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.
The 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.
In chapter 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.