I’m interested in learning about what the Catholic church teaches on the topic of giving.
Jesus calls us to live like him, and in certain protestant circles this is interpreted to mean “give till it hurts”. The story of Jesus and the rich young man (Gospel of Matthew 19:16–30, the Gospel of Mark 10:17–31 and the Gospel of Luke 18:18–30) indicates that we need to go to an extreme and sell everything, not worshipping money and depending entirely on God.
I agree, but at the same time isn’t money a resource which god gifts us with? This passage has really been getting to me lately and I’ve been convicted to use my money entirely for Gods glory, however I’m not sure how best to go about doing that. For example I have lots of savings, do I just donate them all to the church or charity, or just dump them all on a random hobo? Surely not… the hobo would probably blow it all on drugs and booze.
Also, while on a personal level I’m not completely averse to just dumping all my money and taking to the street, I don’t see how that benefits society in the long term as I would become a total drag on the system. And what if I want to get married and start a family! Surely in this case it would be making things unnecessarily harder on my wife and children if I had sold everything I owned and given everything to the poor. Surely I can be strategic about it by using my money to have a modest roof over my head, clothing, food, some savings etc, enough to turn up looking respectable at work. And then I’ll have the ability to generate further income, to support my family and to give generously AND continuously.
At the same time I feel a little rebuked by the book of james:
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
Does this mean that I shouldn’t be planning to start a family (which I’m seriously considering) etc, and that using this as a reason to hold onto my savings is really just an excuse and against the will of god?
Also who does the command to give generously apply to? Does this mean I should only give to the church? or does it mean I should give to all the homeless I see as I walk past on the way home? Is money really what they need? surely the gospel is what they need? Is it ok if I withhold my money but give them my time (by offering to buy meals, have a chat with them, get to know them etc)?
What about the fact that I have a large amount of savings but am currently studying and have no income? every 6 months I lose $7000AUD in rent alone. If I give too generously then eventually I will have to give up on my studies and find a job/move elsewhere.
Is there an encyclical or church statement/elaboration that can set me straight on how to give, how much I should be giving, whether I need to be as extreme as Jesus calls me to be etc? I’d rather not be the rich man squeezing through the eye of the needle…
I read something somewhere about an idea of “perfect charity”, maybe it is relevant?
(Apologies if this post is incoherent or poorly organised. I’m incredibly sleepy)