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Love, Care, Hospitality (a little on pagan culture)

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1 Love, Care, Hospitality (a little on pagan culture)

2 Matthew 25:34-38 [34] Then the King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; [35] for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, [36] I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' [37] Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? [38] And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? [39] And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?' [40] And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'

3 Luke 14 [12]He said also to the man who had invited him, "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. [13] But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, [14] and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you.

4 Romans 12 [9] Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; [10] love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. [11] Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. [12] Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. [13] Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality. [14]Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. [15] Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. [16] Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. [17] Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. [18] If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.

5 Shepard of Hermas (early 100s) “Having fulfilled what is written, in the day on which you fast you will taste nothing but bread and water; and having reckoned up the price of the dishes of that day which you intended to have eaten, you will give it to a widow, or an orphan, or to some person in want, and thus you will exhibit humility of mind, so that he who has received benefit from your humility may fill his own soul, and pray for you to the Lord.”

6 Origen "Let the poor man be provided with food from the self-denial of him who fasts." according to historian Michel Riquet: – “It has been calculated that at Rome in 250, under Pope Cornelius, ten thousand Christians obliged to fast could provide, from a hundred days' fasting, a million rations a year. These more or less regular offerings were supplemented by gifts made to the Church by rich converts.”

7 Ambrose (d. 397) Hospitality also serves to recommend many. For it is a kind of open display of kindly feelings: so that the stranger may not want hospitality, but be courteously received, and that the door may be open to him when he comes. It is most seemly in the eyes of the whole world that the stranger should be received with honour; that the charm of hospitality should not fail at our table; that we should meet a guest with ready and free service, and look out for his arrival…. There are two kinds of free-giving, one arising from liberality, the other from wasteful extravagance. It is a mark of liberality to receive the stranger, to clothe the naked, to redeem the captives, to help the needy. It is wasteful to spend money on expensive banquets and much wine. Wherefore one reads: “Wine is wasteful, drunkenness is abusive.” It is wasteful to spend one’s own wealth merely for the sake of gaining the favour of the people. This they do who spend their inheritance on the games of the circus, or on theatrical pieces and gladiatorial shows, or even a combat of wild beasts, just to surpass the fame of their forefathers for these things. All this that they do is but foolish, for it is not right to be extravagant in spending money even on good works. It is a right kind of liberality to keep due measure towards the poor themselves, that one may have enough for more; and not to go beyond the right limit for the sake of winning favour. Whatever comes forth out of a pure sincere disposition, that is seemly. It is also seemly not to enter on unnecessary undertakings, nor to omit those that are needed. But it befits the priest especially to adorn the temple of God with fitting splendour, so that the court of the Lord may be made glorious by his endeavours. He ought always to spend money as mercy demands. It behoves him to give to strangers what is right. This must not be too much, but enough; not more than, but as much as, kindly feeling demands, so that he may never seek another’s favour at the expense of the poor, nor show himself as either too stingy or too free to the clergy. The one act is unkind, the other wasteful. It is unkind if money should be wanting for the necessities of those whom one ought to win back from their wretched employments. It is wasteful if there should be too much over for pleasure.

8 Basil the Great (d. 379) Averted famine in 368 by donating all his families wealth Built one of very first Christian hospitals and first hospices Monastic rule:

9 Rufinus (visitor to Nitria monastery, Egypt) We arrived at Nitria, that most famous place among all the monasteries of Egypt, about forty miles from Alexandria. It takes its name from the nearby village where natron [native sesquicarbonate of soda, or soap] is produced. The name of Nitria, by the foresight of divine providence, I believe, carries with it the idea that however sordid the sins of men they could be cleansed and washed away in this place as if by natron. Here, there are not much fewer than fifty dwellings near each other under the rule of a single father. Some have many occupants, some just a few, quite a lot only one, but although their dwellings are all separate, nevertheless they are all inseparably joined in faith and charity. As we approached the place they sensed that pilgrim brothers were drawing near, and immediately like a swarm of bees they all rushed out of their cells and came to meet us, vying with each other in the happiness and hastiness of their approach. Several of them carried with them jugs of water and bread, for the prophet had rebuked some people saying; "You did not go out to meet the children of Israel in the way with bread and water" (2 Esdras.13). So, having greeted us, they first of all took us to the church, singing psalms, then washed our feet, with each one of them wiping our feet with the strips of linen which they use, ostensibly to lighten the labor of our journey, but in reality embodying the mystical tradition of bringing balm to the troubles of human life. What can I say now about their humanity, their work, their charity, since all of them beckoned us towards their own cells, not only fulfilling the obligation of hospitality, but also showing us the humility and gentleness and other virtues of this sort which are learned by people thus separated from the world. Their gifts of grace were various, the doctrine [by which they lived] was one and the same for all. Nowhere else had we seen such charity flourishing, nowhere such acts of compassion and eager hospitality, nowhere else such knowledge and thoughts about the divine Scriptures, nowhere else so many methods of gaining knowledge of the divine, that you might well believe that nearly every one of them was an expert in divine wisdom.

