One of my favorites among the Apostolic Fathers is the Shepherd of Hermas who lived sometime in the late first and second century AD. Today’s excerpt that celebrates the theme of “abundance” comes from Visions 3.9 and don’t miss my comments below in response.
Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil. Proverbs 15:16
“Give ear unto me, O Sons: I have brought you up in much simplicity, and guilelessness, and chastity, on account of the mercy of the Lord, who has dropped His righteousness down upon you, that ye may be made righteous and holy from all your iniquity and depravity; but you do not wish to rest from your iniquity. Now, therefore, listen to me, and be at peace one with another, and visit each other, and bear each other’s burdens, and do not partake of God’s creatures alone, but give abundantly of them to the needy. For some through the abundance of their food produce weakness in their flesh, and thus corrupt their flesh; while the flesh of others who have no food is corrupted, because they have not sufficient nourishment. And on this account their bodies waste away. This intemperance in eating is thus injurious to you who have abundance and do not distribute among those who are needy. Give heed to the judgment that is to come. Ye, therefore, who are high in position, seek out the hungry as long as the tower is not yet finished; for after the tower is finished, you will wish to do good, but will find no opportunity.”
Today I want to honor my parents. With consistency, they brought me up (along with my brother and sister) with modest financial means but we were rich in the fear of the Lord. They have modeled simplicity and generosity according to their ability, and have taught me yet another lesson in the days before their proverbial tower is finished: how to finish well.
During their lifetime they stored up most everything in heaven. They’ve lived on a simply float of income and worked well into their 70’s, merely trimming their days as they have aged. After my mom had heart episode last year, they determined it was time to relocate to Florida to be close to my brother, David, and his wife, Joanna, so that they (and we) can support them.
Over the past nine months or so, they emptied their home, shared family heirlooms with their children, and gave remaining possessions to charity. They have had meetings and meals with many in Ohio where they’ve lived their whole lives. For many, it was “goodbye” or at least “see you in the Kingdom.” For keen observers, this was yet another set of teachable moments.
Every person they met with face-to-face received a gift from this generous couple: a baton. The meetings and meals taught people to follow their example and so they were really baton-passings. They showed each one how to finish well. Their example challenges people to “give abundantly” and not let “intemperance” become “injurious” to them but to distribute faithfully.
kurios M email@example.com
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