Today we celebrate the memorial of St. John Chrysostom. No it is not his last name, but a title given to him after his death. It means golden-mouth. As Catholics, we tend to think of ancient Christianity and Rome, and we can forget just how important the cities of Alexandria, Antioch, and Constantinople were to the history and development of the Christianity.
He was an ethnic mixture of Greek and Syrian, his father a high ranking military officer.
Because of the status of his family he had the opportunity to study under one of the best Greek orators of the time. Later he would dedicate himself to memorizing the scriptures. Then, combining his knowledge of the scriptures and his oratorical skills become the great preacher that earned him the title Chysostom.
He preaching was not only eloquent but pointed. While as Archbishop he was entitled to all of the lavish excess that went with the royal court. This did not stop him from critiquing both Church and State. His preaching was beautiful and eloquent, but hard when it needed to be. The truth is not easily heard.
Today we pray for the pope, bishops, priests, and deacons, who are in a particular way charged with preaching the gospel. St. John's unceasing dedication to the study of the scriptures as we as honing his oratorical skills should be a model for us all.
Let us pray also for our international priests who have been sent by their bishops and are struggling to preach the gospel here in a foreign culture, often in a foreign language. Few Americans know how daunting it is to stand up in front of a room full of people in a foreign country and give a talk in a language that is not your own. It takes real courage.
St. John Chrysostom, pray for us.