Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, Teacher of the Faith, 373
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall ever be in my mouth. My soul shall glory in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Look upon him and be radiant and your faces shall not be ashamed. This poor soul cried, and the Lord heard me and saved me from all my troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them.
O taste and see that the Lord is gracious; blessed is the one who trusts in him. Fear the Lord, all you his holy ones, for those who fear him lack nothing.
Lions may lack and suffer hunger, but those who seek the Lord lack nothing that is good? Come, my children, and listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Who is there who delights in life and longs for days to enjoy good things?
Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from lying words. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to root out the remembrance of them from the earth? The righteous cry and the Lord hears them and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and will save those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the troubles of the righteous; from them all will the Lord deliver them. He keeps all their bones, so that not one of them is broken. But evil shall slay the wicked and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord ransoms the life of his servants and will condemn none who seek refuge in him.
Every seventh year you shall grant a remission of debts. And this is the manner of the remission: every creditor shall remit the claim that is held against a neighbour, not exacting it from a neighbour who is a member of the community, because the Lord’s remission has been proclaimed. From a foreigner you may exact it, but you must remit your claim on whatever any member of your community owes you. There will, however, be no one in need among you, because the Lord is sure to bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you as a possession to occupy, if only you will obey the Lord your God by diligently observing this entire commandment that I command you today. When the Lord your God has blessed you, as he promised you, you will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow; you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you.
If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted towards your needy neighbour. You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be. Be careful that you do not entertain a mean thought, thinking, ‘The seventh year, the year of remission, is near’, and therefore view your needy neighbour with hostility and give nothing; your neighbour might cry to the Lord against you, and you would incur guilt. Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbour in your land.’
If a member of your community, whether a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and works for you for six years, in the seventh year you shall set that person free. And when you send a male slave out from you a free person, you shall not send him out empty-handed. Provide liberally out of your flock, your threshing-floor, and your wine press, thus giving to him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; for this reason I lay this command upon you today. But if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you’, because he loves you and your household, since he is well off with you, then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his earlobe into the door, and he shall be your slave for ever.
You shall do the same with regard to your female slave.
Do not consider it a hardship when you send them out from you free persons, because for six years they have given you services worth the wages of hired labourers; and the Lord your God will bless you in all that you do.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.
So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus will tell you everything. He is a dear brother and a faithful minister in the Lord. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, to let you know how we are, and to encourage your hearts.
Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who have an undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ever-living God, whose servant Athanasius testified to the mystery of the Word made flesh for our salvation: help us, with all your saints, to contend for the truth and to grow into the likeness of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.