John, the Golden-Mouthed

“If you cannot find Christ in the beggar at the church door, you will not find him in the chalice.”

“Not to share our own wealth with the poor is theft from the poor and deprivation of their means of life; we do not possess our own wealth, but theirs.”

“We must not mind insulting men, if by respecting them, we offend God.”

The saint we know as John Chrysostom, was not called Chrysostom (which means “golden-mouthed) until after his death.  It was his golden-mouthed preaching and writing that made him a great teacher of the early church, but also caused him great personal grief. His feast day is celebrated on September 13.

As a result of his reputation as an orator, John was kidnapped from his church in Antioch in 398 and made the Archbishop of Constantinople, the center of the Roman Empire at the time.  He accepted the position as the will of God, but denounced many important leaders (including clergy) in the city for their extreme wealth and corruption. His denouncements of Roman citizens by name led to his banishment more than once, the last resulting in his sickness and death in 407.

To put John Chrysostom’s life in perspective:  Emperor Constantine issued his edict decriminalizing Christianity (the Edict of Milan) in 313.  John was born in 349, just 36 years later. It was not until 380, when he was 31, that Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.  He became a deacon in Antioch the following year.

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