Posted by: geolocke | 2013/04/22

Dignity and Charity (09/30/2004)

The Gospels tell us that we are supposed to give to the poor, but I find all too often that we put conditions on or giving. For instance, many people I know refuse to give money to panhandlers in the street. They use as their excuse that they “know” that the bum is just going to use the money to buy more drugs or booze, so they refuse to give them money that will help to perpetuate the problem. These same people are also quick to point out that if someone is truly in need, then they will give them some money. Usually they say something along the lines that they can “tell” when someone is truly needy and when someone is just needing a fix for their addiction.

But Christ tells us to give to the poor. He makes no distinction about the type of poor person that we should be giving to. He does not say ‘give to those who are poor through no fault of their own, but hold back from giving to those who are poor because they are addicted to a life destroying substance.’ No, Christ just says ‘give to the poor.’ This mean swallowing our pride and putting aside our judgement and see the other person as just another child of God, who is in need of assistance.

None of us has ever lived one day of our lives in another person’s circumstances and none of us can justify making a judgement on that other person’s worthiness.

Likewise, we are instructed to visit those in prison, not just those who are falsely imprisoned, but all. Killers, rapists, child molesters, the ‘scum of society.’ Why? To bring them the good news. The good news that God does love them and cares about them and that if they repent for their sins, then God is waiting to forgive them for their sins and to set aside space for them in Heaven (regardless if man forgives them or not).

So, when that street person approaches us reeking of cheep wine and soiled clothes, and they ask us for bus fare money we must master our fear, put aside our prejudice, and give them our spare change with God’s blessing. When we do this, we are telling them the good news that God loves them and that he cares enough to send them the gifts of dignity and charity that are received through our interaction with them.



  1. I too struggle with this. I give money to Catholic Charities to try to assure that I am helping. I find it difficult to believe that Christ instructed us to aid people in their weaknesses.


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