Chapter 15 – Works Done Out of Charity
Works Done Out of Charity
XV Works Done Out of Charity (click to download pdf)
Our Blessed Redeemer, we sometimes might think, gives us quite contradictory rules to follow and practise. For instance, He says: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Then, again, He says; “When thou givest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand is doeth.” Does not this seem to be contradictory? We shall do our good works so that our fellow-men may see them, and yet we should also hide our good works, so that, as it were, even our left hand might not know what the right hand is doing. The following little story may help you to understand our Saviour’s meaning with regard to the above two passages:
The editor of a daily paper one day received the following not, sent to him privately through the mail:
Dear Editor—Will you please forward the enclosed sum of ten dollars to that poor woman whose husband, lately, was run over by the cars and killed? The widow being thus, herself and children, left without a supporter, is in sore distress and suffers great want; this donation will, I trust, go some way in relieving her and her poor orphans. I ask nothing in return but their blessing and prayers. From
The widow’s grateful answer, as published in the paper next day, was this:
Dear Editor—The widow and her orphans wish herby publicly to express their most heartfelt thanks for the charitable gift of ten dollars sent us. The money was duly received; and it was more than enough to satisfy our present wants. Though our benefactor is unknown to us, and will not reveal himself, God knows him, and has noted his work of charity. All we can do is, as our benefactor himself requests, to bless him for his charity and to pray for him. This we will do as long as we live. May the good God reward him, even here on this earth, a hundredfold!
See, my little followers of Jesus, this is an example from which you can learn how you may give alms, or do good some other way to your fellow-men, so that your left hand will not know what you right hand is doing. How beautiful is such charity! How happy it must make him feel who practises it! How pleasing it is to God, and how richly He will reward it!
In that same city there lived a man who was very rich. God had blessed him with an abundance of wealth; and, thanks be to the same good God, he knew what use to make of his wealth. The man was as charitable as he was rich.
Did people know he was charitable? Yes. How did they find out? There was never a good work of charity be done in the congregation, or in the city, but this rich man too part in it. On the list of contributors, his name generally stood at the head. He was always liberal; his contributions, on comparing, were always found to be the largest.
As often, however, as he contributed to public charity, there was always one thing he principally aimed at; he never wished people to find out how much he had given. They might know that he had contributed, but they should not know how much. Sometimes, in spite of his efforts to hide it, it would come out anyway, and then, when people would admire him for it, and praise his charity, he was very much displeased, and seemed to be pained about it.
But still greater was this man’s private charity to the poor, the sick, the afflicted of any and every class. He was, therefore, venerated by all, and loved as a father. His greatest pleasure was to help the poor in such a way that no one might find out whence the charity came. God only should know it; that was enough for him. Well, can you guess now from whom those ten dollars come, that were sent to the widow and he children, by the editor of the daily paper? They were the gift of this rich man. Here, then, my dear children, you have an example both of how you should let your light shine among men, and also how your right hand can do good without your left hand finding out. Do you understand now what Jesus means?
Oh, if there were only more of such charity in the world! Poor people would not complain so much and so often of hard times, poor wages, poverty, and distress. My dear readers, make a firm resolution to practise this charity as often as you can, and as long as you live.
This is what you ought to remember: First, you must strive always to live in the state of grace. If you had had the misfortune to commit a mortal sin, then make an act of perfect contrition right away, and go to confession as soon as you can. Not mentioning that as long as you are in mortal sin you are in danger of eternal damnation, you can gain no merits for heaven by any good hat you do in that state of sin.
Secondly, do the good work with the best intention, from the purest motive. Your intention should be: “All out of love to Jesus, to honor and glorify God!” Do not seek the praise of men; hide your good works from them as much as you can. People may know that you have given, for the sake of the good example; but do not let them know, if you can help it, how much or what you have given.
Thirdly, give in the right disposition. Do not ask; “How much are others giving? I will give as much as he gives.” No. Give what you can, be it much or be it little, and give it with a good will. Do not measure yourself with others. First you may view your own circumstances and ability, and then turn your eyes wholly to God. Do not say: “If I were better off, if the times were not so hard, I would give more.” Give what you want to give, or can give—simply, willingly, gladly!
For the conclusion, reflect on these words from Thomas à Kempis: “Without charity, the outward work profiteth nothing; but whatever is done out of charity, be it ever so little and contemptible, it is all made fruitful, inasmuch as God regardeth more out of how much love a man doth a work, than how much he doth. He doth much who loveth much.”