Church Fathers, Day Thirty-Six: St. John Chrysostom tells us Christ taught by doing

Church Fathers, Day Thirty-Six: St. John Chrysostom tells us Christ taught by doing August 26, 2014

st_john_chrysostom_1Christ taught by doing

Jesus Christ taught by preaching, but he also gave us examples of his preaching in action. We should learn from him how to live our lives, and how to lead each other by example.

When Christ came to earth, he wished to instruct everyone in virtue. Now, an instructor teaches not just by word, but also by deed—that’s the teacher’s best way of teaching.

A pilot, for example, makes his apprentice sit by his side and tells him how to handle the rudder. But he also joins speech to action; he doesn’t rely on words alone or example alone. Likewise an architect who has a student beside him teaches him how to build a wall by action as well as oral teaching—every kind of craft has teachers who instruct both orally and practically.

So, since Christ came to instruct us in all virtue, he both tells us what we should do and does those things himself. For, he says, “he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19).

Look now: he commanded us to be humble and meek, and he taught this by his words. But look how he also teaches it by his deeds. For, having said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” “blessed are the meek,” he shows how we should practice those virtues. How? By putting on a towel and washing the disciples’ feet. Who can match such hu­mility? For he teaches this virtue not just by his words, but also by his deeds.

Again he teaches meekness and forbearance by his acts. How? He was struck in the face by the high priest’s servant, and all he said was, “If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” (John 18:23).

He commanded us to pray for our enemies, and again he teaches this by what he does, for when he had ascended the cross, he said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

St. John Chrysostom, Against Marcionists and Manicheans, 4


Do I try to face every situation the way Christ would face it?

Can others see how to live a Christian life from my example?


Lord, your law of love teaches us to love all our enemies sincerely. Help me follow the commandments of your new covenant, so that, by returning good for evil, I may learn to bear ill treatment as you yourself did.

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