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Τετάρτη, 30 Μαΐου 2018

The Poor Our Christian response to the poor amongst us


Americans are witnessing the widest gap between the highest and the lowest income families since officials began tracking the data more than a decade ago. It is thus prudent for us to examine the words of some of the greatest of the Early Church Fathers, spoken with the Mind of the Church, regarding the poor among us, and our responsibility to them as Christians.

Saint Ambrose of Milan (340-397) said, "You are not making a gift of your possession to the poor person. You are handing over to him what is his." Saint Cyprian (300 A.D.) tells us, "The property of the wealthy holds them in chains . . . which shackle their courage and choke their faith and hamper their judgment and throttle their souls. They think of themselves as owners, whereas it is they rather who are owned: enslaved as they are to their own property, they are not the masters of their money but its slaves."

The next time we spot a homeless man asking for money to buy food, we should recount the words of Saint Basil of Caesarea (330-370 A.D.), who tells us, "The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry man; the coat hanging in your closet belongs to the man who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the man who has no shoes; the money which you put into the bank belongs to the poor. You do wrong to everyone you could help but fail to help."

Perhaps the greatest preacher of all time, Saint John Chrysostom (347-407 A.D.), imparted some very serious words on the subject of the poor when he said, "Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours but theirs."

And the 1st Century Saint Clement of Rome said, "Let the strong take care of the weak; let the weak respect the strong. Let the rich man minister to the poor man; let the poor man give thanks to God that he gave him one through whom his need might be satisfied."

Finally, Saint John Chrysostom tells us, "When you are weary of praying and do not receive, consider how often you have heard a poor man calling, and have not listened to him." 

Truly, if we attempt to emulate the teachings of the Gospels in the way we live our lives, we will see the great struggle that lies ahead of us. It is not easy to be a disciple of Christ, but these illustrious Church Fathers serve as our guides, and  bid us follow their example.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

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