To the Reverend Hierarchs, clergy, monastics, and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:
“For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good.”—Mark 14:7
Dearly Beloved in the Lord,
During His earthly ministry, Our Lord Jesus Christ taught His disciples with parables, many of which are proclaimed during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. One of the parables we will hear and contemplate during the month of November is that of the Good Samaritan.
As Orthodox Christians, we live in a world that, like the Levite in the parable, often turns a blind eye to those in need, to their suffering and loneliness, and to their hunger and thirst. Yet Our Lord challenges us to emulate the Samaritan, to respond to the cries of those whom the world has “left for dead,” and to give not only of our treasures, but of our very selves, in offering them a sign of God’s love and presence in their lives.
While we are quick to respond to the victims of natural disasters, attacks, and other unpredictable situations, we often forget those who remain hidden to us, those who experience the tragedy of hunger, loneliness, and want on a daily basis. Yet it is precisely in responding to the poor who, as Our Lord says, always surround us, the “least of the brethren” who too often are forgotten by the world, that we are challenged to follow the Samaritan’s example to “go and do likewise” [Luke 10:37].
In an effort to respond to Our Lord’s words and to follow the Samaritan’s example, the Orthodox Church in America designates November of every year to conduct its annual Charity Appeal to help those in need of financial assistance to offset medical expenses, loss of medical benefits, ongoing unemployment, dire emergencies that affect laity and clergy families alike, and countless other situations that many of us have never had to face in our own lives. During the past year, many have turned to the Orthodox Church in America for help, especially those who have nowhere else to turn in their time of need. Together, we can bring a glimmer of the hope that is within us the hope that is rooted in the love of Our Lord, Jesus Christ to those who turn to us in their time of need.
While we may never know, or even meet, everyone whom the Church has helped, I can assure you that those whose burdens have been lightened by your generous gifts to the annual Charity Appeal are truly grateful. And once again, in the spirit of the good Samaritan, I appeal for you to join me, not in turning away from those who have turned to us for help, but in turning toward them and in recognizing in them the very image of Our Lord Himself.
Thanking you for your prayerful and sacrificial support of those who turn to us in their time of need, and for joining me in reaching out to them as Our Lord so lovingly reaches out to us, I remain
With love in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada