Monday, February 27, 2006

The Servant of All: a Desert Story about a Bishop

specifically, St. John the Almsgiver, Patriarch of Alexandria:

After John ("the Almsgiver") had been elected and was to be enthroned in the Christ-loving capital of Alexandria (AD 610) most certainly by the will of God and not 'from men neither through man' [Cf. Gal 1:1] this was the first glorious deed and victory which he showed forth to all men. He immediately summoned the treasurers and the official who is styled 'the guardian of the peace', and said to them in the hearing of all in the Patriarch's council-chamber, "It is not right, brethren, that we should consider anyone in preference to Christ". The whole assembly which had gathered together was deeply moved at his words, and agreed thereto, and then the holy man continued, "Go therefore through the whole city, please, and make a list of all my masters down to the last."

But his hearers could not imagine who these could be, and besought him to tell them, as they were astonished that any could possibly be masters of the Patriarch; and he opened his angelic mouth again and said: "Those whom you call poor and beggars, these I proclaim my masters and helpers. For they, and they only, are really able to help us and bestow upon us the kingdom of heaven."

[Leontius of Neapolis, Life of John the Almsgiver, 2]


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