HOW TO PREACH TO THE POOR
AND THE RICH
Herbs which nourish some
animals kill others. Hissings that calm horses excite
monkeys. Medicines that heal some illnesses are poison to other
Thus, preachings must be
suited to the character of the hearers and fulfill different needs;
but all preachings must be directed toward the building of the
Wherefore men must be
admonished more severely than women because of their greater
obligations, while women must be admonished gently. Young people
make progress only by severe admonitions, while the elderly advance by
The poor must be taught
how to find consolation in their tribulations, while the rich must be
warned against being proud because their whole security is founded on
the "uncertainty of riches."
Though loving kindness is
to be bestowed to the indigent, honour is not a debt due to the
proud. Comfort those refined in the furnace of poverty; inspire
fear in the rich who are foolishly elated by the consolations of
temporal glory. The poor must learn that they possess riches
though they do not see them; the rich must realize they are really
poor in the midst of their riches.
Unfortunately, it may
happen that a rich man is humble while a poor man is proud. Then
the preacher must be more vigorous in smiting the pride of the poor
while encouraging the humility of the rich.
Sometimes, however, the
proud rich must be treated gently as the insanity of King Saul was
calmed by the gentle songs of David.
To admonish the proud the
the powerful, give them first an analogy as Nathan gave King David the
analogy of the rich and poor husbandman. After they have learned
the lessons, expose the similarity and let them stand corrected by
their own lips.
St. Gregory the Great: Pastoral
Care, Part III