Thoughts from the Early Church
Commentary by John Chrysostom
If your brother or sister listens to you, you will have won that person back. (Mt 16:19).
The Apostle says: “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
You will be doing everything for the glory of God if, when you leave this place, you make yourselves responsible for saving a brother or sister, not just by accusing and rebuking him or her, but also by advising and encouraging, and by pointing out the harm done by worldly amusements, and the profit and help that come from our instruction.
You will also be preparing for yourself a double reward, since as well as greatly furthering your own salvation, you will be endeavoring to heal a fellow member of Christ’s body. It is the Church’s pride, it is the Savior’s command, not to be concerned only about our own welfare, but about our neighbor’s also.
Think to what high honor you raise yourself when you regard someone else’s salvation as a matter of extreme importance. As far as is humanly possible you imitate God himself, for listen to what he says through the prophet: “Whoever leads another from wrong to right will be as my own mouth.”
In other words, “Whoever tries to save those that are negligent, and to snatch them from the jaws of the devil, is imitating me as far as a human being can.” What other work could equal this? Of all good deeds this is the greatest; of all virtue this is the summit.
And this is perfectly reasonable. Christ shed his own blood for our salvation; and Paul, speaking of those who give scandal and wound the consciences of people seeing them, cried out: “Because of your knowledge a weak brother or sister is destroyed—someone for whom Christ died!”
So if your Lord shed his blood for that person, surely it is right for each of us to offer at least some words of encouragement and to extend a helping hand to those who through laxity have fallen into the snares of the devil.
But I am quite certain that you will do this out of the tender love you bear your own members, and that you will make every effort to bring your neighbors back to our common Mother, because I know that through the grace of God you are able to admonish others with wisdom.
Homily 6, 18-20: SC 50, 224-225
John Chrysostom (c.347-407) was bom at Antioch and studied under Diodore of Tarsus, the leader of the Antiochene school of theology. After a period of great austerity as a hermit, he returned to Antioch where he was ordained deacon in 381 and priest in 386. From 386 to 397 it was his duty to preach in the principal church of the city, and his best homilies, which earned him the title “Chrysostomos” or “the golden-mouthed,” were preached at this time. In 397 Chrysostom became patriarch of Constantinople, where his efforts to reform the court, clergy, and people led to his exile in 404 and fmally to his death from the hardships imposed on him. Chrysostom stressed the divinity of Christ against the Arians and his full humanity against the Apollinarians, but he had no speculative bent. He was above all a pastor of souls, and was one of the most attractive personalities of the early Church.
**From Saint Louis University