Whose money is it, anyway?

From the life of John the Almsgiver, Patriarch of Alexandria from 610-619. He is commemorated on November 12.

During the lifetime of this saintly patriarch, the Persians came and laid waste to Syria and took its inhabitants captive. Those who escaped from the hands of the godless Persians ran for aid to the person of the thrice blessed patriarch…

He accordingly gave immediate orders that the wounded and sick should be put to bed in hostels and hospitals which he himself had founded, and that they should receive care and be free to leave as each of them should choose. To those who were well but in need, and came to the daily distribution, he gave one loaf apiece to the men and two loaves apiece to the women and children as being weaker members.

Now some of the women who came begging for alms wore ornaments and bracelets, and those who were entrusted with the distribution reported this to the patriarch.

Then he who was really gentle and of a cheerful countenance, put on a grim look and a harsh voice and said, “If you wish to be distributors for humble John – or rather for Christ! – then obey unquestioningly the divine command which says, ‘Give to everyone that asks of you.’ … If indeed the money given were mine and had come into existence with me, then I might do well to be tightfisted with my own possessions. But since the money given happens to be God’s, where His property is in question, He wishes for His commands to be followed absolutely. For if it is by God’s will that I, an unworthy servant, am the dispenser of His gifts, then if the whole world were to be brought together in Alexandria and ask for alms, they would not strain the holy Church nor the inexhaustible treasures of God.”

— Leontius, Life of St. John the Almsgiver, 7-8

Author: Father Silouan Thompson

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *