30 July 2008

GOLDEN TONGUE

Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Lk 6:43-45


We celebrate today the hallowed memory of St. Peter Chrysologus, bishop and doctor of the Church. He was born in the 5th century and became bishop of Ravenna in Italy. After an exemplary life of holiness and service to the Church, Peter Chrysologus went to his eternal reward around the year 460. To date, the Church has in her safekeeping 170 of his eloquent and blessed homilies.

Outstanding for his apostolic zeal, preaching and writings, he was called “Chrysologus”, commonly translated as “golden-tongued”. It is intriguing though because the word “logos” in “Chrysologus” does not mean “tongue” in Greek but “word”.

However, it moves me to reflect on three questions. What significance is it to have words for a man who has no tongue? But, more importantly, what value has a tongue, if the man who owns it does not use it? And, most importantly, what worth does a tongue have for a man who knows not how to use it?

Having a tongue is different from using it. There are some people who, while having a tongue, do not maximize its use. They use their tongues only for survival, the most basic of which is to taste food so that their appetite may increase and they may experience eating – which is indispensable for survival – a pleasing human activity.

Using tongue is one thing, knowing how to use it is another. Tongue is not only for tasting food. It is also a requisite to communication, expressing the self to another. It greatly aids in articulating ideas that words convey. To be understood well, the tongue must be employed properly and within the right context.

Having a tongue, using it, and using it properly are basic requirements for the logos to be planted, as it were, in its hearer, and bear fruit. A golden word, a chrysologus, should never be wasted due to the absence of tongue, the failure to use it, and the improper use of it.

There is no other word more golden than Jesus Christ. He is the Word of God, eternal, creative, omnipotent, salvific, loving, and incarnate. Jesus – the ultimate chrysologus – must be proclaimed, announced, and explained by golden tongues.

Of course, our tongues are not literally golden. They are made of flesh. Our tongues, however, become golden when we strive to become more and more like the golden Word we preach: Jesus Christ.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite stories was about King Midas who turns everything he touches into gold. King Midas is certainly a fictional character, but not Jesus. What Jesus touches should truly become golden. Has He not touched our hearts? But are our hearts really golden? Do our tongues not profess Him? But are our tongues golden?

With the intercession of St. Peter Chrysologus, we pray today for the gift of being transformed by the logos Theou or the Word of God. A word so precious as Jesus deserves nothing less than a “golden heart” that expresses itself through a “golden tongue”.

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