November 13 – Monday of the Twenty-sixth Week after Pentecost (9th of Luke) Luke 14:12-15
Caring for the Poor: Luke 14:12-15, especially vss. 13-14: “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” The Lord Jesus proclaims we become worthy of “the resurrection of the just” (vs. 14) only by acting justly. He does not include the wicked (Mt 13:49), nor the unjust (Mt 5:45), nor those who claim they have no need to repent (Lk 15:7). Those few who are called just in the Gospels – Saint John the Baptist (Mk 6:20), Saint Joseph the Betrothed (Mt 1:19), Saint Joseph of Arimathea (Lk 23:50-53)—were “pure in heart” (Mt 5:8) and aided Christ.
We find evidence of purity of heart in the person who acts upon God’s will by sharing material wealth with the needy. If we, too, wish to be numbered be among the just, we are to care for the poor. Repenting of our inordinate attachment to material goods, we apply our wealth to the acquisition of eternal riches.
In the Gospel reading for today, our Lord instructs us to care for the needy, for Christ Himself cares for the poor. He urges us to invite the weak and the despised to our feasts. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9).
Furthermore, as Holy Scripture teaches, “God is love” (1 Jn 4:16). Christ is the source of all love, and actively cares for those who suffer in situations of dire need. We find this abiding word in all of the prophets. When God reveals the future Incarnation of Christ to Isaiah, He asserts: “He shall not judge by reputation nor convict by common talk. But He will judge the cause of the humble” (Is 11:3-4).
As Christ’s disciples, we are not merely asked to provide material assistance to the needy, but also to care for the poor with pure hearts that keep God’s word. Saint Paul warns us that if we “bestow all [our] goods to feed the poor, and though [we] give [our] body to be burned, but have not love, it profits [us] nothing” (1 Cor 13:3).
Caring for the poor is not simply a kindness on our part; it is integral to our salvation. God declares, “Blessed is the man that hath understanding for the poor man and the pauper; in an evil day the Lord will deliver him” (Ps 40:1).
The Prophet Job describes his own attention to the poor: “For I saved the poor from the hand of the oppressor and helped the orphan who had no helper. The blessing of the perishing man came upon me, and the widow’s mouth blessed me. I put on righteousness and clothed myself with judgment like a robe. I was the eye of the blind and the foot of the lame. I was the father of the weak” (Job 29:12-16).
God’s blessing comes when we truly care for those who live in poverty. “Disperse [your wealth]. . . that thou mayest not lose,” advises Saint John Chrysostom, “[and] keep not, that thou mayest keep; lay out that thou mayest save; spend, that thou mayest gain” (NPNF First Series, vol. 10, p. 35).
According to Saint Arsenios of Paros, “If you want Christ to bless you and what you have, when you meet some poor individual who is hungry, and asks you for food, give him. Also, when you know that some poor man, or a widow, or an orphan are hungry, do not wait for them to ask you for food, but give them. Have faith that Christ invisibly blesses your few possessions” (Cavarnos, Modern Orthodox Saints, vol. 6, p. 103).
Grant us grace, O Lord, to open wide our hands and hearts to succor the poor and the destitute so that we may find the perfection of the Gospel in following Thee.