Tag Archives: Church Fathers

Mercy: As ‘Old’ as the Cross

Mercy as old as the Cross

Stephen Hand writes that:

For the Church Fathers there was not the slightest divergence between Mercy and Catholic doctrine. Mercy was the fruit of unchangeable doctrine for them.

Hence Basil, St. Thomas Aquinas writes, says [Hom. super Luc. xii, 18]:

“If you acknowledge them,” viz. your temporal goods, “as coming from God, is He unjust because He apportions them unequally? Why are you rich while another is poor, unless it be that you may have the merit of a good stewardship, and he the reward of patience? It is the hungry man’s bread that you withhold, the naked man’s cloak that you have stored away, the shoe of the barefoot that you have left to rot, the money of the needy that you have buried underground: and so you injure as many as you might help.”

“Ambrose expresses himself in the same way. It is written 1 John 3:17: “He that hath the substance of this world, and shall see his brother in need, and shall put up his bowels from him, how doth the charity of God abide in him?” (ibid.)

“You never give to the poor what is yours; you merely return to them what belongs to them. For what you have appropriated was given for the common use of everybody. The land was given for everybody, not just the rich.” — St. Ambrose, 4th century bishop of Milan

“The bread that is in your box belongs to the hungry; the coat in your closet belongs to the naked; the shoes you do not wear belong to the barefoot; the money in your vault belongs to the destitute.” St. Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea, c. A.D. 370

“Give something, however small, to the one in need. For it is not small to the one who has nothing. Neither is it small to God, if we have given what we could.” — St Gregory Naziansen, Bishop of Constantinople, late fourth century

“Nothing is your own. You are a servant and what is yours belongs to the Lord. For a servant has no property that is truly his own; naked you were brought into this life.” —Asterius, Bishop of Amasea, from “The Unjust Steward,” c. A.D. 400