ADMONISHING THOSE WHO GIVE
AWAY FROM WHAT IS THEIR OWN AND THOSE WHO SEIZE WHAT BELONGS TO
Those who give freely of
their possessions should be warned not to be conceited and rate
themselves above others. Remember that you are merely appointed by God
to be the dispenser of His temporal means; so remain humble for you
are a mere dispenser and not the owner.
Because these things are
not yours, take care not to distribute them unworthily; not to give to
those who ought not to be given or fail to give to those who
should receive. Do not give much to whom little must be given or give
little to whom much is due. Do not be dilatory to those who must
receive immediately or give in haste to those who should wait.
When giving, remove
expectations of receiving thanks or being praised or credit oneself,
for these will remove the glow from your almsgiving.
Avoid moroseness when
giving: "For God loveth a cheerful giver." Do not attribute
to yourself the virtue of liberality; do not rejoice immoderately over
your almsgiving. Hope not for any transitory praise and do not allow
the glory of this present life infiltrate into your pious giving.
Expect no recompense. Neither give too soon nor too late, neither too
little nor too much.
"Give only to the
good, not to sinners. Do good to the humble and give not to the
ungodly." To feed theatre performers while the poor of Christ go
hungry is a crime. Of course, we may share with the sinful beggar, not
because he is sinful but, because he is a beggar.
Do not make up for your
past sins with almsgiving while committing new sins. To do so is to
give your possessions to God while giving yourself to the devil.
To those who seize what
belongs to others, listen to what the Lord says, "I was hungry
and you gave me to eat. . .depart from Me..." If he who does not
give is condemned, how much more the show of violence in an act of
Woe to you who gathers
what is not your own." "A covetous man shall not be
satisfied with money; and he that loveth riches shall reap no fruit
from them," unless, of course, you do not love these riches and
use them for doing good.
"He who makes haste
to be rich shall not be innocent. For he will not be interested in
avoiding sin." "An inheritance gotten easily in the
beginning, in the end shall be without blessing."
Many who have worked to be
rich have ended up unable to remain rich or despoiled of their riches
by death, that is, even before they enjoy their riches. Aren't they
funny; yet we are doing the same.
St. Gregory the Great: Pastoral
Care, Part III, 20