Summary: We need to take St. Peter Chrysologus as a model for our witnessing, and be able to tell our witness to Christ and the Church in less than a minute.
July 30 2014
St Peter Chrysologus
Today’s Gospel must be specially important to the Church, because we heard it on Sunday, and Monday, and again today. Because it is so brief, we might be tempted to think otherwise, that it is forgettable. But we forget it at our peril, at the peril of our souls. Remember that Jesus asked us what the profit would be if we gained all the wealth of the world at the loss of our souls? This is the other side of the coin. The pearl of great value, the pearl that costs us everything we have, is Jesus. Becoming exactly like Jesus is the state we are destined for. Athanasius said it best: God became man so that man could become divine. That is why we are here today. When we hear the word of God, when we take the precious body of Christ in communion, we are assimilated into Christ. We become more like Christ. We become more divine without losing any of our humanity. Our voice becomes the voice of God speaking to His people. That’s not just for clergy. That promise is for all of us, as it was to Jeremiah.
Jeremiah learned the cost of that promise, the price of the divine call. His culture hated him, because they did not want to repent and turn back to God. He was of a priestly family, but the other priests despised him. He was a prophet, but the prophets guild plotted against him. He told them what they did not want to hear. That is the price of our discipleship. Christ is telling our culture, our society, what they don’t want to hear, but what they need to hear, for their eternal welfare. Christ is speaking through us. We cannot be silent; our fellow men and women need to hear how their sinfulness is making them spiritually, emotionally and physically sick. They need to know that God loves them, and is willing to forgive and heal them. We have to tell them that.
Saint Peter Chrysologus is a model for all of us, clerical and lay alike. He was known for the brevity and power of his sermons. The Roman empress gave him his nickname–golden-tongue. Let me make a suggestion for your part in the new evangelization. Develop what is called an “elevator talk,” a testimony to your faith in Christ in the Church that you can deliver in less than a minute. Be ready to tell another person your story any time. It might be a personal witness–that’s the most powerful. It can lead to a longer conversation, and the winning of souls to Christ. As our Gospel shows today, the story doesn’t have to be long to be effective.