If his body was
weak, his tongue was powerful. The content of his sermons, his exegesis of Scripture, were never
without a point. Sometimes the point stung the high and mighty. Some sermons lasted up to two hours.
His lifestyle at the imperial court was not appreciated by many
courtiers. He offered a modest table to episcopal sycophants hanging around for imperial and
ecclesiastical favors. John deplored the court protocol that accorded him precedence before the
highest state officials. He would not be a kept man.
His zeal led
him to decisive action. Bishops who bribed their way into office were deposed. Many of his sermons
called for concrete steps to share wealth with the poor. The rich did not appreciate hearing from
John that private property existed because of Adam's fall from grace any more than married men liked
to hear that they were bound to marital fidelity just as much as their wives were. When it came to
justice and charity, John acknowledged no double standards.
Aloof, energetic, outspoken, especially when he became excited in the pulpit, John was a sure target
for criticism and personal trouble. He was accused of gorging himself secretly on rich wines and
fine foods. His faithfulness as spiritual director to the rich widow, Olympia, provoked much gossip
attempting to prove him a hypocrite where wealth and chastity were concerned. His actions taken
against unworthy bishops in Asia Minor were viewed by other ecclesiastics as a greedy, uncanonical
extension of his authority.
Two prominent personages who personally undertook to discredit John were Theophilus, Archbishop of Alexandria, and Empress Eudoxia. Theophilus feared the growth in importance of the Bishop of Constantinople and took occasion to charge John with fostering heresy. Theophilus and other angered bishops were supported by Eudoxia. The empress resented his sermons contrasting gospel values with the excesses of imperial court life. Whether intended or not, sermons mentioning the lurid Jezebel (see 1 Kings 9:1—21:23) and impious Herodias (see Mark 6:17-29) were associated with the empress, who finally did manage to have John exiled. He died in exile in 407.
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