A Rebuke From St. John Chrysostom

A Rebuke From St. John Chrysostom October 27, 2013

From the folks at Daily Gospel Online, a quote from St. John Chrysostom that I wanted to share.  “Those with ears, let them hear!”

Nothing is more cold than a christian who is not dedicated to saving others. In this respect there can be no pretense of poverty: the widow who gave her two tiny coins would rise up and call you to account (Lk 21,2). Peter too, who said: “Silver and gold have I none” (Acts 3,6). And Paul, who was so poor that he often went hungry and lacked the necessary means to live on (1Cor 4,11). Neither can you protest your humble birth: they too were of modest degree. Ignorance won’t give you any better excuse: they were uneducated as well… It’s no good claiming sickness: Timothy was subject to frequent illnesses (1Tim 5,23)… Anybody at all can be of service to his neighbor if he would do what he can…

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  • brian martin

    I also have always like this:
    “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 Chrysostom, In Evangelium S. Matthaei, hom. 50:3-4: PG 58, 508-509

    • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO

      Thanks Brian: I like this passage as well. Let me ask those among our readers who are more liturgically conservative: how do you interpret this injunction?

      • brian martin

        It sort of puts to rest the idea that a “preferential option for the poor” is simply the result of the collision of communist thought and the Catholic Church in South America, as a conservative friend described it. The idea of the Church caring for the poor existed as a concept and a practice centuries ago, and Gustavo Gutierrez and others put it in modern language.

        • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO

          More than just caring for the poor: making the poor and their well-being central to the Christian identity.

  • brian martin

    Exactly. Certainly flies in the face of the “Catholics” in the US who have subscribed to the whole “prosperity gospel” thing in practice if not in name.

  • Agellius

    “Let me ask those among our readers who are more liturgically conservative: how do you interpret this injunction?”

    Well, if you interpret it at face value it means we’ve got to sell St. Peter’s, as well as my car and my wedding ring. But the Church’s liturgical law requires that chalices be made of precious materials. I think you have to balance the need to feed the poor with the need for dignity in the liturgy. The former feeds the body, the latter the soul. Of the two, the Church’s mission is primarily to the soul.

    Before someone jumps on me, I’m not saying vessels are more important than people, or any of that sort of thing, but that there is a need for both. You can’t jettison either, so you’ve got to balance them prudentially as best you can.

  • Agellius

    Sorry, when I said “there is a need for both”, I meant there is a need for dignified liturgical vessels and a need to care for the poor.