Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Theatre of Life

Reading St John Chrysostom’s On Wealth and Poverty I came across this noteworthy passage, where he explains the theatre of life, where the true nature of each person is revealed. It is said that in the Last Judgement God will show us for who we really are, making His Judgement just but also terrible for many people. St John Chrysostom explains:

‘In the same way even here, sitting in this world as if in a theatre and looking at the players on the stage, when you see many rich people, do not think that they are truly rich, but that they are wearing the masks of rich people. Just as that man who acts the part of king or general on the stage often turns out to be a household servant or somebody who sells figs or grapes in the market, so also the rich man often turns out to be the poorest of all. If you take off his mask, open up his conscience, and enter into his mind, you will often find there a great poverty of virtue: you will find that he belongs to the lowest class of all. Just as in the theatre, when evening falls and the audience departs, and the kings and general go outside to remove the costumes of their roles, they are revealed to everyone thereafter appearing to be exactly what they are; so also now when death arrives and the theatre is dissolved, everyone puts off the masks of wealth or poverty and departs to the other world. When all are judged by their deeds alone, some are revealed truly wealth, others poor, some of high class, others of no account.’[1]    

[1] Behr, John (ed.), St John Chrysostom – On Wealth and Poverty, (New York, SVSP, 1981), p.47.

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