Memorial of St. John Chrysostom Doctor of the Church

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St. John Chrustostom

Chrysostom is a Greek word meaning “golden mouth.” St. John got this nickname for his sermons, which, though lengthy, attracted great crowds.

John first lived as a hermit in the wilderness of what is now Turkey, but ill health caused him to move back to Antioch. He served the church there for 12 years before he was named bishop of Constantinople. As bishop, he required his priests to live simple and upright lives.

John died in 407. His last words were, “Glory be to God for all things.”

John preached on all four gospels. Any collection of ancient scriptural commentary contains portions of his sermons. Read what he had to say about John 17:11. Jesus is praying for the unity of his followers, “That they may be one, as you and I are one.” He prays for a oneness that mirrors the complete and total sharing between the Father and the Son.  We’ve all heard preaching on this passage, but John speaks, in a way that is so fresh, of this unifying love as a multiplier,

“There is nothing that can equal unanimity and accord, for this is how one becomes many. If two or ten are of one mind, the one is no longer one, but each one is multiplied tenfold, and you will find the one in the ten and the ten in the one. And if they have an enemy, he who attacks the one (as having attacked the ten) is defeated, for he is the target of ten opponents instead of one. Is someone in need? No, he is not in need, for he is wealthy in his greater part, that is, the nine . . . Each of these has twenty hands, twenty eyes and as many feet. For he does not see with his own eyes alone but with those of others as well. He does not walk with his own feet alone but with those of others. He does not work with his own hands alone but with theirs . . . Don’t you see how the excess of love makes the one both irresistible and multiplied? See how one can be in many places, the same both in Persia and in Rome? Don’t you see that what nature cannot do, love can? . . . This is better than all power or riches. This is more than health, than light itself. It is the groundwork of courage.”

John died in 407. His last words were, “Glory be to God for all things.”