Friday, 29 March 2013

The Widow's Mite

There has been some noise about the Holy Father, and the Church generally, selling off all its riches and giving the money raised to the poor. (See William Oddie's article here for context).

I have a few reflections on this.

One is this: when my mother died, we gave her Parish Church a Ciborium (having consulted, and been told that would be useful).  The PP assured us that he would remember her at the Masses at which it was used.  If he sells it off and gives the money to the poor, we, who gave it to the Church on trust, would feel (and rightly I think) aggrieved.  Much of the Church's rich heritage has been acquired in the same way.  It is not accumulated wealth that can be disposed of at will, but rather the gifts of the faithful, given to the Church for the greater glory of God.

A second is this: when Our Lord commended the widow for giving her last mite, she was not giving it to the poor, but to the temple funds: the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all our hearts.  Our Lord endorses that this includes giving our money for the worship of God.  And we remember Judas' outrage at the 'waste' of rich ointment...

Curiously, those who are so keen to do this are rather less keen when other preferential options for the poor are suggested.  For example, when I suggest that we do without Communion under both kinds for the laity, and give the money saved on altar wine to the poor, that is met with outraged incredulity.

Of course we should give to the poor - and of course the Church does.

Of course we should give more to the poor: but to be inspired to do that, perhaps we need to enrich our faith; and it is just possible that there is a correlation between worthy worship and strength of Faith.

The poor are clearly going to be at the centre of our new Holy Father's pontificate, which is wonderful. However, this will only bear radical fruits if it leads individuals - you and me - to give more; not if it only results in people calling on others ('the Vatican', 'government' etc) to do more. There is no metanoia there.

1 comment:

Richard Collins said...

Excellent points, many thanks Ben.