It is necessary to be merciful to those wretched
and wandering. The great lightgivers and Fathers of the Church took great care
concerning this. In relation to this virtue we must try by all means to fulfill
the following law of God: "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father
also is merciful," and, "I will have mercy, and not
sacrifice" (Lk. 6:36; Mt. 9:13). The wise heed these saving words, but
the foolish do not heed them. For this reason the reward is also different, as
is said: "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he
which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully" (2 Cor. 9:6).
The example of Peter the Breadgiver, who, for a
piece of bread given to a beggar, received forgiveness for all his sins (as was
revealed to him in a vision) may prompt us to be merciful to our neighbors ó
for even a small alms may contribute to the obtaining of the Heavenly Kingdom.
Giving alms must be done with a spiritually kind
disposition, in agreement with the teachings of St. Isaac the Syrian: "If
you give anything to him who asks, may the joy of your face precede your alms,
and comfort his sorrow with kind words."
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