The Poor are Our Brothers and Sisters

Every single human is made in the image of God, even the poor, the despised, our enemies.

Gregory of Nazianzus (d. 391AD) especially emphasizes this image at the end of his sermon. To see the poor ‘as Christ’ may, to the modern consciousness, seem to make them into a passive image, a symbol that erases individuality and looks past the needy to the ‘more worthy’ Christ for whom they are signifiers. The Cappadocians, however, do no constrain their image to this passive model. Nazianzen emphasizes the poor person’s active participation in the divine and liturgical image.   He describes them as: our brothers in God…born with the same nature…compounded of nerves and bones as we are; more than this, they also have received the same divine image as we have, and  have perhaps guarded it better…They have put on the same Christ..[and] have been made sharers with us of the same…doctrine, the same Testaments, the same Assemblies, the same mysteries, the same hope, Christ.”

(Susan R. Holman, The Hungry are Dying: Beggars and Bishops in Roman Cappadocia, pg. 150)

2 thoughts on “The Poor are Our Brothers and Sisters

  1. Pingback: Orthodox Collective

  2. Pingback: Nativity Blogs 2012 | Fr. Ted's Blog

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