Excerpt from De pauperum amore
Brethren and friends, let us never allow ourselves to misuse that has been given us by God’s gift. If we do, we shall hear Saint Peter say: Be ashamed of yourselves for holding on to what belongs to someone else. Resolve to imitate God’s justice, and no one will be poor. Let us not labor to heap up and hoard riches while others remain in need. If we do, the prophet Amos will speak out against us with sharp and threatening words: Come now, you that say: When will the new moon be over, so that we may start selling? When will Sabbath be over, so that we may start opening our treasures?
Let us put into practice the supreme and primary law of God. He sends down rain on just and sinful alike, and causes the sun to rise on all without distinction. To all earth’s creatures he has given the broad earth, the springs, the rivers and forests. He has given the air to the birds, and the water to those who live in the water. He has given abundantly to all the basic needs of life, not as a private possession, not restricted by law, not divided by boundaries, but as common to all, amply and in rich measure. His gifts are not deficient in any way, because he wanted to give equality of blessing to equality of worth, and to show abundance of his generosity.
Gregory of Nazianzen, from Liturgy of Hours, volume 2, p97, Second Reading for Monday, 1st week of Lent, Catholic Book Publishing Corp. New York, 1976
Romans 12.16 CEB
Remove anxiety from your heart, banish pain from your body, because youth and the dawn of life are pointless too.
Remember our creator in your prime,
before the days of trouble arrive,
and those years, about which you’ll say, “I take no pleasure in these”—
before the sun and the light grow dark,
the moon and the stars too,
before the clouds return after the rain;
on the day when the housekeepers tremble
and the strong men stoop;
when the women who grind stop working because they’re so few,
and those who look through the windows grow dim;
when the doors to the street are shut,
when the sound of the mill fades,
the sound of the bird rises, and all the singers come down low;
when people are afraid of things above and of terrors along the way;
when the almond tree blanches, the locust droops,
and the caper-berry comes to nothing;
when the human goes to the eternal adobe,
with mourners all around in the street;
before the silver cord snaps
and the gold bowl shatters;
the jar is broken at the spring
and the wheel is crushed at the pit;
before dust returns to the earth as it was before
and the life-breath returns to God who gave it,
I promised I would watch my steps
so as not to sin with my tongue;
promised to keep my mouth shut as long as the wicked where in my presence.
So I was completely quiet, silent.
I kept my peace, but it did no good.
My pain got worse.
My heart got hot inside me;
while stewing over it, the fire burned.
Then I spoke out with my tongue:
"Let me know me end, Lord.
How many days do I have left?
I want to know how brief my time is."
You've made my days so short;
my lifetime is like nothing in your eyes.
Yes, a human life is nothing but a puff of air!
Yes, people wander around like shadows;
yes, they hustle and bustle, but pointlessly;
they don't even know who will ge the wealth they've amassed.
SO now, Lord, what should I be waiting for?
My hope is set on you.
Deliver me from all my sins;
don't make me some foolish person's joke.
I am completely silent; I won't open my mouth because you have acted.
Get this plague of yours off me!
I'm being destroyed by the blows from your fist.
You discipline people for their sin, punishing them;
like a moth, you ruin what they treasure.
Yes, a human life is just a puff of air!
Hear my prayer, Lord!
Listen closely to my cry for help!
Please don't ignore my tears!
I'm just a foreigner --
an immigrant staying with you,
just like my ancestors were.
Look away from me so I can be happy again
before I pass away and am gone.
Love does no wrong to a neighbor;
therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
I am of old and young,
of the foolish as much as the wise,
Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
Maternal as well as paternal,
a child as well as a man,
Stuffed with the stuff that is course,
and stuffed with the stuff that is fine.
In all people I see myself,
none more and not one a barleycorn less,
And the good or bad I say of myself
I say of them.
In the faces of men and women I see God,
and in my own face in the glass,
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem…