27 January 2011
St. John Chrysostom (January 27)
One of my first introductions to Chrysostom was through the Touchstone Magazine article, One Flesh of Purest Gold. Although Lutherans and Protestants criticize Chrysostom for cloistering himself for many years in a monastery, his writings do not reflect a low view of marriage.
He also was a prolific Pauline scholar, and his homilies on the Epistles are full of "faith alone" rhetoric. Pr. Will Weedon compiled a nice collection of "faith alone" quotes from Chrysostom in Where Were the Lutherans Before Luther?
If you google St. John Chrysostom, you will find vast amounts of "anti-semite!" accusations. I have not read all of Chrysostom's writings on the "Judaizers," but a lot of what I have read are condemnations against Judaizing Christians, not Jews themselves. At the same time, he was exiled for putting pressure on the religious and secular rulers for their worldliness and unconcern for the poor.
"Chrysostom" means "golden-mouth," and St. John earned his nickname by becoming a very famous preacher. The common people loved him, and he used many simple illustrations to communicate his points. Unfortunately, for all his "faith alone" and anti-Judaizing rhetoric, some of his sermons seem heavy on the Law, except for maybe a blurb about Christ at the end. It's a good reminder that even the early Fathers sometimes fell into the same "moralizing" temptation as our own preachers of the Gospel.
He contributed to the liturgy, shortening what had become a very long service. He was concerned that the people were missing communion because of the length of the liturgy.
Today I cut up pieces of colored and "gold" paper and we made a "mosaic" of Chrysostom (my 2-year-old's was rather abstract, but he got the "golden mouth" part. My future Picasso...)