Saint Augustine on Catholics Giving
50% of their income
As I was
doing research for last weekend’s homily on the steward slashing out his take
from the master’s bills, I also came across an interesting thing that Saint
Augustine said. St. Augustine said that the
steward, in telling the person who owed 100 measures of oil to sit and write a
new bill for 50 measures of oil…the meaning of that action is this…Jews were
commanded by God to give 10% to God, but Catholics should give half of their
income to God.
Archdiocese of Indianapolis assigns to each new priest a mentor priest who is
not the newly ordained priest’s pastor, and so I met with him once a month for
a year or so. He said he always
published his tax returns in the bulletin.
So my recent
tax returns, for the year 2021 I had a total gross income of 34,485. My charitable donations totaled $17,243. I didn’t crunch the numbers until today, but
it worked out that last year I gave away to charity exactly 50%. The largest part was to Saint Paul’s and
Annunciation, roughly 11,000 dollars to the 2 parishes, and another 2,500
dollars to FOCUS missionary efforts, 2,000 dollars to the Archdiocese of
Indianapolis annual appeal, and then the rest to catholic charitable
organizations working all over the world to help the poorest of the poor.
So why do I
share this? Don’t I know that Jesus says
in Matthew chapter 6 that we should keep quiet when we give alms, and that we
should not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing, and that if we
announce our giving, we have already received our reward? I have made the decision, through prayer, to
forego my reward as my mentor pastor 14 years ago, in order to inspire
Catholics to open their hearts more to the poor. Catholics are statistically at the bottom in
terms of their giving …and so I am sharing my giving publicly. We live in a community where we are mostly
sheltered from having to step right over poor people sitting at our doors, as
the rich man in today’s parable in our Gospel had to step right over the poor
man Lazarus. But we don’t have to look
far to see the poor in our community.
And also, the Catholic Church challenges us to give to all parts of the
world generously as well. To give to
help eliminate the deaths of 25,000 children who starve to death every day
around the world, to give so that our parishes can help alleviate the needs of
the poor in our local communities and also provide a beautiful place of refuge
for the poor in our communities.
6, verse 38 of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus says “Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured
into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be
measured out to you.” Let us all examine
our giving, and trust that when God dares us to outdo him in generosity, that
God really will supply all our needs.