On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 15: The Least of TheseBaptism and Turning One’s Back on the Church

…For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me … as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me. (Matthew 25:35,40 RSV)

Do you know anyone in need? That is to say, do you know anyone who has a real need for real resources: food, clothing, shelter, funds, medical care? Has anyone ever called upon you to provide such needs? Or do you shrug them off with an unfeeling, unsympathetic refusal? I used to live in a big city, and often walked the streets of the downtown area. There I was regularly accosted by individuals seeking money or transportation. Most people I know shrug them off just as regularly, with an unfeeling, unsympathetic refusal.

The reasons often given by most people are based on a kind of profiling of street people. “Oh, all they want is money for drugs or alcohol.” “If you give them anything, they will never let you alone.” “They are going to steal everything you have.”

I decided one day to start giving assistance to people who asked for a specific need, like they were hungry and wanted money for food. At first I would just give a dollar to each one who asked. When that seemed not enough (who can get anything except a candy bar for a dollar any more?), I decided to purchase gift certificates from a well-known fast food chain, and give them away to whoever was hungry. Then I would invite them to go with me to that fast food chain restaurant, and eat together to learn something about each other. It was satisfying to be able to do something to meet a need. But it was also very apparent that one person handing out gift certificates would never, by itself, solve the world’s hunger problems.

In our Orthodox view of life, every part of our life is connected in some way to our Orthodoxy. There is nothing that is not what has come to be called “spiritual” and other things outside that realm. Feeding a hungry body is also feeding a hungry soul. (Think about fasting for a moment.) That is why the Church is involved in the whole life of every person. Our stewardship includes the sharing of time, talent and treasure for the salvation of the whole world. Our stewardship, as well, includes what we can contribute to the feeding of bodies and souls (even one at a time).

Remember what Our Lord Himself said: … as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.

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

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