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The Dover Area Religious Leaders Association

The Cocheco Forum

Homelessness Study Guide
Discussion Statement
Eastern Orthodox Tradition

John Chrysostom, a 4th century presbyter of Antioch and later Archbishop of Constantinople. Chrysostom was a prolific commentator on Scritpure, but his main focus was the practical application of what he preached. Every sermon, even his Scripture commentaries, ended with advice on living, especially on how to take care of the poor and homeless. He delivered 7 sermons on the parable of The Rich Man and Lazaros in which he discusses issues of poverty.

from On the Rich Man and Lazaros, Sermon 1

This cruelty is the worst kind of wickedness; it is an inhumanity without rival. Forit is not the same thing for one who lives in poverty not to help those in need, as for one who enjoys luxury to neglect others who are wasting away with hunger.

For as the rich man lived in such wickedness, practiced luxury every day, and dressed himself splendidly, he was preparing for himself a more grievous punishment, building himself a greater fire, and making his penalty inexorable and his retribution inaccessible to pardon.

from On the Rich Man and Lazaros, Sermon 2

[T]he rich man is not the one who has collected many possessions but the one who needs few possessions; and the poor man is not the one who has no possessions but the one who has many desires.

[I]ndeed this also is theft, not to share one's possessions. He says this to show the rich that they hold the goods of the poor even if they have inherited them from their fathers or no matter how they have gathered their wealth. By this we are taught that when we do not show mercy, we will be punished just like those who steal. for our money is the Lord's, however we may have gathered it. If we provide for those in need, we shall obtain great plenty.

For if you wish to show kindness, you must not require an accounting of a person's life, but merely correct his poverty and fill his need. The poor man has one plea, his want and his standing in need: do not require anything else from him; but even if he is the most wicked of all men and is at a loss for his necessary sustenance, let us free him from hunger....The almsgiver is a harbor for those in necessity: a harbor receives all who have encountered shipwreck; and frees them from danger; whether they are bad or good or whatever they are who are in danger, it escorts them into its own shelter. So you likewise, when you see on earth the man who has encountered the shipwreck of poverty, do not judge him, do not seek an account of his life, but free him from his misfortune.