And the response of authentic Christian charity
The Church, if she be authentic in her Christian witness, must grapple with the challenges of society starting from its most marginalized sector. If the Church does not teach with a loud voice the importance of Christian charity, she will be failing in her duty to preach the fullness of Christ’s Gospel. The Church’s ministry must include service to the poor and downtrodden, for her role does not stop with her liturgical services, but begins there. Saint John Chrysostom teaches that fasting without accompanying good deeds is like a ship going from port to port without cargo.
Saint Sophrony of Essex, wrote, “A man is not saved by having once shown mercy to someone, although, if he scorns someone but once, he merits eternal fire. For ‘hungered’ and ‘thirsty’ is said not of one occasion, not of one day, but of the whole life. In the same way ‘ye gave me meat’, ‘ye gave me drink’, ‘ye clothed me’, and so on, does not indicate one incident, but a constant attitude to everyone. Our Lord Jesus Christ said that He Himself accepts such mercy from His slaves (in the person of the needy).”
Saint John Chrysostom, perhaps the greatest preacher of all time, told us, “Do you wish to honor the Body of the Savior? Do not despise it when it is naked. Do not honor it in church with silk vestments while outside it is naked and numb with cold. He who said, “This is my body,” and made it so by his word, is the same who said, ‘You saw me hungry and you gave me no food. As you did it not to the least of these, you did it not to me.’ Honor him then by sharing your property with the poor. For what God needs is not golden chalices but golden souls.”
Now is the perfect time for us to enter into collaboration and support with charitable organizations such as RACS, the Orthodox charity based in San Francisco, that feeds hundreds of the poor. The International Orthodox Christian Charities, another worthy organization, is also deserving of our support.
Every community has local food banks that are in desperate need of donated food, as the numbers of the poor and homeless grows at an astounding rate. Never before has there been a time when the Church and her people have been faced with a need that offers us the chance to commitment to reflection on the cultural and spiritual issues related to charity. In the face of a “contemporary culture that promotes the marginalization of those who are weak, it is increasingly necessary to restore the centrality in the lives of Christians, of the encounter with the poor and their questions, especially in the context of uncertainty produced by the complexity and uncertainty of the globalized world (Moscow Patriarchate)”.
“Our church walls sparkle with gold, which also glitters upon our ceilings-while the capitals of our pillars are lavishly decorated. The holy vessels are beaten out of costly elements and precious stones. Yet Christ is dying at our doors in the person of His poor, naked and hungry (St Jerome).”
“At the Last Judgement I will not be asked whether I satisfactorily practiced asceticism, nor how many bows I have made before the divine altar. I will be asked whether I fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick, and the prisoner in his jail. That is all I will be asked (Saint Maria of Paris).”
With love in Christ,
Friday January 24, 2020 / January 11, 2020
32nd Week after Pentecost. Tone six.
Fast. Fish Allowed
Venerable Theodosius the Great, the Cenobiarch (529).
Venerable Michael of Klops Monastery, fool-for-Christ (Novgorod) (1452).
New Hieromartyrs Nicholas, Theodore and Vladimir priests (1919).
St. Vladimir confessor, priest (1932).
Venerable Theodosius of Antioch (412).
“Chernigov-Eletskaya” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (1060).
Sts. Theodore and Agapius of Apamea in Syria.
St. Stephen of Placidian near Constantinople (Greek).
St. Theodosius of Mt. Athos, metropolitan of Trebizond (14th c.) (Greek).
St. Agapius of Apamea in Syria.
Hieromartyr Hyginus, pope of Rome (142) (Celtic & British).
Venerable Romilos the Hermit of Veddin (1375) (Greek).
Venerable Vitalis of the monastery of Abba Serid (Seridos) at Gaza (609-620) (Greek).
St. Joseph of Cappadocia (Greek).
The Scripture Readings
Jesus Heals a Great Multitude
17 And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, 18 as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. 19 And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.
20 Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you poor,
For yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
For you shall be filled.
Blessed are you who weep now,
For you shall laugh.
22 Blessed are you when men hate you,
And when they exclude you,
And revile you, and cast out your name as evil,
For the Son of Man’s sake.
23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!
For indeed your reward is great in heaven,
For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.
Beware of Personal Favoritism
2 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? 7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
With God All Things Are Possible
23 Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”24 And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?”
27 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”
28 Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.”
29 So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, 30 who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Jesus a Third Time Predicts His Death and Resurrection
32 Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: