Orthodox Thought for the Day


Friday, December 9, 2016

St. John the Almsgiver & the Rich Man's Quilt

One of the city's landowners once went into the patriarch's room and saw that he (John the Almsgiver -- feast day Nov. 12) was only covered with a torn and worn quilt, so he sent him a quilt costing 36 nomismata and besought him earnestly to cover himself with that in memory, he said, of the giver.

John took it and used it for one night because of the giver's insistence, but throughout the night he kept saying to himself, " Who shall say that humble John was lying under a coverlet costing 36 nomismata whilst Christ's brethren are pinched with cold? How many are there at this minute grinding their teeth because of the cold? How many have only a rough blanket half below and half above them so that they cannot stretch out their legs but lie shivering, rolled up like a ball of thread? How many would like to be filled with the outer leaves of the vegetables which are thrown away from my kitchen? How many would like to dip their bit of bread into the soup water which my cooks throw away? How many would like even to have a sniff at the wine which is poured out in my wine cellar? How many refugees are there at this hour in the city who have no lodging-place but lie about in the marketplace, perhaps with the rain falling on them? How many are there who have not tasted oil for one month or even two? How many have no second garment either in summer or winter and so live in misery? And yet you, who hope to obtain everlasting bliss, both drink wine and eat large fishes and spend your time in bed, and now in addition to all those evils you are being kept warm by a coverlet worth 36 nomismata... Blessed be God! You shall not cover humble John a second night! For it is right and acceptable to God that 144 of your brothers and masters should be covered rather than you, one miserable creature! For four rough blankets could be bought for one nomisma."  


Early on the following morning, therefore he sent it to be sold, but the man who had given it saw it and bought it for 36 nomismata and again brought it to the patriarch. But when he saw it put for sale again the next day he bought it once more and carried it to the patriarch and implored him to use it. When he had done this for the third time the saint said to him jokingly, "Let us see whether you or I will give up first!"
For the man was exceedingly well-to-do, and the saint took pleasure in getting money out of him, and he used to say that if with the object of giving to the poor anybody were able, without ill-will, to strip the rich right down to their shirts, he would not do wrong, more especially if they were heartless skinflints. For thereby he gets a two-fold profit, firstly he saves their souls, and secondly he himself will gain no small reward therefrom.

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