John Chrysostom

John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, 407

January 27

John was called “Chrysostom” (“Golden Mouth”) because of his eloquence. He was a priest of Antioch, and an outstanding preacher. (Audiences were warned not to carry large sums of money when they went to hear him speak, since pickpockets found it very easy to rob his hearers — they were too intent on his words to notice what was happening.) His sermons are mostly straightforward expositions of Holy Scripture (he has extensive commentaries on both Testaments, with special attention to the Epistles of Paul), and he emphasizes the literal meaning, whereas the style popular at Alexandria tended to read allegorical meanings into the text. He loved the city and people of Antioch, and they loved him. However, he became so famous that the Empress at Constantinople decided that she must have him for her court preacher, and she had him kidnapped and brought to Constantinople and there made bishop. This was a failure all around. His sermons against corruption in high places earned him powerful enemies (including the Empress), and he was sent into exile, where he died. Along with Athanasius of Alexandria, Basil the Great, and Gregory of Nazianzus, he is counted as one of the Four Great Eastern (or Greek) Doctors of the Ancient Church. The Four Great Western (or Latin) Doctors are Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory the Great.

Today’s Readings

Jeremiah 1:4-10
Luke 21:12-15
Psalm 49:1-8 or
Psalm 34:15-22

Writing

“He gave himself a ransom,” he saith, how then was He delivered up by the Father? Because it was of His goodness. And what means “ransom”? God was about to punish them, but He forbore to do it. They were about to perish, but in their stead He gave His own Son, and sent us as heralds to proclaim the Cross. These things are sufficient to attract all, and to demonstrate the love of Christ. Moral. So truly, so inexpressibly great are the benefits which God has bestowed upon us. He sacrificed Himself for His enemies, who hated and rejected Him. What no one would do for friends, for brethren, for children, that the Lord hath done for His servants; a Lord not Himself such an one as His servants, but God for men; for men not deserving. For had they been deserving, had they done His pleasure, it would have been less wonderful; but that He died for such ungrateful, such obstinate creatures, this it is which strikes every mind with amazement. For what men would not do for their fellow-men, that has God done for us! – John Chrysotom

Today’s Collect

God, you gave your servant John Chrysostom grace eloquently to proclaim your righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honor of your Name: Mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellence in preaching, and faithfulness in ministering your Word, that your people may be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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