Today is the feast of St. Peter Chrysologus, archbishop of Ravenna in the early fifth century.
He is known for his positive sermons, no tirades against pagans or Jews, but focused on the Incarnation.
This morning I read part of one of his sermons which appears in Benedictine Daily Prayer, with a striking message, which means so much for me as I minister among people who are put down by the society around them:
The hands that deigned to make clay into our human stuff also took flesh to restore us. Thus the creature is honored and the Creator is not lowered when God becomes human.
O humanity, why do you think so little of yourself when God thinks so highly of you? Why dishonor yourself when God so honors you?
Here in Honduras, Campesinos, those who work on the land, are so often looked down upon, called (by a former president of the Honduran Congress) “gente del monte”, hill-billies, hay-seeds, people of the weeds.
But God became one of them, from a despised town. Remember the remark of Nathaniel, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
These words of St. Peter of the Golden Word (Chrysologos) encourage me today as I continue to serve these people, whom I love. (Today I’ll be helping at baptisms in the morning and then preaching this evening.)
But there was a remark about St. Peter in Robert Ellsberg’s note on the saint in Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread that I really like:
His sermons were apparently short, “for he was afraid of fatiguing the attention of his hearers.”
Bravo, St. Peter. Keep it short, positive, and to the point!
The photo is from the apse of the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Clase, outside Ravenna, taken by the author, February 2013.