A while back I mentioned that I was starting to like St. John Chrysostom more and more. Here is an excursion into creative patristiblogging with John of the Golden Mouth.
Here is an amusing little bit of a sermon in which the Bishop of Constantinople suggests.. well… read it yourself. This is from Homilies on the Statues 1,7:
Paul is not ashamed, and does not blush, after the many and great signs which he had displayed even by a simple word; yet, in writing to Timothy, to bid him take refuge in the healing virtue of wine drinking. Not that to drink wine is shameful. God forbid! For such precepts belong to heretics [Gotta love this guy];
Ibid. 1,8: But before I proceed to solve these questions, permit me to say something of the virtue of Timothy, and of the loving care of Paul. For what was ever more tender hearted than this man, who being so far distant, and encircled with so many cares, exercised so much consideration for the health of his disciple’s stomach, and wrote with exact attention about the correction of his disorder? And what could equal the virtue of Timothy? He so despised luxury, and derided the sumptuous table, as to fall into sickness from excessive austerity, and intense fasting. For that he was not naturally so infirm a person, but had overthrown the strength of his stomach by fasting and water drinking; you may hear Paul himself carefully making this plain. For he does not simply say, "use a little wine;" but having said before, "drink no longer water," he then brings forward his counsel as to the drinking of wine. And this expression "no longer" was a manifest proof, that till then he had drunk water, and on that account was become infirm. [RIGHT! After all, do you know what fish do in water?? Besides, Father needs to keep up his strength for his labors in the Lord’s vineyard.]
Ibid. 1,32: But since our discourse has now turned to the subject of blasphemy, I desire to ask one favor of you all, [Anything for you, Your Excellency…] in return for this my address, and speaking with you; which is, that you will correct on my behalf the blasphemers of this city [i.e., blaspheming against God by saying that wine is evil.]. And should you hear any one in the public thoroughfare, or in the midst of the forum, blaspheming God; go up to him and rebuke him; and should it be necessary to inflict blows, spare not to do so. Smite him on the face; strike his mouth; sanctify your hand with the blow, and if any should accuse you, and drag you to the place of justice, follow them thither; and when the judge on the bench calls you to account, say boldly that the man blasphemed the King of angels! For if it be necessary to punish those who blaspheme an earthly king, much more so those who insult God. It is a common crime, a public injury; and it is lawful for every one who is willing, to bring forward an accusation. Let the Jews and Greeks learn, that the Christians are the saviours of the city; [HURRAY! And let this extend to the liturgy too, "SAVE THE LITURGY, SAVE THE WORLD"] that they are its guardians, its patrons, and its teachers. Let the dissolute and the perverse also learn this; that they must fear the servants of God too; that if at any time they are inclined to utter such a thing, they may look round every way at each other, and tremble even at their own shadows, anxious lest perchance a Christian, having heard what they said, should spring upon them and sharply chastise them.
So, effectively, St. John has said that a) priests shouldn’t fast too much less they not be able to carry our their duties (Ibid. 3,8: "The Publican fasted not; and yet he was accepted in preference to him who had fasted; in order that you may learn that fasting is unprofitable, except all other duties follow with it.") and then b) if people speak badly about wine, which is one of God’s great gifts, you should immediately bust him in the chops.
CONCLUSIONS: If anyone tries to give you bad wine or, worse, no wine, or says anything bad about the wine you have (or don’t have) then punch him in the face right away! Moreover, make sure that Father always has very good wine at hand, so that he can give greater glory to God and have the wherewithal to serve the flock properly.
I am really starting to like John Chrysostom!