Monday – St. John Chrysostom

Gospel –Luke 7:1-10

Words, Words, Words

Mount of Beatitudes

Back in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, my dad and I did not see eye to eye about the Vietnam War.  But it was only many years later when we were chatting on the phone that the disagreement was resolved.  In just a few simple words, he told me “You were right, I was wrong.”  Those words remain in my memory and heart to this day. 

Words!  They can cut to the heart of the matter or they can cut a relationship in two.  They can bring comfort, hope, encouragement, support, and love.  But they can also be the source of anger, hatred, jealousy, disinterest and despair.  They can bring unity and peace or division and resentment.  They can bring faith and healing.

We all know this to be true.  The kind word when we are in pain.  The words of encouragement from a teacher that emboldens us to move forward.  The gentle words of a loving parent to ease our moments of hopelessness. 

The Roman centurion in today’s Gospel knows the value of words.  And he believes in the power of Jesus.  His faith in Jesus is so strong that for him all it takes is just a word from Jesus and he knows that his beloved servant is healed.  He doesn’t need to have Jesus come to his home.  Just tell me he is healed and I believe!

St. John Chrysostom also understand the value and power of words.  He is celebrated as a Doctor of the Church.  Throughout his ministry in Antioch and as Bishop of Constantinople, he was renowned for his gift of preaching and public speaking.  In fact, Chrysostom literally means ‘golden-mouthed’.  His words were always down to earth and provided practical applications of the Gospel message to daily life.  For example:  Do you wish to honour the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk, only then to neglect him outside where he is cold and ill-clad. He who said: "This is my body" is the same who said: "You saw me hungry and you gave me no food", and "Whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me"... What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother is dying of hunger? Start by satisfying his hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well”  (Evangelium S. Matthei, homily)

Words and faith go hand in hand.  Words literally mean nothing to us unless we trust the person who is speaking them.  Words and faith!  Words have the power to heal, to give us hope, to wipe away our tears and lead us out of the darkness.  How much more so then, the Word of God!


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