St. John Chrysostom: Rock of Faith

Luke 6: 43-49
1 Cor 10: 14-22 / Ps 116:12-13,17-18

That one is like a person building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock… the river burst against that house but could not shake it…
(Luke 6:48)

Let God’s WORD be our foundation
That we may live a life of truth;
Down through all our generation,
Our tree “will be known by its fruit.”

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognised by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn-bushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When the flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (Luke 6:43-49)

Reflection

In today’s Gospel of Luke, Jesus teaches how a person’s true character is revealed in three ways. First, in the way his actions produce results. He will be known by the fruits he bears. The fruits of his actions are the results of the good that springs from his heart, just as the actions of an evil person are manifestations of the evil stored within. Secondly, by the words that he uses, “for out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” And finally, by how he employs the Word of God, making it the foundation of his life. Like a man who builds the foundation of his house on a rock, no flood can shake that house, because it was well built.

Fittingly, the words of our Lord in today’s Gospel apply to one of the greatest doctors of the Church, St. John Chrysostom, whose feast we commemorate today. St. John lived the life of an ascetic monk in his early years in the church. He founded a number of hospitals in Constantinople to care for the needy. He emphasized charitable giving and was concerned with the spiritual and temporal needs of the poor. Because of his piety and good works, he was prevailed upon to become the Archbishop of Constantinople much against his will. But this great saint is remembered chiefly for his eloquence in delivering the Word of God in his homilies. He was fearless in his denunciations of the high lifestyle of some bishops, and the abuse of wealth and personal property by court officials, earning the ire of the queen of Constantinople and her cohorts. He was sent into exile twice, and the torments heaped on him eventually led to his death. St. John Chrysostom made the Word of God the foundation of his faith. Committing the Bible to memory, he wrote his most valuable works (“Homilies”) based on the various books of the Bible. His lucid understanding of Scriptures made his talks sound practical and applicable to everyday life. He was known as “the greatest preacher in the early church.”

St. James said: “If you consider yourself wise and learned, show it by your good life and let your actions, in all humility, be an example for others.” (Ja.3:13) St. John Chrysostom is one example that our Lord Jesus was referring to as “a wise man who digs deeply to lay his foundation on solid rock.” Obviously, our Lord was referring to no other but Himself as the Rock. King David reigned successfully because he laid the foundation of his kingdom on God. His beautiful psalm says it so well: “I love you, O LORD, my strength, LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my God… Be my rock and refuge, my secure stronghold, my fortress…” (Psalms 18:2-3; 71:3).

LORD, make me realize that my life is not made secure by building my hopes on the sands of worldly riches that will easily be washed away. Let your Spirit draw me instead to Your Word, upon which my faith will be made secure, and no floods or storms can overcome. Amen.

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