Friday, september 13, 2013

Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor of the Church

(I Timothy 1:1-2.12-14; Luke 6:39-42)

Pope Francis has raised eyebrows by moving out of the papal apartments and telling well-wishers that it would be better for them to give money to the poor than to spend it on a trip to Rome.  This is the spirit of St. John Chrysostom whom the Church remembers today.  As Patriarch of Constantinople, then the capital of the Roman Empire, John brought on the wrath of the wealth by refusing to host lavish parties and by accusing the empress of lavishness.

John Chrysostom could justly criticize the aristocracy of Constantinople because he was a faithful disciple of Jesus.  As Jesus says in today’s gospel, when a disciple is fully trained, he will become like the master.  Just as Jesus often chastised the powerful for their neglect of charity so John Chrysostom had little patience for spendthrift Christians.

Pope Francis is calling the Church to a deeper sensitivity toward the poor and war-weary.  No doubt, he realizes that the complexities of poverty and of warfare are daunting; nevertheless, he wants Christians to exhibit more urgency in dealing with them.  In other words, he wants us to become true disciples of Jesus.