Today, 8th Sunday after Pentecost, I spoke of the Lord’s parable of the wicked steward in Luke as an admonishment to give alms. Everything we (the wicked steward) have is from God (the rich man, the master). We must give an account as what we have done with all we have been given. Our Lord did not praise the fraud and theft of the wicked steward, who cut what people owed to his master in order to curry favor. The Lord pointed out that, if the children of the world act with cleverness and decisions and plans in worldly matters, how much more should the children of the light work to attain heaven with plans and decision and cleverness: prudence? His admonishment to “make friends of mammon of iniquity” isn’t an order to get to know rich people who got their wealth through who knows what. We are to make material goods, our friends, in the sense of making them work for our salvation. The Psalm says that the good things flow from the God’s hands to all creatures. But our hands are God’s hands here on earth. In Matthew 25, another chapter wherein a rich man calls stewards to account for what they did with wealth he entrusted to them, the Lord describes what happens to people who did or did not help Him, encountered in the person of the poor and needy. Those on the right, happiness. Those on the left, torment prepared for devils. We must make use of material things as if we are stewards and also for the good of others, not just for ourselves.
Also, almsgiving is personal. Almsgiving is not about governmental programs, or a welfare state, or statist big government’s redistribution of wealth. States don’t souls, we do. We are the ones who must also mind the poor, and by doing so, we treasure up treasure in heaven. Jesus didn’t say that when the State takes your money and redistributes it, you shall be rewarded. States don’t perform works which merit the reward of heaven. You do. Make good use of material goods in such a way that you are preparing an aeterna tabernacula, an everlasting dwelling. We are saved by the good will of God, his loving, merciful graces. He makes our hands strong to perform works of mercy, so that they are, at the same, both ours and His.
The Secret today underscores the Gospel:
Suscipe, quaesumus, Domine, munera, quae tibi de tua largitate deferimus: ut haec sacrosancta mysteria, gratiae tuae operante virtute, et praesentis vitae nos conversatione sanctificent, et ad gaudia sempiterna perducant.
Accept, we beseech You, O Lord, the gifts which, from Your bounty, we bring to You: that, as the power of Your grace is working, these most sacred mysteries may both sanctify us during the course of this present life of conversion, and guide us through to joys everlasting.