Rorate Caeli

Primum quærite regnum Dei...

Primum quærite regnum Dei, et omnia adjicientur vobis, dicit Dominus. (Matthew, vi, 33: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God: and all things shall be added unto you, saith the Lord." Communion Antiphon --and Gospel, Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost.)

Nemo potest duobus dominis servire: aut enim unum odio habebit, et alterum diliget: aut unum sustinebit, et alterum contemnet. (Matthew, vi, 24: "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will sustain the one and despise the other." From the Gospel for the same Sunday.)

If thou wouldest obtain worldly things, seek Heaven; if you wouldest enjoy things here, despise them. For, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God," He saith, "and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew, vi, 33)

Why dost thou admire these trifles? Why long for things of no real worth? How long is one poor? How long a beggar? Raise thine eyes to heaven, think of the riches there, and smile at gold; think of how little use it is; that the enjoyment of it lasts but for the present life, and that compared with eternity, the present life is as a grain of sand, or as a drop of water to the boundless ocean. This wealth is not a possession, it is not property, it is a loan for use.

For when thou diest, willingly or unwillingly, all that thou hast goes to others, and they again give it up to others, and they again to others. For we are all sojourners; and the tenant of the house is more truly perchance the owner of it, for the owner dies, and the tenant lives, and still enjoys the house. And if the latter hires it, the other might be said to hire it too: for he built it, and was at pains with it, and fitted it up.

Property, in fact, is but a word: we are all owners in fact but of other men's possessions. Those things only are our own which we have sent before us to the other world. Our goods here are not our own; we have only a life interest in them; or rather they fail us during our lives.

Only the virtues of the soul are properly our own, as alms-giving and charity. Worldly goods, even by those without, were called external things, because they are without us. But let us make them internal. For we cannot take our wealth with us, when we depart hence, but we can take our charities. But let us rather send them before us, that they may prepare for us an abode in the eternal mansions. (Luke, xvi, 9)

Goods are named from use, not from lordship, and are not our own, and possessions are not a property but a loan. For how many masters has every estate had, and how many will it have! There is a sensible proverb, (and popular proverbs, when they contain any wisdom, are not to be despised,) "O field, how many men's hast thou been, and how many men's wilt thou be?" This we should say to our houses and all our goods.

Virtue alone is able to depart with us, and to accompany us to the world above. Let us then give up and extinguish that love of wealth, that we may kindle in us an affection for heavenly things. These two affections cannot possess one soul. For it is said, "Either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other" (Matthew, vi, 24).

Seest thou a man with a long train of attendants, clearing a way along the streets, clothed in silken garments, riding aloft, and stiffening his neck? Be not overawed, but smile. As we laugh when we see children playing at kings, so laugh at his state, for it is no better than theirs, nor indeed so pleasant, for there is not the same innocence and simplicity as with children. With them it is laughter and pleasure, here is a man made ridiculous and contemptible.

Saint John Chrysostom, Homilies on I Timothy (11)