Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910 C.E.), the great Russian author was also a great Christian who took seriously the demands of the Great Sermon (Matthew 5-7) and attempted to live his life accordingly.

One day a beggar stopped him while he was out walking and asked him for alms. Tolstoy searched his pockets for a coin but finding none he said with regret. “Please, don’t be angry with me, my brother, but I have nothing with me. If I did, I would gladly give it to you.”

At that, the beggar’s face brightened with joy. “You have given me more than I asked for”, he said, “You have called me brother!”

Tolstoy had not only grasped the intent of the Great Sermon, but he had also penetrated the truth of today’s Gospel. He regarded the poor man, asking for alms, as a brother because he had understood and made his own the great commandment (Matthew 22:37). But he had also learned to see the face of Christ in the poor, and because of that insight, he met the criteria of judgment set forth for our consideration in this Matthean text.

  • Submitted by Fr. Joseph Dovari