Chrysostom: “These Hidden Realities”
“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”” (John 20:1–2)
This week, I thought it might be interesting to see what some preachers through the history of the church made of the resurrection. Each day I’ll pick a figure, and give you a little background to the person’s life and ministry before quoting from their writings. Today we begin with the one-time Patriarch of Constantinople.
John Chrysostom (347-407) stands as one of the greats of the ancient church, and as a preacher he is in the first rank of all who have dared to climb the pulpit steps. In fact the name “Chrysostom” is itself a nickname which can be translated as “Golden Mouthed”. In the second half of the fourth century, much of the Roman empire was nominally Christian, but in many places the faith was a thin veneer . Chrysostom threw himself into the task of instructing his hearers in the faith, and seeking a reformation of their lives. Such was his commitment to the truth, that he upset the Empress and ended up in exile and on his return, he managed to upset her once more and was banished again. His death came as he was made to travel on foot in severe weather.
This passage is taken from a sermon preached on the eve of Easter
How can I recount for you these hidden realities or proclaim what goes beyond any word or concept? How can I lay open before you the mystery of the Lord’s resurrection, the saving sign of his cross and of his three days’ death? For each and every event that happened to our Saviour is an outward sign of the mystery of our redemption. Just as Christ was born from his mother’s inviolate virginal womb, so too he rose again from the closed tomb. As he, the only-begotten Son of God was made the firstborn of his mother, so, by his resurrection, he became the firstborn from the dead. His birth did not break the seal of his mother’s virginal integrity. Nor did his rising from the dead break the seals on the tomb. And so, just as I cannot fully express his birth in words, neither can I wholly encompass his going forth from the tomb (Homily on Holy Saturday 10.3)