||Aiding the Enemy
By Gary Macy
There are so many great
stories of Christian charity, but this must be one of the most impressive. At
the time, the Romans were at war with the Persians and, well, wait, I will let
a contemporary, the church historian Socrates, tell the story: A noble
action of Acacius, bishop of Amida, at that time greatly enhanced his
reputation among all men. As the Roman soldiery would on no consideration
restore to the Persian king the prisoners whom they had taken in devastating
Azazene, these prisoners, about 7,000 in number, were dying of starvation, and
this greatly distressed the King of the Persians. Then Acacius thought such a
matter was by no means to be trifled with; having therefore assembled his
clergy, he thus addressed them: Our God, my brethren, needs neither
dishes nor cups; for He neither eats, nor drinks, nor is in want of anything.
Since then, by the liberality of its faithful members, the church possesses
many vessels of both gold and silver, we should sell them, that by the money
thus raised we may be able to redeem the prisoners and also feed them.
Having said these things and others similar to these, he melted the vessels
down, and from the proceeds paid the soldiers a ransom for their captives, whom
he supported for some time; and then furnishing them with what was needful for
their journey, sent them back to their sovereign. The king of Persia, it
is said, was astonished. No doubt.
Gary Macy is a theology professor at the University of