I’ve been reading some of John Chrysostom’s writings about almsgiving (that is, giving to the poor and homeless).  I’m pretty impressed, overall, with what he has to say.  He talks a lot about not judging whether a person deserves to receive aid and maintains that as Christians, it is our duty to give, regardless.  I think it is along the lines of letting God sort it out.    Anyway, I got so into my reading yesterday that, while at Starbucks, I exclaimed, “Nice!” at one point, which caused the gal sitting nearby to look up at me.  It was only slightly awkward as I explained that I had gotten into my reading and forgot where I was…  But anyone sitting inside on a beautiful Saturday with stacks of books is obviously not entirely normal, so I feel as if I should be excused.

Chrysostom also talks about almsgiving as repentance and a needful thing for salvation.  I haven’t delved deep enough into that to explain it.  But one fascinating point he seemed to have also brought up is that without almsgiving, you’ll never make it as a virgin.  That is, the pull of lust is so great that if you are a virgin (either dedicated to being one or simply one for the time), you will never be able to withstand without almsgiving, and moreover, it seems that he says your virginity is naught without almsgiving.  He used the parable of the virgins and the lamps, waiting for the bridegroom.  The ones who did not have oil were the ones who did not give alms.  So their virginity became a pointless exercise (poor girls).  Or something like that.  I’m going to have to read more to understand better.

This guy is pretty interesting so far.  I’m glad my professor suggested reading him.  I’m not glad that I have a huge paper to write on this topic, mostly because it’s so prevalent in Chrysostom’s writings that I’m having a hard time pulling it all together.  But I think I will focus on two of his homilies that speak most directly about almsgiving and just supplement with other homilies as needed.