St. John Chrysostom, Pope Francis and Ms. Frizzle

St. John Chrysostom, Pope Francis and Ms. Frizzle December 7, 2013

From the folks at Daily Gospel Online comes a commentary by St. John Chrysostom:

Is there anything more ridiculous than a christian who couldn’t care less about other people? Don’t use your poverty as an excuse. The widow who put two small coins in the Temple coffer (Mk 12,42) would rise up against you; Peter, too, who said to the lame man: “Gold or silver have I none” (Acts 3,6) and Paul, who was so poor he often went hungry. Neither protest your social condition, for the apostles were also humble men of low degree. Don’t plead your ignorance for they were unlettered. Even if you were a slave or a fugitive you would always be able to do what lies in your power. Onesimus, whose praises Paul sang, was such a one (Phlm; Col 4,9). Would you claim weak health? Timothy had it too. Yes, whoever we are, anyone at all can be of service to his neighbor if he genuinely wants to do what he can.

Do you notice how the trees in the forest are flourishing, handsome, rising upwards? Nevertheless, we prefer fruit trees in our gardens or olive trees covered with fruit. Handsome, sterile trees…, such are they who are only thinking of their own interests…

I have always had a fondness for the sermons of St. John Chrysostom, and I think I am beginning to understand why.  He is plainspoken, to the point, and encouraged his listeners to embrace the world and do something about the evils that they see around them.  Also, if I remember correctly, he made enemies of the rich and powerful by challenging the status quo.

Though John Chrysostom did not say it, I can definitely imagine him echoing what Pope Francis said:  that he wants

a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.

Of course, both of them may be heard in the pithy exhortation of Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus:

Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!

I pray that all of us will, by God’s grace, have the courage to take chances, make mistakes and get messy in the service of the Gospels.

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  • I like the part about how poverty is no excuse. Sometimes the most valuable thing we can give is a hug.

  • Brian Martin

    I did outreach for several years at a homeless shelter. There was a little elderly lady who lived across the street, and every day she would walk over and bring her daily newspaper over to the people staying at the shelter.
    What was interesting was that the people staying there knew more about her, and knew her name, but knew nothing about the people who donated money but were never there. I believe that her act was more healing to them than a donation of money to the shelter without personal interaction.
    It seems that it is hard to see the face of Christ in the poor if we simply drop money in an envelope…and it is hard for them to see the Christ in us.
    I think my time working there taught me as much about sitting with people in a therapy session as any of my Grad school classes.

  • I read about Chrysostom’s beography and deeds at: