Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Importance of Dialogue, According to St John Chrysostom

Dialogue is a great virtue in many areas of our lives. It is also important for the greater understanding of various peoples, countries, churches, traditions etc. Dialogue is the way of understanding the truth…God…Even God is in a dialogue status with His creation. St John Chrysostom here points out the important of dialogue and of preaching, seen as a form of dialogue, of understanding, of spreading the good news. St John explains:

‘But you will ask me, “How do you help by preaching?” I help if anyone hears me. I do my duty: he who sows, sows. The sower went out to sow. Some seeds fell beside the road, some on the rock, some among thorns, but some on good soil. Three parts perished and one was saved. He did not stop farming, but since one part survived, he did not cease from working the soil. Here also, when I have scattered such a quantity of seed, it is impossible that it should not bring forth some harvest for me. If not everyone listens, half will listen; if not half, a third; if not a third, a tenth; if not a tenth, if even a small thing for even one sheep to be saved, since that shepherd left the ninety-nine sheep and ran after the one which had strayed. I do not despise anyone; even if he is only one, he is a human being, the living creature for which God cares. Even if he is a slave, I may not despise him; I am not interested in his class, but his virtue; not his condition of master or slave, but his soul. Even if he is only one, he is a human being, for whom the heaven was stretched out, the sun appears, the moon changes, the air was poured out, the springs gush forth, the sea was spread out, the prophets were sent, the law was given-and why should I mention all these?- for whom the only-begotten Son of God became man. My Master was slain and poured out His blood for man. Shall I despise him? What pardon would I have? Do you not hear that the Lord conversed with the Samaritan woman, and spent many words? He did not despise her because she was a Samaritan, but because she had a soul, He cared for her. He did not neglect her because she was a harlot, but because she was going to be saved and had showed faith, she often benefited from His concern.’[1]

[1] Behr, John (ed.), St John Chrysostom – On Wealth and Poverty, (New York, SVSP, 1981), pp.99-100.

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