TO WHOM AND HOW MUST
LIBERALITY BE SHOWN
It is a glorious thing to
gain the love of the people by liberality; but this must not be given so
freely to the undeserving or too sparingly to the needy.
We can give food to the
needy from our own daily supply; we can also give advice and help to those
who are ashamed to show their want openly so long as the common supplies of
the needy are not exhausted.
The needy may be one who
has lost his wealth and now reduced to want. We must be wary of those who
have fallen into want owing to wastefulness in youth. The needy are also
those who have lost their possessions to thieves or lost their inheritance
through no fault of their own.
The higher form of
liberality is to redeem captives, to save them from the hands of their
enemies, to snatch men from death, and, most of all, women from shame, to
restore children to their parents, parents to their children, and to bring
back a citizen to his country.
To redeem captives from
barbarian enemies who have no human feelings is a special act of liberality.
Also to take upon oneself the debt of another who is unable to pay through
want. So, too, to bring up children and to take care of orphans and widows.
Though liberality is often
shown through money, the grander and nobler forms of liberality are in the
form of active help. Joseph's counsel to Pharaoh is such. Money is easily
spent; counsels can never be exhausted. The more money is used the fewer
needy are helped. The more counsels are given, the more need for counsel
St. Ambrose, Duties of
the Clergy, Chapter XV