Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15

Charitable Giving

What charities do you contribute to? Why do you give?

Popular Translation

7 You already have everything that's important. You have faith in God, you know and speak about God well, you are eager to do good things, and you have our love. So, give generously.

9 You know how generous our Lord Jesus Christ was. He was rich, but became poor for you, so you might become rich in God's love.

13 Don't give to others so much that it becomes hard for you to live. Instead, give what you think is fair. 14 Now that you have a lot, give to the churches that are poor. In turn, they can share with you when they prosper and you aren't doing well. In this way, everything will be just. 15 It's written in the Bible,

"The person who has a lot won't get much more. The one who has little will not be in need."

Literal Translation

7 But, indeed, you (already) abound in all things: in faith, in word, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in the love (that is) from us to you, so that you might abound in this (act) of graciousness.

9 For you know the grace of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, that, being rich, he became poor for you, so that you might become rich in the poverty of THAT (MAN).

13 For that (you should) not (give) aid to others, (and) to you a burden, but from (a sense of) equity. 14 Now in your season of surplus, (you should give) to the need of those (Christian communities), that the surplus of those (communities) might be for your need, so that (there) might be equity,15 just as it is written,

"The (one) with much has not increased; the (one) with little has not lessened."

In 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, St. Paul organized a collection for the Church in Jerusalem. The mother church was persecuted and was in need of money for the poor. The Corinthians were enthusiastic about the idea, but never followed through. In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul returned to the collection, not to cast guilty feelings over the faithful, but to appeal to their sense of Christian charity. "Share with others and they will share with you," summed up Paul's sentiment; this was his idea of "equity." Notice this was different from the insight in 8:9 about the Incarnation (Christ was rich, but became poor, that is "Human" for our sake). From the Incarnation to charity required several logical steps Paul does not mention (the love of God in Christ was the agency that established the Church; that love is the glue that binds the local churches together; that love is the reason churches should share with each other). Nevertheless, Paul appealed to the Corinthians on the basis of mutual charity.

"Give to others. In your time of need, someone will take care of you." From a Christian point of view, this is not a belief in Karma (retributive justice), but a hope in divine providence. "I will give to others in need, for I believe God will take care of me." In the good times, we must remember to share the blessings God gave to us. When the times get tough, we cannot depend on others to take care of our needs (they might fail us), but we can lean on God.

So, give. And let God reward you in his own way.

What blessings have you shared with others? How have they shared their blessings with you?