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John Chrysostom

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'''On Serving the Poor'''
 
“[H]elp the injured, not only by money, but by patronage and protection, and … defend the widows and orphans, and … afford a refuge to all that are afflicted.” (Homily 6 on Titus)
“[N]othing is so strong and powerful to extinguish the fire of our sins as almsgiving. It is greater than all other virtues. It places the lovers of it by the side of the King Himself, and justly. For the effect of virginity, of fasting … is confined to those who practice them, and no other is saved thereby. But almsgiving extends to all, and embraces the members of Christ, and actions that extend their effects to many are far greater than those which are confined to one. For almsgiving is the mother of love, of that love, which is the characteristic of Christianity, which is greater than all miracles, by which the disciples of Christ are manifested. It is the medicine of our sins, the cleansing of the filth of our souls, the ladder fixed to heaven; it binds together the body of Christ.” (Homily 6 on Titus)
“And well does [Saint Paul] … having made mention of almsgiving, call 'it grace,' now indeed saying, "Moreover, brethren, I make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the Churches of Macedonia;" and now, "they of their own accord, praying us with much entreaty in regard of this grace and fellowship:" and again, "that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you this grace also." For this is a great good and a gift of God; and rightly done assimilates us, so far as may be, unto God; for such an one is in the highest sense a man. . . ''Greater is this gift than to raise the dead. '' For far greater is it to feed Christ when hungry than to raise the dead by the name of Jesus: for in the former case you do good to Christ, in the latter He to you. And the reward surely comes by doing good, not by receiving good. For here indeed, in the case of miracles I mean, you are God's debtor. In that of almsgiving, you have God for a debtor. Now it is almsgiving, when it is done with willingness, when with bountifulness, when you deem yourself not to give but to receive, when done as if you were benefitted, as if gaining and not losing; for so this were not a grace.” (Homily 16 on 2 Corinthians)
"Do you wish to see his altar?… This altar is composed of the very members of Christ, and the body of the Lord becomes your altar… venerable because it is itself Christ's body… You venerate the altar of the church when the body of Christ descends there. But you neglect the other who is himself the body of Christ, and remain indifferent to him when he dies of hunger. This altar you can see lying everywhere, in the alleys and in the markets, and you can sacrifice upon it anytime… And as the priest stands, invoking the Spirit, so do you too invoke the Spirit, not by words, but by deeds.” (Homily 20 on 2 Corinthians)
“When then you see a poor believer, think that you behold an altar: when you see … a beggar, not only insult him not, but even reverence him.” (Homily 20 on 2 Corinthians)
 
“Because he is a poor man, feed him; because Christ is fed.” (Homily 48 on Matthew)
“I beseech you, let us be imitators of Christ: in this regard it is possible to imitate Him: this makes a man like God: this is more than human. Let us hold fast to Mercy: she is the schoolmistress and teacher of that higher Wisdom. He that has learned to show mercy to the distressed, will learn also not to resent injuries; he that has learned this, will be able to do good even to his enemies. Let us learn to feel for the ills our neighbors suffer, and we shall learn to endure the ills they inflict.” (Homily 14 on the Acts of the Apostles)
“Where alms are, the devil dares not approach, nor any other evil thing.” (Homily 45 on Acts)
 
“[H]ave a room, to which Christ may come; say, This is Christ's cell; this building is set apart for Him. Be it but an underground chamber, and mean, He disdains it not. Naked and a stranger, Christ goes about, it is but a shelter He wants: afford it, though but this. Be not uncompassionate, nor inhuman; be not so earnest in worldly matters, so cold in spiritual. Let also the most faithful of your servants be the one entrusted with this office, and let him bring in the maimed, the beggars, and the homeless. . . But ye do not wish it thus, perhaps? Do it some other way… Abraham received the strangers in the place where he abode himself; his wife stood in the place of a servant, the guests in the place of masters. He knew not that he was receiving Christ; knew not that he was receiving Angels… But we, who know that we receive Christ, show not even so much zeal as he did who thought that he was receiving men. But they are impostors, you will say, many of them, and unthankful. And for this the greater your reward, when you receive for the sake of Christ's name. For if you know indeed that they are impostors, receive them not into your house: but if you dost not know this, why do you accuse them lightly? … Let our house be Christ's general receptacle: let us demand of them as a reward, not money, but that they make our house the receptacle for Christ; let us run about everywhere, let us drag them in… : greater are the benefits we receive than what we confer. He does not bid you kill a calf: give … bread to the hungry, raiment to the naked, shelter to the stranger.” (Homily 45 on Acts)
 
