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November 13, 2018

Are You A Man or a Wild Beast? (St. John Chrysostom)

By St. John Chrysostom

When you are like an ass, kicking,
and like a bull, wantoning,
and like a horse neighing after women;
when you play the glutton like the bear,
and pamper your flesh as the mule,
and bear malice like the camel;
when you prowl as a wolf,
are wrathful as a serpent,
sting like a scorpion,
and are crafty as a fox,
treasure the poison of wickedness like an asp or a viper,
and war against your brethren like that evil demon;--
how shall I be able to number you with men,
not seeing in you the marks of man's nature?

Why, while I am seeking the difference of catechumen and believer, I come near not to find even the difference between a man and a wild beast.

For what shall I call you? A wild beast? No, the wild beasts are possessed by some one of these defects, but you heap all together, and far surpass their brutishness.

Shall I then call you a devil? No, a devil is not a slave to the dominion of the belly, neither does he set his love on riches.

When therefore you have more faults than either wild beasts or devils, how, I pray you, shall we call you a man?

And if you are not to be styled a man, how shall we address you as a believer?

From Homily 4 on Matthew, 15.