An Identity of Gratitude and Love

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As many of us struggle to define ourselves in relationship to the pluralistic world we live in, we have to always remember that our identity is ultimately defined by what we do. As we struggle to verbally describe ourselves it is imperative that we not get stuck in the realm of thoughts and ideas, as it it so easy to do. It was St. Paul that helped focus the first Christians by reminding them that without love they were nothing at all. In the fourth century,  a bishop and early doctor of the church, St. Gregory Naziansus gave this description of how Christ’s followers should be perceived by the 4th century world:

“If you are healthy and rich, alleviate the need of whoever is sick and poor; if you have not fallen, go to the aid of whoever has fallen and lives in suffering; if you are glad, comfort whoever is sad; if you are fortunate, help whoever is smitten with misfortune. Give God proof of your gratitude for you are one who can benefit and not one who needs to be benefited…. Be rich not only in possessions but also in piety; not only in gold but in virtue, or rather, in virtue alone. Outdo your neighbour’s reputation by showing yourself to be kinder than all; make yourself God for the unfortunate, imitating God’s mercy” (Orationes 14, 26 De Pauperum Amore: PG 35, 892bc).

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