John Chrysostom was born in Antioch around AD 347. He began his career in Antioch as a lawyer. He eventually gave up his career and became a hermit and began studying theology. Due to his vigorous asceticism, his health deteriorated and he returned to Antioch where he was ordained a deacon in 381. He was ordained a priest five years later against his will. John established himself as a preacher that he was known as the golden mouth or Chrysostom. He was to become the archbishop of Constantinople in 398 AD where he remained a bishop for few years. His strong personality and zeal for the truth caused him to be hated by the emperor and his wife. The emperor’s wife Eudoxia and the Alexandrian patriarch, Theophilus, conspired against him. The latter held a council and condemned him. Chrysostom was banished then returned once more. Then he was finally banished a year after. John died in exile in AD 407 and was eventually canonized a saint. His sainthood was recognized by Cyril of Alexandria, the successor of Theophilus who was behind Chrysostom’s exile.
The Byzantine tradition’s main liturgy is that which is attributed to John Chrysostom. Every Easter, Eastern Orthodox Churches read his sermon on the Resurrection. In the Oriental Orthodox Churches, Copts use his sermons throughout Holy Week. The Syrians have a liturgy attributed to him though it is different from that which is used in the Byzantine tradition.
John Chrysostom gave these sermons to the Christians in Constantinople. Some of these sermons were given after an earthquake which resulted damage and casualties. John Chrysostom tends to go on tangents. While this can be confusing, it can also be informative i.e. you can be reading about wealth and poverty but also learning about the centrality of reading Scripture to being a Christian.
John Chrysostom preached seven sermons on the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. The book consists of six of these sermons as it omits the fifth sermon as it does not relate to the theme of wealth and poverty.
“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The poor are still around us and the rich continue to withhold their money from the poor. We continue to deliberate and judge who is worthy of our money and who is not as if we deserved anything God grants us. The financially poor must be seen as the brothers and sisters of Christ. If we fail to see Christ in the poor, we will by no means witness Him in the Chalice.