Lenten Devotional Day 37

April 2, 2020

Read Matthew 6:19-34

Don’t let your treasure be on earth.  Don’t serve the mammon of this world. Don’t worry but trust God.  Don’t seek anything but God’s Kingdom.

As we journey through Lent toward the Cross and then to the Resurrection, we are all aware of the challenges presented by the current health situation in the world.  We know that many suffer from illness, but now as the economic situation has been squeezed to a dangerous pressure point by governmental actions, we need to ponder how to think about persons who will be (or are) in REAL need.  We need to ponder how our resources are either instruments in God’s hands, or are our “nest egg” for the hard times.  

Taking care of our families is our first duty and calling.  If everyone would elect to provide for their children’s needs and family needs thoroughly, much suffering would be lessened.  Sadly, in the midst of such an economic crunch as we are facing (and will be) there are plenty of families who do not think like this.  There will be hungry children. Really hungry homeless people. Neighbors who might find themselves in need.    

So, today I offer these thoughts from the Fathers of the Church in the first three or four centuries as a challenge and a source for our spiritual reflections on how we might turn our hearts toward the needy.

“The property of the wealthy holds them in chains . . . which shackle their courage and choke their faith and hamper their judgment and throttle their souls. They think of themselves as owners, whereas it is they rather who are owned: enslaved as they are to their own property, they are not the masters of their money but its slaves.” –Cyprian, 300 A.D.

“The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry man; the coat hanging in your closet belongs to the man who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the man who has no shoes; the money which you put into the bank belongs to the poor. You do wrong to everyone you could help but fail to help.” –Basil of Caesarea, 330-370 A.D.

“Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours but theirs.” –John Chrysostom, 347-407 AD

“Instead of the tithes which the law commanded, the Lord said to divide everything we have with the poor. And he said to love not only our neighbors but also our enemies, and to be givers and sharers not only with the good but also to be liberal givers toward those who take away our possessions.” –Irenaeus, 130-200 AD

“The rich are in possession of the goods of the poor, even if they have acquired them honestly or inherited them legally.” – John Chrysostom, 347-407

“Share everything with your brother. Do not say, “It is private property.” If you share what is everlasting, you should be that much more willing to share things which do not last.” –The Didache

“Let the strong take care of the weak; let the weak respect the strong. Let the rich man minister to the poor man; let the poor man give thanks to God that he gave him one through whom his need might be satisfied.” –Clement of Rome, 1st Century

“Christians love one another. They do not overlook the widow, and they save the orphan. The one who has ministers ungrudgingly to the one who does not have. When they see a stranger, they take him under their own roof and rejoice over him as a true brother, for they do not call themselves brothers according to the flesh but according to the soul.” –Aristides of Athens, early 2nd century

“How can I make you realize the misery of the poor? How can I make you understand that your wealth comes from their weeping?” –Basil of Caesarea, 330-370 A.D.

“When you are weary of praying and do not receive, consider how often you have heard a poor man calling, and have not listened to him.” –John Chrysostom, 347-407

Steve Blakemore, Ph.D
Dr. Blakemore is President of the Board at JCW Center and the Professor of Christian Thought at Wesley Biblical Seminary.