Today the reading for Midmorning Prayer (1 John 3:17-18) was:
If a man who was rich enough in this world’s goods saw that one of his brothers was in need, but closed his heart to him, how could the love of God be living in him? My children, our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active.
Happy the man who takes pity and lends.
– His righteousness will be remembered for ever.
It is a very clear explanation of what “Love your neighbour as yourself” means and in particular the Gandhi principle of “Live simply so that others may simply live.” All of what we spend unnecessarily on housing, cars, holidays, entertainment, fashion, etc could make a life saving difference if given to charities working in the Developing World like Trocaire.
Our SOLT founder Fr Jim Flanagan when discussing this subject of solidarity with the poor often quoted this paragraph of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Populorum Progressio.
The Use of Private Property
- “He who has the goods of this world and sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (21) Everyone knows that the Fathers of the Church laid down the duty of the rich toward the poor in no uncertain terms. As St. Ambrose put it: “You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich.” (22) These words indicate that the right to private property is not absolute and unconditional.
No one may appropriate surplus goods solely for his own private use when others lack the bare necessities of life. In short, “as the Fathers of the Church and other eminent theologians tell us, the right of private property may never be exercised to the detriment of the common good.” When “private gain and basic community needs conflict with one another,” it is for the public authorities “to seek a solution to these questions, with the active involvement of individual citizens and social groups.” (23)