We must become a more compassionate people
“In this way will the inequalities of earthly states be leveled out at God’s judgment (Saint Theophan the Recluse).”
It is right that we consider the teachings of the Orthodox Church concerning our duties to those who have less than we. Saint John Chrysostom taught that, “the poor are not the spectacle of human misery and suffering that evokes compassion or disgust, but they are the icons of Christ, the presence of Christ in the broken world.”
The compassionate sharing of our resources with those in need is a primal teaching of our Church and a virtue that must be practiced if we are to be true to the teachings of Our Lord. The communal nature of the Church was taught by Saint Paul himself, and all who would call themselves Christians are obligated to be compassionate to those who lack basic resources to sustain their lives.
In an age when so many rich are resisting the possibility of increased taxation, we must remember that we are all, rich or poor, required by the Gospels to share with those around us. Christian nations from the time of Byzantium have taxed the wealthy in order to provide for the least of their people. The heretical teachings being floated about that abundance and prosperity are signs of a strong Christian faith, has infected many in our nation. They want to defend and protect the wealth of a few at the expense of those who have the least, as though the least among us deserve their station in life. The disparity between the very wealthy and the poor has never been this extreme in our nation’s history.
Almsgiving is so pivotal to our Christian faith, that it led Saint Basil the Great to exhort even the poor to share their meager goods with others. The Christian culture of compassion requires all of us to find ways to lift up the least among us. We can not remain secure in our own well being, while ignoring the needs of the poor and the elderly.
Saint John of Kronstadt in his First homily on the Beatitudes says: “Can wealthy people be poor in spirit? Of course they can, if they do not regard themselves as being great people only because they have perishable wealth and can do whatever they want with it’s help. How can they be poor in Spirit? They can when they sincerely recognize that their wealth — and the wealth of the whole world, for that matter –means nothing in comparison with the immortal soul, and that wealth is a gift from God not only to us but to our neighbors as well, for material surpluses are given to us to help the poor. When the wealthy recognize that with all their material treasures they are extremely poor and destitute in spirit, they will not be high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy: that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold of eternal life. (I Timothy 6:17-19).”
A compassionate heart leads to God as it places others above self. The rich man who values his money while ignoring the needs of the poor endangers his eternal life, for it is more difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. A wealthy Christian is a philanthropic man who cares for the poor and destitute and shares that which God has given him, thus storing up in heaven the treasures that are eternal.
Love in Christ,
Thursday May 31, 2018 / May 18, 2018
Afterfeast of Pentecost. Tone seven.
Fast-free Week. Fast-free
Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Surety of Sinners” in Korets (1622) (movable holiday on Thursday of the 1-st week of the Pentecost).
Commemoration of the Holy Fathers of Seven Ecumenical Councils.
Martyr Theodotus of Ancyra and seven virgin-martyrs: Alexandra, Tecusa, Claudia, Phaine, Euphraisa, Matrona, and Julia(303).
Martyrs Peter of Lampsacus, and Andrew, Paul, and Dionysia, at Euridinos (249-251).
St. Macarius (Glukharev) of Altai, Siberia (1847).
St. John (Gashkevich), archpriest of Korma (1917).
New Hieromartyr Michael, priest (1932).
New Hieromartyr Damjan (Damian) Strbac, Jr. of Grahovo, Serbia (1940s).
New Hieromartyr Basil priest (1942).
Martyrs Symeon, Isaac, and Bachtisius of Persia (339).
Martyrs Heraclius, Paulinus, Benedimus of Athenas (250).
Holy Martyrs Davit and Tarichan (693) (Georgia).
Martyr Euphrasia of Nicaea (Greek).
St. Stephen the New, patriarch of Constantinople (Greek).
Hieromartyr Theodore, pope of Rome (Greek).
St. Anastaso of Lukada (Greek).
Venerable Martinian of Areovinthus, monk (Greek).
Martyr Julian (Greek).
Hieromartyr Potamon, bishop of Heraclea (341) (Greek).
St. Elgiva, quenn of England.
The Scripture Readings
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
God’s Righteous Judgment
2 Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your [f]impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;
Adultery in the Heart
27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
Marriage Is Sacred and Binding
31 “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.