St Sampson of Constantinople – Hospitality and compassion

20140710_sampson_sqIn the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, let us remember Saint Sampson of Constantinople, may the holy saint pray for us!

St Sampson was born in a rich Roman family, and received excellent education and was schooled as a doctor. After his parents reposed, St Sampson gave his wealth to the poor and journeyed as a pilgrim to the East. On his journey, the Lord guided the saint to Constantinople, where the saint settled down, and tended to the homeless, the poor, and the sick, where the saint was given the gift of wonderworking. The Patriarch heard of the saint’s wonderworking, and ordained him as a priest.

There was a time when Emperor Justinian was ill and received a vision that only St Sampson could heal him. On receiving the request, the saint extended his hand towards the sick emperor from afar, and the emperor was healed by the Mercy of God. The emperor wanted to reward the saint with wealth, but the saint requested the emperor to build a home for the homeless and the sick instead. Throughout the life of the saint, he tended to many strangers who were homeless or ill, and he reposed in a ripe old age.

St Sampson, from a life of abundance, left that life behind to pursue the healing and care of the homeless and the sick. All of those people whom he cared for were strangers to him. That is why we call the saint, St Sampson the Hospitable.

Who then, is a stranger? Who then, is a neighbor?

Christ came and taught us, that all strangers are neighbors, for we do not know who are angels and saints in disguise, or our Lord Himself. From Matthew 25:31-46, we are reminded to tend to the least of our brothers and sisters, for we are doing for our Lord in humble service and joyous prayers.

This reminder takes great contrast in Matthew 25:34, where our Lord said that all of us who are blessed by God, and who tend to the least among us, by giving them food, drink, clothes, shelter and medical care, will get closer to God.

And in Matthew 25:41, conversely, we are grimly reminded that those who shut the doors on the poor and the sick, are cursed into the eternal fire for the devil and his minions. Proverbs 25:21-22 goes further, that we are to tend even to those whom we may mistakenly look as enemies, for all judgment is by God, and not our hands.

Christ did not need to come for the righteous, but for the sick and the weak. For all of us who have faith in God, are in need of healing, and that we recognize that each person whom we face, whether in a fleeting moment, or for labored long periods, is an icon of Christ Himself. When we tend to one whom we see as a stranger, we have answered the call of our Lord unto His service. When we tend to one whom we see as a neighbor, we have also answered His Call, as we remember Mark 12:30-31 as the greatest commandment of our Lord, to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength; and to love our neighbors as ourselves (and also Leviticus 19:33-34).

And among ourselves of the same faith in God, let us also encourage and strengthen one another, as our Lord said in Matthew 12:46-13:3, that all who humbly obeys the will of God are our brothers, sisters, and mothers. When we see the falls of our brothers and sisters, pray for them for reconciliation and healing with God. When we see the persecution of our brothers and sisters, pray for them to be gifted with mercy, prayers and strength from God, just as we should also pray for those who persecute our kin, for they too, are creations of the same God whom we pray to.

This therefore, reminds us to always look inwards to ourselves. As the great desert father St Antony the Great said, “the truly blessed are not those who can work miracles or see angels; the truly blessed are those who can see their own sins.”

Let us keep His Holy Name close to our hearts in prayer, for it at once freely allows us to repent, and to lean on our Lord in prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Let us close by praying the thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr Raphael+

Leviticus 19:33-34
Proverbs 25:21-22
St Matthew 12:46-13:3
Romans 15:17-29