Growing up, and into adulthood, we often hear chastisement of complainers who lament the lack of some material item. We remind them of all the blessings they have been granted.
“More is not better!” we might say to these people.
Today’s saint would wholeheartedly agree with that exhortation.
Brought to Constantinople after a dozen years of priestly service in Syria, John Chrysostom found himself the reluctant victim of an imperial ruse to make him bishop in the greatest city of the empire. John became a bishop under the cloud of imperial politics. Though his body was weak from deprivations he experienced in the Syrian desert, his tongue was powerful. In fact, his name means “golden-mouthed.”
His pointed sermons stung the high and mighty of the imperial court. While they lived extravagantly, not forgoing any luxury or vice, John lived an ascetic life. He offended the many sycophants hanging around for imperial and ecclesiastical favors at his modest table. He objected to court protocol that gave him precedence before others. He refused to be “kept.”
He had bishops who bribed their way into office deposed and reminded people that private property only existed because of Adam’s fall from grace. John became very unpopular with the men of the court when he told them that they were bound to marital fidelity just as much as their wives were. When it came to justice and charity, John acknowledged no double standards.
Disgruntled people and even the empress Eudoxia fabricated various calumnies against John. He would not be shaken and, intended or not, sermons mentioning the lurid Jezebel and impious Herodias were associated with the empress, who finally did manage to have John exiled. He died in exile in 407.
St. John Chrysostom is patron of orators, preachers and speakers. He is considered a Doctor of the Church.
Adapted by A.J. Valentini