No matter how virtuously you live your own life, says St. Leo the Great, you have nothing if you don’t live for others.
It may be praiseworthy to run away from intemperance, and avoid the waste of dishonorable pleasures. And there are many who, in their magnificence, disdain to conceal their wealth, and in the abundance of their good scorn contemptible and sordid stinginess.
But the liberality of men like that is not happy, and their thriftiness is not to be commended, if their riches benefit no one but themselves—if no poor people are helped by what they have, no sick people nourished; if out of their abundant possessions the captive gets no ransom, the stranger no comfort, the exile no relief.
Rich men like this are needier than all the needy. For they lose the returns that they might have eternally. While they gloat over the brief—and not always unfettered—enjoyment of what they have, they are not fed on the bread of justice or the sweets of mercy. Splendid on the outside, they have no light inside. They have temporal things in abundance, but nothing at all of things eternal. They starve their souls, and bring them to shame and nakedness because they will not spend on heavenly treasures any of those things that they put in their earthly warehouses.
–St. Leo the Great, Sermon 10, 2
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Am I using the possessions God gave me for the sake of people who need my help?
Father, keep me from pride in wealth and power, and open my heart to greater love for your Son.
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