Wednesday, September 15, 2010

St. John Chrysotom: 14 September 2010

St. John Chrysostom (349-407) was born in Antioch to pagan parents. His father, a soldier died while John was of an early wage, and John was raised by his mother. He became a Christian, was baptised and became a reader in the church. At first due to his mother’s influence he studied under pagans and developed a gift for rhetoric. As he grew older he studied under Christians and later became a hermit, during which time he spend memorising the Bible. Too much fasting permanently damaged his kidneys and he had to return to Constantinople. Ordained a deacon in 381 and a presbyter in 386 he became well known because of his preaching. In preaching and writing he emphasised the spiritual and physical needs of the poor. His talks were very practical, leading people to a straightforward understanding of the Bible and of Christian duty in everyday life. While in Antioch, he preached 21 sermons leading to whole sale conversion to Christianity by pagans.

In 398 he became Archbishop of Constantinople. It is said that his sermons were so powerful, that people were so enthralled by them that pickpockets had easy targets, and it was suggested that people leave their purses at home. Refusing to have banquets for the rich he made himself unpopular with the upper classes. He also forced priests to go back to where they were supposed to be. Either threw fearlessness, or fault of tact, John found himself with enemies in high places, and the Empress Eudoxia became his enemy and organised a conspiracy against him. A synod was held against him in 403 and he was deposed and to be banished. At his arrest there was an earthquake and the people were rioting so the emperor called him back to his post He was banished once again to Armenia for criticising the empress. During this time he wrote several letters of great influence in Constantinople and was exiled to Georgia. He never made it to his final destination, and was buried in Georgia, where his tomb became a site of pilgrimage.

Considered to be the greatest preacher of the early church (Chrysostom means golden mouthed) he preached extensively from the whole Bible, and many of the congregants copied his sermons and passed them around. He criticised his audience for being too worldly, especially in pagan entertainments, but at the same time formed his sermons so they would be clear to all, especially emphasising care of the needy. He also revised the liturgy and has some connection with the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

Heavenly Father, as you raised John Chrysostom to preach the Gospel and suffer for the faith. Grant that all preachers would have the eloquence to proclaim your word so as to build us up in faith and knowledge and love of you. Through the Messiah we pray, Amen. (red)

Jeremaih 42:1-6
Psalm 49:1-8
I Corinthians 12:31-13:7
Luke 21:12-15

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