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Friday, 13 April 2018


This scriptural write-up tells the place of charity in the gospel of St. Mathew and Matthean community. The importance of charity in (Matt 25:34-37) will be elaborately explained and augmented with other resources. This is the ultimate out-working of the Matthean motif of reward for those who have lived according to the will of God. And it is here spelt out in terms of the way people have responded to the human needs. Charity is benevolent, it is not self-seeking; rather it is directed toward the good of one’s friend. By charity human person loves God and all that is of God for the sake of God.

Charity seeks to give glory to God and to promote his honour. It is different from concupiscence by which human being seeks to gain pleasure or profit for himself. St. Paul exemplified the benevolence of true charity when he said: “for I am ready not only to be bound but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13). So, with St. Paul we can perceive the truth of this new and marvelous fact: for us, God is the God of Charity (2Cor 13:11).

The word charity comes from the Greek word “Charis” which means grace (favour) or from the Latin word, “Carum” which means “dear” (of great value). Charity is the grace of God. It is favour with God. Charity is friendship with God. Jesus says, “you are my friends if you do what I command you” That is, to love God and human person. It is the most important of all virtues. “He is not save however, who, though he is part of the body the Church, does not persevere in charity”. See what love the father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are (1 Jn 3:1). Charity makes us friends of God and is the principal source of merits. It is the form of all virtues, that is, the vital principal of everything. All virtues without charity are dead and do not merit eternal life. They are imperfect and weak and cannot render human person virtuous or good.”Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law”. All actions done in charity have an eternal value. He knows that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose (Rom 8, 28) charity alone never ends.

Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. Jesus makes charity new commandment, he says this is commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you (Jn15:9). St. Paul says, “If I have not charity I am nothing. Whatever my privilege, service, or even virtue, if I have not charity, I gain nothing. Charity is superior to all the virtues” it is the first of the theological virtues: so faith, hope, charity abide, these three. But the greatest of these is charity. The practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by charity, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. It is the form of the virtues. The practice of the moral life animated by charity gives to the Christian the spiritual freedom of the children of God. Charity vivifies and inspires the virtues by directing them to the final goal which is God himself. This does not mean that charity replaces the other virtues but that it elevates them to a higher supernatural and which of themselves they could not attain.
 The fruit of charity are joy, peace and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains interested and generous; it is friendship and communion: love is itself the fulfilmement of all works. There is the goal; that it is why we run: we run towards it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.

Charity lifts a person beyond the limits of a person’s nature and enables him to be at home with God and with the things of God. God has ever commanded his people of old to be charitable and love themselves especially the needy among the people of Israel: “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, Here I am…(Isa 58:7-14). Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares”. The reward of charity is practically reflected in the story of our father Abraham, when he welcomes the men (the angels) unknowingly that they were angels.
CHARITY IN (Matt 25:34-37)
Feeding the hungry,  giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the stranger, clothing the  naked , visit to the  sick,  and visiting the prisoner  as it is listed in (Mtt 25:35-36) are grown out of Christian charity. One should understand and interpret the particular verses in line with the intention of our Lord Jesus Christ. For example, Mt 25:35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink… The acts here enumerated indicate more than a mere giving food or money. Of course charity is done out of:  sacrifice of time, strength, sympathy, caring love, faith etc., and clearly demonstrate the fullness of the Christian life.  That means Christian life is a call to serve God in other persons. Moreover, Jesus does not mean to teach that mere works of benevolence are a sufficient ground for salvation. In this passage of the bible charity becomes the description of disciples. Though, the interpretation of these verses does not reveal that the good are communal based on their good attitude to Jesus. Whereas, the good and bad acted not directly to Jesus. They have helped, or fail to help, not a Jesus recognised in people. All that is worthy of note is that, they were concerned, it was simply an act of kindness to a fellow human being in need, not an expression of their attitude to Jesus. It shows here that when the son of man, Jesus Christ appears he will deal with every person accordingly.
 Everything which is done to a follower of Christ, whether be it good or evil, he considers as done to himself (Mt 25:40). The aforementioned Christian charitable exercises spring from love and mercy; because they express to human beings the conformity of God.  Jesus had said, blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy; and he here shows how this promise shall be fulfilled. By showing kindness to the poor, and needy, and sick, they show that they possess his spirit--for he did it when on earth; they evince attachment to him, for he was poor and needy; and they show that they have the proper spirit to fit them for heaven. The habit of charity is necessary by the necessity of means for all to attain salvation. In the very act of justification, together with the remission of sins of a person receives through Jesus Christ, into whom he is inserted, the gift of faith, hope and charity, all infused at the same time.
Caring for the poor is very important to our Lord Jesus Christ in the gospel of St. Matthew. The refusal to do this breaks the link kingdom of God with human persons. The fact is that there are inequalities in the society and this brings about differences between the very rich and the very poor. This is because the rich people live in affluence while the poor live in abject poverty.  Charity therefore stands in the position.
 Sequence to this, preferential option for the poor involves working alongside with the poor to attain an economic, social, political development in accordance with their aspirations. Development implies a transition from a less human situation to a more human situation. Consider the situation where people sleep under the bridge or people going to party to pick waste food.  These are the situations that charity comes into intervene instead for the rich to neglect them that they too have legs and hands to earn their living.

The works of charity done out of love to Christ, shall be particularly observed, and bountifully rewarded, by Christ at the great day.  Whatever good or evil that is done to the poor members of Christ, Christ reckons it as done unto himself: I was hungered, and you gave me food to eat. Christ personally is not the object of our pity and charity, but Christ mystical body is exposed to want and necessity; he is hungry and thirsty, naked and homeless in his members, and he is refreshed and comforted in their convenience and comforts. So whatsoever we do to the least of his brothers and sister that we do unto him.

Thomas Pazhayampallil, S.D.B, Pastoral Guide Vol.1: Fundamental Moral Theology and Virtues, Kristu Jyoti Publication, India, 2004.

Charles E. Curran and Richard A. McCormit S.J. Moral Theology No 5: Official Catholic Social Teaching, Paulist Press, New York, 1986.

Gordon S. Wakefield Ed., A Dictionary of Christian Spirituality, SCM Press Ltd, London, 1984.

Daniel J. Harrington S.J., Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of St. Matthew, The Liturgical Press, USA, 1991.

Karl H. Peschke, Christian Ethics: Moral Theology in the Light of Vatican II, Vol. 1, Theological Publication, India, 1996.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Paul J. Glenn, A Tour of the Summa of St. Thomas Aquinas, Theological Publications, India, 2004.

Oscar Lukefar, CM, We Live to Know, Love and service God, Liguori Publications, USA, 2010.
Austin Flannery, O.P. Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Document, Costello Publishing Company, Inc, 1975.

The Holy Bible.

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