13 Sep – Memorial for John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor
Giovanni Crisostomo, or John Chrysostom (347-407) lost his father at a very young age, and was raised by a very pious mother. He was well-educated as he studied under Libanius, one of the most famous orators of his day. He was a monk, a preacher, and a priest for 12 years in Syria, where he developed a stomach ailment that troubled him the rest of his life.
Known as the greatest of the Greek Fathers, John earned the title “Chrysostom” (golden-mouthed) for his sermons. They were always on point, explained the Scriptures with clarity, and sometimes went on for hours. In 398, he was reluctantly made a bishop, a move that involved him in imperial politics. There, he criticised the rich for not sharing their wealth, fought to reform the clergy, prevented the sale of ecclesiastical offices, called for fidelity in marriage, and encouraged practices of justices and charity.
John’s sermons caused nobles and bishops to work to remove him from his diocese. He was twice exiled from his diocese. Finally, he was banished to Pythius, and died on the way there.
He is patron for lecturers, orators, preachers and speakers.
Prayer to St. John Chrysostom
Dear Saint John, your oratorical gifts inspired thousands and earned you the name “golden-mouthed.” Continue to inspire Christians through your writings and grant us a rebirth of Christian preaching for the spiritual renewal of the Church. Obtain from God preachers like yourself who, animated by the Holy Spirit, deserve to be called other Christs and forcefully preach the Good News. Amen.
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.
– Saint John Chrysostom
1 Corinthians 7:25-31
About remaining celibate, I have no directions from the Lord but give my own opinion as one who, by the Lord’s mercy, has stayed faithful. Well then, I believe that in these present times of stress this is right: that it is good for a man to stay as he is. If you are tied to a wife, do not look for freedom; if you are free of a wife, then do not look for one. But if you marry, it is no sin, and it is not a sin for a young girl to get married They will have their troubles, though, in their married life, and I should like to spare you that.
Brothers, this is what I mean: our time is growing short. Those who have wives should live as though they had none, and those who mourn should live as though they had nothing to mourn for; those who are enjoying life should live as though there were nothing to laugh about; those whose life is buying things should live as though they had nothing of their own; and those who have to deal with the world should not become engrossed in it. I say this because the world as we know it is passing away.
Fixing his eyes on his disciples Jesus said:
“How happy are you who are poor: yours is the kingdom of God.
Happy you who are hungry now: you shall be satisfied.
Happy you who weep now: you shall laugh.
“Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of man. Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, for then your reward will be great in heaven. This was the way their ancestors treated the prophets.
“But alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now.
Alas for you who have your fill now: you shall go hungry.
Alas for you who laugh now: you shall mourn and weep.
“Alas for you when the world speaks well of you! This was the way the ancestors treated the false prophets.”
Today’s readings seem to tell us to have a miserable life on earth – to have no money, no food, no joy, no praise. But there is a deeper message in here.
Firstly, the readings give hope to those who have none. It places our hope in the next world where God himself will fill up what we have not. For those who have, God would not need to fill up, since they already have.
Secondly, it is useless to strive to be poor for poverty’s sake, hungry for hunger’s sake, sad for sadness’ sake, persecuted for the sake of being persecuted. Rather, the readings tell us that our focus must be Jesus. St. Ignatius of Loyola teaches us holy indifference. This means that we focus on God and his will for us, taking poverty if it’s required, or wealth if God leads us that way; accepting good or bad health if it comes our way; accepting peace or persecution if it’s necessary for us to carry out God’s mission.
In this way, we focus on God, not ourselves. And perhaps, that’s the best way to live… not just in our big picture of life, but in every act, thought, or word of ours.
Prayer: We pray for all Christians to learn the meaning of holy indifference and to put it into practice, for the sake of God.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: What we have.
Thu, 14 Sep – Numbers 21:4b-9 or Philemon 2:6-11; John 3:13-17; Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Fri, 15 Sep – 1 Hebrews 5:7-9; John 19:25-27 or Luke 2:33-35; Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
Sat, 16 Sep – 1 Corinthians 10:14-22; Luke 6:43-49; Memorial for St. Cornelius, pope, & Cyprian, bishop, martyrs
Sun, 17 Sep – Isaiah 50:5-9a; James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35; Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.