Thursday, September 13, 2012

To You Who Hear

To You Who Hear

September 13, 2012
Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor of the Church

Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up.  If anyone supposes he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.  But if one loves God, one is known by him.  1 Corinthians 8:1b-3

But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.  Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful.  Luke 6:35-36


Father, help us to understand that the Good News preached by your servants is not the same ethic that we hear today from Wall Street to K Street, from Hollywood and Vine to Broadway and 34th Street.  But rather help us to trade in our personal ambition for the humility and obedience needed to be your servant. Amen.


Today's readings are appropriate for a day in which we remember St. John Chrysostom.  St. John was famous for speaking truth to power just as John the Baptist did.  The leaders of Constantinople were about as welcoming to the message St. John preached as we would be if the priest or deacon in our parish had a two-hour homily to deliver on Sunday -- every Sunday.
For all of his gifted preaching, St. John irritated the "powers that be" so much so with his message, that it resulted in his exile.     
Jesus' message in Luke's Gospel also is a message that afflicts the comfortable.  But notice how he begins -- "To you who hear." Jesus knows that this difficult message will fall primarily on ears that are tuned out, turned off and distracted.  However, among the crowds of his day and those who have heard this passage through the ages, he specifically singles out those who hear his message and act upon it.  This is a sentiment we will hear again in a few chapters later in Luke (He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” 8:28).


It is not enough to hear the word of God.  We also must act upon it.  John the Baptist got himself in trouble doing just that.  Jesus certainly did.  So did the disciples.  And today, John Chrysostom followed in their footsteps. 
What did you hear in these readings?
What are you prepared to do?
What are you prepared to lose?

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