When we commit an act of charity, in which we use our excess wealth to help someone with too little, we are acknowledging our unity with others. The duty of the rich is to share the harvest of the fields with all who work in them and with all in need.
There is no rich and poor in Christ. Be then not ashamed of him because of his external dress, but receive him because of his inward faith.
During a recent Orthodox presentation, the Bishop suggested reading Matthew 5 through 7 at least once every month. What a blessed suggestion!
In Matthew, Chapter 4, we reflect upon the following verses:
18 “And walking by the sea of Galilee, He saw two brethren, Simon that was surnamed Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers. 19 And He saith unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they left their nets, and followed Him.” As we consider these verses, reflect upon the urgency and obedience that we are called to when following Christ. The same urgency and obedience that is necessary as Stewards of our parish. We must become Stewards immediately, not next month, not when Church school starts, not at Christmas but as soon as possible as our Church needs our support. We must also be obedient with our Stewardship of Time, Talents and Treasures – not, when we have a surplus of money or time, not when we have extra funds available but as soon as possible as the Church needs support for all of the ministries it provides.
We must not only bless people who are mean or unjust to us, but also do good to them and pray for them. See whether you have such a disposition toward your enemies, and judge by this whether you have Christian love, without which there is no salvation!
St. Theophan the Recluse
For nothing so much turns our life upside down as delay and procrastination in the performance of our good works. In fact, this has often caused us to lose all. Consider one of your summer goals of leading an effort or project that does good works!
In one of his homilies, St. John Chrysostom is convinced that, as he says, “You will not do so much good to the poor as to yourself, when you benefit them” and he also says, “Do you not know that God enacted almsgiving not so much for the sake of the poor as for the sake of the persons themselves who bestow their goods to the poor?”
For St. John Chrysostom, giving to the poor is the greatest way to “Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal (Matt. 6:20).” As he exhorts: “Let us then transfer our wealth, and remove it thither [i.e., to Heaven]. We shall not need for such a transfer donkeys, or camels, or carriages, or ships (God has relieved us even of this difficulty), but we only need the poor, the lame, the crippled, the infirm [to whom to give our wealth]. These are the ones who are entrusted with this transfer, they convey our riches to Heaven, they introduce the masters of such wealth as this to the inheritance of everlasting good things.” So it is completely in character for St. John Chrysostom to advise families: “Make your house a Church, your little alms-box a treasury. Become a guardian of sacred wealth, a self-ordained Steward of the poor. Your benevolence gives you this priesthood.”
On this day of Pentecost, pray that as the Holy Spirit descends upon us that we may open our hearts to the poor, those in need, our families, our neighbors, our co-workers and each and everyone one that is created in the image and likeness of God. We pray also, that as the Apostles spoke in various languages, that we also, can speak in various languages to the extent that we define our Stewardship commitment. Every aspect of Stewardship is a blessing.