Word Magazine November 1963 Page 3-4
Rev. Fr. Theodore E. Ziton
(The following meditation was given by Rev. Fr. Theodore E. Ziton, Pastor of St. George (Eastern) Orthodox Church of Wichita, Kansas as the Radio speaker on Vicksburg’s WQBC’s Morning Devotions during the week of May 13th thru May 17th, 1963, from 9:15 to 9:30 AM. As a member of the Warren County Ministerial Association he is provided the opportunity to go on the air three weeks of the year on this public service media.)
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit:
The meditation for today is on Charity:
“How often it is difficult to be wisely charitable to do good without multiplying the sources of evil. To give alms is nothing unless you give thought also. It is written, not “blessed is he that feedeth the poor,” but “blessed is he that considereth the poor.” A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money.” RUSKIN
In one of his books, Tolstoy wrote this beautiful story: A devout Russian peasant had prayed for years that the Divine Master might visit his humble home some day. One night the peasant dreamed that the Master would come to him on the following day. So real seemed the dream that when the peasant awoke in the morning he arose immediately and went to work putting his cabin in good order for the expected heavenly Guest.
A violent storm of sleet and snow raged during the day, but the man performed his usual household tasks, and while preparing his pot of cabbage soup, he would look out into the storm with expectant eyes. Presently, he saw a poor peddler, with a pack on his back, struggling forward against the fierce icy flakes that almost overwhelmed him. The kindhearted peasant rushed out and brought the wayfarer into his cabin. He dried his clothing, shared his cabbage soup with him, and started him on his way warm and comforted.
Looking out again he saw another traveler, an old woman struggling through the snow. Her also he took into his cabin, warmed and fed her, wrapped his coat around her, and strengthened and encouraged, sent her rejoicing on her way.
Darkness began to fall, but still no sign of the Master. Hoping against hope the man once more went to his cabin door, and looking out into the night he saw a child, who was utterly unable to make his way against the blinding sleet and snow. Going out he took the half-frozen child in his arms, brought him into the cabin, warmed and fed him, and soon the little wayfarer fell asleep before the fire.
Bitterly disappointed at the Master’s non-appearance, the peasant sat gazing into the fire, and as he gazed he fell asleep. Suddenly the room was radiant with a light that did not come from the fire. Behold! The Master appeared. White-robed and serene, He looked upon the peasant with a smile. Ah, Master,” said the peasant, “I have waited and watched all day long, but You did not come.” The Master replied. “Three times have I visited your cabin. The poor peddler who you received, warmed and fed, that was I; the aged woman to whom you gave your coat, that was I; and this child whom you saved from the tempest, that is I. Amen. I say unto you; inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these, my little ones, you have also done it unto Me.”
Some one said: The greatest thing we can do for Our Heavenly Father is to love His children. The love of God and the love of our neighbor, according to St. Gregory, are two rings which compose the same chain, two streams which come from the same source. The more we love God, the more will we love our neighbor, and that is the reason who so many of God’s Saints have sacrificed themselves in such heroic manner for the love of their neighbor.
It is related of St. John that when he was very old, so old that he could not walk, he was carried in the arms of his friends to the assembly of the Christians. He lifted himself and said, “Little children, love one another. Again I say, love one another.” When he was asked, “Have you anything else to say?” he replied. “I say this again and again, love one another.”
What a blessing this world would be if all people loved their neighbors! The social problems, which so badly challenge the nations and civilization, would vanish like dew in the morning sun. Men and women would no longer be crushed between the mill-stones of greed and selfishness. Courts and jails would no longer be needed. All battleships and implements of destruction could be sunk in the deepest hole of the Pacific Ocean.
Many a heart has been broken, even brought to an early grave, through the lack of charity. Peter the Great, once struck his gardener, who, being a man of great sensibility, took to his bed and died within a few days. Peter, hearing of this exclaimed,. “Alas! I have civilized my subjects: I have conquered nations, but I have not been able to conquer myself!”
No pen, however fluently the ink may run, can describe Christ’s love. How earnestly He so sought to give aid and relief to the blind, cure the sick, raise the dead, and do all things of a charitable nature to all without respect to the individual in any manner of speaking, even forgiving those who crucified Him.
It is said of Abraham Lincoln that his heart was as great as the world, but there was no room in it to hold the memory of a wrong. He was always ready to forgive and forget any injury that was inflicted upon him. But what is forgiveness? a deaf mute being questioned, “What is forgiveness?” took a pencil and wrote, “It is the odor which a flower yields when trampled upon.”
