant bounty is poured forth, in which such fulness of grace, will easily win the prize. Let us then enter on our contest in the time of this bounty; it is a day of grace, of Divine grace; therefore we shall easily win the crown.

–St. Chrysostom, Hom. xii. on 2 Cor.

Indeed. now is the accepted time, and this is a great reminder that we are truly in “a time of bounty, a time of grace” in this season: will we “not then throw away the opportunity”?

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