Chrysostom’s Homilies on 1 Corinthians

Holy Breath

As the wonderful Presbytera Dr. Eugenia Constantinou put it tonight, St. John Chrysostom “breathed the Gospel.”  The saint addressed St. Paul’s confession of love (1 Cor. 13) with numerous biblical examples.  Joseph, who was desired by the feisty Egyptian woman was illustrated as one who “truly loved,” and “because [of this], he sought to avert her from…[the fact that she] did not even love herself.”  Also depicted as an example for all hearers of Chrysostom was Jonathan’s love for David.  “For love ‘doth nothing unseemly…’ [for David was] a fugitive and a wandered…but not even thus was [Jonathan] ashamed of his friendship.”  A third (but certainly not last) time St. John reeled in Scripture was through preaching about the role of Rebekah between her and Esau: “…she, that her son might be blessed, chose to be no less than accursed.”  A variety of virtues may be identified within these biblical scenes, and “the Golden Mouth” could not stress enough the deliberate need for virtue in our world.  As he spoke of the greatest commandment’s phrase, “with all thy heart,” he insisted that the second one holds a tantamount phrase, “as thyself.”  He very well may have argued that much like faith and works going hand-in-hand, likewise does the obedience of these two great commandments.  To be lighter and a tad more humorous, I realized that in reading his homilies on Love (and assumed all of Chrysostom’s rich works), it seemed impossible, bland, and detrimental to skim them.  The translation was slightly rough (all the “no wheres” and elongated clumps of short words), but even would it have flowed as did Chrysostom’s golden tongue, the divine rhythm and elegance, the deep treasure of each sentence, all would not be properly digested by too speedy of eyes.  After all, what “fool of a took” would listen to his sermons-on-tape in fast motion?  That would be “of the donkey.”

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