May 27, 2013
A comprehended god is no God," a great preacher once said. In the second half of the fourth century, John Chrysostom emerged as a shining voice in the fog of shifting power and thought in the Roman Empire. Chrysostom, means, "the golden-mouthed."
John was originally trained for a career in law. The renowned orator Libanius foresaw a brilliant future in his pupil and was wholly disheartened when John saw fit to alter it. It is said that Libanius was once asked who he saw as his ideal successor. "John," he replied, "but the Christians have laid claim on him."
After six years of monastic withdrawal, John returned to Antioch and took to preaching. The golden-mouthed orator was enthusiastically received, and his distinction was soon celebrated throughout the Greek-speaking church.
John Chrysostom's bold words and influential speaking would leave him not only with the respect of many, but also with many influential enemies (including the Emperor's wife, Eudoxia).
Under the front of false accusations, John Chrysostom's enemies eventually had him banished from Constantinople, where he served as bishop. Many of his supporters were persecuted and his closest friends were tortured. Over a period of time and events, they moved him from city to city, unable to banish him far enough away from influence. From exile he turned to writing and moved the world with his pen. Yet in time, he grew weak from the extensive journeys further into exile. Pleading with his guards to stop at a small church, Chrysostom preached a final, abbreviated sermon before he died: "In all things, glory to God."
In many churches around the world on Easter, John Chrysostom's Easter homily still resounds powerfully from the pulpit:
"Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death,
for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it."
This is the mystery we proclaim and the Savior we can mirror because God has laid claim on our souls.
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