Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Chrysostom in the Morning

I was tired in choir at Morning Prayer today until the lector announced that there would be a reading from one of John Chrysostom's homilies. My ears immediately pricked up since Chrysostom is the patron saint of preaching and was featured mightily in my doctoral exam over the same. John is one of those great voices from the church who spoke out forcefully on behalf of the marginalized. Unfortunately, he had the audacity to do this in Constantinople. It was his deep misfortune to have been elevated to this lusted-after cathedral (at least by others) by the Emperor, necessitating leaving behind his beloved church home in Antioch where he had earned his reputation for preaching.

In today's reading, he proclaims: "Let the waves rise--they cannot sink the boat of Jesus," concluding, "Wherever God wants me to be, I am grateful." I aspire to be like John. Of course, I hope, in the end, that I am not banished and have to make my way over the snow-capped mountains! At the end of it all, though, he could say straight-faced: "What can the rays of the sun bestow on me that compares to your love?" Throwing off the comforts of this life, Chrysostom was always able to take the "long view" and emerged a beloved bishop of the people. His golden-tongued oratory would have meant nothing were it not for the strength of his character and his passionate advocacy for those with little or no voice.