Thought for the Day – 13 November – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Almsgiving and Simplicity
“Some people are so afraid of poverty, that they rarely give alms.
Let them meditate on these words of St Cyprian of Carthage: “You are afraid that if you begin to engage in too many charitable enterprises, your substance will be dissipated and you will be reduced to poverty.
Have confidence and do not be afraid” (De Opere at elemosynis, 9-10),
That fortune, will never be exhausted, he assures us, from which the possessor draws frequently, in order to relieve Christ’s poor or to perform an act of religion.
He does not assure us of this on his own authority, he says but bases his promises on the evidence of Sacred Scripture.
Speaking through the medium of Solomon, the Holy Spirit says: “He who gives to the poor, suffers no want but he who ignores them, gets many a curse” (Prov 28:27).
In other words, the avaricious and self-centred man, is more likely to be reduced to poverty, than the kind and bountiful man.
St Paul says much the same under the influence of diving inspiration.
“He who provides the sower with seed, will both give you bread to eat and will multiply your seed and will increase the growth of the fruits of your justice, that being enriched in all things, you may contribute with simplicity of purpose” (2 Cor 9-10).
“The administration of this service,” he adds, “not only supplies the wants of the saints but, overflows also, in much gratitude to the Lord” (Ibid 9-12).
The poor thank God for the alms which we give them and our prosperity increases as a result.
In the Gospel, Our Lord reproaches men for their niggardliness and lack of confidence.
“Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What are we to put on?’ (for after all these things, the Gentiles seek), for your Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and his justice and all these things shall be given you besides” (Mt 6:31).
The man who aims at doing justice, therefore, will not go in want.
When the Day of Judgement comes, moreover, he has Our Lord’s promise, that he will be given a share in the Kingdom, for the sake of which, he performed his charitable actions.
“You are afraid,” says St Cyprian, “that your substance will be exhausted, if you take from it, in order to give in charity. You do not realise, wretched man, that while you are afraid of losing your substance, you are losing life itself!
While you are carefully guarding against the diminution of your possessions, you do not see, that you, yourself, are diminishing.
You love money more than life!
While you are afraid of expending your wealth for the sake of spiritual gain, you are ruining yourself, for the sake of your possessions!”