26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

On Christian charity

Luke 16:19-31

Amos warned those who are living the comfortable life, shielded from any sentiments or feelings of mercy and compassion for the poor and thus, unable to extend arms to help them, "That is why they will be the first to be exiled; the sprawlers’ revelry is over." (Amos 6, 7)

In the Gospel for today, the rich man descended to Hell (or Hades) because he deprived Lazarus even of the crust that fell from his table.

Their lives are devoid of love and that is the exact meaning of hell.

Let's reflect on the spirituality of Christian charity.

First, charity is one of the theological virtues.  Virtues are formed out of habits or repetitive actions based on the intention to do what is good.  (CCC 1823) What makes charity a theological virtue is that it mirrors the source of all good: God himself.  When we are charitable, we live out the love of God who is first and foremost the generous One.

Second, loving is a commandment, not an option.  The Old Testament speaks about loving God above all things and loving neighbor as ourselves.  This is further strengthened by Jesus himself: "I give you a new command: love one another as I have loved you." (Jn. 13: 34 - 35)

The Lord commands us to love, the least, the last, the lost, and even our enemies.  Jesus loved us even when we were still enemies (Rom. 5, 10)  While on the cross, Jesus forgave his enemies, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they do." (Lk. 23, 34)  Thus, charity is inclusive and all embracing.  Selective loving is false love.

Third, charity is the source and goal of Christian maturity. (CCC 1827)  It is the motive and goal of all our actions.  Charity raises human love to the level of divine love.  Once we reach it, we shall find rest. (CCC 1829)

In living out charity, we live out God himself, for "God is love." (1 Jn. 4, 8)