“Be mindful, O Lord, of those who bear fruit and do good works in thy holy Churches, and who remember the poor.”
This passage from the Anaphoras of St. Basil the Great and St. John Chrysostom served as the theme for the Parish Life Conferences of the Archdiocese this year. This theme resonated throughout the 2009 Parish Life Conference for the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West, powerfully sounded out by the words of keynote speaker Father Thomas Hopko.
At the gathering in Santa Clara, CA, hosted by St. Stephen in nearby Campbell, Father Hopko described how the Scriptures, the Church Fathers, and the history of the Church teach us the importance of ministering to the poor. He began his opening talk making the striking observation that the phrase “with God all things are possible” is only used in context with three things in the Gospels: (1) the incarnation, (2) the resurrection and (3) Jesus saying, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” In his second talk, Father Hopko noted that in the book of Acts the three thousand people converted after Pentecost divided all they had with those in need and were united. He closed the session pointing out how, in Christianity today, helping the poor is the exception and not the rule, and that the Orthodox Christians in America are not united because we are not poor. In the closing question and answer session, Father Hopko acknowledged we must care for those in our lives who we are responsible for, but that we must also question what all of us really need, always bearing in mind that everything we have is from God.