In all the history of the Church, there have been dynamic pairings–St. Francis and St. Clare, the Alexandrine and Antiochian churches, even Peter and Paul despite their differences. Today, we have St. John Chrysostom and…..Stephen Colbert?
Okay, so maybe he’s a comedian with a highly satirical show on Comedy Central. But he’s also a practicing Catholic, teaches Sunday school at his home church, and he knows his stuff (see also: here….oh snap!). Let’s just admit it: we here in America today like labels, and when someone with the label “comedian” comes up with something that might then also label him “strong man of faith” that’s a little off-putting to most people. It’s an odd pairing.
And yet, we also have this:
“Nothing is more cold than a christian who is not dedicated to saving others. In this respect there can be no pretense of poverty: the widow who gave her two tiny coins would rise up and call you to account (Lk 21.2). Peter too, who said: “Silver and gold have I none” (Acts 3.6). And Paul, who was so poor that he often went hungry and lacked the necessary means to live on (1 Cor 4.11). Neither can you protest your humble birth: they too were of modest degree. Ignorance won’t give you any better excuse: they were uneducated as well… It’s no good claiming sickness: Timothy was subject to frequent illnesses (1 Tim 5.23)… Anybody at all can be of service to his neighbor if he would do what he can…”
-St. John Chrysostom
Exactly the same teaching? No, but they’re both getting at the same idea–an idea that’s been part of Christianity since, well, Christ: that we are our brother’s keeper, and because of that we must care especially for the poor.
If someone as venerable as St. John “Golden Tongue” Chrysostom and someone as modern and approachable as Stephen Colbert can so firmly agree on an idea, then maybe that idea is something that people like you and me should think about.
Just something to keep in mind as the weather turns cold.