Friday, November 23, 2007

Spiritual voice (30): Clement of Rome on what is expected of priests

[On this feast of St. Clement (d. 102), the fourth bishop of Rome, I would like to share this passage from the 13th chapter of his first epistle: a passage which speaks of what is expected of priests--of those who work in the vineyard of the Lord]

Beloved brethren, that a man should build up and establish the brethren on the faith in one God, this also is manifest and well-known. This too, again, is comely, that a man should not be envious of his neighbour. And moreover, again, it is suitable and comely that all those who work the works of the Lord should work the works of the Lord in the fear of God. Thus is it required of them to conduct themselves.

That "the harvest is great, but the workmen are few," this also is well-known and manifest. Let us, therefore, "ask of the Lord of the harvest" that He would send forth workmen into the harvest: such workmen as "shall skilfully dispense the word of truth":

--workmen "who shall not be ashamed;"

--faithful workmen;

--workmen who shall be "the light of the world;
workmen who "work not for the food that perishes, but for that food which abides unto life eternal;

--workmen who shall be such as the apostles;

--workmen who imitate the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit;

--who are concerned for the salvation of men;

--not hireling workmen;

--not workmen to whom the fear of God and righteousness appear to be gain;

--not workmen who "serve their belly;

--not workmen who with fair speeches and pleasant words mislead the hearts of the innocent;

--not workmen who imitate the children of light, while they are not light but darkness;

--men whose end is destruction;

--not workmen who practice iniquity and wickedness and fraud;

--not crafty workmen;

--not workmen drunken and faithless;

--nor workmen who traffic in Christ;

--not misleaders;

--not "lovers of money;

--not malevolent.

Let us, therefore, contemplate and imitate the faithful who have conducted themselves well in the Lord, as is becoming and suitable to our calling and profession. Thus let us do service before God in justice and righteousness, and without blemish, "occupying ourselves with things good and comely before God and also before men." For this is comely, that God be glorified in us in all things.

Here ends the first Epistle of Clement

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