The Orthodox Church celebrates the Synaxis of Three Holy Hierarchs – Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom – on January 30/ February 12. Those great doctors and pastors made a great contribution to growth and development of the Body of Christ. They succeeded in healing sores of schisms and in making Christian theology more elaborate and profound. They preached the Name of Christ and heralded His Kingdom with courage. We would like to quote some of their sayings about our Lord Jesus Christ and about almsgiving to pay prayerful respect to those three great holy men. Hopefully, their words will inspire us to imitate the wonderful actions that they urged people to do in the course of their entire lives.
Saint Gregory the Theologian († January 25, 390):
1. Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us. He assumed the worse that He might give us the better; He became poor that we through His poverty might be rich.
2. Give something, however small, to the one in need. For it is not small to one who has nothing. Neither is it small to God, if we have given what we could.
3. May God preserve me from being rich while they are indigent, from enjoying robust health if I do not try to cure their diseases, from eating good food, clothing myself well and resting in my home if I do not share with them a piece of my bread and give them, in the measure of my abilities, part of my clothes and if I do not welcome them into my home.
4. … I gave as an offering my all to Him Who had won me and saved me, my property, my fame, my health, my very words… In considering all these things, I preferred Christ. And the words of God were made sweet as honeycombs to me, and I cried after knowledge and lifted up my voice for wisdom. There was moreover the moderation of anger, the curbing of the tongue, the restraint of the eyes, the discipline of the belly, and the trampling under foot of the glory which clings to the earth.
5. Christ is born: glorify Him. Christ comes from heaven: go out to meet Him. Christ descends to earth: let us be raised on high.
Saint Basil the Great († January 379):
1. When someone steals another’s clothes, we call them a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor.
2. I cannot persuade myself that without love to others, and without, as far as rests with me, peaceableness toward all, I can be called a worthy servant of Jesus Christ.
3. I have learned from Jesus Christ Himself what charity is, and how we ought to practise it; for He says: “By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye love one another.” Never can I, therefore, please myself in the hope that I may obtain the name of a servant of Christ if I possess not a true and unfeigned charity within me.
4. … if, to me, to live is Christ (Phil. 1:21), truly my words ought to be about Christ, my every thought and deed ought to depend upon His commandments, and my soul to be fashioned after His.
5. A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.
Saint John Chrysostom († September 14, 407):
1. If you wish to leave much wealth to your children, leave them in God’s care. Do not leave them riches, but virtue and skill. For if they learn to expect riches, they will not mind anything besides, and their abundant riches shall give them the means of screening the wickedness of their ways.
2. The rich man is not one who is in possession of much, but one who gives much.
3. If the Lord should give you power to raise the dead, He would give much less than He does when he bestows suffering. By miracles you would make yourself debtor to Him, while by suffering He may become debtor to you. And even if sufferings had no other reward than being able to bear something for that God who loves you, is not this a great reward and a sufficient remuneration? Whoever loves, understands what I say.
4. Do you fast? Then feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, visit the sick, do not forget the imprisoned, have pity on the tortured, comfort those who grieve and who weep, be merciful, humble, kind, calm, patient, sympathetic, forgiving, reverent, truthful and pious, so that God might accept your fasting and might plentifully grant you the fruits of repentance.
Troparion — Tone 1:
Let us who love their words gather together / and honor with hymns the three great torch-bearers of the triune Godhead: / Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom. / These men have enlightened the world with the rays of their divine doctrines. / They are sweetly-flowing rivers of wisdom / filling all creation with springs of heavenly knowledge. / Ceaselessly they intercede for us before the Holy Trinity!