Tuesday, September 13, 2016

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

(I Corinthians 12:12-14.27-31a; Luke 7:11-17)

St. John Chrysostom lived in the aftermath of the Arian controversy.  Although the Council of Nicea proclaimed that Jesus Christ was really God, not everyone -- not even every bishop – gave consent to the teaching.  As archbishop of Constantinople, John had to defend this position against powerful dissenters.  He took on even greater resistance when he criticized the extravagant lives of the city’s rich.  Particularly the Empress Eudoxia resented his criticism of her vanity.  But John was also able to win many defenders as he preached powerfully.  Chrysostom, meaning golden-mouth, is actually a nickname.  With St. Augustine he is one of the greatest preachers of his time and, indeed, any time.

John Chrysostom put his extraordinary gifts to use in the Church as St. Paul admonishes the Corinthians in today’s first reading.  Paul’s point here is to show that everyone is gifted in some way to assist the Church.  If a person does not preach well, perhaps she sings like an angel.  If he cannot heal, perhaps he has a penchant for tidiness.  Although John Chrysostom may be one in a million millions, all have some gift to offer.

Often the Church does not seek out the gifts of its people.  Leaders tend to depend on a very few people whom they trust.  Although the reason for such an approach is patent, it curtails both the development of individuals and the building up of the Body of Christ.  We should be encouraging everyone in the congregation to put his or her talent to work for the benefit of all.