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Vigils Reading – St Leo the Great
November 10, 2022
It is a great and very precious thing, beloved, in the Lord’s sight, when Christ’s whole people engage together in the same duties, and all ranks and degrees of either sex co-operate with the same intent: when one purpose animates all alike of declining from evil and doing good; when God is glorified in the works of God’s servants, and the Author of all godliness is blessed in unstinted giving of thanks.
The hungry are nourished, the naked are clothed, the sick are visited, and people seek not their own but “that which is another’s,” so long as in relieving the misery of others each one makes the most of one’s own means; and it is easy to find “a cheerful giver,” where one’s performances are only limited by the extent of one’s power.
By this grace of God, “which works all in all,” the benefits and the deserts of the faithful are both enjoyed in common. For they, whose income is not like, can yet think alike, and when one rejoices over another’s bounty, his feelings put him on the same level with him whose powers of spending are on a different level.
In such a community there is no disorder nor diversity, for all the members of the whole body agree in one strong purpose of godliness, and one who glories in the wealth of others is not put to shame by personal poverty. For the excellence of each portion is the glory of the whole body, and when we are all led by God’s Spirit, not only are the things we do ourselves our own but those of others also over the doing of which we rejoice…
But because we possess this greatness of heart, and yet it is truly a pious thing for each one not to forsake the care of one’s own, we, without prejudice to the more perfect sort, lay down for you this general rule and exhort you to perform God’s bidding according to the measure of your ability.
For cheerfulness becomes one who is benevolent, who should so manage liberality that while the poor rejoice over the help supplied, home needs may not suffer. “And he who ministers seed to the sower shall provide bread to be eaten and multiply your seed and increase the fruits of your righteousness.”