After about 20 years, I met one of my beloved sons while I was in California and he asked me to visit him in his magnificent house. When we sat down together, he said, “Do you remember when I started my life here in California 20 years ago? I was struggling with all my effort and now God has given me above and beyond what I asked for.”
“Do you know how abundantly He poured His great riches on me?” he said, “For the last few years I’ve asked myself, ‘What shall I benefit if I succeed here and don’t enjoy the inheritance of Heaven?’ I knelt down and prayed before my Lord and made an oath not to touch the tithes, no matter what my circumstances were, because that’s the money of the Lord. Moreover, I said to Him, ‘I’ll also give to the poor -either in Egypt or in the States- from the nine tithes(5), for I don’t possess anything. It’s Your gift to me, my Lord!’
I started to give generously, and thus the doors of heaven were opened before me, He gave me more than I needed. I would kneel and cry, ‘Enough, enough! I am worried that the abundance of riches will captivate my soul and destroy it.’ And when I would cry, he would open his doors more and give me more.”
That is how this brother expressed the way that God deals with us. When we open not only our depositories, but also our hearts and our souls first to our weaker brethren, He opens the doors of His heaven before us and generously gives us more than we can imagine.
When our Lord Jesus Christ spoke of His little flock, the object of the Father’s pleasure, He said,
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms” (Luke 12.32-33).
The believer says this in the third watch of midnight praises. It is as if, in the last seconds of midnight, we are expecting the coming of Christ. We desire to be from the little flock that the Father is happy with. He opens to the flock His Divine, Fatherly bosom for them to rest in. The way of free membership into this flock is to open the doors of our hearts for the weak. We sell our possessions and give alms. When the door is opened with love and joy to the hungry, thirsty, naked, exiled, jailed, and all of the weak and needy people, we find the heart of God opened for us to be a holy flock of God.
I whisper in your ear: “Do you want to be a member of this small holy flock? Give love to the weak. Open your heart to everybody, especially your parents. You will see how the grace of God will grant you the spirit of holiness as a sign of joining the flock of Christ who is the Beloved of the Father.
Consider me a member of Your small flock.
I’m wailing for my sins and the lusts of the body.
Why don’t I live in the holiness of Your small flock?
Grant me Your Holy Spirit to open my heart with love to the young,
The poor, the needy, the weak, the disturbed.
Let my heart be also opened to my parents with the obedience that is full of joy.
So that You may open the doors of Your heaven before me.
May I join Your small flock,
So that I may be sanctified for You and live in the bosom of Your heavenly Father.
(5) The word “tithe” comes from the Old English word for “tenth.” The tithe is literally the “tenth part” of something. Here it refers to donations or gifts (usually, but not always, of money) for the poor or needy and for the support of the church. It usually amounts to the tenth part or 10% of a person’s income. The “nine tithes” refers to the other nine parts (or 90%) of what the person has after they have given the traditional tithe of 10% from their income. It should be noted that although the part we give is called the “tenth part,” it should really be called the “first part” because we give back to God the “first fruits” of what he gives us.
A Metropolitan on my