On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 52: Stewards and the Poor iI

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

In Western medieval society, the local church, often a monastery church, was the place for the poor to attend services. The lords and their vassals usually had their own priests who served the religious needs within the lord’s house, without ever having to go “outside” and even see the poor peasantry.

Given my experience that Easter morning, it was obvious that the poor were made to feel that it is too costly a thing for them to attend the service of God. Such a service as I saw that Easter Day was more of an indulgence of pride and love of show than an invitation to raise praise and song to the Son of God risen from the dead for the salvation of all mankind.

Were it not for the fact that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ revealed his love for the poor and lowly who are contrite in heart, this world would be an even sadder place for the poor. Christ Himself was the son of poor parents. Remember when the child Jesus made His Entrance into the temple, His mother could only bring the offering appointed for the poor: a pair of turtle doves or two small pigeons. Christ’s was the most precious gift to our world from the Father, a Gift beyond all gifts, yet it was acknowledged only by the smallest of offerings. Jesus as He made His way around the earth shared the lot of the poor and lowly. His life was characterized by self-denial and sacrifice.

Our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, yet for our sake He became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich (1 Corinthians 8:9 RSV). He wants all who have been entrusted with His blessings to follow His example. After all, ministering to the poor and afflicted is the ideal of service: "Is not this the fast that I choose?...to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” (Isaiah 58:6-7 RSV). Remember: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40 RSV).

There are many that complain that it is not right that God allows the world to be so full of suffering and want. But our kind God, through us, His representatives whom He has entrusted with His goods, would have all the needs of His creatures supplied. God has made abundant provision for the needs of all – none need suffer from want.

(continued next week)

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

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