Tuesday, January 4, 2011

4th Century Preaching - Don't Be Stupid

This month I will be posting a few reflections written by St. John Chrysostom. Some will be from a small book entitled On Living Simply compiled by Robert Van de Weyer  (it can be purchased here at Amazon) and the others will be from various sources.   Although St. John, an Orthodox Christian priest, lived in the late fourth, early fifth century, his homilies are timeless.   His title "Chrysostom" literally means "Golden-Mouthed".  St. John was ruthless in his sermons, and everyone was fair game.  Rich or poor, peasant or royalty, Christian or non-Christian....it didn't matter.  Where hypocrisy was to be found, St. John exposed it.

To quote the introduction from the book On Living Simply: "One suspects that John Chrysostom would be as unpopular today among the privileged members of society as he was in the fourth century - and as popular among the common people."
This first one is pretty tame actually.  I thought I would ease you into the New Year.

Excerpt #17 from the book On Living Simply:

Consider how an ear of corn is produced.  Most of us would point to the labor of the farmer in tilling the soil, sowing the seed, and harvesting the grain.  But it is not as simple as that.  The farmer needs the blacksmith to make the spade, ploughshare, sickle, and axe.  He needs the carpenter to make a frame for the plough and to make a yoke for the horse.  He needs the leather worker to make the harness.  He needs the builder to make a stable for the horse, and a barn to store the hay and grain.  He needs a baker to turn the grain into bread, otherwise his labors are worthless.  And he needs the forest worker to provide wood for the carpenter to saw, and wood for the baker to heat the oven.  So just to produce corn many different people are needed.  Since we depend on one another for our very survival, why do we ever try to exploit and cheat one another?  Nothing could be more stupid and irrational to try and get the better of someone else;  people who cheat and exploit others are cheating and exploiting themselves.

Seems like such common sense, but certainly we need to ask ourselves, even to the smallest degree, am I impeding the life of another in some way?  We are all guilty of it I think.  An unkind word, a curt glance which expresses our displeasure with someone, not putting something back where it belongs in a grocery store because "it's somebody else's job".  While not outright cheating or exploiting, I think these actions fall into the same category.  When you hurt other people or cause extra unnecessary work for others, you are also hurting yourself, and as St. John points out, this is stupid and irrational.  Guess it isn't such common sense after all.

1 comment:

Athanasia said...

No sermon is "new". Perhaps it would do some of our priests good stead to preach St. John's sermons to the parish.

Thanks for sharing this and am looking forward to the others.