Leo: Sermon 40.4

4. The Fast should not end with abstinence from food, but lead to good deeds

Therefore, dearly-beloved, seeing that, as we are taught by our Redeemer’s precept, man lives not in bread alone, but in every word of God , and it is right that Christian people, whatever the amount of their abstinence, should rather desire to satisfy themselves with the Word of God than with bodily food, let us with ready devotion and eager faith enter upon the celebration of the solemn fast, not with barren abstinence from food, which is often imposed on us by weakliness of body, or the disease of avarice, but in bountiful benevolence: that in truth we may be of those of whom the very Truth speaks, blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled Matthew 5:6 . Let works of piety, therefore, be our delight, and let us be filled with those kinds of food which feed us for eternity. Let us rejoice in the replenishment of the poor, whom our bounty has satisfied. Let us delight in the clothing of those whose nakedness we have covered with needful raiment. Let our humaneness be felt by the sick in their illnesses, by the weakly in their infirmities, by the exiles in their hardships, by the orphans in their destitution, and by solitary widows in their sadness: in the helping of whom there is no one that cannot carry out some amount of benevolence. For no one’s income is small, whose heart is big: and the measure of one’s mercy and goodness does not depend on the size of one’s means. Wealth of goodwill is never rightly lacking, even in a slender purse. Doubtless the expenditure of the rich is greater, and that of the poor smaller, but there is no difference in the fruit of their works, where the purpose of the workers is the same.

I’m afraid Leo’s had to get in line behind some earnest dissertation work and an emergency set of writings now sent off. Right then…

Leo’s very clear here; it’s a straight-forward section to which I can add very little. Responding still to Jesus’ response to Satan in the Temptation, Leo takes the Word of God here as the enticement to good works. He connects in Matt 5:6 but the real guide for this passage lies in Matt 25:31-46. I’ll note too concerning his comments on money. Writing a check is not enough. Actual acts of kindness are called for.