Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Do Clothes Make the Man?

Some of the hermits once came to Joseph in Panephysis, to ask him if they should break their fast when they received brothers as guests, to celebrate their coming. Before they asked their question, Joseph said to them, "Think about what I am going to do today."

He put two seats made of reeds tied in bundles, one on his left and the other on his right, and said, "Sit down."

Then he went into his cell and put on rags; he came out, and walked past them, and then went into his cell again and put on his ordinary clothes. The visitors were astonished, and asked him what it meant.

He said to them, "Did you see what I did?"

They said, "Yes."

He said, "Did the rags change me for the better?"

They said, "No."

Joseph said, "Did good clothes change me for the worse?"

They said, "No."

He said, "So I am myself whether I wear good clothes or rags. I was not changed for better or for worse because I changed my clothes. That is how we ought to be when we receive guests. It is written in the Holy Gospel, 'Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's' (Matthew 22:21). When visitors come we should welcome them and celebrate with them. It is when we are by ourselves that we ought to be sorrowful."

When they heard this they were amazed that he knew what they intended to ask him, and they praised God.

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