On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 53: Stewards and the Poor III

“For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you will, you can do good to them…” (Mark 14:7 RSV)

In some far Eastern cultures, the lowest poor of society are called “untouchables.” They are the lowest of the orders of society. The system that calls such lowly poor “untouchable” is often called the “caste” system. If one is an “untouchable” one is in the lowest “caste” – hence comes our English word “outcast.”

Our Creator did not create human beings with any distinction of rank. In God’s sight, human beings are simply human beings. All are striving to become once again as God created them – in full union with God, walking with God in His garden at the cool of the day. In the day of final judgment, God will not look at rank, caste, riches, or poverty. God will judge by what each person is in purity and in love for His Son whom he sent for the salvation of the world.

In our Lord’s first sermon in Nazareth, He proclaimed, quoting Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor” (Luke 4:18 RSV). That good news (“gospel”) that is preached to the neglected and those abandoned by the world is that in Christ they have been raised up to become sons and daughters of the Most High.

And it is likely the poor will be the first to inherit the kingdom, along with those who are poor “in spirit” (the Beatitudes). For the poor and those who are poor in spirit are those who put no stock in earthly treasures. They know that attachment to the “mammon” (the riches) of this world is like a great weight attached to the body. This weight does not allow any movement in any direction.

Good stewards are those who recognize that mammon, riches, have a place in our world. What place? Jesus told us clearly: “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 14:45-46 RSV). Stewards are merchants, constantly searching for the pearl of great value. Stewards are merchants who, having found that pearl, are willing to give up virtually all of their riches to have that pearl. Stewards put their faith, their hope in that pearl. Stewards put their entire lives and the riches that come with that life into the service of Christ, the pearl of great value.

“For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you will, you can do good to them…”

This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.

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