Mercy: the meat of the needy


St. Ambrose of Milan, 5th century mosaic from the Basilica Sant’Ambrogio in Milan

Such, O rich men, are your kindnesses!…Such is your humanity that you despoil even while you are helping. Even the poor man is fruitful to you unto gain…Is there anything more terrible? He asks for medicine, you offer him poison; he begs for bread; you offer him a sword; he begs for liberty, you impose slavery; he prays for freedom, you tighten the knot…from you who devour money and avarice: Let mercy go forth–for this is the meat of the needy.

Ambrose of Milan, sermon “On Tobit” (De Tobia), written around 380 CE, translation by Lois Miles Zucker, Patristic Studies 35 (1933), 24-105; the selection here is taken from  3.11 (p. 31) and 15.53 (p. 69).

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