On Wealth and Poverty - New Edition
Posted by Raphael Fiedler on 14th Jan 2021
To the uninitiated, St John Chrysostom can seem daunting, heady at first glance. Yet here we have a collection of homilies that are, together, approachable, engaging, and despite being nearly 1,700 years old, also timely. Nowhere to be found in these works are a sense of pretense or academic exclusivity, rather the words of a caring and concerned father, vigilant for the souls of his flock.
For those of you that don't know my work, it's predicated on the idea of being uneducated, and therefore I am unnaturally averse to anything resembling what I call “Big Brain” literature. My own preconceived notions and bias against the more learned church fathers kept me from reading them at any length for many years more than I care to admit. Now I beg God and all the saints’ forgiveness every day for being such a fool, all the while kicking myself for not embracing such treasures earlier.
This brings us now to the present work. These seven homilies on the rich man and Lazarus serve as a springboard to much-needed words on our human struggle against passive greed and the importance of the poor. More pointedly, the great saint delves deep into the meaning and symbolism of the parable, and uses every possible moment and angle to address and impress upon the congregation (and, by proxy, the reader) the exact points of contention the teachings reveal about the people to which he speaks, as is his modus operandi. No one is safe from his flaming golden words of both reproof and love, and, as you might have guessed, not even the Royal Court is safe from his critique and pastoral admonitions.
The bottom of this brief commentary is: they don't call him the golden mouth for nothing. Don't be like me—treat yourself now, and thank God for the words of his holy servant.