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Kempis on: Works Done in Charity


The greatest charity of all charities.

Ezekiel 33:7-9


You, son of man—I have appointed you as a sentinel for the house of Israel; when you hear a word from my mouth, you must warn them for me. When I say to the wicked, “You wicked, you must die,” and you do not speak up to warn the wicked about their ways, they shall die in their sins, but I will hold you responsible for their blood. If, however, you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, but they do not, then they shall die in their sins, but you shall save your life. (my emphasis)


 

Jesus tells us in John 15:13, "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." That is the ultimate sacrifice as Jesus demonstrated for us so that we may walk in His footsteps.


The next greatest act of charity is saving souls. When I first read the passage, from Ezekiel 33, I understood and complied. This is what God is asking of each of us. We are His disciples. However, the confusing part for me is when to stop talking... to stop trying to convert. I would hate to get to the narrow gate and be challenged that I gave up on a person too soon. I've been told by many priests to, at least, pray, fast and give alms. I would never wish to see anyone doomed to hell, even though they make that decision themselves, not God.


In Col 1:28, St. Paul remind us, It is he whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. (my emphasis) Again, how far should I go? Certainly, I had better have my "ducks in a row." Before helping others, I must have an understanding of Holy Scripture and, in particular, the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Lastly, I must have been to confession to make sure I can see whom I'm speaking to and not blinded by the "beam in my eye". I must be in a state of Grace.


Kempis:


Never do evil for anything in the world, or for the love of any man. God weighs the love with which a man acts rather than the deed itself.
He does well who serves the common good rather than his own interests. Without charity external work is of no value.
On the contrary, he who has true and perfect charity seeks self in nothing, but searches all things for the glory of God. (my emphasis)

I offer passages from Holy Scripture and the wisdom of Thomas Kempis. Might I try a different angle, albeit quite radical, to further my point.


 

An atheist perspective on charity.


Are you familiar with Penn Jillette of the comedy/magic team Penn and Teller? Penn Jillette is an atheist. However, he has a quote that makes so much sense with the regard of charity.


“I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me alone and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?
I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.” (my emphasis)

 

My fear, when I try to enter the narrow gate, is how I will answer Jesus when He asks me why I only went so far in trying to help someone escape the fires of hell. For example, I have 3 adult children. My middle child, a daughter, is an excellent Catholic. Her husband entered the Church soon after they were married and have two sons excellently raised in Mother Church. I also have a son and daughter who are severely lapsed Catholics. In fact, my son has never had his two sons baptized. (Both have non-Catholic spouses whom have no desire to convert to Catholicism... a common problem.) On the advice of my wife, middle daughter and priests, instead of 'rhetoric', I now pray, fast and give alms. Each day, however, I ask myself if I'm doing enough.


One might surmise that Ezekiel 33 was for the ordained. I beg to differ. As disciples of Christ we must do our best, using our unique individual strengths, to love and provide spiritual nourishment in a form that is appropriate for the occasion. As a committed Catholic I don't have to remind you of the power of Daily Rosary... even though I suppose I just did.


"When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice."

–Pope Saint Gregory the Great


We pray for works of mercy from Jesus. May we, through our charity, extend our own mercy to others in need.


Amen?


God Bless you

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