‘The charitable work of the Church was born of the Gospel and the Divine Liturgy. The care for the poor in the form of permanent social institutions was inspired by today’s Gospel,” said the Patriarch of Romania in his homily delivered at St. George’s Chapel of the Patriarchal residence on Sunday.
Referring to the Gospel passage in which the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes is presented, Patriarch Daniel explained that the care for the poor and hungry was commanded by the Saviour Jesus Christ in the words to the disciples: “Give them something to eat.”
He recalled the early Church and the merciful behaviour of the first Christians.
“In the first centuries, after the Divine Liturgy, a fraternal agape meal followed. The faithful participating in the Divine Liturgy had lunch together in a near building. Some brought clothes and food to the Church for the sick who could not attend the Liturgy, for the elderly or for the poor. Thus, philanthropy, the charitable work of the Church, sprang forth from listening to the Gospel and from the Divine Liturgy.”
The Patriarch offered St. Basil the Great as an example who “initiated the organization of canteens for the poor, homes for the sick, a leper colony and the help of the poor, orphans and widows.”
The Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church pointed to the discretion with which Christ the Lord carried out the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.
“We also notice that when the Saviour Jesus Christ multiplies the bread and fish, He does not show heaps of bread and fish, we do not see heaps of food, but the multiplication took place discreetly and humbly while the loaves and fish were distributed so that no one saw large piles of bread and fish. Why? For Christ did not work miracles to impress, nor to intimidate or be praised. He worked miracles out of merciful love for the hungry.”
‘We do not do good for a good image in society, but we do the good deed because the love of Christ is in our soul and urges us to become the hands of His mercy to those in need.’
Even today, the Church works discreetly for the good of others. From 2007 until now, the amount spent by the Romanian Orthodox Church for social purposes has exceeded 200 million euros. During the pandemic alone, the aid provided by the Church amounted to over 4 million euros.
Thus, through His behaviour, Christ the Lord “gives us an example of how we should perform the deeds of Christian mercy, namely not for our image in society,” the Patriarch said August 2.
Another aspect highlighted by Patriarch Daniel in his Sunday sermon refers to the care for nature. Through the attitude of the crowds, Christ taught us to value the environment, His Beatitude said.
“It is also shown that after the crowds were satisfied, the remnants were gathered so that the place where those who were eager to listen to Him and receive healing came to be clean. Through this He shows us the care for nature, not to hate it, not to leave leftovers, not to throw garbage, not to leave the clutter behind us, but cleanliness, harmony, beauty.”
“In other words, to be people with ecological behaviour, with a responsibility towards the environment. Thus, we see that participation in the church must be done regularly, keeping cleanliness and decency.”
Photography courtesy of Basilica.ro / Raluca Ene
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