Orthodox biblical professor Fr. Theodore Stylianopoulos offers us a meditation which is appropriate both for Thanksgiving Week and also as we continue to witness the massive refugee crisis in the Mideast and Europe.
“Meditation – There are many tests to our faith in the world. Not all of them are caused by external aggression against us emotionally, physically, economically, socially or politically. Many times our faith is tested when we can do something for people, especially the poor and needy, and we do not help except in a token way. The poor are the Lord’s burden on the Christian conscience but also the Lord’s blessing when we truly help them with gifts, lending and other non-patronizing ways so that they can live and stand on their own strength as much as possible.
Here are the words of the Lord: ‘If there is among you a poor man, one of your brethren, in any of your towns within your land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother…You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him; because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake.’ (Dt. 15:7, 10 RSV).
Lord our God, who sent to us the heavenly Bread,
food for the whole world,
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Redeemer and Benefactor to become poor
so that we may become rich,
be pleased to accept our prayer at this moment.
In Your Goodness and love for humanity,
remember all the poor and needy of the world,
in our cities and neighborhoods, open our
hearts to be more sensitive to their needs,
and give us the power of faith to help them
according to the blessing and gifts that You have
granted to each of us. For You are the source
of all sustenance and Your name is glorified,
of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
now and forever. Amen.
– Adapted Prayer of the Preparation of the Gifts (Prothesis)”
(A Year of the Lord: Liturgical Bible Studies, pp 114-115)