I Have Fought the Good Fight

From a homily by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop (344-407)

I Have Fought the Good Fight

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Narrated by Frank Dugan, Huntington Beach, California

Though housed in a narrow prison, Paul dwelt in heaven. He accepted beatings and wounds more readily than others reach out for rewards. Sufferings he loved as much as prizes; indeed he regarded them as his prizes, and therefore called them a grace or gift. Reflect on what this means. To depart and be with Christ was certainly a reward, while remaining in the flesh meant struggle. Yet such was his longing for Christ that he wanted to defer his reward and remain amid the fight; those were his priorities.

Now, to be separated from the company of Christ meant struggle and pain for Paul; in fact, it was a greater affliction than any struggle or pain would be. On the other hand, to be with Christ was a matchless reward. Yet, for the sake of Christ, Paul chose the separation.

But, you may say: “Because of Christ, Paul found all this pleasant.” I cannot deny that, for he derived intense pleasure from what saddens us. I need not think only of perils and hardships. It was true even of the intense sorrow that made him cry out: Who is weak that I do not share the weakness? Who is scandalized that I am not consumed with indignation?

I urge you not simply to admire but also to imitate this splendid example of virtue, for, if we do, we can share his crown as well.

Are you surprised at my saying that if you have Paul’s merits, you will share that same reward? Then listen to Paul himself: I have fought the good fight, I have run the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth a crown of justice awaits me, and the Lord, who is a just judge, will give it to me on that day – and not to me alone, but to those who desire his coming. You see how he calls all to share the same glory?

Now, since the same crown of glory is offered to all, let us eagerly strive to become worthy of these promised blessings.

In thinking of Paul we should not consider only his noble and lofty virtues or the strong and ready will that disposed him for such great graces. We should also realize that he shares our nature in every respect. If we do, then even what is very difficult will seem to us easy and light; we shall work hard during the short time we have on earth and someday we shall wear the incorruptible, immortal crown. This we shall do by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom all glory, and power belongs now and always through endless ages. Amen.

Paul and Peter – by VIVARINI 1482

Source: The Liturgy of the Hours – Office of Readings

Saint John Chrysostom (344-407) was born at Antioch about the year 349. After an extensive education he embraced a life of asceticism. He was ordained a priest and distinguished himself by his preaching which achieved great spiritual results among those who heard him preach. He was elected bishop of Constantinople in 397 and proved himself a capable pastor, committed to reforming the life of the clergy and the faithful. Twice he was forced into exile by the hatred of the imperial court and the envy of his enemies. After he had completed his difficult labors, he died at Comana in Pontus on September 14, 407. His preaching and writing explained Catholic doctrine in a way that is unequaled to this day. As a trained orator from the best schools of his day, he presented the merits of living the Christian life in such a persuasive and eloquent way that he was called “Chrysostom” which means “Golden Mouth” by those who studied his works.