“You eat in excess; Christ eats not even what he needs. You eat a variety of cakes; he eats not even a piece of dried bread. You drink fine Thracian wine; but on him you have not bestowed so much as a cup of cold water in His thirst. You lie on a soft and embroidered bed; but he is perishing in the cold… You live in luxury on things that properly belong to him… [I]f you were guardian to a child, and having taken possession of his goods, were to neglect him in extremities, you would have ten thousand accusers, and would suffer the punishment appointed by the laws; and now having taken possession of the goods of Christ, and thus consuming them for no purpose, do you not think you will have to give account?” (Homily 48 on Matthew)
 
“Because he is a poor man, feed him; because Christ is fed.” (Homily 48 on Matthew)
 
“Would you do honor to Christ's body? Neglect Him not when naked; do not while here you honor Him with silken garments, neglect Him perishing without of cold and nakedness. For He who said, ‘This is my body, and by His word confirmed the fact,’ also said, ‘You saw me hungry, and fed me not’ and, ‘Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ (Matthew 25:42, 45) … For what is the profit, when His table indeed is full of golden cups, but He perishes with hunger? First fill Him, being hungry, and then abundantly deck out His table also. Do you make Him a cup of gold, while you give Him not a cup of cold water? And what is the profit? Do you furnish His table with cloths bespangled with gold, while to Himself you afford not even the necessary covering? And what good comes of it? For tell me, should you see one at a loss for necessary food, and omit appeasing his hunger, while you first overlaid his table with silver; would he indeed thank you, and not rather be indignant? What, again, if seeing one wrapped in rags, and stiff with cold, you should neglect giving him a garment, and build golden columns, saying, you were doing it to his honor, would he not say that you were mocking, and account it an insult, and that the most extreme? Let this then be your thought with regard to Christ also, when He is going about a wanderer, and a stranger, needing a roof to cover Him; and you, neglecting to receive Him, deck out a pavement, and walls, and capitals of columns, and hang up silver chains by means of lamps, but Himself bound in prison you will not even look upon. And these things I say, not forbidding munificence in these matters, but admonishing you to do those other works together with these, or rather even before these. Because for not having done these no one was ever blamed, but for those, hell is threatened, and unquenchable fire, and the punishment with evil spirits. Do not therefore while adorning His house overlook your brother in distress, for he is more properly a temple than the other. And whereas these your stores will be subject to alienations both by unbelieving kings, and tyrants, and robbers; whatever you may do for your brother, being hungry, and a stranger, and naked, not even the devil will be able to despoil, but it will be laid up in an inviolable treasure.” (Homily 50 on Matthew)
“If you ever wish to associate with someone, make sure that you do not give your attention to those who enjoy health and wealth and fame as the world sees it, but take care of those in affliction, in critical circumstances, who are utterly deserted and enjoy no consolation. Put a high value on associating with these, for from them you shall receive much profit, and you will do all for the glory of God. God Himself has said: ‘I am the father of orphans and the protector of widows.’ ” (Baptismal Instructions 6.12)
“For when his harvest was abundant, he said to himself, ‘What shall I do? I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones.’ There is nothing more wretched than such an attitude. In truth he took down his barns; for the safe barns are not walls but the stomachs of the poor.” (Second sermon on Lazarus and the rich man) “…the rich man did not take Lazarus’ money, but failed to share his own…indeed this also is theft, not to share one’s possessions [with the poor]… For our money is the Lord’s, however we may have gathered it.” (Second sermon on Lazarus and the rich man) “…the . . The rich man is a kind of steward of the money which is owed for distribution to the poor… Therefore, let us use our goods sparingly, as belonging to others…How shall we use them sparingly, as belonging to others? When we do not spend beyond our needs, and do not spend for our needs only, but give equal shares into the hands of the poor.” (Second sermon on Lazarus and the rich man) Abraham receives Lazarus because the saintly patriarch was known for his hospitality. (Heb 13:2). “It is great and remarkable…when we receive anyone who happens by, even outcasts and worthless people, with great good will.” (Second sermon on Lazarus and the rich man)
“Charity is so called because we give it even to the unworthy.” (Second sermon on Lazarus and the rich man)
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