Do you wish to honour the body of Christ?
Do not ignore him when he is naked.
Do not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk,
only then to neglect him outside where he is cold and ill-clad.
He who said: “This is my body” is the same who said:
“You saw me hungry and you gave me no food”, and
“Whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me”…
What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden
chalices when your brother is dying of hunger? Start by satisfying
his hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well
St John Chrysostom
(rainy cold day in Georgia / Julie Cook / 2017)
Winter arrived today in Georgia…a cold rain with freezing temps
as snow is predicted for later in the week…
But we don’t like to use that ‘S’ word here in Georgia as it tends to
send everyone into an apocalyptic tizzy.
I was out running errands in this cold rain, hitting the grocery store,
picking up odds and ends while playing the role of pre-Santa—
as in I was doing those things and gathering those things we usually do and gather
this particular time of year.
Once I was finally home, I felt pretty good about what I had accomplished
and actually started some more rounds of baking…
yet I had woken this morning with a rather fetid brow along with a
troubled spirit about the news of a friend…
I say friend but really she is just someone whose business I have frequented
for probably the last 25 years…as we’ve seen one another about once a week
Yet that’s pretty much been the extent of the relationship.
We each know one another’s families, because that’s how it is in a
smaller community. Particularly with those particular businesses that have been
a part of the community for eons.
This friend basically watched my son grow up and whereas I don’t sew,
she actually sewed his cub scout badges on his uniform for me.
I had also known her mother.
A genteel southern lady who worked at this family business until she was almost 90.
She always called me honey or sweetie and I appreciated that.
Over the years, I’d bring in small remembrances at the holidays as
they in turn would offer me and my family the same…
the appreciation of being a customer mixes with that of a true level of friendship.
This friend, as she is older, is not technologically savvy but did try
following my blog once.
That was when I actually learned that her grown son suffered from the same mental
illness that had plagued my brother—a tale which was in a post I had
once written about forgiveness.
The post had touched her so much that she tried delicately talking to me about it
one day when I had run in to pick up a few things.
She is older and very southern and was thus taught that there are just some
things “a lady” does not talk about in public…
and she adheres strictly to that notion.
So I knew and appreciated the great effort it had taken for her to share her
own story with me.
It was then, following our conversation, that I actually began to see her in
a very different light….
because I now knew she knew about dark heartache and hardships.
And it was then that it actually dawned on me that we only think we know people—especially those in our narrow corners of the world…
we see them, we chat with them, we keep up with them here and there…
So I have to admit that I was a bit convicted with the thought that we
really don’t know our neighbors like we think we do.
For you see we don’t always tell folks things about ourselves.
Things that we are either burdened by, mistakenly ashamed about,
or things we really just want to hide away.
There is often the mindset that if anyone really knows the truth about us…
they will certainly feel differently about us…perhaps non accepting….
She always spoke of her daughter, very proudly—a daughter who doesn’t live in state….but a daughter who shares my same name…
so each time I’d come into the business, this friend would always call me
by a double name—her daughter’s first and middle name—
of which is not my first and middle name….
however, I never corrected her—I just let her call me by her daughter’s name
as I think the “connection” simply made her feel good.
Her health and age have both gotten the best of her…
so about 3 weeks ago, rather unexpectedly, abruptly and unceremoniously, she up
and announced to her brother, the business owner, that she was quitting….
right then and there—
and out the door she went.
Since then her brother and I have spoken rather candidly about his sister,
my friend, as he is keenly aware of how I have sincerely cared about her
he shared the worries, the concerns, the frustrations in her refusals in having
anything with doctors—doctors she’s needed to see for years…
all of which is coupled by a most stubborn demeanor.
Then last night my husband came home telling me that my friend’s brother
had come into my husband’s business and shared with him news that his sister
had fallen at home and no one had known.
She laid on the floor for about 3 or 4 days before the family checked in on her.
She was rushed to the hospital and had to have a leg removed….
due to a loss of blood flow and may have also suffered a stroke.
I went by the business today with an orchid..as visiting at the hospital is
not an option.
The prognosis, the brother told me, was not good but that the daughter
will be moving her mother out of state in order to be near her and her family,
when and if she can be released.
So the thoughts of the plight of this friend of mine weighed heavy on my heart today
much like the grey cold which added to that sense of heaviness.
Reading the post this evening, by an Orthodox believer, I was struck by the words
that were shared by the 4th century Archbishop, Doctor of the church and later saint,
John Chrysostom over his concern for the poor and the suffering whom he had
witnessed first hand one winter when traveling through a busy city
marketplace in Antioch.
His words and the recalling of seeing those physically suffering, much
maligned and overlooked human beings…
human beings who were looked through as if invisible….
rather than being looked at as living beings,…
stuck me in a most profound sense.
I thought of my friend and of others who we see, but don’t really see.
Not just the obvious individuals who are perhaps homeless and suffering…
but those who we see on a daily basis and are also suffering, only in
a different and more quiet sort of way.
And so I pray that we—meaning you and I— may be more mindful of those
individuals who we pass by either mindlessly or even purposefully–yet do not see.
Each of us has a story…and each of us has a connection…
We are each created by the same Creator…and we are precious
in His sight despite being scorned upon in the sight of others or simply
never seen in the sight of others…
And at the same time we are each called to be compassionate and to serve those who
cannot serve themselves…..
As the words of this most astute saint haunt us to this day:
I have come hither today to undertake a righteous mission among you,
a mission profitable and suitable for you.
By no others than the poor who dwell in this city of yours have I been
appointed the spokesman.
I have been sent not by word of mouth,
nor by vote of the citizens,
nor by a decree of the senate,
but by a most grievous and piteous spectacle.
For as I was hastening to preach before this congregation,
I passed through the market-place and the alleys,
and I saw many lying in the midst of the crossings,
some lacking hands and feet, some without eyes,
some filled with ulcers and running sores and exposing
as much as possible those parts which because of the suppuration
should have been covered.
And I thought I would be most inhuman if I did not appeal to your
charity in their behalf, especially since,
in addition to the reasons I have just given,
I am constrained thereto by the season of the year.
For although it is always fitting to preach about alms
(seeing that we in our dealings with other men are wanting in the
great mercy of our Lord and Creator)
yet at this season especially it is meet so to speak,
when the cold is so urgent.
He did not say, “Now concerning the collections for beggars” or
“for the poor”, but “for the saints”;
instructing his hearers to honor the poor—that is,
of course, if they were devout—and to spurn the rich if they despised virtue.
Come, let us in place of employers hold out compassionate hands to them,
and on this mission let us take as our companion Paul,
the true patron and protector of the poor.
For he more than anyone else concerns himself with this question.
For this reason, when he divided the disciples with Peter,
he did not divide the care of the poor; but when he had said,
“They gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship:
that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision,” he added,
“Only that we should be mindful of the poor:
which same thing also I was careful to do.” (Gal. 2:9–10).
In fact, throughout his epistles he preaches about these things,
and you will not find a single letter of his without an admonition of this kind.
For he knew, he knew with certainty of how great moment this question is;
and therefore, as if he were placing an exquisite dome upon a building,
so to his other admonitions and counsels he adds his teaching in regard to charity.
(Delivered at Antioch by St John Chrysostom
After Passing Through The Marketplace In The Wintertime,
And Seeing The Paupers And Beggars Lying There Neglected)
for the full text click the following link:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,
but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs,
that it may benefit those who listen.