Daily Reading for October 5
Among Christian men, love maketh all things common; every man is other’s debtor, and every man is bound to minister to his neighbour, and to supply his neighbour’s lack of that wherewith God hath endowed him. . . . Alms is a Greek word, and signifieth mercy. One Christian is debtor to another at his need, of all that he is able to do for him, until his need be sufficed. Every Christian man ought to have Christ always before his eyes, as an ensample to counterfeit and follow, and to do to his neighbour as Christ hath done to him. . . .
Christ is all in all things. Every Christian man to another is Christ himself; and thy neighbour’s need hath as good right in thy goods as hath Christ himself, which is heir and Lord over all. And look, what thou owest to Christ, that thou owest to thy neighbour’s need: to thy neighbour owest thou thine heart, thyself, and all that thou hast and canst do. The love that springeth out of Christ excludeth no man, neither putteth difference between one and another. In Christ we are all of one degree, without respect of persons.
Notwithstanding, though a Christian man’s heart be open to all men, and receiveth all men, yet, because that his ability of goods extendeth not so far, this provision is made,—that every man shall care for his own household, as father and mother, and thine elders that have holpen thee, wife, children, and servants. If thou shouldest not care and provide for thine household, then were thou an infidel, seeing thou hast taken on thee so to do, and forasmuch as that is thy part committed to thee of the congregation.
When thou hast done thy duty to thine household, and yet hast further abundance of the blessing of God, that owest thou to the poor that cannot labour, or would labour and can get no work, and are destitute of friends; to the poor, I mean, which thou knowest, to them of thine own parish. For that provision ought to be had in the congregation, that every parish care for their poor.
If thy neighbours which thou knowest be served, and thou yet have superfluity, and hearest necessity to be among the brethren a thousand miles of, to them art thou debtor. Yea, to the very infidels we be debtors, if they need, as far forth as we maintain them not against Christ, or to blaspheme Christ. Thus is every man that needeth thy help, thy father, mother, sister and brother in Christ; even as every man that doth the will of the father, is father, mother, sister and brother unto Christ. . . .
If the whole world were thine, yet hath every brother his right in thy goods, and is heir with thee, as we are all heirs with Christ. Moreover the rich and they that have wisdom with them must see the poor set at work, that as many as are able may feed themselves with the labour of their own hands, according to the Scripture and commandment of God.
From “The Parable of the Wicked Mammon” by William Tyndale, in The Works of the English Reformers: William Tyndale and Roger Frith, edited by Thomas Russell, volume 1 (London: Ebenezer Palmer, 1831).