St. Ambrose quotes the pagan philosopher Pythagoras to show that even the pagans admire selfless sharing between friends. But Christians are all family, so we should be all the more willing to share everything with our brothers and sisters.
If one of the pagans has said that all the possessions of friends should be common, how much more ought those of relatives to be common! For we are relatives, because we are bound into one body.
But we are not bound by any prescribed limit of hospitality. Why do you think that what is of this world is private property when this world is common? Or why do you suppose the fruits of the earth are private, when the earth itself is common property? “Look at the birds of the air,” he says: “they neither sow nor reap” (Matthew 6:26).
To those to whom nothing is private property, nothing is lacking, and God, the master of his own word, knows how to keep his promise. Again, the birds do not gather together, and yet they eat, for our heavenly Father feeds them.
But since we turn the warnings of a general principle to our private advantage, God says: “I have given to you every tree with seed in its fruit, you shall have them for food, and to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:29-30).
By gathering together we come to want, and by gathering together we are made empty. For we cannot hope for the promise, if we do not keep the saying. It is also good for us to attend to the precept of hospitality, to be ready to give to strangers—for we, too, are strangers in the world.
–St. Ambrose, Treatise Concerning Widows, 1IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Do I tend to be possessive of things that I consider my property?
Would it help break my bad habits to give away just a few of the things in my basement, or my attic, or my spare room?
Father, send me the hope and strength to share everything I have with my brothers and sisters.
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