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These articles are writen by Fr. Robideau, Hermit for the Diocese of Lansing
To care for one’s self
It is very true that God makes it clear in Scripture that we are to care for those in need. The 2nd great commandment says we are to love our neighbor. The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy state that we are to help others in various ways, including comforting, feeding, clothing, shelter, visiting, and, counseling and educating. But they also say to admonish the sinner which some would like to leave out. And they also include forgiveness to give us that great balance. We also see in the Sins That Cry Out To Heaven, it says to care for the widow and the orphan.
With these examples, we see that the Church has taken great care in giving us a solid list of good that we must do for our neighbor. These are of mandate, not suggestions as opportunities arise. Like the 10 commandments, they are not the 10 suggestions. It is very clear that the Church upholds and commands acts of charity.
Let us understand the word “charity.” According to the secular dictionary it means,
- “the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need.”
- “an organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need.”
- “kindness and tolerance in judging others.”
The dictionary even states that the word “charity” comes from the Latin caritas which means “high esteem, regard, respect, love, affection.”
Charity is about a relationship of love, of respect and of esteem. This is the way the Church uses the word charity. It means to love as God loves. Or as the Church actually states it, “it is a supernatural virtue by which a person loves God above all things for His own sake, and loves others for God’s sake.” This love, naturally, brings us back to the dictionary definition of charity. The dictionary only speaks of the actions that stem from love and fail to speak of the reason (love) for helping others. And so at the root of “GIVING” stuff to people is the act of love. Charity is an act of love and kindness. It is about showing respect to others and of being there for them in their need with the understanding of the saying “there, except for the grace of God go I.” In other words, God has blessed me with so much, and I understand that all I have comes from God and so as God has shared with me, I must share with others. This does not mean that God has withheld from them what they need and is punishing them, but that God chooses (Divine providence) that they should receive through the generosity and charity of others. If they do not receive, it is because of our own selfishness and greed and we will pay a heavy price on judgment day.
The next question is, “Then who is my brother in need?” Notice how my question is different from the man who asked Jesus “And who is my neighbor?” We know who our neighbor is. All mankind is my neighbor. No matter what sex, color, race, age, nation of origin, sexual preference, social class, or political affiliation. There is no classification one can come up with that can exclude any human person, in the womb or born, from being my neighbor. And so I am called to love my neighbor and to help my neighbor in need. Great! NOW, which one is in need is my question? Not all my neighbors are in need. So which one is it?
This new question will seem to some to mean that I must judge. Yes, I am. But judge in the good sense. We may not judge by saying this one is of some classification and so I will not help him. Rather, we ask is this person in need? If yes, then we ask, am I able to help this person, do I have what this person needs? If Yes, then I help them.
You ask, who am I to judge? What gives me the right to judge this? You cannot pick and choose Scripture. Remember that Scripture also says that I have the right to ownership. What is mine is mine and I must care for it properly, that is, not waste it. All that I have is gift from God and I must be a good steward.
So we turn to another point of Scripture that must not be evaded. In 1 Tim 5:8, it says, “But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” And in 2 Thess 3:10 it says, “For also when we were with you, this we declared to you: that, if any man will not work, neither let him eat.” There are many other quotes also to this fact that a man is responsible to take care himself to the extent that he is able to take care of himself. In other words, a man is not in need, if he is able to care for himself and his family. If he chooses to not take the steps necessary to care for himself and his family, I am not obligate to help him in charity. There is no shortage of jobs out there. People can work if they want to. Problem is that people do not want to work or will work only if it is the job they want.
The next concern is that it is societies fault, not the individual’s. Society is repressing him. Society is racist, sexist, homophobic… Because it is societies fault, it is the governments job to help them and the rest of you selfish citizens who work hard and earn your way in life will just have to pay up so they can sit at home and do nothing but spend your money. Again, you cannot pick and choose your scripture. Scripture makes it clear that you cannot punish an innocent man. If a man in his hiring practices is racist, sexist, homophobic… then punish the evildoer. Do not then take unjust taxes from the innocent people who are just trying to meek a living themselves.
That would now bring us to the rich. That evil 1% in particular. Again, Scripture… Scripture says a man has the right to what he has worked for. That is another command of the Church through the Sins That Cry Out To Heaven, do not deprive a man of his just wage. What a man earns is his. And let us not forget, that the 1% do a lot of charity with their money. Yes, I know many may not do it out of charity (love) but for tax reasons, but they are doing it. How many hospitals, schools, libraries, museums, soup kitchens… and so much more have been helped by 1%ers. It is not my case in this article to judge their souls. Do you think that it is the governments job, to judge these souls? Hmmmmmm.
Charity comes from the heart, not government (social programs.) When the government engages in social programs, they pick winners and losers with our money. How is that their right? Also, we know that they use it to help those who do not need help, wasting our money again. Also, they use it for things we would not want our money used for, depriving us of our right to exercise our morals based on religion. Here they pick who will sacrifice their rights and who will get their rights. Sense when is it right to deprive someone of a right? And we know that the government uses social programs as a way to buy votes. Who would not vote for a man who is going to give you free money and stuff?
Still further, if we want to speck of Charity as loving our neighbor, how is it loving to enslave people to the government? I thought we abolished slavery in this country? How is it loving to empower a man to steel from others under the guise of social assistance? If you are not in legitimate need, you have no right to my possessions and to take them through the government is still theft and that is against the 10 commandments. How is it loving to let people not fulfill their moral duty to care for themselves. They lose self respect and fall further into the sin of sloth.
The reality is that everyone is responsible to care for themselves to the extent they are able. After that people can choose to do charity by giving to those in need or in supplementing where they are lacking. It is this thinking that is moral, just and right. It is Scriptural and just makes intellectual sense to anyone who thinks about it. It is fair and hurts the fewest people. It still takes into account preferential option of the poor.
But some people will not get help! True. Even with the governmental system in place now, people fall through the cracks and much aid goes to people who do not need it. Jesus says, the poor you will always have with you. Unfortunately Jesus is correct. Some will always fall through the cracks. Just make sure it is not intentional and that you do the best you can do to help the most you can. Be sure to pray always for the poor and those we miss, God will somehow find another way to help.