Matt. 6:19-21 (Part 4)

CYPRIAN: When one has pity on the poor, he lends to God. And he who gives to the least, gives to God. These are spiritual sacrifices to God, an odor of a sweet smell. The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.456.

CYPRIAN: Break your bread to the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your dwelling. If you see the naked, clothe him; and do not despise them of your own seed in your house. Then your seasonable light shall break forth, and your garments shall quickly arise; and righteousness shall go before you: and the glory of God shall surround you. Then you shall cry out, and God will hear you; while you are yet speaking, He shall say, 'Here I am.'”

Concerning this same thing in Job: “I have preserved the needy from the hand of the mighty; and I have helped the orphan, to whom there was no helper. The mouth of the widow blessed me, since I was the eye of the blind; I was also the foot of the lame, and the father of the weak.” 

Of this same matter in Tobit: “And I said to Tobias, 'My son, go and bring whatever poor man you find out of our brethren, who still has God in mind with his whole heart. Bring him here, and he shall eat my dinner together with me. Behold, I attend you, my son, until you come.’”  Also in the same place: “All the days of your life, my son, keep God in mind, and do not transgress His precepts. Do justice all the days of your life, and do not walk in the way of unrighteousness; because if you act truly, there will be respect of your works. Give alms of your substance, and do not turn your face from any poor man. So shall it come to pass that the face of God shall not be turned away from you. Even as you have, my son, so do: if you have abundant substance, give the more alms therefrom; if you have little, share even of that little. And do not fear when you give alms: you lay up for yourself a good reward against the day of need; because alms deliver from death, and does not suffer to go into darkness. Alms is a good office for all who do it in the sight of the most high God.”

On this same subject in Solomon in Proverbs: “He that has pity on the poor lends to the Lord.”  Also in the same place: “He that gives to the poor shall never lack; but he who turns away his eye shall be in much poverty.”  Also in the same place: “Sins are purged away by alms-giving and faith.”  Again, in the same place: “If your enemy hunger, feed him; and if he thirst, give him to drink: for by doing this you will scatter live coals upon his head.”  Again, in the same place: “As water extinguishes fire, so alms-giving extinguishes sin.”  In the same in Proverbs: “Do not say, 'Go away, and return, tomorrow I will give;' when you can do good immediately. For you do not know what may happen on the coming day.”  Also in the same place: “He who stops his ears so that he may not hear the weak, shall himself call upon God, and there shall be none to hear him.”  Also in the same place: “He who has his behavior without reproach in righteousness, leaves blessed children.”  In the same in Ecclesiasticus: “My son, if you have, do good by yourself, and present worthy offerings to God; remember that death does not delay.”  Also in the same place: “Shut up alms in the heart of the poor, and this will entreat for you from all evil.” 

Concerning this thing in the thirty-sixth Psalm, that mercy is beneficial also to one’s posterity: “I have been young, and I have also grown old; and I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their bread. The whole day he is merciful, and lends; and his seed is in blessing.”  Of this same thing in the fortieth Psalm: “Blessed is he who considers over the poor and needy: in the evil day God will deliver him.”  Also in the 112th Psalm: “He has distributed, he has given to the poor; his righteousness shall remain from generation to generation.” 

Of this same thing in Hosea: “I desire mercy rather than sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than whole burnt-offerings.” 

Of this same thing also in the Gospel according to Matthew: “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be satisfied.” Also in the same place: “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” Also in the same place: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves do not dig through and steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Also in the same place: “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchantman seeking goodly pearls: and when he has found a precious pearl, he went away and sold all that he had, and bought it.”  That even a small work is of advantage, also in the same place: “And whoever shall give to drink to one of the least of these a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, verily I say to you, his reward shall not perish.”  . . .

