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The Theology of Giving

The goods of the earth have been given for all. We are to share those goods not simply when we don't need them, but also when we do.

These are key principles of Catholic social teaching, touching on key aspects of daily life. There is, indeed, a theology of giving.

Giving, whether of our time, talent, or treasure, is based on the very nature of God. Though He did not have to create us, He did. Then He went further, and while we were still sinners, He became one of us and died for us and our salvation. He taught us the meaning of giving when we don't have to and of giving from our very substance, from our very life.

The Lord Himself referred to a theology of giving. After observing the rich putting their sizable donations into the temple treasury, he saw a poor widow making her contribution, whereupon He said, "I assure you, this poor widow has put in more than all the rest. They make contributions out of their surplus, but she from her want has given what she could not afford -- every penny she had to live on" (Luke 21:3-4).

Most of us give to some charity at some time or other, and most of us give what we do not need. But how often do we give away what we do need? "But I need it," we object. Yet that is precisely why we need to share it.

At the root of this truth is the deeper truth that we are one body. The needs of another are not just the other's needs; they are ours. We are one. St. Paul teaches, "The body is one and has many members, but all the members, many though they are, are one body; and so it is with Christ….God has so constructed the body…that there may be no dissension in the body, but that all the members may be concerned for one another. If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members share its joy. You, then, are the body of Christ. Every one of you is a member of it" (1Cor.12:12, 24-27).

How much should we give to a cause that we know is right? The measure of our giving should be how much the other needs the gift, not how much the giver does not need it.

No group of people is more needy in our society than the unborn, deprived of the very right to their lives. More money is spent in this country to kill the unborn than is spent to save them. Some wealthy people contribute billions to the very groups that promote the killing.

"I ask you, how can God's love survive in a man who has enough of this world's goods yet closes his heart to his brother when he sees him in need?" (1John 3:17). Given that the greatest of "this world's goods" is life itself, we can rephrase the verse: How can God's love survive in anyone who is alive yet closes his heart to his brother who is in danger of death?

When we give out of our very need, we give life itself to others. Nowhere is that more true than when we give to the efforts to end abortion.

Priests for Life
PO Box 236695 • Cocoa, FL 32923
Tel. 321-500-1000, Toll Free 888-735-3448 •