Monday, October 8, 2012

Blessings are for Scattering

A story from the early (7th century) church apropos of this Sunday's Gospel (Mark 10:17-31):
I, [Leontius, Bishop of Neapolis on the island of Cyprus] all unworthy as I am, came up to Alexandria to revere the holy and victorious martyrs, Cyrus and John, and to enjoy their succor. While I was in Alexandria, I met with certain pious Christian men, and as we were conversing about biblical and other edifying narratives, a stranger came up to us asking alms, for, said he, 'I have only just been rescued from my captivity under the Persians'.

Now it chanced that not one of us sitting there had either a large coin or even any small change with us. A servant of one of our company happened to be with his master, he was a hot-water carrier at the baths, who received only three nomismata [a small amount of money] a year, and had a wife and two children. When the beggar was going away this man followed him quietly, took off a small silver cross he was wearing, and gave it to him, saying that besides that he had only a sixpence in the world.

Thus by chance, or rather through the good purpose of the all-wise God, I was privileged to see what he did, and deeply moved, I forthwith recounted it to the man sitting next to me, one Menas by name, a virtuous, God-fearing man who was also treasurer of the most Holy Church in the time of the glorious and ever-blessed Patriarch John.

He, seeing me astonished and full of praise for the man who had done this deed of charity, said to me: 'Do not be surprised, for he practices that virtue by tradition and from instruction.'

I replied, 'How so? For pity's sake enlighten me!"

He answered: 'He was servant to our most saintly, thrice blessed Patriarch John, and like a true son he has inherited his father's virtue. For the holy man once said to him, 'Humble Zacharias, be charitable, for then you have a promise from God through me, a miserable sinner, that neither during my lifetime, nor after my death, will God desert you.'

And this promise He keeps to the present day. For God sends him many blessings and of these he spends nothing save that which he distributes forthwith to the poor, almost reducing his own household to want. Men have often heard him say to God in exultation, 'Verily, verily, let us see who surpasses the otherThou in sending blessings or I in scattering them! For Thou, Lord, are clearly the source of our riches and the giver of our livelihood.'"
From Three Byzantine Saints, Elizabeth Dawes and Norman H. Baynes, 208-209, (St. Vladimir's Press, 1948)



Chelsea Richards said...

It was indeed a very well said… Thanks for sharing this Gospel and I’m looking forward for your next post...

Matt Gunter said...

Thanks, Chelsea. It is a wonderful story, isn't it? Thanks for reading the blog and leaving a comment.