It is not sufficient to forgive, but we also must forget. Forget! That is what we must do in all our functions and in all our relations with people who injure us. The spirit of forgetfulness is a grand magician. He brings peace to the heart and mind. He draws hands and heart together. Forgiveness of injuries is the real social cement which binds and builds a nation.
When an injury has been caused, who should repair it? Naturally, the one who inflicted it. Such reasoning is good, but it is good only in theory and not in practice. The sensible thing is to forgive the injury. If some one breaks your window, and the snow blows through the broken glass, you are not going to wait for weeks or years until the malefactor replaces a new window; rather you will repair the damage immediately. An indignant child cries out: “I did not drop the spoon and I won’t pick it up!” A great majority of people reason in the same way. Such reasoning is logical, but it is not the sort of logic that turns the world. A man of a forgiving spirit draws this conclusion: An injury is done to me, but I will repair it immediately by forgiving.
If you have hard feelings, unkind thoughts towards others, if you are trying to “get square” with someone who injured you, or if you are suffering from jealousy, envy or hatred, dispel these killing emotions. Say to yourself: This is not manly, this is not friendly, this is not Christ-like. As long as you harbor the hatred thought, the jealous thought, you must suffer—just as a pedestrian with a pebble in his shoe must suffer until he removes it.
No one should act under the heat that is caused by an insult. An insult is like mud: it will brush off much better when it is dry.
There are noxious weeds and fragrant flowers in the world of men as in the world of plants. Blessed are they who walk the war of life, as the Divine Master once walked on earth, filling the air with the aroma which distilled from kindly deeds and helpful words.
To love God’s children, to encourage them in their trials and to correct them in their mistakes is a Godlike work. If we work upon marble, it will perish: if we work upon brass, time will efface it: if we rear temples, they will crumble into dust. But if we work upon immortal souls, if we imbue them with Christian principles, we engrave on these tables something which no time can efface.
That day can be counted as lost if we have done nothing for God’s children. Suetonius, who wrote the lives of the twelve Roman Emperors, tells us that Titus, the tenth and the best of them, one night recollecting that he had done nothing beneficial to mankind during the day, exclaimed, “I have lost a day!”
The world is full of people who can be helped in many ways, and no kind thought, word or act can be regarded as insignificant. One drop of water helps to swell the ocean: one spark of fire helps to give light to the world. You may consider yourself a poor creature passing through a crowd. You are hardly noticed, but you have a drop, a spark within you that can be felt through eternity. Set that drop in motion, give wings to that spark, and behold the results! It may renovate the world.
A man once said, “He who waits to do a great deal of good at once, will never do any.” Good is done by degrees, and there is no other greatness in the world than to direct others in the right path and bring them closer to God.
Our Divine Saviour walked the dusty streets of Palestine “doing good.” Even in this modern age he gave us a lesson to be charitable to the unfortunate. This lesson he taught in the following historical incidents.
On the island of Nartinique in the Caribbean Sea in Mont Pelee, a towering volcanic mountain. At its foot, years ago lay the seaport of St. Pierre, a city of merry-making, to which Europeans resorted for liberties of all kinds.
On the morning of May 8, 1802, a series of heavy reports came from Mont Pelee. Choked by white-lava, the mountain blew its head off. Tongues of flame shot high into the sky. Suddenly a fissure opened in the flank of the mountain. With unbelievable speed an immense cloud of
steam and dust like a super-heated hurricane rushed down on the city. In three minutes the searing and suffocating cloud leveled the city to the ground and wiped out forty thousand inhabitants.
A prisoner, chained in a dungeon, alone was spared. Rescuers found him after four days, severely burnt, but living. This escape was granted to God to the one man, whom men no doubt would have judged the least deserving of it, since they had branded him as a criminal. This poor slave, condemned by men, him alone God found it worth His while to save in that city of forty-thousand people. What a lesson for us to be charitable to the unfortunate!
If you would show yourself to be a Christian in the truest sense of the word, then go, like the Master, to the poor and the helpless. Go to the widow and relieve her woes. Go to the orphans and speak words of comfort, Go to the lost and save them. Go to the sinners and whisper in their ears the words of eternal life. Go to your neighbors and bring them closer to God. Your humble services may be unimportant in the eyes of the world, but they will be most important in the eyes of God.