Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Offer a Sacrifice of Righteousness



st-john-chrysostom_webWhat is the meaning of "Offer a sacrifice of righteousness" [P 4:5]? Seek after righteousness, bring an offering of righteousness. This — not the sacrifice of sheep and calves but the practice of righteousness — is the greatest gift one can bring to God; this is an acceptable sacrifice, an offering that is pleasing. Behold the life of the church described in advance; and in place of material things behold the rational things that should be sought. As said before, in this verse he is not speaking about righteousness as being particular virtue but as being virtue in general; so we call persons righteous who have all virtue in themselves. This sacrifice does not require money, sword, an altar, or fire; it does not dissolve into smoke, ashes, and odor. Rather, this sacrifice is fulfilled through the intentions of the one who make the offering. Indigence does not hinder it — poverty is not an obstacle; nor is place, nor any other such thing. Instead, wherever you are you can sacrifice righteousness; you yourself are the priest, the altar, the sword, and the sacrificial animal. Intellectual and spiritual qualities are like this: they have greater ease and they are not bothered with externals.

John Chrysostom
Commentary on the Psalms 4.9, on Ps 4:5


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