This homily was preached by St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople in 399 following the fall from grace of the Imperial consul-eunuch Eutropius who sought to eliminate the right of sanctuary. Fleeing a mob seeking his life, Eutropius ironically finds sanctuary in the cathedral. St. John Chrysostom preaches this rhetorically brilliant homily which stands as both a condemnation of hypocrisy and mobs. Ultimately, it is a call to render mercy and forgiveness.
Discerning the Signs of the Times
Catholic sermons seek to break open the Word that we might better hear the God who speaks to us. Catholic preaching is fundamentally oriented toward encounter with the living Lord, and is liturgical in context, apostolic in origin, the subject of historical development, and, crucially, transformative in effect.
The sermon’s setting within the Eucharist is both christological and scriptural. Following their encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus, the two disciples say, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” This brief reflection encapsulates the very essence of the sermon’s purpose. It was followed by the “breaking of the bread” in which they recognized the risen Lord in their midst. This bringing together of Word and Eucharist provides the basic model of the Mass and is evident in the earliest accounts of Christian worship. In the second century, for example, St. Justin Martyr described the Eucharist as follows: “On the day called Sunday, all assembled in the same place, where the memorials of the Apostles and Prophets were read . . . and when the reader has finished, the bishop delivers a sermon.”