St. John Chrysostom Homily on Repentance

In the name of the Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit, One God, Amen!

Now, do you have another road that leads to repentance? If so, which one? The one that mourns the sin. Have you sinned? Mourn, and you annul the sin. How toilsome is this? I do not require of you anything more than to mourn the sin. I am not telling you to leave the oceans or to navigate safely into port from the high seas or to march, or to depart on an endless journey, or to pay money, or to create a safe passage through treacherous waves. Then what? Mourn the sin. How do we know this, that if I mourn, I undo the sin? You have proof of this from Holy Scripture.

A certain king, Ahab, was considered righteous but reigned wickedly under the influence of his wife, Jezebel. God sent Ahab the profit Elijah. “go” He said, “say to Ahab, just as you murdered and took possession, likewise your blood shall be spilled, and the dogs will lick up your blood, and the harlots will bathe themselves in your blood.” The wrath was sent from God. The decision was final. The judgment was fulfilled. Look where He sent him- to the vineyard. There where the crime took place, there also was the punishment.

What did he say? When Ahab saw him, he said, “you have found me my enemy” instead of “you called me to account because I sinned.” Elijah read him the decision, “thus says the Lord, just as you murdered and took possession, likewise your blood shall be spilled, and the dogs will lick up your blood, and the harlots will bathe themselves in your blood.

As Ahab heard these things, he became melancholy and mourned his son. He realized the injustice he had committed, and God canceled the decree against him. However, God first notified Elijah. God told him the reason He forgave Ahab. What did God say to Elijah? “ do you see how Ahab lived, mourning and looking melancholy before me? I will not act according to his wickedness”. Oh my! The Master becomes servants advocate, and God gives account to a man for a particular human being. “do you think,” He said, “that I forgave him without any reason. He reformed his manner of living, and I changed my wrath and dissolved it. If he had not changed his character, he would have suffered the consequence of the decision. However, he altered his way of life, and I dissolved My anger”. Do you see now how sorrow obliterates sins?


There is another road towards repentance. I spoke of many roads towards repentance to make salvation easy for you to achieve. Humility; humble your frame of mind, and you lose the chains of sins.

You have proof of this from the scriptures, from the reading of the parable of the publican and the pharisee. The scriptures say that the pharisee and the publican went up into the temple to pray, and the pharisee began to enumerate his virtues. He said, “ I am not sinful like the whole world, nor like this, publican.”

Therefore, how did the publican answer? As he heard these things, he did not say, “who are you to tell me such things? From what source did you learn of my life? You did not keep company with me. You did not live with me. We did not spend time together. Why are you so haughty? Who witnesses your beneficence? Why do you praise yourself? Why do you indulge yourself?” The publican said nothing like this. However, bowing, he worshipped and said, “God have mercy upon me a sinner.”

By being humble, the publican became righteous. The pharisee descended from the temple utterly deprived of righteousness, and the publican came down, having acquired righteousness. Words prevail over deeds. For the pharisee totally ruined his deeds' righteousness and the publican acquired righteousness with the word of humility. Indeed the words of the pharisee were not humility because humility occurs when someone great humbles himself. The words of the publican were not humility either, but the truth. His words were true; he was a sinner.

Do you want to know who is truly humble, Paul, the teacher of the whole world, the spiritual orator, the elect vessel, the unshakable tower, who, with his small physique, encircled the whole world and circumnavigated it as if he had wings. I call him truly humble who suffered myriads of toils, who exhibited thousands and thousands of victories against the devil, he endured imprisonment, wounds, and beatings, who netted the world with epistles, who was called by a heavenly voice, humbles himself saying “I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle.”

The publican did not exhibit a humble frame of mind; rather he stated the truth when he exposed his own sins. He became righteous without paying money, crossing seas, traveling a long journey, passing through countless oceans, honoring friends, spending much time. Instead, e achieved righteousness by his humility. And in this way, he became worthy of the kingdom of the heavens, which may we all be worthy to attain, through the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and power, unto the ages of ages Amen.


Glory to God, Amen!


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