St. John Chrysostom was a priest and theologian of the 4th century after Christ who was such an engaging and convincing speaker that he earned the sobriquet 'Golden mouth' from Christians of the day.  He is counted among the Three Holy Hierarchs and Doctor of the Church, along with SS. Basil the Great and Gregpru Nazianzus. He is commemorated by Eastern Christians on November 13, but also on two other days of the year. John Chrysostom was also a liturgist and gave his name to the ritual of the Divine Liturgy still celebrated by Catholics and Orthodox of the East to this day.

As a preacher, John Chrysostom was unexcelled, resorting to a method of rhetoric known in Greek as psogos 'blame.'  In particular, his homilies about Christians who engaged in Jewish customs and practices have been cited as evidence of very early anti-Semitism on the part of Christians. In Greek the homilies are called Kata Ioudaiōn (Κατὰ Ιουδαίων), which is translated as Adversus Judaeos in Latin and Against the Jews in English. The original editor of his homilies, Bernard de Montfaucon, wrote of the homilies, "A discourse against the Jews; but it was delivered against those who were Judaizing and keeping the fasts with them [the Jews]." John Chrysostom was born in 347. 

John Chrysostom was also controversial among his fellow Christians because of his work towards reform. He was a scourge to the clergy who lived in luxury, and his self-induced penances became legendary. He condemned lavish banquets and social gatherings for the clergy, while advocating discipline and charity. As Archbishop of Constantinople, he called about the clergy and laity to show mercy and compassion towards the poor. He wrote "Do you wish to honour the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk, only then to neglect him outside where he is cold and ill-clad. He who said: "This is my body" is the same who said: "You saw me hungry and you gave me no food", and "Whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me"... What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother is dying of hunger? Start by satisfying his hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well." 

John so angered the powerful, including the Patriarch of Constantinople, that he was banished from his see and died in exile in 407.  

Here follows part of a reflection on the part of the saint about the capital sin: Pride.


"Pride is a terrible rock where wild beasts that would tear you to pieces every day. What are these wild beasts?

They are violence, negligence, envy, quarrelsomeness, calumny, lies, hypocrisy, actions to the detriment of the innocent, satisfaction at the misfortunes of colleagues, regret at their success, desire for praise, conceit over honors received (which is the wild beast mot fatal to the soul), ostentatious conversation, unworthy, flattery, contempt of the poor and obsequiousness towards the wealthy, coveting favors not altogether commendable which endanger those not present and extreme severity towards the weak while not daring to utter a word against the powerful.

All these wild beasts, and others still more numerous, that keep company with one and another on the rock of pride are a menace to the soul."



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only, not of Spero News.

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