Almsgiving (Greek eleemosyne)

Give in proportion to what you own. If you have great wealth, give alms out of your abundance......Almsgiving is a worthy offering in the sight of the Most High for all who practice it.(Tobit4:8,11)

Any material favour done to assist the needy, and prompted by charity, is almsgiving. It is evident, then, that almsgiving implies much more than the transmission of some temporal commodity to the indigent. According to the creed of political economy, every material deed wrought by man to benefit his needy brother is almsgiving. According to the creed of Christianity, almsgiving implies a material service rendered to the poor for Christ's sake. Materially, there is scarcely any difference between these two views; formally, they are essentially different. This is why the inspired writer says:"Blessed is he that considers the needy and the poor" (Psalm 40:2) - not he that gives to the needy and the poor.

Give in proportion to what you own. If you have great wealth, give alms out of your abundance; if you have but little, do not be afraid to give alms even of that little. Almsgiving is a worthy offering in the sight of the Most High for all who practice it.(Tobit4:8,11)

The obligation of almsgiving is complementary to the right of property "which is not only lawful, but absolutely necessary" (Encycl., Rerum Novarum, tr.Baltimore,1891,14). Ownership admitted, rich and poor must be found in society. Property enables its possessors to meet their needs. Though labour enables the poor to win their daily bread, accidents, illness, old age, labour difficulties, plagues, war, etc. frequently interrupt their labours and impoverish them. The responsibility of succouring, those thus rendered needy belongs to those who have plenty (St. Thomas, Summa Theol.,II-II,Q.xxxii,art.5,ad 2am), For "it is one thing to have a right to possess money, and another to have a right to use money as one pleases." How must one's possessions be used? The Church replies: Man should not consider his external possessions as his own but as common to all, so as to share them without difficulty when others are in need. Whence the Apostle says:Command the rich of this world to give with ease. This is a duty not of justice (except in extreme cases), but of Christian charity - a duty not enforced by human law. But the laws and judgments of men must yield to the laws and judgments of Christ the true God, who in many ways urges on His followers the practice of almsgiving (Encyclical, Rerum Novarum,14,15; cf.De Lugo, De Jure et Justiti?, Disp.xvi,sect.154).

Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap.(Luke6:38)

Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
(2 Corinthians9:7)

Scripture is rich in passages which directly or indirectly emphasize the necessity of contributing towards the welfare of the needy. The history of the Church in Apostolic times shows that the early Christians fully realized the importance of this obligation. Community of goods (Acts 4:32), collections in church (Acts 11:29 sqq.; 1 Corinthians 16:1; Galatians 2:10), the ministry of deacons and deaconesses were simply the inauguration of that world-wide system of Christian charity which has circumscribed the globe and added another testimony to the Divinity of that Church which directs her ministrations towards the alleviation of human misery in every shape and form (Lecky, History of European Morals,II,100,3d ea.,New York,1891). The Fathers of the Church frequently and unequivocally inculcated the necessity of almsgiving.

But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

© 2023 Duns Scotus Bible Centre. All rights reserved