Also in the same place: “When the Son of man shall come in His majesty, and all the angels with Him, then He shall sit on the throne of His glory: and all nations shall be gathered together before Him; and He shall separate them one from another, even as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats: and He shall place the sheep on the right hand, but the goats on the left hand. Then the King will say to them that are on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me.' Then shall the righteous answer Him, and say, 'Lord, when did we see You a stranger, and took You in: naked, and clothed You? And when did we see You sick, and in prison, and came to You?' And the King, answering, shall say to them, 'Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' Then He will say to them who are on His left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which my Father has prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink: I was a stranger, and you did not take me in: I was naked, and you did not clothe me: sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me.' Then shall they also answer, and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to You?' And He will answer them, 'Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these shall go away into everlasting burning: but the righteous into life eternal.” 

Concerning this same matter in the Gospel according to Luke: “Sell your possessions, and give alms.”  Also in the same place: “He who made that which is within, made that which is without also. But give alms, and, behold, all things are pure to you.”  Also in the same place: “'Behold, the half of my substance I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore him fourfold.' And Jesus said to Zacchaeus, 'Today salvation has been come to this house, since he is also a son of Abraham.’”

Of this same thing also in the second Epistle to the Corinthians: “Let your abundance supply their lack, that their abundance also may be the supplement of your lack, that there may be equality: as it is written, 'He who had much did not have excess; and he who had little had no lack.’”  Also in the same place: “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly; and he who sows in blessing will also reap of blessing. But let every one do as he has proposed in his heart: not as if sorrowfully, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.”  Also in the same place: “As it is written, He has dispersed abroad; he has given to the poor: his righteousness remains forever.”  Likewise in the same place: “Now he who ministers seed to the sower, shall both supply bread to be eaten, and shall multiply your seed, and shall increase the growth of the fruits of your righteousness: that in all things you may be made rich.”  Also in the same place: “The administration of this service has not only supplied that which is lacking to the saints, but has abounded by much giving of thanks to God.” 

Of this same matter in the Epistle of John: “Whoever has this world’s substance, and sees his brother desiring, and shuts up his bowels from him, how does the love of God dwell in him?” 

Of this same thing in the Gospel according to Luke: “When you make a dinner or a supper, do not call your friends, nor brethren, nor neighbors, nor the rich; lest perhaps they also invite you again, and a recompense be made for you. But when you make a banquet, call the poor, the weak, the blind, and lame: and you will be blessed; because they do not have the means of rewarding you: but you will be recompensed in the resurrection of the just.”  The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.531-532.

LACTANTIUS: Money is to be despised, and to be transferred to heavenly treasures, where neither thief can break through, nor rust corrupt, nor tyrant take away, but it may be preserved for us under the guardianship of God to our eternal wealth.
The Epitome of the Divine Institutes, 7.250

6:21 JUSTIN MARTYR: For where his treasure is, there also is the mind of a man. The First Apology, 1.168.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: The Christian, too, while doing the most excellent things, wishes to elude the notice of men, persuading the Lord along with himself that he is living in accordance with the commandments, preferring these things from believing them to exist. “For where any one’s mind is, there also is his treasure.”

He impoverishes himself, in order that he may never overlook a brother who has been brought into affliction, through the perfection that is in love, especially if he knows that he will bear want himself easier than his brother. He considers, accordingly, the other’s pain his own grief; and if, by contributing from his own poverty in order to do good, he suffer any hardship, he does not fret at this, but increases his charity still more. For he possesses in its sincerity the faith which is exercised in reference to the affairs of life, and praises the Gospel in practice and contemplation. And, in truth, he wins his praise “not from men, but from God,”  by the performance of what the Lord has taught. The Stromata, 2.545.

MARK MINUCIUS FELIX: Rich men, attached to their means, have been accustomed to gaze more upon their gold than upon heaven, while our sort of people [i.e. Christians], though poor, have both discovered wisdom, and have delivered their teaching to others.
The Octavius of Minucius Felix, 4.181.

TERTULLIAN: The mind compasses the whole man about, and wherever it wills it carries him. But where your heart shall be, there shall be your treasure. Ad Martyras, 3.694

© OTR 2023