the summit of heaven

Lift up and stretch out your hands, not to heaven, but to the poor; for if you stretch forth your hands to the poor, you have reached the summit of heaven, but if you lift up your hands in prayer without sharing with the poor, it is worth nothing. – Saint John Chrysostom

This is another quote  from Saint John Chrysostom (349-407 AD), the Early Church Father and Archbishop of Constantinople. He is best known for his preaching and public speaking and his name actually means “golden tongue.” He also never wavered in his clear denunciation of the abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders. This is the fifth post I have recently shared that  illustrates this saint’s deep concern for the poor and hungry.

My first post on Chrysostom  shared his statement that  feeding the hungry is greater and more powerful than working miracles. He was showing that walking along side the poor and hungry should be an integral part of authentic spirituality. My last post from the Archbishop focused on the wealth of a Church surrounded by poverty and hunger.

This quote is a perfect summation of Chrysostom’s feelings about authentic spirituality. Unless we are walking alongside the poor our prayers are hollow and our religion is worthless. Sharing with the poor is prayer that reaches the very summit of heaven.