Christmas Charity

“If you help a poor person in the name of the Lord, you are making a gift and at the same time granting a loan. You are making a gift because you have no expectation of being reimbursed by that poor person. You are granting a loan because the Lord will settle the account. It is not much that the Lord receives by means of the poor, but he will pay a great deal on their behalf. ‘They who are kind to the poor lend to the Lord.’ (Prov. 19:17) Do you not want the master of all to be on your side, especially as he is prepared to settle your debt? If a rich person were to promise to pay on behalf of others, would you not be happy to accept the pledge? Why then do you not accept the Lord as surety for the poor? Make a present of the money you have to spare without asking for interest: it will benefit you and others. It will benefit you insofar as you have made your money safe. It will benefit the others insofar as they are able to use it. If all the same you are looking for some profit, be content with what the Lord will give you. He will also give the interest on your gift to the poor. So wait for the benevolence of the one who is truly benevolent. The profit that you gain from the poor surpasses all bounds of cruelty. You are profiting from misfortune, you are squeezing money out of tears, you are persecuting a defenseless being, you are belaboring someone who is starving. You think the profit you make out of the poor is just. But ‘Woe to those who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!’ (Isa. 5:20) ‘Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?’ (Matt. 7:16) or kindly relationships from usury?” (St. Basil the Great in Drinking from the Hidden Fountain, pp 297-298)

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