Guarding and proclaiming the unchanging truth in a changing world

If Christ Is With Me, Whom Shall I Fear?

19th December 2019

Bishop John Chrysostom delivered this homily to his church in Constantinople just before being sent into a distant exile by the empress Eudoxia for refusing to accept her Arian bishops. Along the way, he was exposed to the harshest of conditions and forced by soldiers to march long distances through inclement weather without adequate clothing or protection.  After months of such treatment, on September 13, 407, the elderly bishop died along the way, still many miles from his destination, uttering these last words of praise: "Glory be to God for all things."

The waters have risen and severe storms are upon us, but we do not fear drowning, for we stand firmly upon a rock. Let the sea rage, it cannot break the rock. Let the waves rise, they cannot sink the boat of Jesus. What are we to fear? Death? Life to me means Christ, and death is gain. Exile? The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord. The confiscation of goods? We brought nothing into this world, and we shall surely take nothing from it. I have only contempt for the world’s threats, I find its blessings laughable. I have no fear of poverty, no desire for wealth. I am not afraid of death nor do I long to live, except for your good. I concentrate therefore on the present situation, and I urge you, my friends, to have confidence. 

Do you not hear the Lord saying: Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst? Will he be absent, then, when so many people united in love are gathered together? I have his promise; I am surely not going to rely on my own strength! I have what he has written; that is my staff, my security, my peaceful harbour. Let the world be in upheaval. I hold to his promise and read his message; that is my protecting wall and garrison. What message? Know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!  

If Christ is with me, whom shall I fear? Though the waves and the sea and the anger of princes are roused against me, they are less to me than a spider’s web. Indeed, unless you, my brothers, had detained me, I would have left this very day. For I always say “Lord, your will be done”; not what this fellow or that would have me do, but what you want me to do. That is my strong tower, my immovable rock, my staff that never gives way. If God wants something, let it be done! If he wants me to stay here, I am grateful. But wherever he wants me to be, I am no less grateful.  

Yet where I am, there you are too, and where you are, I am. For we are a single body, and the body cannot be separated from the head nor the head from the body. Distance separates us, but love unites us, and death itself cannot divide us. For though my body die, my soul will live and be mindful of my people.  

You are my fellow citizens, my fathers, my brothers, my sons, my limbs, my body. You are my light, sweeter to me than the visible light. For what can the rays of the sun bestow on me that is comparable to your love? The sun’s light is useful in my earthly life, but your love is fashioning a crown for me in the life to come.

John Chrysostom (344-407) 

Romans 8:31-39 
John 15:4-11 
 

Prayer: 
Almighty God, your blessed Son our Saviour Jesus Christ ascended far above all the heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully grant us faith to perceive that, according to his promises, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Keep informed of the latest news, updates and the different ways you can support Gafcon

Gafcon Secretariat, Unit 42/43, Kingspark Business Centre, 152-178 Kingston Road, Surrey, KT3 3ST, United Kingdom

[email protected]

+44 (0)20 3883 8661