When is generosity required?
Twenty-sixth Sunday Ordinary Time
September 25, 2022 •
It's an important rule to remember that Jesus is the only one Who can require you to be generous. God is the only One Who can require - according to justice - that we give to those in need. The reason is, is that He is the One Who gives to us when we are in need, even thought we might not deserve it.
Now, why do I point this out? All of us know intuitively that we are supposed to support, so far as we are able, those in need. But it doesn't mean everybody who asks for help needs help. There are lazy people out there. The Bible says: those who do to work, should not eat. . . .
There is no commandment in all the Scriptures that says: give to those who ask of you. To give to those who want.
No. "Give to those in need." Those are the works of mercy. When you visit the sick or imprisoned. When you give food to the hungry. Clothing to the naked, shelter to the homeless. When you provide generously to those in true need, technically whether they deserve it or not, that is because God has done the same with you, and with me.
I do not deserve His mercy, His love, and yet, Jesus, we know, became poor. He emptied Himself of His glory in Heaven and became a slave, a human. So that we would become rich. He would fill us with the wealth of the Spirit.
Because of that great generosity, He requires of us that we give (especially of our excess) to those in need. And for that reason, He can punish us if we don't.
God is pretty much the only One Who rightly can do that.
One of the philosophical errors of our age, and ages past, is that charity, generosity, love, compassion, mercy, can be required of citizens. And that's baloney. You can't require that by law. That is unjust. Do you know why?
Because it's my money. It's my house. It's my car. It's my possessions. I worked for it. I earned it or I inherited it. Either way, it's mine. And ownership is part of the natural order that God has established in creation.
Since ownership is a real thing established by God in nature, that means that some people are going to own more than others. OK. Since they own it, they have the right to determine its use. Whether you or I like it or not. They have the right, according to justice, because they are the owner, to determine its use. If they are hard of heart and don't want to give to the poor and needy, that's on them.
It is unlawful for any government - church or civil - to try and force generosity.
Taxes are different. I know this area gets complicated. There is a difference in requiring some tax in order to care for the needs of the greater body.
But generosity can never be required. Otherwise it's not generosity, it's justice. The only way you can take from what belongs to me and forcibly give it to somebody in need is if that person has earned it. That's the only way it could be just.
This is one of the major problems with socialism and communism. Those are built upon the philosophy that "the ends justify the means". What that means is I can do whatever is necessary as long as my goal is "good". Since feeding the poor, housing the homeless is "good", I can take from the rich and give to the poor.
That's evil. It would be condemned in the sight of God. Good motivation. Bad means.
For an action to be good, not only does the end - the goal - have to be good, but the way you get to that goal has to be good as well. . .
But Jesus Christ and the Church encourage us to bet generous. That's the difference. It cannot be required by law. But it can be encouraged. And it should be encouraged, and rewarded. . . . Jesus give us a reward to motivate our goodness. Jesus says "Hey, you get to go to heaven forever if you do what I tell ya!" There's no greater motivation than that.
But the idea that the ends justify the means, or that any type of governing body can forcibly make you be generous - that is unlawful. And ultimately demonic.
Ex 32:7-11, 13-14; Ps 51:3-4, 12-13, 17, 19; 1 Tm 1:12-17; Lk 15:1-32
Homily begins at 19:40