10 Pagan Culture? Plato stated that "a poor man who was no longer able to work because of sickness should be left to die." Republic 3.406d-410a. The Roman Philosopher Plautus stated, "you do a beggar bad service by giving him food and drink; you lose what you give and prolong his life for misery." Trinummus2.338-2.339. All told, "classical philosophers regarded mercy and pity as pathological emotions-- defects of character to be avoided by all rational men. Since mercy involves providing unearned help or relief, it was contrary to justice." Rodney Stark, op. cit., page 212. As Will Durant wrote, "[c]harity found little scope in this frugal life." Caesar and Christ, page 71. Robin Lane Fox : "Whereas the corn doles of pagan cities had been confined usually to citizens, usually to those who were quite well-off, the Christians' charity claimed to be for those who were most in need." Pagans and Christians, page 668. Moreover, "at their festivals, the great pagan families made distributions to the small class of councillors, the male citizens, and lastly, if at all, to the women. Christians brought their funds to those in need, men and women, citizen and noncitizen: Christian 'charity' was different in range and motive from pagan 'philanthropy': it earned merit in heaven and sustained those dear to God, the poor." Fox, page 323. E. Glenn Hinson also notes the difference between pagan philanthropy and Christian charity: "One of the strong links in the Christian chain was its charities and social aid, offered with little discrimination. Although the Romans practiced largess, they sought something in return, if not quid pro quo in the gift." The Early Church, page 140..

11 Lucian (a pagan satirist, d. Once he [Peregrinus] was behind bars, the Christians, who considered this a catastrophe, moved heaven and earth to get him free. When this proved impossible they went all out to do everything elese they could for him. From the crack of dawn on you could see gray-haired widows and orphan children hanging around the prison, and the bigwigs of the sect used to bribe the jailers so they could spend the might with him inside…. From as far away as Asia Minor, Christian communities sent committees paying their expenses out of their common funds, to help with advice and consolation. The efficiency the Christians show whenever matters of community interest like this happen is unbelievable; they literally spare nothing. [Peregrinus - a wandering, itinerant philosopher/teacher/preacher; he joined a Christian community in Syria, rose through the ranks; he was arrested in Syria for his public confession of faith, and broadly supported by Christian community. Seems upset at not being martyred; he eventually, he set himself on fire at the Olympic Games of 165C.E.]

12 More from Lucian “ you see, the poor devils have convinced themselves they’re all going to be immortal and live forever, which makes most of them take death lightly and voluntarily give themselves up to it. For another, that first lawgiver of theirs persuaded them that they’re all brothers the minute they deny the Greek gods (thereby breaking our law) and take to worshipping him, the crucified sophist himself, and living their lives according to his rules. They scorn all possessions without distinction and treat them as common property. Consequently, is a professional sharper who knows how to capitalize on a situation gets among them, he makes himself a millionaire overnight, laughing up his sleeve at the simpletons.”

13 Lucian In the middle of one his many satires, dealing with Alexander of Abonoteichus, he breaks off, after telling how this Alexander burned books, including the master Epicurus: “What blessings that book creates for its readers and what peace, tranquillity, and freedom it engenders in them, liberating them as it does from terrors and apparitions and portents, from vain hopes and extravagant cravings, developing in them intelligence and truth, and truly purifying their understanding, not with torches and squills and that sort of foolery, but with straight thinking, truthfulness and frankness.”

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