Julian the Apostate: Benevolence

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Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 82:3-4

“The emperor, Julian launched a a campaign to institute pagan charities in an effort to match the Christians. Julian complained in a letter to the high priest of Galatia in 362 that the pagans needed to equal the virtues of Christians, for recent Christian growth was caused by their “moral character, even if pretended,” and by their “benevolence toward strangers and care for the graves of the dead.” In a letter to another priest , Julian wrote, “I think that when the poor happened to be neglected and overlooked by the priests, the impious Galileans observed this and devoted themselves to benevolence.” And he also wrote, “The impious Galileans support not only their poor but ours as well, everyone can see that our people lack aid from us.”

Roman Emperor Flavius Claudius Julianus Augustus (c. 331-363) is known as Julian the Apostate for his rejection of Christianity. This excerpt from letter to a priest, as recounted by Rodney Stark in The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997) 83-84.

Nothing can touch love. In a world on lockdown due to COVID-19 ask God today how you could show love and kindness to someone.

Again, the tendency in crisis is to hoard rather than help, to retreat rather than to refresh, and to close or shut down rather than care and share.

These are unprecedented times. This is our moment to shine. The world is watching. Holy Spirit, empower us to be people of benevolence!