Friday, January 26, 2018

A 'Mosaic of Wisdom' from St John Chrysostom

Dear Parish Faithful,

As I mentioned briefly in the homily on Sunday, our Church School students spent their class time on that same day studying the life of the ever-fascinating and much beloved St. John Chrysostom (+407), the "Golden-mouthed" teacher and preacher whose wisdom is both profound and timeless. In "The Prayers of Thanksgiving After Communion" we address St. John with the following words:

Grace shining forth from your lips like a beacon has enlightened the universe. It has shown the world the riches of poverty. It has revealed to us the heights of humility. Teaching us by your words, O Father John Chrysostom, intercede before the Word, Christ our God, to save our souls.

And again:

You were revealed as the sure foundation of the Church, granting all men a lordship which cannot be taken away, sealing it with your precepts, O venerable and heavenly father.

Liturgical language is always a bit rhetorical, but then St. John was the master of well-chosen and meaningful rhetorical language!

Our youngest class put together a kind of "mosaic" of various icons of St. John, each of which was accompanied by a wise saying of his. I would like to share those today with everyone, as the merest taste of St. John's "golden-mouthed" teaching:

"A rich man is not one who has much, but one who gives much. For what he gives away remains his forever."

"The Church is a hospital, and not a courtroom, for souls. She does not condemn on behalf of sins, but grants remission of sins."

"The Holy Scriptures were not given to us that we should enclose them in books, but that we should engrave them upon our hearts."

"If you do not find Christ in the beggar at the church door, neither will you find him in the Chalice."

"Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again for forgiveness has risen from the grave."

"The only person who is free is the one who lives for Christ."

Each of these saying are as meaningful - and challenging - today as they were when first uttered in either Antioch or Constantinople.

If I were to recommend a work of St. John's that offers a combination of his great gift of interpreting the Scriptures combined with his great use of language and preaching, I would begin with his series of homilies on the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus: On Wealth and Poverty.

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