“Blessed is he that considereth the poor” Ps. 41:1

Aug 05, 2020

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God Amen.

The basic necessities of life are, as Joshua Ben Sirach in his book says “water, and bread, and clothing, and an house to cover shame.” Sirach 29:2. Those who can’t afford these necessities are termed as “poor”. Of course, those who need help are not only the poor but also the terminally ill, disabled, the orphaned and elders who do not have care takers.

Helping those in need is a basic tenet of the Church and is decreed in her teachings and history. Prior to the establishment of the Church, the ancient prophets like King David exalted those who help the needy in their prayers and teachings “He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour.” Psa. 112:9.

Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, in His teaching said  “But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:13. In fact helping those in need is considered akin to perfection and having treasures in heaven as in “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?.. .. .. .. Jesus said unto him, ïf thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” Mat. 19:16-22

The Lord Jesus Christ, while in His sojourn in this Earth, used to feed the hungry and heal the maimed and the possessed. The blessed Apostles restated Jesus Christs teaching, when claiming  “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35.

Owing to the teachings and practicum of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ and His Holy Apostles, since ancient times, the Church, its clergy and believers, have advocated and undertaken extensive initiatives of care and assistance for the needy.

In fact, the Holy Books of the Church, and its exalted fathers and mothers consider helping the needy as worthy as martyrdom. Saint John Chrysostom said

Let the one fast, and deny himself, and be a martyr, and be burnt to death, but let another delay his martyrdom for his neighbor's edification; and let him not only delay it, but let him even depart without martyrdom; who will be the more approved after his removal hence? We need not have many words, nor a long circumlocution. For the blessed Paul is at hand, giving his judgment, and saying, "To depart and to be with Christ is better, nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you;" even to his removal unto Christ did he prefer his neighbor's edification. For this is in the highest sense to be Christ, even to be doing His will, but nothing is so much His will, as that which is for one's neighbor's good.”

St. John Chrysostom, Homily 77 on the Gospel of St. Matthew

An act of charity (giving) helps the recipient as well as the giver. In recommending how we should give, the Lord said “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” Luke 6:38”.

In times past, the Church used to house and take care of those who were afflicted by illnesses. In fact our fathers among the saints Aba Pachomius and Saint Ephraim the Syrian and other notable fathers used to attend and minister to the sick during pandemics. They were not afraid of suffering and death. They preached Christ even in front of imminent death through their actions. Aba Pachomius died at Christmas Eve in 248 AD during an epidemic (plague), while saint Ephraim the Syrian succumbed to the plague as he ministered to its victims in 373 AD.

This year we are in the middle of an epidemic, the Corona Virus, which has wrought havoc in our lives. Due to the ongoing spread of the disease, its severity and the activities undertaken to control its dissemination and impact, a lot of lives, and livelihoods have been affected.  The extent of the destruction caused by the virus has been from the loss of life, loss of livelihood/income and well as unbearable stress and other mental health related issues. Parish churches as well as monasteries have been most affected in our church as they have become unable to pay salary and food expenses, respectively.

In these times of Corona pandemic, the Church calls on its faithful to lend their helping hand to those most in need. The type of assistance that is requested could be given in the form of:  prayers, alms, tithes, clothing, food, advice and the like.

As during other trying times, this pandemic shall pass, and the Church advices (calls) its faithful to  help those in need and acquire friends and grace as it is written “and I say unto you, make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” Luke 16:9.

 “He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.” Proverbs 22:9

Glory To God, Amen

 

 

 

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