I first became aware of Saint John Chrysostom in my teens through the Prayer of Saint Chrysostom at the end of the Services of Morning and Evening Prayer in our Prayer Book. I think others have done so also.
That prayer has given many of us a strong reminder of Jesus’ words to his disciples, “When two or three are gathered together in [Jesus’] Name [he] will be in the midst of them.” (BCP p. 102 & Mt. 18:20) (N.B. These words are also found in the homily preached by John Chrysostom just before he went into exile.)
Born in the middle of the 4th Century (ca. 347), after ordination as priest he became an eloquent preacher, and was given the nickname “Chrysostom”, Golden mouth.
Near the end of that century he was made Patriarch of Constantinople against his wishes (398). In his zeal of reforming the Church and exposing corruption he became unpopular with the Imperial Court and was exiled twice before his death in 407.
At today’s Eucharist we heard Jesus’ words from Luke’s Gospel, warning his Disciples that they would hear rumors of difficult times to come. Jesus told them not to be discouraged at such rumors. He also promised that when they were called before kings and governors he would give them words to speak in defense. (Lk. 21:15)
How similar those words are to those in Matthew’s Gospel that John Chrysostom used in his last homily. We can read in the prayer ascribed to him; that Jesus, in the midst of even two or three gathered in his name, can fulfill our petitions. (Mt. 18:20)
We can take those same words for encouragement in our own vocation as Christians. If we listen with the ears of our hearts we can find Jesus, in the midst of those gathered in his name, giving us words of encouragement. Opening our hearts to God we can find the words that God gives us to acknowledge the life to which each of us is called by our Baptism.
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