Above: Europe in 526 C.E.
Image in the Public Domain
SAINT JOHN THE GOOD, A.K.A. SAINT JOHN CAMILLUS (DIED 660)
Roman Catholic Bishop of Milan
Now what use is it, my brothers, for a man to say he “has faith” if his actions do not correspond with it? Could that sort of faith save anyone’s soul? If a fellow man or woman has no clothes to wear and nothing to eat, and one of you say, “Good luck to you I hope you’ll keep warm and find enough to eat”, and yet give them nothing meet their physical needs, what on earth is the good of that? Yet that is exactly what a bare faith without a corresponding life is like–quite dead….Yes, faith without actions is as dead as a body without a soul.
–James 2:14-17, 26 (J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English, 1972)
No bishop had lived in Milan for eighty years. The Western Roman Empire was no more, and Arian Lombards forced the exile of previous bishops. But St. John Camillus filled the vacancy. He argued against the Arian heresy, which teaches that Christ was a created being. (The Jehovah’s Witnesses have incorporated this heresy into their alleged orthodoxy.) He also resisted the Monothelistist heresy, which claims that the human and divine wills of Jesus Christ had a common will and activity. Monothelitism undermines the doctrine that Jesus was fully human. Having correct Christology is important, but so is living one’s faith, as James reminds us. St. John Camillus earned his nickname, “the Good,” by his demonstrated holiness, as evident in his many good works in Milan.
St. John the Good died in 660, but, in 2011, people still speak of him as one who had an active faith, complete with good deeds and sound Christology. If, in fourteen centuries, the human species and memories of us survive, may our successors make the same statements about us.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
NOVEMBER 28, 2011 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF KAMAHAMEHA AND EMMA, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII
you raised up faithful bishops of your church,
including your servant St. John the Good.
May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith,
so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.
Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35
1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21
John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47
–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60
Revised on November 14, 2016