My Beloved the benevolent
Grace and peace wishing every goodness and blessing
On Sunday, July 15 (the 8th of Abib), the church celebrates the commemoration day of St. Bishoy, the beloved of Christ. Among the many virtues of this saint is his love to serve the needy. Christ had honored him with a great honor by appearing to St. Bishoy as an elderly man who needed to be carried. Although many monks passed by him, none stopped to help him because they were all in a hurry to get to the appointed place where Christ was to appear to the monks. Thus, none of the monks wanted to be delayed by carrying this elderly man and miss Christ’s appearance. But St. Bishoy did stop to carry him, because he believed that helping a needy person is helping Christ personally and he sees Christ in the needy person. Therefore, Christ blessed him with a special blessing: that his body that carried Christ, would not see corruption after his death.
What we learn from our beloved St. Bishoy is that serving mankind is serving Christ Himself. This is what Christ said, that on judgement day Christ the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you washed Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” Matt.25:34-36 and when the righteous ask Him when did this happen, He says, “Assuredly, I say to you inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Matt 25:40
Our belief is that every merciful act we offer a needy person whether they are hungry, thirsty, naked, a stranger, a prisoner, or sick is an act offered to Christ Himself. Because our Beloved God – before taking our nature and becoming poor while rich to make us rich – lived the life of the poor, for He had nowhere to lay His head. Thus, He invited us to care for our brethren, the needy who are members of the church – the body of Christ. If a member suffers, all the other members suffer with him.
This belief enriches ministering to the needy and gives us many perspectives, among which are:
- Our love to the needy person is not going to be for his person, but for Christ Whom we see in the needy person. We learn love from our Good Lord as St. John said, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1Jn.3:16 What is meant by laying down our lives for the brethren? St. John explains by saying, “But whoever has his world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” 1Jn.3:17-18 Then St. John connects between our love for God and our love to our brethren by saying, “We love Him because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother, who he has seen, how can he love God, whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” 1Jn.4:19-21
- Our feeling that giving to the needy is giving to Christ Himself makes us give happily and cheerfully. St. Paul the apostle put a condition on the accepted giving, as he said in his second epistle to the Corinthians, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2Cor. 9:7 For the heart that is filled with the love of Christ rejoices in giving Christ in the person of the needy.
- We honor Christ because He is our God and Savior, thus when we see Christ in the person of the needy we honor the needy, despite their weakness. Thus, St. James warned against humiliating the poor and warned us to hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, with partiality, so that we don’t honor the rich and despise the poor. (Ref. James 2:1-3)
Let us take the example of St. Bishoy to see our living Christ in every needy person, so that we give and give generously and cheerfully. May God bless your offerings to support Santa Verena Charity programs and may the blessing of the great saint, St. Bishoy be with us all. Amen.