You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but you have not enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he that earns wages earns wages to put it into a bag with holes.
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Clement Of Alexandria
Generally speaking, riches that are not under complete control are the citadels of evil. If the ordinary people look on them covetously, they will never enter the kingdom of heaven, because they are letting themselves become contaminated by the things of this world and are living above themselves in selfindulgence. Those concerned for their salvation should take this as their first principle, that, although the whole of creation is ours to use, the universe is made for the sake of selfsufficiency, which anyone can acquire by a few things. They who rejoice in the holdings in their storehouses are foolish in their greed. “He that earned wages,” Scripture reminds us, “put them into a bag with holes.” Such is the man who gathers and stores up his harvest, for by not sharing his wealth with anyone he becomes worse off.
And yet, for the most part, such people carefully weigh what is the amount that they give but neglect to consider how much they seize. They count it as a sort of requital but refuse to consider their sins. Let them, therefore, hear what is written: “He that has earned wages put them into a bag with holes.” When a bag has holes, the money is indeed seen when it is put in, but it is not seen when it is being lost. They, then, who keep an eye on how much they give, but not on how much they steal, put their wages into a bag with holes because, while piling up [riches], they look to them in the hope that they will be secure but lose them when they are not looking.
Thus the priestly ministry is a trade. Hence the prophet says to the children of Israel, “Your innkeepers mix water with their wine.” For holy Isaiah is not speaking about the innkeepers who, in the course of their publican ministrations, deceptively mix pure wine with a measure of water. It could hardly be a matter of concern to the blessed man, as if he were a civil judge, that people would dilute tavern vessels to make a less inebriating drink. He is speaking rather about the innkeepers who reside not over taverns but churches. They offer thirsty people a goblet not of wanton desire but of virtue. They do not minister the cup of drunkenness but the Savior’s cup. Those innkeepers he censures and rebukes, and he complains that they mix water with wine. This he blames in them—that although they are set over divine functions, they have become followers after human things, as the prophet himself says: “Each of you follows his own house.” For if any priest has abandoned the priestly offic...