Thursday, July 30, 2009


“St. Peter Chrysologus”
Artist and Date UNKNOWN



Biographical Information about St. Peter Chrysologus[1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Peter Chyrsologus

Readings and Commentary:

Ephesians 3:8-12

Brothers and sisters:
To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given,
to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ,
and to bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery
hidden from ages past in God who created all things,
so that the manifold wisdom of God
might now be made known through the Church
to the principalities and authorities in the heavens.
This was according to the eternal purpose
that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,
in whom we have boldness of speech
and confidence of access through faith in him.
Commentary on
Eph 3:8-12

St. Paul’s dialogue on the unity of all the faithful in Christ is continued in this passage. The apostle pronounces Gentiles as coheirs to the salvation offered by God in Jesus and uses the analogy of the “body” to signify the degree to which all are united. He concludes this passage with a summary of the grace and richness offered in proclaiming Christ to the world using himself as example.

CCC: Eph 3:8 424; Eph 3:9-12 221; Eph 3:9-11 772; Eph 3:9 1066; Eph 3:12 2778
Psalm 119:9,10,11,12,13,14

R. (12) Lord, teach me your statutes.

How shall a young man be faultless in his way?
By keeping to your words.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.

With all my heart I seek you;
let me not stray from your commands.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.

Within my heart I treasure your promise,
that I may not sin against you.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.

Blessed are you, O LORD;
teach me your statutes.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.

With my lips I declare
all the ordinances of your mouth.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.

In the way of your decrees I rejoice,
as much as in all riches.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Commentary on
Ps 119:9,10,11,12,13,14

An acrostic poem; each of the eight verses of the first strophe (aleph) begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet; each verse of the second strophe (beth) begins with the second letter; and so on for all 22 letters of the alphabet.

The entire work is in praise of the Law, and the joys to be found in keeping it. It is not "legalism" but a love and desire for the word of God in Israel's Law, which is the expression of the Lord's revelation of himself and his will for man.

Luke 6:43-45

Jesus said to his disciples:
"A good tree does not bear rotten fruit,
nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.
For every tree is known by its own fruit.
For people do not pick figs from thornbushes,
nor do they gather grapes from brambles.
A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good,
but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil;
for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks."
Commentary on Luke 6:43-45

St. Luke’s Gospel brings us the conclusion of Jesus’ discourse on judgment of others using the analogy of the fruits borne by a tree – good and bad. The intent of this allegory was to expose false prophets – hypocrites who say one thing but do another.  He addresses the issue of false teachers with his analogy of the good and bad fruit. He makes it clear that one can discern if the teacher is authentic or not by the very thing being taught. In this case, those who contradict the Lord are false and should be avoided.

"Jesus is giving us two similes - that of the tree which, if it is good, produces good fruit, and that of the man, who speaks of those things he has in his heart.  'The treasure of the heart is the same as the root of the tree," St. Bede explains.  "A person who has a treasure of the patience and of perfect charity in his heart yields excellent fruit; he loves his neighbor and has all the other qualities Jesus teaches; he loves his enemies, does good to him who hates him, blesses him who curses him, prays for him who calumniates him, does not react against him who attacks him or robs him; he gives to those who ask, does not claim what they have stolen from him, wishes not to judge and does not condemn, corrects patiently and affectionately those who err.  But the person who hase in his heart the treasure of evil does exactly the opposite: he hates his friends, speaks evil of him who loves him and does all the other things condemned by the Lord' (In Lucae Evangelium expositio, 2,6)" [3]


St. Peter Chrysologus’ great gift to the Church is the words he left behind and the impact those words had upon those who heard him. His name meaning “Golden Word” comes not from long and intricate homilies given on complex theological issues but rather an oratory style that stemmed from his humility and the hope that he would not “bore” the faithful.

Yes, he courageously fought against the Christological heresies that surfaced during those early years (403-450). He did all the things we would expect of one so venerated by the Church for such a long time. His legacy is truth – truth about Christ and the Living God. These are the fruits he bore. It is in this way he accedes to the will of Christ whose words, recorded in St. Luke’s Gospel “For every tree is known by its own fruit”.

St. Chrysologus’ words fell to the ground like the proverbial grains of wheat to bring us food for our spiritual journey. His example shines for us like a beacon. We ask ourselves “How am I known by those who meet me?” “Is it clear that I belong to Christ?” St. Peter Chrysologus and all the saints before and since have set a high bar for us. Today, as we recall those difficult early years of the Church, we pray we might stand with him and all the Saints, bringing the kingdom of God to flourish in the world.


[1] The picture is “St. Peter Chrysologus” Artist and Date UNKNOWN
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.
[3] The Navarre Bible, “Gospels and Acts”, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp. 395-396

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